Save Domestic Pigeons and Doves From Euthanasia

by Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions
Vetted
Corrina & I volunteering at an outreach event
Corrina & I volunteering at an outreach event

I first learned of Palomacy (then MickaCoo) nine years ago when my husband and I were seeking a feathered companion for Peggy Sue, our tame and unreleasable feral pigeon. Like most people, I had never heard of a domestic pigeon and had no idea that so many of them were winding up in shelters with little to no hope of finding homes.

We adopted Claudette, a lovely King pigeon with a calm and gentle temperament. During the adoption process, I became captivated by the rescue stories on their website and was deeply moved by Elizabeth and the many volunteers’ dedication to helping these sweet and vulnerable creatures.

In addition to adopting, I wanted to help in any way I could and I've been volunteering ever since. I help raise awareness through outreach at adoption events & raise funds at special events. I chair Palomacy's advisory committee, help design and build aviaries, and we have an aviary in our back yard for special needs foster pigeons. We've also adopted two more pigeons, Dupree and Corrina, each with their own unique and charming personality.

There are lots of ways to help. Palomacy is caring for more than 100 amazing birds waiting to be adopted, waiting to go home... And, if you can't adopt, we always need more foster homes, volunteers and donors. 

And right now, if you make a donation to Palomacy through GlobalGiving here, your donation will earn a much needed +50% bonus match (while funds last)!

Palomacy provides vital rescue service, medical care, long term foster homes and adoptions for so many pigeons and doves- locally, nationally and beyond. Your support- as an adopter, a volunteer, a donor- saves  birds' lives. 

Thank you!

Peggy Sue- the pigeon who brought me to Palomacy
Peggy Sue- the pigeon who brought me to Palomacy
Claudette & I (Pigeons are amazing pets)
Claudette & I (Pigeons are amazing pets)
Beloved special lady foster pigeons Louie & Abby
Beloved special lady foster pigeons Louie & Abby

Links:

Vet tech Tania saved Prince from being euthanized
Vet tech Tania saved Prince from being euthanized

Here's just one example of the culture-changing, life-saving difference you are making.

On Saturday, April 23rd I got a frantic call for help. A vet tech named Tania, who loves animals, was desperately searching for someone to help a badly injured baby pigeon. He was barely three weeks old and had somehow survived being attacked by an animal. He was beat up, his beak was broken (top and bottom) and his wounds were infected. She saw the curiosity, liveliness and will to live in his bright eyes and she had stopped the euthanasia process that had been initiated upon his arrival. Everyone she called had said they too would euthanize. But I said we would try to save him. Our motto is that we don't have to start with euthanasia.

Tania knew from the person who had brought him to her at the vet clinic that Prince had been living on the ground at a gas station for at least a week before his rescue. His parents continued to feed him that whole time and somehow, he had survived the attack that had ripped out his tail feathers, hurt his elbow, left him cut and scraped around the neck and head and broken both his lower and upper mandibles. But he needed more help than they could provide.

So Tania drove 30 miles one way to deliver the baby pigeon to me. When she got in her car, the song When Doves Cry was playing on the radio and she so named the little bird Prince in honor of the beloved musician who had died two days before.

When Prince arrived, I could immediately see how full of life he was. He was in a bad way but he didn't act it. He squeaked and begged to be fed like every pigeon child does, despite all his painful injuries. The biggest concerns were fighting the infections (including trich) & trying to save his broken mandibles. A pigeon's beak is so important! They use it to eat, to drink, to preen themselves and their mate, to kiss their mate, to gather and assemble nest materials, to feed their babies, to defend themselves and fight rivals... We have a pigeon fostered in our care, Fleetwood, who came to us missing his upper mandible (lost to a predator attack) who I have handfed every day for more than a year. He is very happy to be alive but I see what a disadvantage his half-beak is for him.

