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100 years ago today, Martha, the last Passenger pigeon in the world died.

To mark the hundredth anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon I would like to provide some excerpts from Project Passenger Pigeon. Please visit their website and their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectPassengerPigeon to read their message and help in the fight against species extinction.

Passenger Pigeons Were Unlike Any Other Bird in the World in at Least Three Important Ways
The Passenger Pigeon was a bird solely of North America, with the vast majority inhabiting a region from the Gulf States to Hudson’s Bay, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the upper Missouri River. Three things made them unique in all the world:

  1. they were the most abundant bird of the continent, if not the world: no one knows for sure how many there were but the most careful figure offered ranges from a low of three billion to a high of five billion individuals;
  2. they aggregated in numbers that darkened the sky for as much as three days: individual flights might have exceeded two billion birds; and
  3.  in literally decades, human actions reduced this incredible bounty to zero, when on September 1, 1914, the last of the species died. Given that it is extinct, very little was known about its relationships to other birds until recently.

http://passengerpigeon.org/differentpigeon.html

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“Passenger Pigeon wood carving by Mike Ford, on display at Chippewa Nature Center, Midland, MI.

“No photograph of a living passenger pigeon in the wild has yet been found.”

- Photo and excerpt from: http://passengerpigeon.org/differentpigeon.html

 

 

 

Mission Statement of Project Passenger Pigeon

2014 marks the centenary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. Numbering in the billions in 1800, the last bird died on September 1, 1914; driven to extinction by human activity.

Project Passenger Pigeon is an international effort to commemorate this anniversary and use it not only as an opportunity to familiarize people with this remarkable species, but also to raise awareness of current issues related to human-caused extinction, explore connections between humans and the natural world, and inspire people to become more involved in building a sustainable relationship with other species.

http://passengerpigeon.org/mission.html

How Everyone Can Get Involved

Project Passenger Pigeon is about reaching as many people as possible in our efforts to tell the compelling story of the passenger pigeon and to present current issues related to extinction, the relationship of people to nature, and how we can proceed in a more sustainable way.

To help bring that about, the Project has created, and is in the process of creating, a wide range of scientifically and historically accurate media resources that will make it easy for organizations to participate in this effort.

http://passengerpigeon.org/everyoneinvolved.html


It was a funny sort of day the other day. It started with heavy rain, so much rain that I thought I’d need to wear waders to get to my car. Then it stopped and the sun came out and all was glorious. But wait, here comes the rain again. I was home for lunch and when the rain stopped I decided to let the pigeons out for a wander on the wet ground.

As soon as Georgie felt her feet in the water she started swishing her beak in the water and I knew what she was wanting – a puddle bath!! :D

So there was Georgie having a whale of a time when I noticed Elmo shaking. He was looking at Georgie intently and shiving all over – he wanted a bath too!!

It was such a joy to watch the two of them bathing so close together without any fighting – they were simply concentrating on the water – water that I was scooping up to drip over them and swishing around their feet. I don’t think they’ve ever had a “wild” bath before – it’s always been tap water – so I’m glad they had a rainwater, puddle bath. It felt like they were going back to their roots as feral pigeons. :)


Our pigeons love summer. The sunshine, the gentle breeze, the vibrant grass. They love to hang out in the garden doing practically nothing, just enjoying the day without a care in the world. A little bit of preening may be on the schedule, a bit of pottering about to peck at the ground, and then a spot of sunbathing to round things up.

I learn a lot from being with Georgie and Elmo. I slow down and relax, take in the glorious day and enjoy it. It’s a lesson I appreciate. :)


It is not often that you see a pigeon of this colour:

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This poor roller pigeon was found in a garden and brought to my work (a veterinary practice) for assessment. As soon as I saw him I could see that he was very thin and needed care. We placed him in a warm cage with food and water, and left him to settle. The pigeon perked up after a while but was too weak to be interested in the food and water. I dipped his beak in the water to tempt him and he took the most pitiful little sip. My heart was breaking. I willed him to stay strong and survive his ordeal.

After examining him I found him to be in sound condition, no breaks or injuries, but simply extremely thin as if he had been lost for a while and unable to find any food (I’m not a vet, by the way, but I have worked with wildlife casualties, especially birds). It is a miracle that this pigeon wasn’t caught by a predator – his colouration making him an easy target (but I guess that some predator species do not see the same colours we do). The heat pad did its magic and the pigeon started eating a bit and looked livelier, however, it will take some time for him to regain his health and have strength to fly.

