My heart hurts with missing her. This overfull house feels empty without her silent, still, bright-eyed magic.
Monday 8/3, 10:30PM
Persia's crop loosened up today and she was still having the scant watery poops and I became hopeful but soon it began to balloon, as if with gas. I made a Hail Mary effort to get a home visit from a vet or even to take her in but couldn't. The vet did say that crop stasis is usually a symptom of another underlying problem.
Her open-beak breathing seemed to be a function of pressure on her chest from the crop and I moved her crate back to her window so that she would have light and air and sky and birds. She wasn't seizuring any more.
I also took her outdoors for a time to feel the breeze and the sun and to watch and listen to the other pigeons.
I have my late mother's portable oxygen concentrator and I thought about putting her in a hospital tank and creating an oxygen chamber with it but decided against that as isolating and not likely to help. I saw this kind of breathing with my beloved Tank who I euthanized when he could no longer breathe, even in an oxygen chamber, because of a massive tumor preventing him from having enough space to draw the air into his chest.
Instead, I held her in my hand or lying beside me on a pillow and held the cannula of the oxygen concentrator to her so that she could at least breathe a higher concentration of oxygen.
I thought about giving her an overdose of the Valium but, after such an incredibly heroic effort on her part, euthanasia seemed inappropriate. She was a little bird full of surprises and I didn't dare quit her. And while I can't say with any certainty how much she suffered or not, her worse time and the end came quickly. I believe she died of respiratory failure brought about through the crop stasis and who knows what all else. PMV doesn't usually kill outright- it debilitates and other illnesses prevail.
I also thought about and dismissed the idea of a necropsy. Better to spend those dollars on the living, I decided.
I wrapped her in a baby flannel and buried her in my backyard at the cornerstone of my loft.
She couldn't eat, stand or walk and only peeped that one wonderful morning. How could such a young, sick, impaired little thing have such a deep and powerful impact? Persia was amazing. Despite her condition, she had so much life and felt, I think, a lot of joy. She ate her hand fed peas and corn with relish. She drank water from a dish held for her with gusto. She preened energetically even though all she could move was her head and she couldn't quite move it right to actually touch feathers most of the time. Whatever the consequences of our two road trips together, she enjoyed them at the time. She watched the sky through the sun roof, she preened, she napped and snuggled with her Auntie Sherri and (dare I say) Uncle Bill. She got to sit in deepest shade in an illegally parked car and was only tipped over a little when I rushed back to her. She charmed all who met her- a lot.
I've neglected pretty much every aspect of my life for the past two weeks to watch over her and care for her. And I loved doing it. I miss her terribly.
If you'd like me to post a remembrance here, please send me an e-mail at AdoptKings@gmail.com and I'll end her story that way.
And thank you for loving her and supporting me.
Monday, 8/3 7:15PM
I'm heartsick to write that Persia died in my hand tonight at 7pm. I'll post the end later. Thank you. I'm so sorry.
Monday 8/3, 3:30PM
Persia's condition is deteriorating. She is open-beak breathing and her eyelids and bottom are puffy, signs of organ failure I believe.
Monday 8/3, 9:30AM
Incredibly, Persia is still alive. As weak as she's been and for so long, I'm really surprised. When she was at SFACC, they didn't think she would live long enough to get to the vet. When Mike was racing her from the shelter to BABH, he didn't think she'd make it. Once at BABH, her vet didn't think she'd make it. That was more than two weeks ago and not only did she make it then but she was steadily and remarkably improving. Until her first setback last week.
Today, her slow crop seems semi-improved and she has, over the past 24 hours, made about 5 terrible poops which I welcome like winning lotto tickets because it means her system is still moving. She's very weak and having occasional seizures. I don't like to take pictures of her when she's feeling so poorly.
Readers, reacting to my regrets, have been very kind and supportive, pointing out that I've 'given her the only chance she was going to get' and I appreciate that. I do definitely give myself an A for effort. I have poured myself into helping this brave little bird. But I have also made mistakes- innocent but grave. There are things that, if I was to do this again, I would do differently and that learning is important. I'm doing them now. Perhaps, because Persia is such a surprising little bulldog of a spirit, she can survive my mistakes. Man, would that make me happy.
