the man who loved pigeons
This is a true story about a pigeon.
A few weeks ago a woman called Sooz found a very sick pigeon in St Kilda, a busy Melbourne seaside suburb. Its feathers were covered in oil, probably from the back of a restaurant. Sooz took the pigeon home and called it Sweetie. But Sooz lived in a flat with two cats. Which is not an ideal home for any pigeon, sick or not.
Sooz approached Wildlife Victoria, that runs a 24-hour emergency telephone service for people needing help with injured, sick or orphaned wildlife. But they only look after native wildlife, not ordinary street pigeons. So Sooz emailed me, asking if I knew who could help. I asked around but no one had any ideas.
In the meantime Sweetie spent nights in Sooz’s shower recess, and days in a cage near a window so it could look outside. Sooz felt sorry for Sweetie because she thought it must be very lonely without the company of other pigeons.
Then Sooz phoned Birds Australia, an organization with the mission to halt the decline of native birds. It certainly did not include common pigeons in its brief but gave Sooz the contact details of a man who loved pigeons.
Sooz phoned the man and they arranged to meet at a train station. She worried that Sweetie wouldn’t survive the long train journey but all went well.
The man met them and Sooz spent the day with him and his wife of 60 years. He had been keeping, showing and judging pigeons for many years. He said that he would gradually clean Sweetie’s feathers and when they moulted then it would be able to fly again.
The man explained that Sweetie was female. He could tell this by looking at her claws. The middle talon was about the same length as the two on either side. In male pigeons the talons are very different in length.
Sooz was relieved to find someone to care for the pigeon, and enable it to live with other pigeons until it could fly away.