Free from Harm is working with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors on a rescue of 11 King piegons — the white domestic variety that are raised for meat (squab) and ceremonial release — who were dumped in a driveway on the Northwest side of Chicago. A year earlier, a larger flock of dumped pigeons were found near this location which has led us to investigate whether there is an illegal breeder in this area.
When rescuers arrived to capture the birds, they found them wandering the streets, reporting that they were easy to catch due to a combination of weakness, poor health, and injuries. Upon initial inspection, all of the birds had wounds on the back of their heads and bruises on their bodies, likely due to being raised in crowded cage confinement. We suspect these are parent birds who were used to mate and deliver offspring that the breeders then steal from their parents’ nest and sell to slaughterhouses at 4 weeks old. This is an immensely cruel practice since the parents are deeply devoted to the care and raising of their young. These parent birds are used to mate over and over again, until they become ill or unproductive, and breeders abandon these birds to the streets.
Rescuers named the 11 birds after the signs of the Zodiac, except for Cancer. All of them are being examined and treated by Dr. Yang of Niles Animal Hospital, one of the top avian vets in the area and rehabbed by highly experienced bird rescuers. One bird, Aquarius, has a swollen and curled foot. The x-ray revealed no fractures, but the tissue is very swollen and infected. Five other birds have respiratory disease symptoms (possibly pneumonia, a couple have eye problems, one has growths on their feet, another appears to have a yeast infection on the beak, and a couple are lethargic. In addition, Dr. Yang noted that she observed bruises on their necks, likely from being roughly grabbed by the neck. Overall, each bird has specific issues that need to be independently treated.
The incredibly dedicated rehabbers report that the birds seem to be sad and nervous. Some appear to be mated pairs and have been calling out to each other, but they must be quarantined (separated) from each other during the treatment stage to prevent cross contamination. In any case, we are very optimistic that they will recover and then be available for adoption. King pigeons make absolutely wonderful companions and are relatively easy to care for. For a great resource on adopting and caring for these birds, check out the Palomacy website.