I'm now doing what my friend and pigeon expert recommended earlier but that, because we were doing so well and because I liked doing it my way and because the flipping and pushy feet situations scared me so much, I didn't do. I'm keeping her warm, hydrated and quiet and that's it. I'm leaving her alone and keeping handling and exposure to any stimulation to a minimum. I've given her sub cu fluids, 5.5 ccs of a watery breakfast (pedialyte, Harrison's juvenile forumla, a drop of ACV and a drop of vitamin B) and lubricant for her once again unblinking eyes and I've put her back to rest in a dark, quiet (relatively) spot.
There is no treatment or meds for PMV. Birds given proper supportive care and protected/assisted against opportunistic diseases can survive. Baby pigeons, so much more frail and less resilient than adults, don't usually survive. PMV symptoms (seizures for example) are aggravated by stress. While I used to be a source of great comfort to Persia- feeding her yummy corn and peas, holding her water dish while she took lusty drinks, snuggling her which baby pij love- I'm now a torment, giving her shots of sub cu fluids or Valium, syringe feeding her, inflaming her already PMV-raw nerves. But I'm going to keep her warm, hydrated and quiet and give this incredible little bird room to fight her own fight.
It's a lot easier posting these updates when she's doing well but I want to thank you, readers and friends, for sharing this experience with us. I'm not much (any) of a singer but I do sing Persia a little song that goes, "Persia, such a good birda, loved by so many, loved by Anne and Mike and Jana and Susie and Jenn and Sherri and Eric and Cheryl and Lizz and Diane and Dan and Tracey and Jonathan and Kimberly and Kevin and Bill and Cathy and Shatzy and Becci and Cynthia and by lots more and by me."
Sunday 8/2, 2:30PM
Persia has not improved and is perhaps weaker. I've given her apple cider vinegar water and charoal to help her slow crop and then later a shot of Valium because she was having a prolonged seizure which it ended. She's sleeping in my hand now.
While she has certainly had my best efforts and intentions, Persia, as strong and tenacious as she is, would have benefitted from a more expert care giver. I'm afraid the mistakes I've made along the way may tip the balance against this little bird.
Sunday 8/2, 9AM
This little white baby pigeon is fighting such an epic battle, silently and motionless. After gaining that notch of progress yesterday morning, she has not improved and she may even have weakened a notch back. She's not worse than she was but she's not better. After her prior recovery, I had been expecting that she would make similar progress. But she hasn't yet. The few poops she has produced have been scant and terrible. She still can't take a drink on her own. I handfed her yesterday but her crop is slow and I won't be giving her any breakfast this morning. I've been giving her sub cu fluids and pedialyte. We go outside and watch and listen to the other pigeons so that she can see all the fun she has to look forward to when she gets through this. My spirits soar when I see her gaze following their motion. All through the night, I held her cupped in my hand and told her the story of a little white princess bird that was put in a big brown bag by a monster and how a hero named Anne found the little princess and freed her from the bag. And so on. Right up to the point where the little princess bird lives happily ever after.
Man how I miss her pushy feet and flipping escapades.
Saturday 8/1, 9AM
Persia has continued to improve and, while weak and feeling lousy I'm sure, has stabilized. She's conscious and has pooped. It was a terrible poop but, after 18 hours without any, I was thrilled to see it and to know that her system is moving. She still can't drink water on her own.
This has been another terrible setback but I will do everything I can to support her recuperation and to err on the side of under-stimulation rather than risk triggering another relapse.
Saturday 8/1, 3AM
Persia is slightly more alert and has some tension in her neck and legs. She still can't drink water on her own and having her beak tip in a water dish triggers a short spasm of wing flapping and neck twisting. I feel like, ever so slightly, she's coming in the right direction. Still a long ways to go to match the progress and well-being she had attained.
Friday 7/31, 10PM
Persia is holding her own. She's not improved but she's not worse that I can tell. The fact that she is hanging on over this period of time (30 hours now) encourages me that she can continue and begin to recover once again.
