Bean is a young feral pigeon whose tail feathers (plus a few around her left leg) are missing and whose legs are painful. She can stand (but not on the left one alone) and walk but something's a little wonky and makes her limp. Somehow she wound up out of the nest early at Fulton and Masonic and something got ahold of her but she got away and was taken on 9/7 to SF ACC. But her energy's good and the prognosis for her to heal is as well. (Young birds, given a safe place to heal and the groceries they need have incredible healing capacity.) I brought her home from SF ACC on 9/11 and will post more info soon.
Through an error in my judgement (deferring to another I held more knowledgeable even when I knew better in this particular regard), Bean wound up flying up on to the roof of my house and then, when I climbed up there to get her, away. Despite being able to do this, she wasn't ready to do this and I was sick with how I'd let her go from being safe to just-about-doomed. I put out more pigeon feed for my backyard ferals in the hopes that their coming in for a meal would bring her along too. Not quite an hour later, my friend found her perched back on the edge of my roof, looking forlorn. I put her nest box out on the patio with her pretty blue seed bowl on top and within a few moments she came down to eat and, holding my breath that I didn't spook her and lose her again, I picked her up and kissed her up a bunch and put her safe and sound back in the loft where she can gain weight and strength and get ready for a proper release. She's my Beanie Baby. It's a miracle she's back. Here's her story as told, in her bird words, to my friend and pigeon expert, Dan.
My name's Bean--that is what Elizabeth calls me--says I look like a bean. OK, call me Bean.
I had an adventurous day today and this is not the first time...
I haven't been around too long I guess--I'm just a lil' guy. Things have been tough since I lost mommy and daddy bird, but I don't want to talk about that. And I don't want to talk about how I lost my tail feathers or how my legs got crushed, but that happened over a week ago---you can see from the little pin feathers coming out of my bottom that this happened earlier. Since then I have had a tough time. No mommy bird, almost no food, living on the ground--alone---didn't feel safe--didn't feel good---too cold and lonely and scary. Finally I got too weak and kind of just had to lay there--I lost my bird.
Then I found myself at ACC with a bunch of big white guys. They were OK, but they don't feel too good. Then Elizabeth took me home. Good food! Warm bed! Water!
So I felt a lot better today. Elizabeth took me outside to a house with more of the big white guys and another bird Tess---she is a bit freaky so I'm watching out for her.
Got my first bath! that's the best!
I was outside in the sun drying my feathers. I saw the guys up on the roof. I thought--"I should be there with the bird"; and somehow I was up there! I don't know how I even got there! It was cool up there but I felt somehow a bit scary. Then the guys were acting a little freaky---the humans started acting strange. So the guys cleared out in a hurry and I thought I better go too---anxious to go too. I landed somewhere nearby but now I was alone. Why am I alone? Where am I? How did I get here?
So I, Bean, stood there and thought about these things--very carefully. First, I realized that it seemed to be my arms that would take me places--they knew what to do. If I want to go somewhere, my arms move and I go through the air. That feels good and I can feel the air on my arms and use every feather to make my way just right--good bird deal. But what am I doing here?; this is not home for bird. I should go back to Elizabeth. I don't see her place. Hmmmm...but I think it is over there. So I use my arms and go there, but I don't find Elizabeth. But I see I am home. I don't know how to be home, but at least I am home. Uh oh, there is hawk bird--maybe I shouldn't be here now. Hawk bird gone!, and here is Elizabeth, my bud! Oh, she put out my nest and my dish---yes!---I can use my arms again to go there. Now I feel comfortable again--let's have some seed. Here comes Elizabeth, good to be home.
I'm the lil' guy here at the loft, but I have my place. Life hasn't been easy for me so far, but I can't say it has been boring! I'm a happy birdy tonight, warm and dry back home and time for a very big sleep--I feel safe here tonight. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I Bean, know my mind, and I'm staying here and make my place in this world!
And somehow Bean did think about these things. So many decisions and no decision a decision too and Bean decided she had a home, she wanted to go there, she could go there, she would. She's napping in a basket in the sun in the house with me right now.
I feel a special closeness with Bean and decided a long time ago that I was going to keep this special little bird. He's grown up but stayed small and, while healthy, has always seemed frail. I usually hold a feed dish special for him in the morning so that I know he gets a good breakfast and I've often brought Bean in to hang out in the house with me.
While I used to think Bean was a little hen, his tiny strutting and lobster-tailing and tenor cooing have now convinced me that he's a cock.
While there have been single birds in and out of the loft, including young feral hens that were close to Bean's size, he's never really courted another bird.
But then came Blanco.
Blanco was rescued by a family in San Mateo and spent his first couple of days in my downstairs room with six other newly arrived rescued pigeons. He didn't show any particular interest in any of those birds even though there were at least three single hens, two of whom were even his size (Tum Tum & Zoe).
Then I let Blanco out into the loft with all the other birds and he IMMEDIATELY fell in love with Bean. It was love at first sight. Two boy birds- two cocks. This happened about a month ago.
And I still can't get over how Blanco basically ignored all the single pigeons while in the downstairs room and then fell instantly in love with Bean the minute he saw him in the loft. And they are very much a couple. They've chosen a nest box and made a nest but, since they're both boys, can't lay eggs. Blanco was always following Bean around and nagging him and I was worried about Beanie.
I had the idea that if I could get them sitting on fake eggs, that would solve the problem because then, while Blanco was taking his turn on the eggs, Bean would be free to just relax and chill and visa versa.
I put a fake egg in their nest and, to my disappointment, they igored it. And then, after a couple of days went by, Bean started sitting on it (maybe he figured out my plan). Then, when Bean gets off, Blanco takes his turn and it is working out beautifully. They're both happy and still have their relationship but they're not driving each other crazy all day every day. It makes me smile just to think about it.
The love story continues. Bean and Blanco sat on their fake eggs for about three weeks and then quit them like any mated couple would. They started hunting around for a better nest and I took fake eggs away. Once they were gone, they decided the liked their old nest best and started the courting and egg-making cycle again except that they can't lay eggs. After a few days, I gave them another fake egg and then, 48 hours, the second. They are back to egg-sitting and are quite compatible. Things get a little hectic for them when there are no eggs to care for and energetic Blanco wants to be all over Bean like white on rice but, once they've got eggs to sit- they're perfect. Affectionate, calm, focused. I think they'd be awesome parents but of course, I'm a responsible breeder- I don't.
August 9, 2009 Update
Bean laid an egg!
I've had Bean since SHE was a couple weeks old. At first I thought she was a she but soon she was strutting and claiming a nest box like a little cock bird. Bean was single for a long time and none of the other pigeons courted her until Blanco showed up and fell madly in love with Bean immediately. By the time Blanco showed up, I was sure Bean was male. In fact, Blanco moved into Bean's nest box. The cocks always handle the house hunting. I've never had a single hen claim a nest box on her own. I thought Bean and Blanco were my little gay pigeons. They've been together for a couple of months and Bean could never lay an egg and so I give them fake eggs to sit on. Just the other day I decided that I had proof that Bean was a cock because, when Blanco's on the nest and Bean is out and about in the loft, none of the other cocks court Bean (which they do all the other hens, whether married or single).
And then this morning, I saw that Bean laid an egg. Little Beanie is just a very butch little hen. Bean!