Save Domestic Pigeons and Doves From Euthanasia

by Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions
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:

Summer recuperating from predator attack & surgery
Summer recuperating from predator attack & surgery

On August 7th, a notice went out from San Jose Animal Care & Services about an injured pigeon- always a 911. Palomacy volunteer and bird rescuer Friederike immediately offered to pick her up and rush her to the vet and to foster her too. She named the little pigeon Summer.

Wounds that can seem minor are often deadly for birds as they will succumb to infection if not properly treated. In Summer's case, the wound was so serious as to require surgical cleaning and repair. (The skin of her leg and abdomen and been torn in a predator attack- she had been "degloved".) She required anasthesia, more than 23 stitches, three follow up appointments, some tube feeding early on and two courses of antibiotics to heal from the injury. Even with a generous financial aid grant of $250 from the shelter to help, we still owe more than $1000 for her care.

Summer is a shy, gentle bird. Her markings remind me of a pinto pony. She has been a very good patient and Friederike has taken amazing care of her, medicating her twice a day, carefully monitoring her healing and getting her the follow up care that was required to finally win out over the infection. Today her stitches are out and she's feeling much better. 

Summer is a young pigeon, only about 6 months old. She was being used for pigeon racing. Every year, millions of racing pigeons are bred and then, when they are taken miles from home to be trained and ultimately raced (often for hundreds of miles), many will die trying to get back home. (Pigeon racers say, "Let the (training) basket and race cull for you" meaning they only care about the winners. The deaths of the others are part of the "sport".) Summer is extremely lucky to be alive. You saved Summer.

And Summer's life will never again be put in jeopardy for someone's amusement. She's safe now. Summer is a domestic pigeon, unequipped to survive in the wild but well able to thrive as a pet and we will see that she has a happy home. Summer's already made a very special new friend- a lonesome bachelor pigeon named Fancy.

We couldn't answer these calls without your help. Your support is what makes the life & death difference for birds like Summer. Today- right now until the funds run out- you can donate in support of this special work and earn an extra 30% bonus match (up to $1000 per donor)! Today is the last bonus match opportunity of the year. Please- if you can, donate again and help us save more birds like Summer. We can't do this without you.

Thank you.

Thank you for saving Summer!
Thank you for saving Summer!
Summer & her beau Fancy (He says thank you too!)
Summer & her beau Fancy (He says thank you too!)

Links:

Natalia & Snezhok, by Elisabeth Millay Young
Natalia & Snezhok, by Elisabeth Millay Young

Please vote for us today in GlobalGiving's 2015 Photo Contest!

When Natalia saw the nervous, hungry white pigeon looking so lost on a busy San Francisco sidewalk, she knew that the bird needed help. It wasn't until after the fact that she learned the King Pigeon she rescued and named Snezhok (snowball in Russian), was only four weeks old, a survivor of both the squab industry and an inhumane "release" and completely unable to survive in the wild.

Domestic and defenseless, Snezhok was incredibly lucky to be rescued into a loving family and given a home. Natalia writes, "Snezhok has the most loyal but at the same time independent spirit. Surprisingly for a bird, who has no means of defense and does not fly very well, she is not afraid of anything and faces challenges fearlessly: from the streets of San Francisco, where we found her abandoned and starved but her spirit still unbroken - to living with humans and adjusting to other pets."

We created Palomacy to help birds like Snezhok and people like Natalia. There was a deadly gap in the animal welfare community so, while domestic (unreleasable) pigeons were going in to animal shelters, they weren't getting out.

The shelters didn't know who these birds were, they didn't post them to their websites nor include them in events. People didn't know they existed and they didn't get adopted. Yet all the other animals had at least some hope of getting adopted or rescued. Just not the pigeons. Strange.

Pigeons are among the most commonplace of animals in our lives. Our cities have flocks of wild Rock Pigeons. There are countless pigeon breeders, hobbyists, fanciers and squab producers hatching millions of domestic pigeons in the US alone every year. Plenty of people are seeing pigeons but somehow they aren't really seeing pigeons.

But those of us who have seen the beauty, the intelligence, the soulfulness of these earthbound angels, we know they deserve compassion. 

And so, we are super excited to have not only Natalia & Snezhok's photo by Elisabeth Millay Young selected as a semi-finalist in GlobalGiving's 2015 Photo Contest, but also a portrait of pigeon-racing survivor Indy as well! This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to show who pigeons really are.