No news here is good news. If she passes, I will post it so that you all know. If you don't see an update, that means she's hanging in.
Friday 7/31, 5PM
Persia is in grave condition. She was this bad early Wednesday morning and, with time and support, made great improvement and I'm hoping that she will recover again. I made the mistake, yesterday around 2, of bathing her, briefly and gently. She had flipped around in her poop and I thought it would be OK. The bath itself went fine, she's very calm and relaxed with me and it was very uneventful. But, a couple hours later, she became very sleepy, slept through dinner and has been weak and without energy ever since. In hindsight, I see that the feeling of the water must have overstimulated her again (like the car rides) and has triggered a PMV resurgence. Don't know why but stimulation does that with PMV.
I'm so sorry. I promise I won't make any more stimulation mistakes with our beautiful Persia.
She's resting and I'm keeping her hydrated and warm and nourished. I'm doing everything I can to support her through this episode and she's a fighter, clearly. Have faith in her.
No visitors now, please. Come see her when she's gotten through this.
Friday 7/31, 12:30 PM
Persia is in the grips of another really bad relapse. She is very weak. I'll post again in a couple of hours with an update.
Thursday 7/30, 12 Noon
Persia is definitely feeling better today. She's got her strength back, is doing lots of tail-waggling, wing flipping (not popping, just flicking them to resettle the feathers), some preening and, for the first time since I've had her- she peeped! This morning, after I gave her breakfast and while I was holding her in one hand and trying to take of some other stuff with the other, she peeped. Several times. Conversationally. Like, "Hey. Watcha doin? Is that it? Breakfast and then I'm just a lump to lug around? Pay attention to me." The first one I figured was a neighborhood sound or my budgies or something. But when she kept it up, I was able to confirm- Squeakless is getting her voice back.
I STILL haven't been able to figure out an environment for her though. I'm supposed to leave town for four days and even if I had somebody willing to take care of her while I'm gone (I had thought about taking her but obviously after her relapse, that won't work), I still don't have a cage/crate/tank setting that I feel good about for her.
This is her preferred position- leaning with the right leg as a kickstand.
This is what happens when she lurches forward with pushy feet-
This is how she winds up when she tips over backwards-
This is what happens in a hospital tank-
And this is how she winds up in the bathtub.
Lizz Doptis, an incredible pigeon rescuer, adopter of Ciel and artist (click here and be Wowed!), has given me some great suggestions on how to make Persia safe in a sling but she's in Ohio and I'm afraid that I'll strangle Persia by setting up an almost-but-not-quite-right rig.
It really surprises me that I haven't been able to figure this out. I'm usually very creative, resourceful and great at problem-solving. Probably I should just put her in the tub or a tank and let her scuttle around and lay on her back. I can't stand it though.
Anyways- Persia is definitely doing better today.
And we both appreciate your kind words, encouragement and support. Thank you.
UPDATE Wednesday 9PM
I feel like Persia has stabilized. She's definitely had a significant set back from where she was on Monday but she's stronger tonight than she was this morning. Her poops are good again, she's shivering less and is a little more alert. I think the overstimulation of our two outings caused the flare up of the PMV (a virus which attacks neural, GI & respiratory cells). I won't risk taking her out with me again. This afternoon, when I felt like she was out of the acute crisis, I left her home alone for an hour and fifteen minutes when I could no longer delay an appointment. It was the first time I've been apart from her since bringing her home a week ago Saturday. She was upright and OK when I got home.
UPDATE Wednesday 9AM
I spent most of the day yesterday watching over Persia. She was shivery (a new symptom for her) and I turned up the heating pad and even added a heat lamp for a time. I also spent a lot of time holding her while both of us snuggled in an electric blanket (frickin love July in SF). She actually got a little better in the evening- a little tiny bit more energy, a little bit of preening, better poops.