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The unusual thing is that this pigeon doesn’t have a metal identification ring on, only a plastic ring (ok, the second most unusal thing about him after being pink). I assumed that all fancy pigeons were ringed after they hatched so that their owners or breeders could identify them. So finding the owner of this pigeon will be impossible as the plastic ring hasn’t got any identification numbers on it.

I did manage to speak to someone at a roller pigeon club and they told me that roller pigeons are sometimes dyed different colours so that the owners can tell them apart when they are flying and doing their acrobatics. So that explains the pink dye.

We will have to find this pigeon a new home since he’s not a feral pigeon and won’t survive out in the wild. I shall keep you updated once I have more news on his progress.

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Previous posts about painted pigeons: Painted pigeons – is it right?, Pretty in pink?, and Promoting feral pigeons – by painting them?

26th June UPDATE:

“Pink” pigeon has gone to Blyth Wildlife Rescue for long-term care and rehabilitation. He is now in an aviary with other pigeons, settling in well, although looking the odd one out. :) We are grateful for everyone at Blyth Wildlife Rescue for taking him. Please visit their website and Facebook page to support them.

 


Pidge

1993 – 2014

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Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Pidge on the 11th June, 2014, at the age of 21. In the past year Pidge’s health had deteriorated but he remained in good spirits and was cared for with love and devotion by his mate and the staff at Folly Wildlife Rescue. In the last months, as he was unable to walk very well, Pidge spent his days with his original carer, Annette.

Pidge was the first feral pigeon hand-reared and cared for by Annette (my former employer) at Folly Wildlife Rescue. He came to her as an orphaned baby in 1993 and she fell in love with him. Pidge lived as a free-flying pigeon for many years until he had a close-encounter with a sparrowhawk, after which it was decided that he would be safer in a large aviary with non-releasable pigeons.

All the staff and volunteers at the rescue centre fell in love with Pidge. He had charm and character and would entertain us with his behaviour all the time. Pidge would strut and coo to anyone who visited him. He LOVED people! He had such enthusiasm! Without fail, Pidge would fly over to me to greet me when I would enter his aviary to feed and clean. You couldn’t help but laugh and greet him back with joy. I believe he was the first pigeon that I met that opened my eyes to how wonderful pigeons are. It is possible to say that without meeting Pidge I may never have adopted my own pigeons.

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Pidge

Pidge wasn’t only interested in people, he also found love with a resident pigeon, Dora, and was very devoted to her. They were definitely the “celebrity couple” in the aviary, being so pretty and outgoing. Dora stayed by Pidge’s side when he fell ill, defending him from intruding hands (staff members who tried to clean the cage they were in) and giving him lots of cuddles and affection when he was unable to move about easily.

I can say for certain that Pidge will be greatly missed. He was a wonderful pigeon. Rest in peace, dear boy.

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If you would like to donate to Folly Wildlife Rescue in memory of Pidge, please visit their website: www.follywildliferescue.org.uk

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You can read more about Pidge on my previous posts: Pidge and the resident pigeons

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Pidge with his mate, Dora:

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HAPPY PIGEON APPRECIATION DAY!!!

Why celebrate pigeons? Because they are amazing birds with lots of character and charm. Here’s why we think they are simply wonderful:

Even injured pigeons ask for love from humans:

Baby pigeons and doves are ADORABLE:

Tame pigeons are excited when you find them:

Pigeons have amazing voices:

Pigeons are funny:


For those who doubt the awesomeness of pigeons here’s some interesting facts for you: 17 ways that pigeons are cooler than humans by Megan McCormick

And some funny photos: 23 pictures that prove pigeons are actually the best by Tanner Ringerud

This website puts it nicely too: 21 reasons you should appreciate pigeons by Stephen Messenger

So, after reading all that, do you agree with me? Pigeons are amazing! :D

This Friday, the 13th of June, is Pigeon Appreciation Day and people around the world will be spreading the word and celebrating all that is wonderful about pigeons! Join us!!

FB-PAP-LOGO-Pigeon-Appreciation-Day


Returning home from a holiday can be very stressful. Especially when you have been away from your animals for a week. You dread to think in what mental and physical state they will be in. Thoughts that run through your mind: “Have they missed us? Did they like the pet sitters? Have they lost weight? Did they eat properly?”

The only way to have peace of mind is to find someone who you can trust and rely on to care for your animals as you would. We found two pet sitters to care for Elmo, Georgie and Hugo while we were away. I find that our animals fare better (e.g. less stressed and eat well) if they stay at home and have someone visit instead of putting them in a cattery and cage elsewhere. This way they are in familiar surroundings with only a “stranger” visiting, instead of being in an unfamiliar place where they may be worried all the time.

