Snowflake's Bravery and Loss
Animal Stories from

[Ed. Note: Learn about pigeon hunts.]

By Steve Hindi, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK)
March 2010

She had survived her role as a living target for these cowardly, bloodthirsty deviants sometime Saturday. Now on Sunday morning she sat on the frozen ice, the very picture of innocence and purity -- literally the dove of peace -- the most stark contrast possible to the ugliness of her would be killers.

One of the many casualties of this war against non-humans and against any sense of human decency was a darling little pigeon we named Snowflake. When SHARK personnel arrived at the killing fields at dawn Sunday morning, Snowflake was perched on the snow covered land near our camera set-up, yet too far onto private property for us to attempt a rescue.

She had survived her role as a living target for these cowardly, bloodthirsty deviants sometime Saturday. Now on Sunday morning she sat on the frozen ice, the very picture of innocence and purity -- literally the dove of peace -- the most stark contrast possible to the ugliness of her would be killers.

Snowflake as we found her, and where she waited days after being shot

There she stayed, alive, yet barely moving, for the entire day. Then the pitiful excuses for humans came for her; a 'clean-up' crew of an old man and two boys, whose mission was to pick up the dead bodies that littered the area and kill those that survived.

We feared for Snowflake, for we saw one of the boys come for her, but at the last possible instant she miraculously took wing just enough to escape. Like some insidious stalker, the boy crept upon her again, moving slowly and then lungeing for the kill. But this one singular bird, in defiance of him and all he represented, again flitted just out of his reach. The creepy kid ceased his efforts, and the pack of losers left.

On Monday, Snowflake was still there -- still alive. Some compassionate local people made attempts to capture her to get her help, but again the little bird, understandably mistrusting of humans, evaded them.

Monday night Janet and I headed back to the killing fields. We tried to shine our headlights over the fields of snow and ice, but how could we possibly find a white bird in a darkened world of white? I was concerned that if the killers knew we were searching for victims, they would try to stop us. I told Janet that we would have to try again in the morning, but she convinced me to try one more time - to shine our vehicle's headlights into an area that dipped a bit. As the lights fell on the spot we saw a small raised white spot. I was certain there was no way that spot was Snowflake, but Janet asked me to check.

I grabbed a blanket, jumped out of the vehicle and bounded through the snow. It was deep, and I was in tennis shoes. That was the only way to move quick enough to have a chance to throw the blanket over the little pigeon if by some miracle it was her. When I got to about twenty feet away I couldn't believe it. It WAS Snowflake! There she was, still perched, as if waiting for someone to come and rescue her!

I stayed out of the light beam so she would hopefully be blinded long enough so I could make my play. She seemed to know something was going on. She turned her head in my direction, but I quickly moved behind her and tossed the blanket over her. A couple steps later I stuck my hands under the little lump in the blanket and I had our little friend. I had Snowflake.

I quickly but carefully carried her back to the waiting vehicle, and Janet took her so I could get all of us out of that hellish place. On the way back we called some of our compatriots who had come to know Snowflake over the last couple days -- the SHARK team members who watched her all of Sunday, a local reporter who was taken with her seemingly hopeless situation, the local person who tried repeatedly to rescue her, and others who knew of her sad story.

There was a great, albeit quiet celebration of life that evening as we made our little friend as comfortable as possible, building a nest of towels in a crate in which we put water and bird feed. Among the thousands of victims who suffered and died, there were two who had a chance to live.

While she had looked small enough when she was on the snow, she was in fact fluffed up trying to keep warm. Once we brought her to a warm environment, Snowflake's feathers smoothed down, and she was even tinier than she had appeared outside. She seemed like just a baby. What a pitiful target for the mostly bloated slobs who partake in pigeon shooting. It should be a crime for such people to spawn.


I awoke early the following morning, and quickly looked in on Snowflake. She was alive, but her breathing was labored and too fast. I knew we had to get her to medical care quickly.

We quickly readied ourselves to leave, and then Janet gave a quick look inside Snowflake's crate. It wasn't really a word, but just an exclamation of alarm. I knew from Janet's expression as her gaze was riveted in the crate that it was very bad, but I had looked in on the little bird just a couple minutes earlier.

I quickly moved to the crate, where I saw Snowflake head tilted forward, as if she was asleep, but I knew that was not the case. I reached in and took her in my hands, and held her to my chest. I could feel the life leaving her body. After three days surviving on the ice, this is how it was to end. Ultimately, the ugly, despicable killers would have yet another beautiful victim.

I am not a veterinarian, nor a bird expert by any stretch of the imagination, so I do not have an explanation for what I saw next. Snowflake's eyes moved to half closed, and in that moment, I saw a tear in the eye that was facing me. This is something I will never ever forget. This tiny victim died so quietly and peacefully, and with so much more dignity that the collective of her putrid killers. Her only visible demonstration was a tear, almost as if she grieved for the emptiness in the souls of the heartless bastards responsible for the death of her and the hundreds of thousands of her fellow pigeons over the years.

All her strength and heart was not enough to overcome the violence that had been inflicted upon her. I'm not ashamed to say that I was a wreck. Janet and I both grieved, as did a number of others when they heard of Snowflake's passing. It was a small comfort that at least our little friend died not alone on the frozen killing fields like thousands of others, but with those who loved her and her kind. For this, we are grateful.

Snowflake still beautiful, even in death

It is important to mention that Snowflake was banded, meaning someone cared for her before she was stolen by the cowardly pigeon shooters. That should come as no surprise. I doubt there is any crime this human scum would not perpetrate to continue their outrages.

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