At 4 am, I turned her over right side up (she had flipped and pushed her face into the towel bolster) and she was in bad shape. Weak, rapid, shallow breathing, tense legs and limp neck. I thought I was going to lose her a couple times. She's a tiny bit better right now and is watching the birds outside her window. She had another decent poop and I'm warming up her sub cu fluids (one of the best things for all kinds of medical problems). I'm still very concerned.
My pigeon expert reminded me that PMV birds need to be in low-stimulation environments and it's possible that our road trip on Monday has caused this set back. (The shipped kings arrived safely in Colorado this morning and are now out of the box and in their new home.) We also had an outing on Saturday. Both times she did really well and she was great on Sunday but maybe there's a lag time between being over stimulated and experiencing the repercussions.
UPDATE Tuesday 12 Noon
Sorry to fall behind on the Persia updates (I'm behind in everything it seems.) Yesterday, I clipped Persia's long flight and tail feathers short in the hopes that having a more compact body shape would help her possibly regain her footing when she flips. It didn't. I also hoped it would allow her to fit comfortably in a fanny pack so that I could wear her and keep her with me more easily but the fanny pack's still a little too small. Her cut flight and tail feathers will fall out and be replaced by new ones in a couple of months and, since the PMV grounds birds for a couple of months, she wouldn't have been able to use them anyway. Still- I hated to do it even though I do like her new, little short butt look.
I had to drive from SF to the Marin Humane Society in Novato yesterday, catch and pack up eight king pigeons for shipping and then get them to the USPS at SFO in time to catch their flight to their new home in Colorado. I took Persia with me and she did great. She did a lot of preening and actually reached a few feathers. And she's a really good little traveler. While on the road, she rides in my lap, alternately watching out the sun roof and napping and, when I was indoors working with the pigeons or the PO, she was in her crate in the car. I had to park in deep shade with her in there and was lucky not to get a ticket for my creative interpretation of what it means to be a parking space. I worked fast.
The eight kings are on their way and, because their adopter lives in a small town a couple hundred miles from the air shipping hub of Denver, it will be a two-day trip for them. I'll be tense until they arrive safely.
I'm also tense because today Persia's taken a little downturn. She had a good night but today her energy is lower and her formerly Gold Medal-quality poops have gone bad. With all the pigeon rescue I'm involved in, perfect quarantine is super challenging and she could be exposed to all kinds of stuff. She's resting comfortably right now and I'm monitoring her closely.
UPDATE Sunday 5PM
Persia is the sweetest, most immobilized and yet challenging little bird I've ever cared for. Fifteen minutes ago I finished rigging up a ski hat with leg holes to serve as a safe cradle for her. Persia still can't stand or walk but her "pushy feet" can scuttle her off a counter, bed or out of your hands so fast it will make your head spin. The pushy feet can also flip her upside down and then continue pushing so that her head (in a neck-breaking position) is jammed ever deeper into a crate corner. I don't have any pictures of this because, when I see it, my response is to get her untangled and upright rather than shoot the shot. My rescue instincts trump my photo-journalism urges.
Anyways- she needs some sort of flip & scuttle proof contraption and I thought I finally had it. I checked on her after five minutes in the hat and she was napping. Five minutes later, still napping. Five minutes after that, she had the whole thing upended and knocked down and tangled about her. I scooped her out of the wreckage and she's now quite contentedly air-preening herself (her motor control isn't quite good enough to actually catch many feathers yet) in my left hand while I type this with my right. She's a very good sport about the flip, scuttle, fall stuff.
Persia also had a very special visit today from her rescuer, Anne. Anne found her in a brown paper bag on the sidewalk near the intersection of London & Persia. Anne says that Persia has lost a lot of weight from when she was first found and that she used to squeak and wingpop before she got sick. Anne has offered to Persia sit on the weekends and, as I type one-handed again, I'm wondering why I didn't take her up on that generous offer! They had a good visit, I think.
UPDATE Saturday 7PM
Persia had another big day today. We tried out several more strategies to keep her "pushy feet" (as I call them) from plowing her headfirst into crate walls and/or flipping over but none of them worked. I can't keep her with me every second and, even in what I thought would be the safe zone of the bathtub, she scooted herself headfirst into the side.