I still worry, though, which is natural, since I am far away from my dear animals. When we returned home yesterday Hugo cat was visibly glad to see us. He started drooling profusely, which he only does when he’s very happy. Elmo danced about and cooed his little head off, while Georgie girl was a bit more reserved. Only after I had sung to her did she realise it was me (her “mate”) and replied in kind (Georgie’s favourite song that I hum to her is Mmm mmm mmm by the Crash Test Dummies, I kid you not).

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Hugo gives us THAT look.

After the initial show of delight and excitement at our return, our animals settled back into their normal routine. Elmo headed to Hugo’s water bowl and promptly had a bath (much to Hugo’s disgust), Georgie plonked herself next to me on the sofa for a snooze, and Hugo meowed at the back door to be let out to eat some grass and sniff where the neighbour’s cats had been. It was as if we had never been away. :)

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Georgie pigeon relaxed by my side.

I’m delighted to say that despite our animals having missed us they were in good condition and spirits when we returned, so I know they had been cared for properly. Having such unusual pets as pigeons made looking for a pet sitter interesting – as some people are not comfortable with birds, what to speak about pigeons! But once they meet my pigeons, their misconceptions or misgivings are usually won over by our characterful birds. Elmo is such a clown that he makes most people smile with his greeting song and dance, and Georgie is so pretty and delicate that all can admire. … Not that I’m biased at all with this opinion. :D

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Elmo after a bath.

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Elmo having a bath.

When my husband and I were in Tampere, Finland, visiting my family we saw a newly wed pigeon couple at an underground car park. The lighting was bad so I wasn’t able to get a good photo, and I didn’t want to disturb them too much with my flashing lights (like a paparazzo!), but I watched the male pigeon call his mate up to where he thought was a suitable spot to nest: in the wiring that ran along the ceiling of the car park. He cooed and cooed with determination and I thought, “His mate will reject that spot for sure,” since the ceiling was low and the wiring not very solid. Later that day when we returned I saw the female sitting in the wiring and the male pigeon flew over to her with a stick in his beak. It seemed that the place had been approved and the nest building was in full swing.

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Feral pigeon settling into her new nest.

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The male pigeon flies away to gather more nesting material.

At another underground car park I heard the unmistakable squeaks of baby pigeons and found a nest with two little babies begging for food from one of their parents. The other parent was sitting a few meters away on a post (its chest a bit wet from a recent feeding). As soon as they noticed me looking they went quiet to show me their disapproval of my intrusion, so I left them in peace. Oh how I would have loved to have stayed to watch the family for that day!

 


Here’s a couple of short videos of our darling pets: Elmo pigeon, Georgie pigeon, and Hugo cat. :)

Enjoy!

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The inevitable happened.

I rescued a pigeon (first time since moving up North).

It happened at a local railway bridge that is home to a pigeon flock. I was walking under it and saw a fluttering of wings across the road. A pigeon was flapping up a fence but fell down to the ground with a squeak. I could see it was a young pigeon trying to go back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to fly back up to his parents, and I knew that he’d either be squashed by a car or kicked by a kid (sorry, I have little faith in some of the children I see). I crossed the road but couldn’t reach the pigeon through the fence. Thankfully the builders nearby were kind enough to herd the pigeon towards me so I could pick him up.

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I felt a bit self-conscious walking home with a pigeon in my hands. I wanted to shout out, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to kill the pigeon. I used to work at a rescue centre. I know what I’m doing.” But I doubt anyone would have cared either way. No one was interested in the little pigeon.

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First thing I did when I got home was assess his condition (I say “he” but I don’t know if it was male or female). No injuries, no signs of illness, no broken feathers – he was in perfect condition. The only problem he had is that he didn’t have the muscle strength to fly his well-fed body up higher than a metre or so. Such a pity since I could see he was so close to fledging. I set up Elmo’s old carrier with a towel, food and water (with Critical Care powder mixed in), and dusted the pigeon with some anti-mite powder to kill any parasites. The pigeon was very well behaved but clearly a bit frightened of my presence and hid in the cage.

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I kept the little pigeon upstairs away from Elmo and Georgie since I didn’t want to risk anything just in case the pigeon was ill in any way. But Hugo came over to investigate the newcomer before I locked him out of the room. He was very interested in what was in the cage, as you can see:

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The next step was to find someone who could care for the pigeon while his feathers grew longer, ready for release. If I had an aviary, I would have gladly kept the pigeon for conditioning, but without the space to let the pigeon flap about, staying with me wasn’t the best option. So I contacted a local pro-pigeon wildlife rescue centre and thankfully they had the space to take the pigeon, so the next day the little fella went to his new temporary home to join other young pigeons being cared for till they are old enough for release.

Good luck little fella! :)