It’s no secret that I’ve always had a soft spot for animals that are less known or liked by the public. They all deserve a chance. As I’m based in London, this means that foxes, often seeing as pests, are actually my favourite animals. But I love them all, even that little mouse that used to come in my garden or the gorgeous pair of pigeons that make every landing in the trees sound like a May Day call.
You will know by now that Wild&Free focusses on centres that successfully rehabilitate and release wild animals back to their natural habitat, primarily primates, especially endangered ones and this means that we operate in countries far away.
So when I received a phone call late on Friday night asking if I could help save a baby pigeon, I was very surprised, to say the least. A few questions popped to my mind: how was Wild&Free’s number found related to pigeon rescue? Why me? Surely there are rescue centres for British birds? If anything, I’m not a rescue centre and have no facility even for short term rescues.
It turned out that if you type ‘wildlife rescue in north London’, Wild&Free appears on Google. The first organisation that answered the call said they would euthanise the pigeon. Unhappy with this solution, the person tried a few more organisations but no-one answered. Until they reached me.
Of course I was going to do anything I could to help this poor pigeon. It was brought to my home an hour later, looking shocked but not apparently injured. It wasn’t a baby but still young. It was named Perry and I was asked to keep its name!
Perry getting a bit of comfort.
I just had time to read what to do with a pigeon and asked for some advice. The pigeon did drink luke warm water but would not eat. I upgraded the comfort of its box and kept an eye on Perry who seemed ok. It was an enormous relief in the morning to see Perry breathe and drink more, but it still refused to eat. We tried different consistence of seeds, corn, ended up force feeding Perry but it would not swallow anything.
Perry drinking by itself... and first attempt to feed it seeds.
I knew that I couldn’t keep Perry forever and I needed an expert to help otherwise I would see it deteriorate rapidly. So my mission became to find the right rehabilitation centre, and suddenly I was back in my comfort zone, doing after all, what the charity is all about.
A lady in a pet shop told me about the pigeon rescue team - I had no idea such people existed in London, how wonderful!- and how they would look after Perry. I called them on Saturday evening and a volunteer came to pick it up, immediately assessed that it was sick and needed treatment.
The volunteer explained to me that she would brought it to a centre where it will be nursed back to health, then introduced to other pigeons his age, and eventually released together as a flock.
This, I immediately thought, is extremely similar to any successful rehabilitation protocols that I am more used to with primates and I was so happy to hear this.
The next morning, I received a message telling me that Perry was at the centre and that I could ask for any updates by contacting them. What more could you wish for from a volunteering organisation that saves animals most people don’t like, ignore, complain about or would even be cruel towards?
My children were sad to see Perry leave us, and I was too, but it gave me the opportunity to explain an important lesson about wildlife: would they rather keep it for their pleasure and see it getting sick and weaker here or would they prefer not seeing Perry again but know that it is free and living the life a pigeon should live. Of course, they wanted the best for Perry.
Rescue Pigeon Team's volunteer picking up Perry and my daughter's farewell.
Just when I thought this unexpected episode was a one off, I received an email the next day about another pigeon found injured and asking me to help as again, the same organisation mentioned earlier would euthanise it. Luckily this time, I knew exactly what to do and who to direct them to…
I wanted to tell this story as I think it contains some important messages, but also because I wanted to publicly express my gratitude to the Pigeon Rescue Team. Please check them on Facebook and make a donation as they rescue about 100 birds per week and struggle to cover all the costs. Organisations like them deserve a big shout out!
Let me finish this blog with a quote I used to close my TEDx talk 3 years ago:
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.” ― Charles Darwin