I'm afraid to be away from her for long so I took her with me when I took Peppermint, the latest rescued pigeon, to his foster mom (and Persia's old friend), Sherri. Persia had a great time, enjoyed the ride and made friends with her foster dad-to-be, Bill. Tomorrow, Anne, the person who found Persia on the sidewalk in a brown paper bag, is coming to visit. It makes me happy to know that Persia is loved by so many.
UPDATE Friday 7PM
Persia had a big day today. She tried out a couple new crate configurations to see if we can prevent the flips and turtling (we haven't solved that yet but the latest iteration reduces flipping), she scuttled around in the bathtub on a towel (I wanted to see if that might be a safer environment). She can't stand but does push herself a ways and then lays there on her side looking silly/pitiful. And she spent some QT with foster mom-to-be Sherri who came over and fed her and cuddled her and brainstormed possible hammock solutions to the flipping issue. She also did several tail waggles and wing stretches (very good), made her first efforts at preening (great even though she didn't actually touch any feathers) and she continued with the occasional shivers (puzzling) whether she was cold or warm. She's had so many neurological symptoms and this may be another one. I'm not sure. Her tongue is clear of the canker plaques and that's good. Doesn't mean she's cured yet but it's definitely good.
She has a longs way to go to recovery but I think she's a little better every day. But I'm falling further behind every day. I'm going to drop back to once-a-day Persia Updates and they'll be on her page (see left hand column of the blog) instead of front and center once I get the latest update added.
UPDATE Friday 9AM
Five minutes ago Persia was fine, watching the birds avidly out her window but just now when I went to check on her, she was flipped upside down with her head in the crate corner again. Now I'm typing one-handed again as I cradle her in the other.
It's as if she tries to stand or walk and she has the strength in her legs to do it but not the balance or coordination and she winds up turtled on her back. I'm worried she's going to hurt or smother herself with this trick. Neither one of us got much sleep because of it. I keep working on her set up to make it more secure but I haven't figured it out yet. Yesterday I did make her a sling out of a pair of panty hose but I didn't trust it and took it down. The British insult, "too clever by half" came to mind as I looked at her in it. Right now I'm wondering about making a little sling and just wearing her around all day like a baby in a Bjorn but that screws any effort at quarantine...
Otherwise things are pretty good. She's alert and very dear.
UPDATE Thursday 8PM
Persia's fine but I'm swamped and falling further and further behind. She did give me a scare today. I went to check on her and found her in her crate, upside down stock still with her pink feet sticking straight up in the air. She all but had Xs on her eyes -- Just now I just heard a funny noise, a soft swish sound and went to check on her and she was flipped over again but all twisted up. I've got her safe in my left hand now as I type this with my right --
I got a message today from Bay Area Bird Hospital saying that her gram stain test showed Trich which I had started treating her for yesterday based on the plaque that had appeared on her tongue. We're all on the same page at least but it means she's had asymptomatic Trich since at least Saturday.
And today she's given me real mixed messages. She looks better and her eyes are tracking and she's alert and she gave me several good birdie stretches and tail waggles (nice signs of improving well being) but she also is doing these flips and made a little bit of a breathing sound and that sneeze...
Her friend and foster mom-to-be is coming over tomorrow for a visit and we're looking forward to that.
UPDATE Thursday 10AM
Squeakless in San Francisco
Baby pigeons are called "squeakers" because they squeak like rusty wheels to get fed and squeak-peep when frightened. Persia is silent and so I'm calling her a squeakless these days. (I wonder if that is an acceptable Scrabble word?)
She had a good night and is doing well. I'd say she's a bit better. Her neck isn't twisted and her breathing seems fine (though she sneezed and that has me on high alert) and her tongue is almost clear of plaque. That doesn't mean the canker is gone but it is a good sign that she is responding to treatment.
When offered a water dish (and her beak is tipped down into it), she will follow up herself by directing her head downward and taking a drink 'on her own'.
I recorded video of her being fed yesterday but my big man hand (who knew?) blocks the viewer from seeing her so I'm going to have to revamp my camera angle and try again.