When he first arrived, I wasn't sure if he'd survive but we were lucky and things went really well. I had to tube-feed and medicate little Prince and it was scary. I was terrified I would further damage his fragile and unstable mandibles. Our vet is closed on Sunday and so we were on our own till Monday morning. Holding my breath and opening his fragile beak as carefully as I could, I got his medicines and baby bird formula in and he squeak squeak squeaked for more. He was hungry! The antibiotics started working immediately and his infections began to resolve. He lounged in the sun watching pigeons through the window, preened the feathers that hadn't been yanked out of him when he was attacked, tried to persuade Dolly, another foster pigeon living in the house, to be his mama bird (she declined) and snuggled with me.

Prince is such a vital and charismatic little pigeon! In the car for the hour and fifteen minutes it takes to get to the vet, he busily preened and looked out the window as if he took road trips all the time. Once at the vet's, he won everyone's heart with his courage and charm. It was decided that the best thing we could do for him for now was continue what we were doing... antibiotics, pain management, and lots of careful tube feeding to help him heal and grow. His mandibles were too unstable and surgery too risky. I was relieved to take him back home with me knowing we were on the right track but there was still a very real possibility that he could lose one or both of his mandibles.

Over the next few days, dead tissue and caseous material built up in pockets in his beak creating pressure and threatening his recovery and so that Friday we returned to the vet. Dr. Speer sedated him and was able to clean out a lot of debris while still preserving the delicate bits of tissue that were keeping his mandibles attached. I was as thrilled to bring him back the next day as he was to be back.

In the weeks since, Prince has steadily improved. The swelling and infection in both his elbow and lower mandible disappeared. The little bit of tissue holding his very crooked (nearly torn off) upper mandible healed up and my fear that he would lose it diminished. (A crooked beak is better than none.) He's grown in a whole bunch of new feathers to replace his missing tail and wing feathers and to fill in the many bald spots. His appetite is huge! He came in weighing only 190 grams and now weighs a little more than 300. I tube fed him 30 ccs of baby bird formula (with applesauce and mixed veggies baby food mixed in) three times a day and he learned to supplement that by eating mush (mostly by slurping it up with a lot of tongue action). He's a very eager and messy eater and gets it everywhere! 

I sent Tania frequent updates about Prince and she and her mother came to visit him. As he's healing and growing up, he's started spending time outside in the aviary with the big pigeons. Supervised at first but now he's strong enough to hold his own with the flock. He's been self-feeding lots of mush every day and still being tube fed too. He's a had a few check ins back at our vets and just recently I took Prince to be an ambassador at his first outreach event and he made a lot of new friends for pigeons.

Prince, with his funny face, is a star on our Facebook & Instagram pages and his determination inspires a lot of people. Tania had seen right away that, despite his terrible condition, he wanted to live and she was so right. This little pigeon is full of joy and doesn't let his crooked beak hold him back. On May 29th, Prince taught himself to eat pigeon feed! It isn't easy and he must make multiple attempts to get one seed but he's doing it! (He needs a deep dish of seed and extra time to eat.) Since eating his first seed, he's been completely self-feeding and not only is he maintaining his weight, he has actually gained a couple of grams! 

Prince will never be releasable. He's too tame and his crooked beak would be too great a disadvantage if he was trying to make it on his own as a wild bird. (Surgery to straighten his beak has a high risk of failure and a low chance for success and we don't see a prosthetic helping him.) He will though live a happy and full life as a cherished pet- either indoors or outside in a predator-proof aviary. And Prince wants to live. That is a fact. 

Thank you for helping us to help birds like Prince. We couldn't do it without you.

  

Prince brave at the vet on 4/25
Prince brave at the vet on 4/25
Who is prouder- Dr. Speer or Prince?
Who is prouder- Dr. Speer or Prince?
Prince learns to self-feed mush & loves it!
Prince learns to self-feed mush & loves it!
Prince healing up & enjoying R&R in the aviary
Prince healing up & enjoying R&R in the aviary
Prince & I thank you for helping to save his life!
Prince & I thank you for helping to save his life!

Links:

Now that she is getting love, River is healing
Now that she is getting love, River is healing

Thanks to your support, when River had no place else to go, we were here for her.

