How Glory Made the World Right Side Up
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

FROM Cynthia Harris, Palomacy: It's Pigeon Diplomacy
September 2020

And in the not quite two months from Glory’s self-rescue, Steve and I had an aviary built in our backyard.... It is a slowly felt calm, a “righting” of the soul as love seeps into it to heal the anxiety and fear. It is a lot like falling asleep; it happens slowly and then all at once with one myoclonic jerk, then you awaken renewed.

aviary
Steve and Sindy in the aviary that Glory inspired

I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.
~ John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

This is the story of Glory. Glory came into my husband’s, Steve, and my life in the year of Covid-19, on July 6, 2020, a year we all will remember. July 6th was a notable day. I was discharged from the hospital on July 6th, after spending seven days there, alone, having what seemed like dysentery. Like the upside-down year it is, I was in the hospital for a meat-eaters’ illness, a campylobacter infection of my colon. Campylobacter is bacteria someone gets from eating meat (usually undercooked chicken). I don’t eat meat. I am a vegan.

On July 6, 2020, Steve also had an upside-down moment. While picking up the freeway, a white “dove” (aka Glory) found him. Steve and I are Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway volunteers for litter pick, and while we often find “interesting” things among the trash on the freeway, a beautiful white bird is not one of them. Indeed, on July 6th, Steve was doing a particularly unpleasant task — cleaning up an illegal dump of someone’s belongings. Just as he was ready to come home, a white bird walked out of the dead vegetation nearby and made herself at home underneath Steve’s VW Passat. Fascinated at first, Steve took a picture of Glory, who appeared to have no intention of leaving the shade of the car’s underside.

White Dove
Self-rescuing “dove release” surviving homer pigeon Glory wouldn’t take no for an answer

However, he soon became impatient and took a stick to try and “shoo” the bird out. Glory remained unmoved; she simply positioned herself further under the car. Steve persisted, and Glory eventually walked out from under the car and straight into ongoing traffic. Was it suicide? In retrospect, why couldn’t it have been; she certainly self-rescued. Regardless, Glory’s actions were a loud, “wake up call” to my husband that this white bird was not just a dove passing by, but a creature in search of rescue and help. Steve stepped out into the freeway and scooped Glory up and put her in a box in his car (one of the advantages of being a litter picker; our cars are always fully equipped for pretty much any eventuality).

There was little fanfare when she arrived home. Steve and I “got it” that Glory needed our help, and we applied ourselves to the task. Water and seed promptly arrived in her box. Glory drank three, pint bell jar lids full of water. Soon, she was housed in a borrowed parrot cage and “locked down” in our spare bedroom, away from our two cats, Mint and Bell. Research then began on this beautiful creature. It wasn’t long before I learned of Palomacy and the wonderful Elizabeth, who told us not only that Glory was a white homer pigeon (and not a dove) but all about rescued, unreleasable pigeons and doves.

It is uncanny how the world seemed to right itself, after that – slowly and when we weren’t watching. While we waited for weeks for the proper (double-flight) cage to arrive, we found a fledgling on the freeway, a beautiful red, feral youngster who appeared to have fallen from its freeway home under an underpass. Elizabeth walked us through encouraging the young bird to drink water and explained the need for feral pigeons to remain wild and free, where to take the bird (WildCare in San Rafael), and how to check on it.

Steve and I soon met the incredible Jill, who introduced Glory to her now husband, Cy, the bighearted galoot of a King Pigeon with real, lover boy skills.

Doves
pHarmony with Cy & Glory

We emergency transported a badly injured baby King pigeon to the Medical Center for Birds in Oakley and suffered through learning that the baby pigeon died shortly after we got him there. Just this week, we brought a second fledgling feral pigeon into WildCare. A young man had fished the fledgling out of the Glen Cove Marina and brought it into a pet shop, where luckily a friend works; and she called us. While the bird is still in ICU, WildCare staff are optimistic it will make a full recovery.

And in the not quite two months from Glory’s self-rescue, Steve and I had an aviary built in our backyard. Cy and Glory now reside in the aviary, and yesterday, Elizabeth and Jill brought ten rescues (five married couples) to create our own flock. Steve and I learned an incredible amount from them and intend to continue learning, rescuing and fostering unreleasable pigeons and doves with Palomacy.

Aviary
A life-changing aviary

According to Elizabeth, Glory is now Super Glory, for having saved other rescued pigeons. While I may not have been transformed into an adjective as grand as “super,” Glory definitely “righted me” during what is an “upside down” time. Steve says, that his favorite sound is the cooing of a pigeon because it makes him realize that the pigeon is happy, and life is good. For me, all the pigeons, feral and domestic, who have graced my life in the last two months have surrounded me with much needed peace and beauty. It is a slowly felt calm, a “righting” of the soul as love seeps into it to heal the anxiety and fear. It is a lot like falling asleep; it happens slowly and then all at once with one myoclonic jerk, then you awaken renewed.

aviary


Retired attorney and public servant. Sindy worked most of her career (19 years) as a staff attorney for the Contra Costa Superior Court. She now commits her time to giving back to her town, Benicia, and to enjoying her life with her new(ish) husband, Steve. She and her husband are Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway volunteers for four stretches (2.5 miles each) of the I-780, which runs through Benicia. Sindy is a Board Member and volunteer for Benicia Tree Foundation. Sindy also volunteers her time for Benicia Main Street, Carquinez Village, Solano Resource Conservation District and now Palomacy.


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