Stray Pigeon Flies to Animal Shelter, Gets Adopted, Will Wear Diaper

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Stray Pigeon Flies to Animal Shelter, Gets Adopted, Will Wear Diaper


Brooke Ciardi was in the yard of an animal shelter taking photos of dogs to help them get adopted when she suddenly felt something on her head. It was a pigeon that had dived and landed in her hair.

Ciardi was mildly alarmed at having the bird on her head, but the pigeon seemed perfectly content.

“I was surprised because this pigeon was not afraid of dogs or people,” said Ciardi, who works as an outreach coordinator for the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood, in Maryland.

“It was lovely, but also worrying,” she said. “It was a rainy day and I said to myself, ‘This is a bird that doesn’t have a lot of survival skills.'”

Ciardi soon learned that the pigeon had recently become a regular at the shelter, hitchhiking from the parking lot to the building on the heads, shoulders or fanny packs of employees, and refusing to come down unless forced.

“She had pushed people into the building at least five times, and they kept having to push her out,” Ciardi said. “I said, ‘That’s not right, she seems like a pet.'”

Ciardi said her supervisor agreed that the pigeon did not appear wild and that the bird’s friendly behavior could pose a safety concern, especially if a dog or cat was chasing her.

They decided that Valley – the name the staff chose for the rock pigeon – would be a good pet for the right person. So on April 2, about a week after the bird first landed on an employee’s shoulder, she was put up for adoption.

“We sometimes get pet pigeons when someone can no longer care for them,” Ciardi said, noting that 12 such birds were dropped off at the shelter in the past year.

There was no evidence the same thing happened to Valley, but the pigeon’s friendly nature indicated she was likely domesticated from a young age, Ciardi said.

“It’s a young pigeon, and pigeons can have a long lifespan of about 15 years,” Ciardi said.

The birds – easy to spot thanks to their green neck feathers – are common in cities around the world and are known for their unique ability to find their way. They are also often ridiculed as pests and called winged rats.

During World War I and World War II, homing pigeons were used to carry secret messages from combat zones back to their home coops.

“They have such an interesting story and they’re really smart,” Ciardi said. “Previously, they were bred and domesticated to work alongside us in the same way as dogs.”

When radio communications improved and birds were no longer needed as messengers, “humanity abandoned them and we began to look down on them,” she said. “But I think it’s in their DNA to want to be among us.”

Ciardi and his colleagues agreed it was important to find a good home for Valley. On April 2, Ciardi posted a notice on Facebook that the pigeon was up for adoption.

“Valley is a very friendly, very silly and very determined pigeon with a funny story,” she wrote. “Last week, staff noticed a pigeon hanging around outside our adoption center. Eventually, she decided she had enough of waiting and made her way into the building, landing on top of a staff member and hitchhiking inside.

Ciardi later wrote that the bird would descend on her in the rain and remain calm when curious dogs approached.

“It was ultimately decided that with her love of human companionship and lack of survival skills, Valley would really like to be adopted,” Ciardi posted. “Well, she came to the right place!”

About 850 followers liked the post and several people mentioned that they wish they could adopt Valley. CBS affiliate WUSA9 covered the quest to find the pigeon a forever home.

“If I didn’t have a cat, I would definitely think about it!” one person commented.

Others found it amusing that the pigeon liked to hitchhike.

“Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus. Shoulder rides only,” one follower joked, in a nod to the popular children’s book by Mo Willems. Coincidentally, the Willems also wrote the book “There’s a Bird on Your Head!” »

Two days after the Facebook post, a New Jersey woman decided Valley would be a perfect pet for her two young boys.

Keryn Rosenberger drove three hours to Montgomery County from South Amboy, New Jersey, to adopt Valley on Thursday.

Rosenberger is a single mother and she said her parents kept birds as pets when she was young. She thought Valley would be a great fit for her family.

“My boys are obsessed with watching birds outside and we feed wild birds all the time,” she said. “I saw the article about the pigeon online and thought he would be in good hands with us.”

Although Rosenberger brought a cage to the shelter for Valley’s transport, she instead decided to let the bird relax in the front seat on the way home.

“She sat there and sometimes on my head,” Rosenberger, 38, said. “Then she finally got into one of my kids’ car seats.”

Valley hasn’t used his cage at home yet, Rosenberger added.

“She’s getting on my head and both kids’ heads, all over the house,” Rosenberger said. “When I take a shower, she sits on the shower head. It is a very sociable bird that must always be with someone.

Rosenberger said she purchased cloth pigeon diapers for Valley online, as well as a harness and leash for public outings. They should arrive later this week.

“We look forward to some fun times with her,” Rosenberger said.

Although Ciardi was sad to see the bird go, she is also thrilled that Valley now rules a new perch.

“It was a cool experience getting to know him,” Ciardi said. “She has a sweet personality and we really enjoyed having her with us, even for a short time.”

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