On January 17th, 2016, River came to us named Crippled God. She was a wild pigeon who had been rescued a year before in a Berkeley parking lot where it is thought she had been clipped by a car as she flew by. She had lost a foot and control of her legs. In the early days after her initial rescue, her legs would hang down straight rather than tuck up under her in the proper position when she tried to fly. She couldn't stand, sit or walk and she was terrified. In her panics, she thrashed her feathers and eventually couldn't fly anymore either.

Usually injured or disabled pigeons adjust incredibly well to their new circumstances but River had not. Though she was kept in a safe setting with happy rescued birds around her and all her physical needs met, she never relaxed. She huddled by herself in a corner, sometimes staying all day with her head hidden in her blanket. Because she was so terribly frightened, she was left alone.

I've cared for other stressed and scared birds before but never one like this. Even when she was perfectly safe, she was always on the verge of panic.  She was more disabled by her anxiety than by her physical limitations. I thought of her as a PTSD patient.

I rarely change the names of the birds we take in but I needed a way to begin to connect with her and the name Crippled God felt more like a barrier than an entry way. I renamed her River and hoped it would help her find her resilience, her strength and flow.

Though River didn't invite it, I knew she needed friendship. She had been alone in a crowd for a year, with no close connection or bond with anyone. Pigeons are incredibly emotional and loving birds. They hatch as twins and snuggle constantly with their sibling and then, when fledged and sexually mature a couple of months later, mate for life. (Please see Shimmy & Dallas- A Pigeon Love Story for more on the importance of love to pigeons.) I hated scaring her when I picked her up to be held and soothed but she desperately needed a social and emotional connection. She needed to know that she was safe and loved. (She'd already been left alone with other special needs birds for a year and that hadn't worked.) Once in my hands, she'd gradually relax just a little. She'd flinch at any sound or movement but then relax a little again. If I set her down on the rug, she would scuttle wing walking as fast as she could towards any possible hiding place. She was afraid of open spaces- she had PTSD and agoraphobia too.

We made slow progress though and I was thrilled when she would eat safflower seeds out of my hand. She didn't trust me and she ate them super fast and furtively, but it was a big step forward for us. I knew we were heading in the right direction.

I kept River's life very routine and sheltered for the first couple of weeks. Seeing how everything terrified her, I held off going to the vet or to see our most expert pigeon whisperers, volunteers who are exceptionally good at connecting with birds. River spent her days in her cage in the special needs bird room. She was more comfortable and didn't hide as long as she was in her space. Every evening, I'd hold her close, rub her ears, scritch her feathers and feed her safflower seed treats. It was very therapeutic for both of us.

On January 31st, I took River outside for a visit to my aviary. I wondered if she might feel better outdoors. If she did, it was negated by her agitation at not being able to stand, hop or walk. She was very awkward and that made her nervous. I put her in a nice, soft patch of grass and she felt better sitting there, mostly hidden, while I worked close by, protecting her from overcurious pigeons.

By mid-February, I moved River into a bigger cage that provided more choices for where she could spend her time. Her posture was better- more consistently normal, less tipped and awkward. I was always happy when I would check on her and find her using a different bumper to lean on or sitting in the sun looking out the window or self-sequestered in her nest box hideaway.

We kept up our routine and River was gradually becoming less fearful and more content. She still couldn't stand or walk but sometimes she would hold my finger with her little foot while we sat together in the evening. And melt my heart.

On February 25th, I checked on River in the morning and was happy to see her sitting in a new spot in her cage. When I checked on her a couple hours later, I was stricken to discover that she was there because the poor dear had gotten her wing stuck between the horizontal bars. She had badly bruised and abraded her wing, both on top and underneath, trying unsuccessfully to untangle herself.

I got her out and soothed her and expected a big set back but for that day she seemed fine. The next morning though, I found her burrowed into the folds of her fleece. She hid in there the whole day.

On February 27th, I drove her to see our vets at Medical Center for Birds in Oakley. It was there that I could see, even after the terrible setback of getting stuck and hurting her wing, how much progress she had made, how much of her natural self-confidence was starting to come back. She did great! She was, as pigeon rescuer Dan says, "Getting her bird back".