I think she looks better- you can see it even in the pictures. What do you think?
UPDATE Wednesday 6PM
Persia's doing OK today. She even, while sitting cupped in my hand, gave me a birdie yoga stretch and two tail waggles. Those are about the first normal pigeon things she's felt good enough to do. Well, that and pooping. She'd win a gold medal now if there was a Poop Olympics. I'm thinking about rigging up a sling for her, like those baby bouncers, so that she could use her legs without plowing headfirst into and off of stuff.
We spent a little time sitting outside near the kings in my loft and she watches them with interest. Same with the ferals. And I've raised up her crate so that now, even when inside it, she has a big view and she watches through the window intently.
I received this e-mail this morning, reprinted with permission from Anne, the person who found Persia:
Good Morning Elizabeth,
Please tell Persia that I pray that the guardian angels are protecting her. I miss her pigeon smell, pigeon coos and her wings slap & beak attack when I put my hands inside the cage to change the cage papers and to touch her.
I do not have the right set up or a backyard aviary to house and to keep a pigeon, and this does not mean that I love her less.
A donation check in the amount of $300 is in the mail. (I do know the veterinary care such as bird exam, blood work, x-ray, medicine, injection & syringe feeding can be expensive, and this is what I can contribute for now.) In the near future, if I can financially, I will continue to sponsor her to make a donation to Mickaboo.
She is a survior and a miracle white king pigeon.
Thank you so much once again.
The world really is full of generosity and sweetness.
It made me happy to hear about Persia wing-slapping and beaking Anne. I very much look forward to her wing-slapping me one of these days. That will be a happy day. Anne is going to come visit Persia as is Sherri, her foster-mom-in-waiting.
UPDATE Wednesday 9AM
I brought Persia's crate bedside last night to keep an eye on her and see what's happening at night. She slept quietly most of the time but did have a few episodes with the leg-pushing. It's as if her legs slip out of park and engage in drive but no one's at the steering wheel.
She's still a very sick little bird. I thought, if she survived the acute crisis she was in, that she'd be a little more robust by now but she's plateaued. I hope. I hope she's not slipping.
This morning she has a new symptom- her little tongue* is white and looks like she may have a thin layer of canker plaque. Trichomoniasis (pigeon canker) is a common, opportunistic protozoa parasite that can overrun and kill a pigeon. I've given her Metronidazole and she's in her donut towel bolsters, resting and watching the sky. (*Pigeon tongues, unlike the big, plump thumb-like tongues of parrots are tiny and thin and more like a little snake tongue.)
Caring for and just sitting with her, I've been neglecting everything and everybody and better get busy around here. Persia has a willing and ready foster home on stand-by but I'm concerned about putting her through any changes right now. I know the care she'd get would be excellent but, in my experience, squeakers don't do well with changes.
UPDATE Tuesday 7PM
Persia's still swallowing what I feed her and is pooping like a champ now. Her neck is no longer gripped with the torsion that had it twisted and cocked on her back but instead, when she's relaxed, is limp and droopy which looks probably more comfortable for her but is even more unnerving for me. She can pick up her head, glance out the window, meet your eye but it takes effort and, in repose, her neck wilts.
But her legs have taken on a life of their own. Baby pigeons, even teeny tiny, stand and back their butts up to the edge of the nest to poop. Adult pij will usually take a sort of vestigal step backwards, where ever they are, when they're going to poop. Persia, I think, is reflexively trying to do this, now that she has legs again, but instead of standing and backing up, her legs extend and powerfully push her still-down torso forward across whatever surface she's on. I think that must be how she plowed out of the crate last night and down on to the floor. Yesterday her legs were limp and her neck tense with energy. Today it's the reverse. She spent several hours this afternoon "standing" on tense legs supported by a tall donut of towel-bolster.
She's not out of the woods. She is blinking now and closing her eyes when she sleeps so I don't need to add the lubricant to her eyes but she has a touch of a tail bob that I hadn't noticed before. She appears to be breathing well and doesn't make any breathing sounds but... Adult pigeons are so resilient and I have seen them recover from all manner of disasters but squeakers (young pigeons) are much less tough, much more frail.
