In Rocky's Honor
Animal Stories from All-Creatures.org

FROM Pedro Perez, Palomacy: It's Pigeon Diplomacy
June 2021

I really thought I was doing the best for Rocky by letting her be free. She always looked so majestic standing on the roof, catching the last rays of the sun at the end of the day. Her passing left us all with a deep sadness and the realization that we could have done more for Rocky, we could have protected her better. She did not have to be taken from us so soon.

Note from Palomacy:

Rockyís story is heartbreakingly familiar to pigeon rescuers. Domestic pigeons cannot survive unprotected. Palomacy completely understands the desire to let birds fly free and if domestic pigeons could safely live wild and free, Palomacy would absolutely recommend that. Tragically, domestic pigeonsí freedom was stolen from them at the genetic level many hundreds of generations ago. There is no domestic sky.  

Pigeon Rocky

It was just a few days after the 4th of July that our beautiful white king pigeon Rocky landed on the fence right outside my bedroom. My entire family raced to the side yard to gawk at the newly-arrived visitor. We offered her a small ramekin of uncooked rice and some water, and stood out of her way. Rocky ate some of the rice and drank plenty of water before perching herself back on the fence. She spent the next couple of hours flying between the fence and the roof, and marching up and down the length of the fence like a little soldier.

By late afternoon, Rocky had made her way to the backyard. She settled on the top rung of a ladder that was propped up against the back side of the house. We checked on Rocky several times that night, and she did not move from the place she had chosen to spend the night. The next morning, we found Rocky nestled in the grass enjoying the warmth of the morning sun.

At this point, we were still thinking Rocky was on her way someplace, or that she had gotten disoriented by the 4th-of-July fireworks. We thought that she needed a bit of rest and food, and that then she would be on her way.

By the weekend, Rocky had settled into a routine. We were all ecstatic that she didnít seem to want to leave. Thatís when we decided to build her a nesting box, which we attached to an overhang of the roof, away from predators. We got her a bag of proper pigeon feed at our local pet shop, and a bag of hay to put in her nest. Rocky did not need any coaxing at all to get into her new home. As soon as I was done attaching it to the wall, she flew right into the nesting box and made herself comfortable.

After about a week of enjoying her new lodgings, Rocky laid two eggs! We were all so excited Rocky was going to be a mom! We were also surprised Rocky turned out to be a she. She was such a large girl with such powerful flapping wings that we were convinced Rocky was a male. Rocky sat on the eggs for a few days but then rejected them because they were not fertilized.

For the next four months, Rocky was a focus and joy of my family. We all took turns checking on her several times a day, making sure she had plenty of food and fresh water, and reporting on what she was up to. Rocky seemed to enjoy our company as much as we enjoyed hers. She was a feature at every family backyard gathering this past summer. And what a joy it was to see her bathe in a plastic tub of cool water in the hot weather!

Pigeon Rocky

One morning I discovered Rocky had been killed by an animal. I buried her remains in our garden, under our lemon tree. My sister checked the security cameras in the backyard and saw Rocky fly out of her box at about three in the morning. She landed on the shed and thatís when some animal pounced on her. It could have been a cat, perhaps a raccoon. I did not have the heart to see the video myself.

I really thought I was doing the best for Rocky by letting her be free. She always looked so majestic standing on the roof, catching the last rays of the sun at the end of the day. Her passing left us all with a deep sadness and the realization that we could have done more for Rocky, we could have protected her better. She did not have to be taken from us so soon.

It was my sister who found Palomacy online. After a few days of hesitation, we made the decision to do something to honor the memory of Rocky: we would adopt pigeons! This time, though, we would do it the proper way. We would learn as much as possible about these wonderful birds to give them the best care possible. The aviary took a few weeks of planning. The construction of the aviary took a few months, mostly because I could only work on it on weekends.

Pigeon aviary
The aviary built in Rockyís honor

At last the aviary was done, and our new friend and pigeon expert, Jill, from Palomacy walked us through the pigeon-fostering-and-adoption process. Jill delivered our first couple of pigeons, Bonita and Beau, and how beautiful they are! Within a few days, we hope to welcome another two couples into our family. And yes, some of them will be king pigeons, just like our precious Rocky.

fostered Pigeons
Fostered pigeonsÖ


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