The doctors prescribed Meloxicam for her bruised and swollen wing. They could find nothing that would explain why River can't stand on one leg as pigeons missing a foot typically do. The problem seems to be more in her head than in her body. Her asymmetry throws off her balance which upsets her, which escalates into panic. Now that she is less terrified, it seems that her functionality can improve. And the doctors think that she may be a candidate for a 3-D printed prosthetic foot! (This possibility is being explored.)

From Medical Center for Birds, we went to River's new foster home with Palomacy volunteer Jill where I knew she could more fully recover. And River is becoming a new bird. She's already made huge progress since she arrived! Jill is truly gifted in her ability to soothe and comfort and connect with birds (maybe everybody). River fell in love with Jill within minutes of being taken into her loving hands.

Here's a short video of River on March 3rd, feeling so much peace and calm and love with Jill. River needs this emotional healing to facilitate her physical healing. Love is strong. 

Please mark your calendar- next Wednesday, March 16th, donations made to Palomacy via GlobalGiving will earn a bonus match. Learn more here.

Thank you for helping River and all the other birds like her.

      

River
River's leg injuries completely incapacitated her
Shy River watched the flock from her hideaway
Shy River watched the flock from her hideaway
River self-soothed by hiding in her blanket
River self-soothed by hiding in her blanket
Jill helps River with her standing therapy
Jill helps River with her standing therapy
Jill
Jill's loving care is healing & transforming River

Links:

On the way to Wildcare for rehabilitation
On the way to Wildcare for rehabilitation

Have you ever noticed how many pigeons there are? We get so many requests for help! We can’t even keep up with meeting the needs of all the domestic birds let alone the wild ones too but we do our best to respond or, if we can’t respond ourselves, to empower those who contact us with coaching, information, referrals, encouragement…

Here’s an inspiring story about a kind person whose compassion and tenacity meant the difference between suffering or rescue, life and death, for a pigeon youngster. She didn’t just alert others and depend on them to do something. She stayed engaged and advocated for the vulnerable bird until he was safe. She made a life-saving difference.

Wednesday 11/18
I received this email from Lindsey.
Subject: PLEASE HELP INJURED JUVENILE PIGEON IN ASHBY BART
Hello, 
On Monday I noticed a mother and her baby down in the BART* (*Bay Area Rapid Transit) tracks at the Ashby station, this is a pair I’ve been watching for weeks now. I immediately noticed the juvenile in distress with a broken wing. This bird couldn’t fly yet and now is injured I cried called bart police, talked to the man in the box in the station, called animal control. No one has done anything the bird is alive and well, preening and alert. BUT I have reason to believe that its very devoted sweet mother is now deceased presumably from flying down constantly to sit with her baby in between trains. I plan to bring food tonight if nothing is done and I wanted to try and get him out and take him home with me. I have raised (& released) many a wild animal back in Wisconsin but this is a new game. I’m assuming it’s illegal to just jump into the tracks and I don’t know what to do. I can not bear to watch this baby suffer or starve, I am obsessed. Please help! Specifically the bird is located on the side traveling into Oakland near the South side, you will see it bopping around if its still alive.
Thank you kindly, 
I am at the office but call me if you have any questions. 
Lindsey

Thursday 11/19
I referred Lindsey to Wildlife Emergency Services (1 866 WILD 911) and because we have gotten help from BART Directors in the past, encouraged her to contact them for help as well.

Friday 11/20
Lindsey succeeded in getting BART officials to remove the pigeon from the train tracks but they just set him down outside and he still needed to be rescued. I posted to our groups on Facebook at 8:53 AM and within less than one hour, the youngster was rescued and safe thanks to the compassion and swift response of Steph, one of our volunteers.