UPDATE Tuesday 10AM
I woke up to a scare this morning.
I'm the door-closer type, I don't like anything ajar. So, even though it feels silly closing the door of motionless Persia's crate, I do. Last night, when I checked on her at 2:30 am, she'd had a seizure or something and pushed herself uncomfortably up into the closed crate door. I scooched her back and left the door ajar thinking that, if it happened again, the door would push out and not trap her squished up against it.
And that's exactly what happened except that she pushed out of the crate, across the counter and off the edge onto the floor three feet below where I found her this morning.
She's OK. She's tired and cold and I've given her fluids and some breakfast and her medicine and warmed her up and tucked her into her bed where she's sleeping now. I'm sure the fall hurt and that the floor was an uncomfortable place to be.
She's getting the use of her legs back. Up until now, they've been limp and folded under her as if she didn't have any but today there's some energy and strength in them though not much control. She may have had a seizure that was more leg-based than wing-based and that propelled her out and off the edge. Or she's trying to stand and she scrabbled out in her efforts.
It was a shock to see her crate door open and find her on the floor below. She seems OK and I think we caught another lucky break.
Along with regaining her legs, she's also becoming more alert, less passive.
UPDATE: Monday 8PM
Persia had a pretty good day. I really cranked up the fluids per a friend's suggestion and I think that helped. She looks more comfortable and her poops are looking really good, both in quality and quantity. Yesterday she was twitching and so I took her mirror away because it seemed like it would be nerve racking to have a twitchy reflection constantly jumping in the corner of your eye but she's not twitchy today and so I've returned it and, as all lone pigeons do, she appreciates it. Since the sun barely came out, I sat her in the window with a heat lamp. She spent time looking out the window as well as into the mirror. I also gave her a little gentle neck rubbing because having it cocked and twisted like that can't be comfortable and she seemed fine with it. Her appetite continues to be good though she can't eat a bite on her own. That's alright. That's what I'm here for.
I've just learned that Persia was found by a woman named Anne who posted this ad on craigslist.
A White Pigeon Found. (excelsior / outer mission)
Date: 2009-07-14, 9:02AM PDTA white pigeon was found in a grocery bag on London Street yesterday on Monday 7/13. I do not know if this is a pure white racing pigeon, a dove, or a white pigeon pucharsed from a poultry farm. This pigeon also has a white plastic leg band. We are housing this bird in a bird cage temporarily for a few days, and will perhaps take the pigeon to the Animal Care & Control if no one claims the bird. Thanks.
A Mickaboo volunteer saw the ad and forwarded it to me. Too full to take on another king, I replied to the finder with some info and suggestions and thanked her for helping this bird. When the bird showed signs of illness, Anne did some research and took her to SFACC where they noted in the bird's file that we had been in contact which is why, rather than euthanize this obviously very ill bird immediately, they contacted me and I was able to put the call out for help to get her an emergency ride to the vet and she's now convalescing in my kitchen. Persia (who maybe should have been named London?) is a very lucky bird, sick as she is.
UPDATE: Monday 10AM
Last night at 11:35, for the first time since she's been home from the vet, Persia had a big seizure with lots of wing flapping and twitching. I gave her a shot of Valium and it seemed to relieve her. I sat with her for awhile and then put her back to bed. I checked on her periodically through the night and she was resting quietly each time.
This morning she's had her Clavamox, sub cu fluids, Pedialyte and a good breakfast. Her neck is very twisted but she still swallows food well. She's pooping more and better. After breakfast (but before sub cu fluids) she weighed 420, up from 383 on Saturday.
She's resting in the window right now. No sun yet this morning but sky nonetheless.
UPDATE: Sunday 7PM
Persia had an OK day especially when you consider that most didn't expect her to live through the night. She's very still but not quite paralyzed and, if she survives, should regain function. She has lots of flickering eye movements as if she were caught in a blizzard of little seizures but no more big spasms.
