It was already a little on the dark side – the time was 8:10 PM, when I arrived at the Seattle Center to visit my very special friends. I wasn’t surprised then that no squirrel showed up. The area I visited was located close to the Space Needle. Suddenly I noticed a box sitting under a tree. I could see something scribbled on it. I approached it out of curiosity and read the writing... I couldn’t believe it. I opened the box and indeed what was sitting inside it was a pigeon. The pigeon was motionless, hardly moving his head. He looked ill and shocked. I took a step backward – the fate presented me a dilemma. I am not a fan of pigeons, in fact I dislike them. But then there was Bill from Canada... his actions stirred me up. If I left the pigeon overnight there he would be dead in no time; the area is home to rats, cats and raccoons. I knew I would have the poor pigeon on my conscience. The thought came through my mind that I owe it to my late, beloved Little Daughter to help the pigeon...
...I grabbed the box with the pigeon and went home. I called Debby for advice. She told me to wrap the pigeon’s wings with a tape in case they were broken (they didn’t look broken to me), and to bring the pigeon to her the next day. I went out and got myself a small carry-cage. I arrived at the Finnegan Center and Debby examined the bird. Her diagnosis: Broken leg – the femur. That thigh bone was snapped like a twig. The wing was just bruised. Debby postulated that the bird was probably hit by an automobile. She set the leg and fixed it with a sling. Debby told me to remove the thigh support in six weeks and to continue keeping the bird in cage for additional two weeks. For goodbye Debby equipped me with a couple of pounds of bird’s feed.
That was four weeks ago – I am writing this on August 28, 2013. The pigeon – 2-3 month old as estimated by Debby, has been making a steady progress ever since. She (Debby determined the bird to be female) acquired lots of strength. I found that when I grab her to clean the cage I have to hold her really firm. The pigeon walks using her both legs nowadays (the sling tore off a week ago) but frequently lifts the broken leg up as if she felt pain there. She is trying frequently to fly away.
I named the pigeon – Bilga.
A story of the chain of good will – started by one Bill from Canada and completed by Debby...
Special acknowledgment: Kryvka and Kimbo – the squirrels I went looking for and instead found a pigeon!
Update No. 1
September 12, 2013
Success – Bilga’s Leg Healed!
Today, exactly six weeks to the date Bilga was treated by Debby for her broken leg, I removed Bilga’s thigh support. It looks that the leg has healed very well. Her femur must have fused as expected. There was just a scarring visible in the spot where the bone was broken. Bilga is much closer to being free again. If everything goes well I will release her in about a week.
Update No. 2
September 17, 2013
I got the idea to make the final days of Bilga's in captivity easier by arranging her a roommate. I captured a sparrow and inserted him into Bilga’s cage. Bilga became agitated but what I could see in her eyes was sparkling of a killer instead of excitement. She attacked the poor sparrow immediately with her beak and kept on following him steadfastly while he was trying to escape from her. He was flying in panic around the cage chirping frantically. I couldn’t believe what I saw. It was the first time that I learned that pigeons attack other animal subspecies. I released the sparrow at once not taking the risk to even photograph the scene.
Bilga proved to be quite a spitfire all along. Whenever I approached her she would be making angry-cat noises and vibrating her tail.
Bilga Attacks a Guest!
Update No. 3
September 26, 2013
That day finally came. Bilga’s leg looked to have healed perfectly so I was just waiting for a sunny day to release her. I decided to release her in surroundings that would meet her needs as her new home, and that are attractive for photographing. I chose the waterfront. What I expected was that Bilga would fly away from me in an instant, like an arrow. She was bursting with energy for weeks, frequently trying impatiently to fly away from within her cage. I said goodbye to Bilga and sat her on a branch of a short tree. I thought it would take seconds for her to fly away. One minute, five, ten minutes passed and she continued to sit on that branch just looking around. She kept on sitting there for twenty two minutes! I was racking my brain what was going on. Losing patience I sat her on my forearm thinking that would make her finally fly. Instead she started cleaning herself! Relaxed and trusting she was sitting on my forearm seven minutes. I sat her on the lawn, encouraging her to fly. She did that – onto the same tree. Her short flight was clumsy and made with difficulty. It was only then that I understood – she wasn’t able to fly well. Her wing muscles apparently became weakened from no flying for two months. I grabbed her and inserted her back into her cage.
I called Debby with the news. Debby told me that it was to be expected. That now I must be giving Bilga physical therapy to strengthen her wing muscles. Debby also said that pigeons get attached to humans, which explains why Bilga didn’t want to fly away from me. She advised me to release Bilga next time from my home rather, to cede to her the control over my “relationship” with her.
So much for my goodbye to Bilga!
Bilga Released... Refuses to Fly Away!
The “Last” Photo Session with Bilga
Bilga Just After Release
Bilga Going Back to my Protectorate
The effort to save the life of the pigeon dedicated to the memory of my late, beloved Little Daughter.