11/20 Update Posted by Lindsey
BABY PIGEON UPDATE!
Finally, after 5 DAYS someone has listened to me! This little survivor made it 5 days in the tracks with a broken wing! I made countless phone calls to every wildlife rescue place imaginable, shed countless tears, sent emails, brought food & finally I found good people. Thank you kind BART man for promising to get baby off the tracks and consoling me & justifying my feelings! Thank you Elizabeth from Palomacy for being the only one who responded to me & thank you for sending an angel Steph to go scoop up baby and make sure it gets the care it needs. 
All life is precious. I am filled with hope.

About this experience, Lindsey writes,
“Since moving to California three months ago I've noticed that pigeons are often times classified as pests, their lives are disregarded, and they are looked at with disgust. Putting aside my great love and appreciation for birds in general, I have made some observations: Pigeons are survivors, pigeons are gentle, curious, trusting, & beautiful creatures. I had the profound joy of watching a mother and her babies for weeks in the Ashby BART station. It was a gift everyday in the midst of my two hour commute, and for me a moment to appreciate life. Babies need to learn to fly and sometimes their first attempts are not successful. For one of the baby pigeons, a series of heartbreaking events landed him with a broken wing, stuck in the BART tracks, and motherless. The little survivor lasted five days in the tracks injured and alone. For five days I begged every organization I could find the number or email address to, for five days I researched the legal/safety ramifications of me jumping into the tracks to rescue this baby, for five days I dreaded my commute and cried for this baby, and for five days I had people tell me "It's just a pigeon, there is nothing we can do." Persistence bordering on obsession paid off. The right ear, Palomacy, heard my emotional pleas, good people took action, and this baby was given a chance at life. I'm so glad this creature will know what it is to find its own food, he will feel sunshine & fresh air, and hopefully with the help of the good people at WildCare he will experience what it is to fly. No creature ever deserves to suffer. All life is so very precious.”

Thank you, Lindsey, for all that you did to save this pigeon youngster! Thank you, Steph, for dropping everything to race to his rescue and thank you WildCare for providing the treatment and care this youngster needs!

UPDATE from WildCare
Monday 12/7
He is with three other pigeons and he makes improvements everyday. He can fly a bit and perch on lower limbs. He experienced some neurological trauma and sometimes he flops on his side and flaps, but his condition strengthens constantly.

And to our GlobalGiving donors, thank you for the life-saving difference you are making with your support of Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions. We couldn't do this without you.

Together, we are closing a deadly gap in the animal welfare community.

The youngster off the tracks but not yet saved
The youngster off the tracks but not yet saved
Finally- rescued & safe after a long hard week
Finally- rescued & safe after a long hard week
On the way to Wildcare for rehabilitation
On the way to Wildcare for rehabilitation

Links:

Blossom arrived with tape holding her scalp on
Blossom arrived with tape holding her scalp on

Bonus Match Happening Now

Good Morning. Right now (for real) but only while funds last (and they go fast!) you can make a much needed donation in support of our work and it will be matched with a 30% bonus up to $1000 per donor. Please- if you can- make a donation right now! This is the last bonus match opportunity of 2015. Here's the link. Thank you! 

Blossom's Ordeal

Blossom is one of the many birds that your support has enabled us to save. 

On August 12th, I was contacted by WildCare regarding a scalped racing pigeon that had been brought in. (A predator had caught and begun to eat her before she escaped.) Because she was a banded racing pigeon, she was not eligible for vet care and needed transfer and help ASAP. Thanks to the help of WildCare staff and a Palomacy volunteer, we were able to get her from San Rafael to Medical Center for Birds in Oakley for treatment. She arrived with her scalp taped onto her head.

The extent of Blossom's injury required that she be sedated so that her wound could be surgically cleaned and repaired. When she was anthestized and intubated, it was discovered that she had a ruptured air sac as well (revealed by the way her body inflated abnormally with breathing support).  She recuperated in the hospital for a couple of days, receiving supportive care. She had come in emaciated and, even though her scalp was back in place and she could see again, she wasn't eating. But she was super thirsty and had polyuria (excessively watery poop). Blood tests came back normal and didn't reveal any answers. In a couple of days, she began eating and they were able to discontinue the tube feeding. The thirst and polyuria continued.

