[Ed. Note: Also read My Chloe Died Today]
By Veda Stram
In January of 1989, a wounded pigeon appeared in my yard. I named him Peaches after one of the cats who were killed by UCLA vivisectors, the campaign I was working on at the time. After two weeks of pigeon feed, water to drink and bathe in, a warm and safe place for rest and relaxation, he seemed very healthy so I opened the back door and he flew away.
Only seconds later there was a tapping on my back door. I opened it and Peaches marched into the house, down the hall and hopped into his happy cage. He obviously knew a good thing when he saw it! Since Peaches could fly, but for some reason could not land without hours of circling, he learned that flying away to defend himself from my three cats was not a good idea, so he pecked them in the face. I’m very fortunate he didn’t cause damage ‘cause Pigeon beaks are very strong and sharp! But he trained three cats to just let him be. He spent nights in his cage and wandered the house the rest of the time, mostly wherever I happened to be.
About four years later, I noticed a bloody protrusion, rushed Peaches to the vet to discover that he was a she, and she had an egg stuck and unless I wanted to risk that dangerous circumstance again, the vet recommended a hysterectomy. I took that advice. So I took a male to the vet and brought home a female. (An interesting encounter with gender identification, I must say!)
First thing every morning as soon as she knew I was awake by hearing me talk to the kitties, she would start cooing away and I would take the bright blue blanket off her cage and let her out for the day. Her day began by hopping onto my pillow, pulling on the sheet with her beak until I would raise it up and she would crawl under the covers and lie there cooing. I’d have a kitty under one arm, a pigeon under the other and two other kitties nearby.
Peaches lived another five years with me and my cats. She died in 1998. It was the deepest sadness I have experienced in my life. The kind of relationship that Peaches and I had was very different than any relationship I’ve had with any other human or other-than-human animal. People who have lived with birds know what I mean.
I had gone vegetarian in July of 1988 and was considering veganism when I met Peaches in January 1989. The ritualistic left, then right, wing and leg stretches of Peaches every morning was the turning point for me for never again eating eggs. Within days I gave up dairy...for the animals.
All of that said, if you find a wounded pigeon, I recommend finding a bird rehab center near you. If I had to do it over again, even with all the wonder and joy and marvelous relatedness, I would choose to have Peaches live with other pigeons at some safe and happy place.