Pigeon-racing survivor Indy, photographed by Kira Stackhouse, is an incredibly gentle, sweet bird. As a racing pigeon, he was bred to be a "champion", taken hundreds of miles from his home and "tossed" with thousands of other pigeons to begin the desperate "race" to find his way back home. Despite flying their hearts out, most never do. Indy was lucky in that, when he was grounded with both a broken wing and broken leg, he was found by a well-meaning person rather than a hungry predator, but he wasn't out of danger. He was kept unprotected in a backyard, given no vet care and he likely would have died there if he hadn't been rescued by Palomacy. Now he has a happy life ahead of him.

Please vote for your favorite photo (shot pro bono by professional photographers who support our work) and invite all your friends to vote for us in the GlobalGiving Photo Contest! First prize is $1000 for the rescue! Voting has started and the photo with the most votes this Friday at 9 AM PT will win $1000. (Only your first vote will count and email confirmation is required.)

Please help people to see who pigeons really are. Pigeons are worthy of our compassion.

Thank you for all of your support!

Pigeon Racing Survivor Indy, by Kira Stackhouse
Pigeon Racing Survivor Indy, by Kira Stackhouse

Links:

Fleetwood 6/11/15
Fleetwood 6/11/15

On 4/1, a brown & white Persian High Flyer pigeon with a startling injury approached a kind person in Sacramento who took him to Wildlife Care Association (WCA). The bird's upper beak was entirely gone, torn from his face. Brianna of WCA took care of his immediate needs with pain meds, antibiotics and supportive care and reached out to us, Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions, for his long term care. Brianna named him Fleetwood. We were able, with the help of a volunteer from Mickaboo (our big sister parrot rescue), to get Fleetwood transported to our avian vets at Medical Center for Birds.

Aside from the disabling wound (which included a punture into the lower mandible as well), Fleetwood was in surprisingly good condition. The wound was recent. His injury was such that his beak would never grow back and, because there was not even a stump left for attachment, he is considered a poor prospect for a prosthetic beak. Now he needed to heal and relearn how to feed himself with only half a beak.

Fleetwood's sort of injury is frequently seen among pet parrots who have fought and wounded one another with their incredibly strong-biting beaks but is much less common among pigeons. The best we can tell from the wound, he was attacked by an animal, likely a rat, racoon or cat. He had no marks anywhere else on his body and he may have been injured through chicken wire (something that is commonly used but which is totally inadequate for protecting against predators). Whatever the case, Fleetwood was very lucky to survive the attack.

He was hospitalized for a week. In the beginning, even though he was being tube-fed, he tried diligently (but unsuccessfully) to self-feed from the various types of dishes the clinic staff provided. After a couple of days, his efforts petered out. They cut back his tube-fed meals in order to increase his appetite and re-invigorate his efforts to self-feed but it didn't help. 

I picked Fleetwood up on April 9th. After a week locked indoors in a hospital tank with all kinds of piles of food that he couldn't eat, he was very depressed. I brought him home and he brightened up at seeing other pigeons. He needed to regain lost weight so I increased his meal size and, though he hated tube-feeding, the extra nutrition seemed to also lift his spirits. 

It doesn't take a lot to make pigeons happy. Pigeons are very easy going and good natured. There is a saying about them: Pigeons bloom where planted. I have found this to be very true. They are expert at making the best of a situation, no matter how bad, and they are incredibly stoic about enduring hardships. Even so, they have their needs. Pigeons need companionship (preferrably other pigeons but if not, a really devoted person willing to learn some Pigeonese), they need sunshine, they need space to move, they need to be able to eat...

I was able to offer Fleetwood most of these. I found that his favorite place to be was outside in the aviary with the flock. Initially I was concerned that he was not strong enough to manage out there (especially with only half a beak to defend himself) but I could see how much he preferred it. I saw he would scamper away when another pigeon accosted him. And Indy, a bachelor pigeon racing-survivor I foster, courted Fleetwood and spent a lot of time shadowing him so he had a buddy and bodyguard of sorts. (So much so that I thought Fleetwood was female for the first five weeks I cared for him.)

Amazingly, though I was tube-feeding Fleetwood big, filling, weight-gain-intending meals thrice daily, outside in the aviary, he continuously pecked (unsuccessfully) at the pigeon feed all day, every day. He wanted to eat! He was relentless and spent all his time peck peck pecking. He never altered his technique, just kept trying the same thing over and over. It was heartbreaking and encouraging both. 

When I brought him indoors after a day in the aviary, I returned him to a cage full of pigeon food in deep bowls that, if he plunged his face into, he likely could have self-fed from, but he wouldn't. He only wanted to try and eat seeds from the ground in the aviary. Ideas and suggestions poured in and I tried everything we could think of to enable him to self-feed. I tried hand-feeding, feeding gruel in a baby-pigeon feeding-type tube, different types of food in different types of containers...

