Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pigeon Rescue

I woke up this morning to my ringing cell phone. It was Paul (yes, I sleep in while he's industrious and goes out running), and he was calling me with a problem: He'd found a Rock Pigeon on the side of the road, alive and moving around, but clearly injured in some way and unable to fly.

I didn't have a clear idea about what to do. Part of that was because I was still 95% asleep, but I also just don't know very much about injured wildlife. I knew that there are several wildlife rehabilitators near us, but my first guess was that such places might not even take in a Rock Pigeon, since they're not a native species, and they're so common. (That turned out to be a wrong guess, but I didn't know that at the time.) So I advised Paul to leave it and come home, as sad as he might be to have to do that -- he didn't have anything to carry it in anyway, and a lady in the neighboring house was staring at him like she thought he might start stealing things.

Once I actually woke up, though, I did a little research. As it turns out, rehabilitators are actually more likely to accept non-native species like Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows, and European Starlings, since those species aren't protected under certain federal wildlife laws and a person doesn't need a special permit to care for them. (I don't know the exact legal details for the situation, but it boils down to something like that.) So Paul and I decided to act. On the off-chance that the pigeon was still there, we grabbed a cardboard box, put a comfy towel inside, and walked back to the spot where Paul had seen the bird an hour before.

And there it was, sitting in the greenery right next to the road. When we approached the bird, it flapped its wings but wasn't able to fly away. So I just reached down and scooped it up in my hands, and as soon as I was holding it, my earlier "just leave it be" attitude pretty much evaporated. It was warm, and so soft, and I know Rock Pigeons are about as common as can be, and they don't even technically "belong" on this continent, but this was a gorgeous bird, a real living creature, and I kind of melted a little inside at that moment.

Look at those eyes! And that iridescent ruff! I can see why people keep these birds as pets. (Photo taken by Paul.)

We didn't see anything immediately wrong with the little fellow -- no blood, no obviously broken wing -- so we put him (I don't really know the bird's sex, but we guessed male) into the box, where he nestled down into the towel to rest. I called around, and a nice lady at the Ansonia Nature Center's wildlife rehabilitation place agreed to take him in. (She first had me check the bird's legs for a band, to make sure it wasn't someone's pet, which is also when we took the above picture.)

So we drove our pigeon friend over there during Paul's lunch break and handed him off. We'll call back in a couple of days to see how things went, but for now we're just happy to have done our part to help someone in need. Be well, little Rock Pigeon!

P.S. Don't worry, I washed my hands, although I'm pretty sure it's a myth that pigeons are particularly "dirty" birds -- no dirtier than any other bird, I would imagine. But still, it's best to be safe.


  1. Thank you for having such a kind heart. You have earned some good karma by trying to ease this little bit of suffering in the world.

  2. Those iridescent feathers are stunning! It's so sweet of you two to come to his aid.

  3. That is some fine work, L&P! Thank you for helping this handsome guy out. :)

  4. I think rabbits and pigeons make wonderfull playmates.

  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone! I called the rehabilitation center on Friday, but they didn't have any updates for me yet. I'm glad Paul and I got to do our part to help this creature. :)