Save Domestic Pigeons and Doves From Euthanasia

by Palomacy Pigeon & Dove Adoptions
Vetted
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:

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:

 

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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
$105,490 raised of $160,000 goal
 
1,808 donations
$54,510 to go
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