I went out to Oakley on August 18th to pick up Blossom and as soon as I met her, I realized that the name I had originally given her- prior to meeting her and when I needed something quick for our and the vets' records- Rex- was so wrong as to need changing (something I hate to do because it creates extra work and potential confusion). She's a delicate, petite, shy little flower of a pigeon. I renamed her Blossom.

Once home and fostered with me, Blossom, on antibiotics and pain meds, was stable and her wound seemed to be healing but something else was going on. Her thirst and polyuria continued.

On 8/25, I did a routine weight check expecting to see that Blossom was gaining weight (she seemed to be eating well) but I was surprised to find that she had actually lost weight. I took her back in to see the vets the following day. She surprised me by eating almost non-stop the whole 54 miles. (She doesn't seem like the adventuresome type so I hadn't expected that a roadtrip would spark her appetite but it did.)

Dr. Speer looked through her matted feathers to reveal what was really happening with her scalp. While a portion of the reattachment was healing well, there were places that had reopened. He checked the wound for necrotic tissue and infection but found none. She received topical Lidocaine to numb her scalp and a few new sutures to help close the wound and speed healing. Blossom was an incredibly brave patient throughout the procedure.

The vets didn't see any obvious explanation for Blossom's weight loss, thirst and polyuria and recommended I discontinue the anitbiotics and Meloxicam in case they were contributing.

Back home fostered with me, Blossom was doing OK. Her weight got back up to where it was (though still too thin) but her thirst was, if anything, increasing. She will drink an entire huge bowl of water (2 cups) in 24 hours. We went back out to Medical Center for Birds on September 10th for more follow up. Through all the years and so many pets and so many pigeons and doves rescued, I've worked with a lot of vets, many of them truly wonderful, but none more supportive, responsive, helpful, generous and dedicated than those at Medical Center for Birds. They work tirelessly to help us (and so many others) and that's why we go to such lengths to get our birds all the way out to Oakley to see them whenever we can. They also do everything possible to help us stretch our dollars as far as they will go but even so, medical care is expensive and Blossom's bill, despite the discounts, was already more than $1200, before her re-hospitalization.

This time, Blossom stayed at Medical Center for Birds for four days. Her blood work still looks normal but her radiographs are anything but. Her right kidney is nowhere to be found. Her right air sacs are displaced by her skewed GI tract which is likely adhering to the body wall. She's got a lower respiratory infection suspected to involve Aspergillosis. I think she's also got a lot of scar tissue and internal damage from the predator-attack. I picked her up and brought her back home with me yesterday and she's very happy to be here. Almost as happy as I am to have her back. She's on meds and our hope is that with time and finesse, we can get her through this back to health. She ate and preened on the car ride home. She wants to live. 

Blossom, this brave young survivor of pigeon racing, barely six months old, was lost and starving to death before she was attacked and nearly killed by the predator that scalped her and nearly killed her. Pigeon racers say, "let the (training) basket and races cull for you". To them, birds like Blossom, who get lost, hurt or killed while being flown, are worthless. As if Blossom's life means any less to her than theirs does to them. It breaks my heart to think of all that birds like Blossom endure. They suffer a lot. Blossom is one of the lucky ones. Thank you for helping us to do this special work. We are making a difference, both for the individual birds like Blossom, and for our communities who are learning the truth about these birds.

Please make a donation right now before bonus match funds run out. Every dollar helps and every life matters. Blossom and all of us thank you for your compassion.

Thank you.

Blossom in the loving hands of Dr. Fitzgerald
Blossom in the loving hands of Dr. Fitzgerald
Blossom brave throughout her re-suturing
Blossom brave throughout her re-suturing
Blossom drinks two cups of water every 24 hours
Blossom drinks two cups of water every 24 hours
Blossom
Blossom's radiograph doesn't tell a happy story
Beautiful Blossom thanks you for saving her!
Beautiful Blossom thanks you for saving her!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.PigeonRescue.org
Project Leader:
Elizabeth Young
San Francisco, California United States
$111,796 raised of $160,000 goal
 
1,886 donations
$48,205 to go
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