the pigeon rescue

today i volunteered at the humane society, as i do every monday. i called my husband as i was pulling out of their parking lot, headed home, and not two minutes later i was saying to him, "oh my god, oh no, pigeon in the middle of the street, why, why is she just standing there, oh no, this isn’t good, have to call you back."

she was standing right smack in the middle of one of our city’s busiest streets, and we were moving toward rush hour. she could walk, but i couldn’t tell if she could fly. there wasn’t anyplace to pull over right where she was, so i had to drive past her a little bit and swerve into a parking lot for CUSTOMERS ONLY, which i simply ignored and figured it’d be fine. as i parked the car i noticed that she had hustled over to the tiny median, and was safe for the time being. i saw her flap her wings, but she didn’t seem able to actually fly. poor baby.

i jumped out of my car, thanked my lucky stars that i had one of those collapsible cardboard animal carriers in the trunk, and quickly set about trying to figure out how to turn this flat piece of cardboard into a secure box. as soon as i accomplished that, i ran out to try to catch her on the median.

unfortunately, as you might imagine, she didn’t think i was too cool. she had just spent who knows how long being terrified and avoiding cars zooming at her, and now there was a scary person walking right up to her with a box. i was hoping to get close enough to simply pick her up, but she was having none of that, and unfortunately she hopped off the median and right back into traffic. i weighed my options… take it slow and risk getting both of us hit? try to "scare her" more so i could shoo her out of traffic and on to the much quieter side street? i was terrified that i was going to give her a heart attack while trying to help her.

as i was about to step into the street to try once again to pick her up, i noticed that there were a few cars coming. i stayed on the median with my box, and i motioned to the oncoming traffic that they should slow down, and i pointed at the pigeon. the first driver to reach me appeared to be a complete and total assclown, because not only did s/he not slow down, but s/he maintained speed AND drove right at the poor bird. it was almost as if s/he were trying to hit the pigeon. the poor girl’s face was millimeters from the car’s tires, i swear to all that is true, and i saw her pitch forward from the force and then desperately flap her wings to keep herself from toppling face-first into the rear tires. it was one of the scariest things i had ever seen in my life, and i felt totally helpless, and then once it was over and i realized she didn’t get run over, i was PISSED off. i totally screamed at the car like a crazy person. the next car, however, had a much nicer driver, who both slowed down and gave the pigeon a wide berth. whew.

after that drama, i proceeded into the street and continued to shoo the bird toward the side street, a curb, and a large patch of grass. once we were both safely off of the busy street, i felt a lot better. she was still not too interested in letting me get close, though. she stayed just a step ahead of me at all times, and once when i got too close she flapped her wings and got a little bit of lift to shove herself a bit further ahead. her right wing was definitely injured, but it was hard to say how badly.

eventually i got close enough to wrangle the box up over her head and in front of her, which freaked her out momentarily, but then she just hopped right in. hooray! i righted the box, peered in at her and said really nice things in what i hoped were soothing tones, and then i closed the carrier and took her back to my car. i think my heart was going a mile a minute; i was shaking and everything.

the good news is that i was so close to the humane society, and she didn’t have to be scared for long. she was obviously baffled by being inside of a box and inside of a car (i could hear her flap for balance when we would start moving, or turn), but she handled it pretty well. i brought her inside, and got her checked into our wildlife rehab, and now all i can do is wait. the people who checked her in said that some wing breaks are pretty serious, and they just won’t heal right, so in those cases the bird has to be put to sleep. but other breaks are "no big deal," and can heal very well, so in those cases they just get bandaged up and taken care of until it’s all better and they can be released.

after i first brought her in, they let her relax and warm up for a little while, and they gave her something for the pain, and then she was supposed to have a full exam this evening. i will likely get an update tomorrow, so i will post again when i have more news. please keep your fingers crossed!

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8 comments

  1. That is a wonderful story. It can often be so dicey trying to rescue a critter from a busy street–you handled it really well. If it’s a dog or cat, people will stop and slow down and even help you, but a pigeon is a different story.
    I hope the little fellow has a good prognosis, but even if it’s not good, it’s a better situation for your having been there.

  2. I love pigeons!!! You are such a hero. Just so you know, by the way, I’ve heard from the STTSP (Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons) that it’s never necessary to put a pigeon to sleep due to a wing break–it just takes a lot of work to fix them.
    Thanks again for saving that sweet pigeon. Please keep us updated!

  3. I love pigeons!!! You are such a hero. Just so you know, by the way, I’ve heard from the STTSP (Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons) that it’s never necessary to put a pigeon to sleep due to a wing break–it just takes a lot of work to fix them.
    Thanks again for saving that sweet pigeon. Please keep us updated!

  4. Look up to see if there is a wildlife sanctuary in your area, because even if the wing can’t be fixed, I don’t see any reason why she can’t live her life out at a protected place. The animal sanctuary near me is a sanctuary for both farm animals as well as wildlife, and there are many animals living there who have broken wings (ducks, geese, and a mute swan). I think pigeons who can’t fly would be in more danger from predators (the water birds spend their nights on the water to be safe from predators), but I bet they’d find a way to give her a safe perch in one of the barns for the nights. It is worth checking out, though I know once we release our rescues, it is often out of our hands.
    I’m so glad you helped her. 🙂

  5. Look up to see if there is a wildlife sanctuary in your area, because even if the wing can’t be fixed, I don’t see any reason why she can’t live her life out at a protected place. The animal sanctuary near me is a sanctuary for both farm animals as well as wildlife, and there are many animals living there who have broken wings (ducks, geese, and a mute swan). I think pigeons who can’t fly would be in more danger from predators (the water birds spend their nights on the water to be safe from predators), but I bet they’d find a way to give her a safe perch in one of the barns for the nights. It is worth checking out, though I know once we release our rescues, it is often out of our hands.
    I’m so glad you helped her. 🙂

  6. Wonderful story! Well done, I’m so happy there are people out there who care and will do something about it. Thank you!

  7. hello, I came upon your story about the pidgeon just now, as I had the honest dislike of saving a baby pidgeon just to have it die.
    I’m currently in Argentina, and since there is no regard for wildlife rescue, it would have been eventually stomped on in the street where I found it, but since no one else seems to really care about one less pidgeon in the world I had no choice but to keep it at home, I tried to feed it but the more pressing problem was it’s broken leg, sicne I have no experience about what to do or how to care for any wildlife, I got it all wrong, I tried to bandage the leg but it made no difference since it was broken almost at the hip and I had no idea how to set it.
    two days later the little bird simply stretched out and died.
    I was wondering if there was some kind of resource online, like a manual or something that would let me avoid failing so miserably in saving common animal life.
    thank you for your time
    Chris

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