She made a new friend today. Mickaboo volunteer Sherri N. came over to meet her first king pigeon and to learn about caring for a sick one. They did great together and, it looked to me that Persia appreciated Sherri's soft, steady attention and careful feeding. And even in her pitiful condition, Persia worked her king pij magic. When Persia's stable, Sherri and her family will provide a foster home for her.
Persia's had Pedialyte, thawed frozen peas and corn and pigeon feed today- all hand fed- and will probably have two more small meals tonight. She also spent some time sitting with me outdoors listening to and watching the other pigeons, seeing what she has to look forward to when she recovers. She's resting right now, if not comfortably, peacefully.
UPDATE: Sunday 9AM
She has survived the night but she's tired, poor thing. And her neck is very twisted. She still eats what I put in her mouth but with a little less energy. Her poops are slimy, unformed and that bright, deep green of organ trouble. She's propped in a towel bolster and situated in the warmth of the sunshine but with her face shaded. I'm applying sterile lube to her unblinking eyes.
Saturday, July 18
At 9:52 this morning, I received this e-mail from SFACC:
Hi Elizabeth, A269280 is a very sick King that came in yesterday. The memo says you have corresponded with the finder re this bird. This morning it looks very bad -on his back, spasms, looks like he is going to die. I think it would be most humane to euthanize, but due to info in memos, wanted to try to contact you first. If I don't hear back from you in a couple hours, we will probably euthanize for humane reasons. Thanks.
I thought about recommending they euthanize because this bird sounded really bad and we're already way past full up with homeless king pigeons not to mention how much vet care costs but I sent this message out to a handful of SF Mickaboo volunteers, ACC volunteers and Pigeon Talk people at 10:07:
Is anybody available to emergency rush an SFACC pigeon to BABH?
There is a VERY sick king pigeon at SFACC that needs emergency avian vet care at Bay Area Bird Hospital located near the corner of Taraval Street and 32nd Avenue in San Francisco, 415-566-4359.
If so, please reply all so that others will know that it is being handled. You may want to call SFACC at (415) 554-6364 to confirm the bird is still alive.
SFACC isn't generally open to the public this early but will open for this pick up. (Ring the doorbell).
At 10:09, literally two minutes later, I received this e-mail from Mickaboo volunteer Mike R.:
I can do this. Please call me if someone else is doing it.
Mike dropped everything and raced over to the shelter to try and get a dying pigeon to the vet in time. He did. He could tell she was barely hanging on and at one point on the way over he checked to see if she was still breathing.
She had several more seizures while at BABH and was treated with Valium several times. Her problems could be viral, bacterial or heavy metal toxicity. Later, her neck began to twist with torsion, a symptom frequently seen with PMV. She was given fluids and an injection of antibiotics and I brought her home with meds and a referral to a 24 hour emergency vet clinic in case her condition worsened and a follow-up appointment for more tests if she survives.
I asked Mike to name her and he likes to name the shelter birds after the street they're found on and she got lucky again because she was found on Persia, so she has a beautiful, strong name- Persia.
She's young- only 4 to 6 weeks old and gravely ill. And while adult pigeons are incredibly resilient, I've learned the hard way that the youngsters have a much lower recovery rate and all too easily can slip away.
I am encouraged though by her appetite. While she can't feed herself (she can't even stand up), she is very responsive to hand-feeding and actively, feebly, participates, swallowing well.
The Valium is wearing off and she's less limp and that makes her seem improved. I hope she is. She has palsy now and her neck is twisting and, shortly after this picture was taken, she was in a beak-straight-up-in-the-air position. If she survives, she will likely recover after a few months, though she may have residual "star-gazing" for the rest of her life. Frances and June Bug couldn't feed themselves and now are doing great and are even regaining their ability to fly. One of MickaCoo's adopters has been nursing a sick king pigeon named Dion whose neck was so contorted with torsion that the back of his head was pressed flat on his back. Now he's almost fully recovered, though he still spins and star-gazes every once in awhile.
Tax-deductible donations towards her vet care can be made by clicking here.
(Please note "Pigeon Persia" in comments.)