Seeing how committed he was to pecking at the ground, I had what I thought was a stroke of genius. I filled the bottom of a plastic box one inch deep with all kinds of bird seed- large pigeon feed grains as well as tiny canary and budgie-size seeds. I put him in sure that the "feeding box" was the solution. He could stand in the seed, peck peck peck away and, because there was only seed an inch deep, never miss! It seemed, at first, like it was going to work. He did peck at the seed and I think might have even got a couple in. But being in a box, even a clear one that he could hop out of when he wanted to do, seemed unsatisfactory. He only tried pecking in it a couple of times. Eventually he would completely ignore the lush carpet of food at his feet when I put him in and I finally put the box away.

As the weeks went by, Fleetwood was slowly regaining a little of the lost weight but he was still very thin and he hated- hated - being tube-fed. It was the thing that we both had to do every day that we both hated the most. Some birds warm up to being tube-fed, appreciating the full crop it delivers, but not Fleetwood. And because he hated having it done so much, I hated doing it.

I rarely see problems for which euthanasia is the solution but I was beginning to wonder if that might be what lay at the end of the road for poor Fleetwood. (Some had suggested it right away but my theory is, we don't have to start with euthanasia, it will always be there as an option.) He wasn't happy. He couldn't eat. He wouldn't even drink water though it was always available to him. I even made a point of offering him the chance to sip from a water cup whenever I handled him (something most pigeons appreciate) but he always recoiled from it.

We count a few especially talented pigeon people amongst our supporters, people who have an uncanny ability to befriend and soothe even the most challenging birds. I had scheduled an upcoming weekend, 5/22, for Fleetwood with one of ours. I hoped that together they could have the feeding breakthrough that we were not. 

Then, on 5/13, Fleetwood had his own breakthrough and took a bath in the aviary for the first time! (Pigeons love to bathe and most do it nearly daily so it's always really encouraging to see a recovering pigeon decide it's time to bathe.) I was very happy! He gave me a lot of new hope with that bath.

And then, all of a sudden, on 5/15, as I was about to feed him for the 105th time, Fleetwood and I finally had our big feeding breathrough!

I had brought him in for his afternoon tube-feeding, something we both dreaded, and, for the first time ever, rather than fight my fingers, he nibbled at them! Little 'feed me' nibbles! Oh my goodness, I was so excited! I immediately dropped the tube-feeding stuff and instead got pigeon feed that I could finger-feed him. And it worked! When he wanted me to finger-feed him, it was easy and fun! (Previously, when he resisted, it was basically impossible.)

That day marked an incredible turning point for Fleetwood. He's never been tube-fed again. The following day, I saw him take a big drink of water (I actually got it on video!) and so that was really good news, too. Now, twice a day, I finger-feed him and we both love it! What had been the worst part of both our days is now the best part. It's hard to express how much satisfaction we both get from it. He still peck peck pecks outside in the aviary all day and sometimes he is actually successful! Sometimes I can feel a small amount of seeds in his crop when I bring him in for his bedtime dinner! I am pretty confident that he'll be able to self-feed enough to no longer require finger-feeding. He may already be at that point (he's put on a lot of weight!) but he and I so both enjoy the finger-feeding that we are not ready to give it up quite yet. 

As soon as Fleetwood started getting finger-fed instead of tube-fed, his demeanor changed. He became so much happier! And he made it clear that he was all male- strutting and flirting and expressing himself with great machismo. 

Fleetwood suffered a devastating, life-altering injury but thanks to all of us along the way- the partners and volunteers and donors, his amazing spirit has won out. Fleetwood has a long life ahead of him. He still needs to meet a nice single lady pigeon and he still needs his forever home but he is here- alive and well, thanks to the rescue community that you support. He is happy to be alive and grateful to you for giving him the chance to live. 

And I thank you for giving me the privilege of leading this amazing community. We are helping animals for whom there used to be no rescue. We are closing a fatal gap in the animal welfare community. We are making a real life and death difference.

Thank you for saving Fleetwood's life and so many others.

Fleetwood at intake 4/1
Fleetwood at intake 4/1
Depressed in the hospital 4/9
Depressed in the hospital 4/9
Thrilled to be spending time in the aviary 4/13
Thrilled to be spending time in the aviary 4/13
Weight check 4/17
Weight check 4/17
Reunited with Brianna from WCA 5/19
Reunited with Brianna from WCA 5/19
Feeling proud 6/9
Feeling proud 6/9

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
$96,104 raised of $99,000 goal
 
1,584 donations
$2,897 to go
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