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Rock Pigeon courtship. Photo by Ingrid Taylar
Rock Pigeon courtship  Photo by Ingrid Taylar  
Baby King Pigeons at Golden Gate Park
These baby King Pigeons were released at Golden Gate Park. While these birds are very intelligent, they are helpless in the wild because they have not learned survival skills. Their white color makes them highly visible to predators.  
Orphaned Rock Pigeons. Photo by Alison Hermance
WildCare admits Rock Pigeons that have been orphaned or injured, and can condition them for successful release. Domestic breeds like King and Racing Pigeons must be transferred to a local animal shelter for domestic breeds. MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue has generously sheltered many birds that WildCare cannot accept. Photo by Alison Hermance  
Domestic pigeon in need of adoption
People may be unaware that local shelters have domestic pigeons in need of adoption.  
King Pigeon and adopter Shae. Photo by Elizabeth Young
Rescued King Pigeon, Yuzu, with MickaCoo adopter Shae.  Photo by Elizabeth Young  
Perching King Pigeon. Photo by Joyce Rietveld
Beauty and grace in a perching King Pigeon prompted Joyce Reitveld to take this photo.  

pigeons, wild and tame

by Elizabeth Young

When one hears the word “pigeon,” most think of the grey Rock Pigeons that miraculously manage to survive in the hostile concrete environments of our cities. These birds are so successful as to be common, and that has worked to their disadvantage. Less well known is the plight of domestic pigeons that can’t survive in the wild but that nevertheless are frequently “released” or “set free.”

Pigeons were one of the very first domesticated animals, and people have been using them for sport, industry, testing, entertainment and meat for centuries. Pigeons display high intelligence; among other surprises, like elephants, dolphins and chimps they have the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors. They demonstrate amazing physical talents (they can fly more than 50 MPH), as well as extraordinary family values. Pigeons are completely devoted to their mate and offspring, and split parenting 50/50. Both parents share egg-sitting and make crop milk to feed their babies.
domestic pigeons

Domestic breeds such as King Pigeons were bred for meat, and are sold at live poultry markets as “squab” at the age of just 4 weeks. These birds are poor flyers because they are bred to be large for maximum meat yield. They are also bred to be bright white because consumers prefer pink skin meat. They are completely unable to survive in the wild.

Well-intentioned but misguided people sometimes buy and set domestic King Pigeons free in parks all over the Bay Area. Their lifespan, unless rescued, is measured in days (if not hours). They are killed by hawks, gulls, ravens, owls, cats, dogs, raccoons and even cruel people. Though only a few survive being released, enough do get rescued that Bay Area animal shelters are full of them (as well as the occasional lost homing pigeon, injured racer or surrendered pet Fantail Pigeon).

WildCare is proud to provide rehabilitation and release for orphaned or injured Rock Pigeons (city pigeons) with the same compassion that it cares for all the many other animals that it receives. What many people don’t realize is that these Rock Pigeons are feral birds, wild-living descendants of human-bred domestic pigeons (such as racers, homers, rollers, tumblers, fantails and kings). Unfortunately, in terms of treating pigeons, WildCare is only permitted to treat Rock Pigeons, and is not permitted to take in these “domestic” breeds. They must transfer the domestic birds to humane societies or animal control agencies. That’s where MickaCoo Pigeon and Dove Rescue steps up.

mickacoo pigeon & dove rescue

MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue was started in 2007 when its founder met a sweet, smart, tame King Pigeon at San Francisco Animal Care & Control that, like so many others, was going to be euthanized for lack of adopters.

Last year MickaCoo placed more than 300 domestic pigeons and doves in wonderful (non-sporting, non-breeding) homes as pet and aviary birds. Even so, MickaCoo is always full and in urgent need of more homes to save the lives of birds timing out (facing euthanasia) in local shelters.

These birds are smart, charming and highly social beings. They are easy to care for, and those who do adopt them love having pigeons as pets.

Pigeons are low-maintenance, high-pleasure pets that can even wear pants while indoors. They are smart, quiet and easy going — MickaCoo calls them “masters of the leisure arts,” as they love to bathe, nap, flirt and soak up sunshine. They do need companionship and should be adopted either in pairs (MickaCoo provides fake eggs for pigeon birth control) or in a small flock. MickaCoo works closely to help adopters create a safe, comfortable backyard aviary or to set up an indoor cage.

You can learn more at www.PigeonRescue.org or email MickaCoo at adoptkings@gmail.com.

Additional Info:
Why Have a Pigeon as a Pet?
How to Create an Aviary for Rescued Pigeons
See MickaCoo’s Available Birds
Apply to Foster or Adopt
Donate to Support MickaCoo Pigeon & Dove Rescue

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