She and her nine year old daughter Maya were leaving the Tanforan Target store when Maya spotted a pigeon whose feet were so tangled up in string that it could barely walk.
Thinking quickly, they started feeding it Cheerios and tried to catch the poor thing but injured pigeons are extremely wary (and rightly so) and she kept getting away. Tammy's expert bird-catcher husband was unavailable and so she called me. I'm only 15 minutes away from there so I grabbed some pigeon feed and jumped in the car and headed over to try and help catch it.
I arrived at 7:50 but it had taken off just a couple minutes early- off to roost for the night. It was cold and windy (like only an SF summer night can be) and the three of us walked around for at least a half an hour trying to find her again, reluctant to give up, feeling badly about the bird's condition. Maya's such a bird expert (even at her tender age) that she recognized that this was a young bird, just a fledgling, something most people can't tell by looking at a pigeon because, to the untrained eye, they all look alike after they're out of the nest and that made her situation feel even worse.
I had brought my camera but it was too sad to take pictures of and we left downhearted. Later, when mother and daughter were talking about it, Tammy told Maya how, despite our best efforts, we can't always save a bird and can only do our best. Maya replied that she "Didn't want to do her best. She wanted to save the bird." (Clearly a child that will go very far in life.)
Tammy posted this message to the Mickaboo Discussion Group:
My daughter and I were leaving Tanforan Mall in San Bruno today when she found an injured pigeon in the parking lot. We tried to capture the little guy but we were unsuccessful. I called Elizabeth Y. and she dashed right out to help (from SF!!) Unfortunately, literally just a couple of minutes before her arrival, the Pij managed to muster enough energy to fly away and we were unable to find him again. He's a baby, very fluffed and has wire (fishing line??) wrapped around both feet so that they are horribly swollen and obviously very painful. If you are in or near to San Bruno and have time tomorrow to take a look and see if you can find this little guy, any and all help is appreciated. He was hanging out right outside of Target (where their elevator entrance is) in the back of the 2nd floor outside parking structure (on top---in the open air structure). If you're driving in to the mall lot from El Camino you would make a right at the first stop sign entering the mall and then a left after JC Penney to go to the back. As Elizabeth said, it is likely that he is roosting on a low perch somewhere outside of Target as they usually don't stray too far. If you have a chance to check it out and/or need to reach me, my number is (xxx)xxx-xxxx
The next morning, Mickaboo volunteer Virginia decided to stop there while doing errands to see if she could find the bird. She didn't really expect to be able to but wanted to try. By 10:58, she had not only found it but caught it- single and bare handedly (she's fast like a snake!) I called Virginia and invited her over where I've got the stuff to help a string foot pigeon and she arrived about 20 minutes later with the young pigeon.
For over half an hour, Virginia held the bird and I worked at snipping and extracting all the thread and hairs that were wound so tightly and tortuously into her poor little baby feet. Virginia named her Patience and she certainly was very patient.
Pigeons LOVE string (perhaps because they need nesting materials but live in an urban and litter-filled environment) and Patience was hatched in a nest that was made with string and hair. Her poor little baby feet began to get tangled and bound up in string from her very first days. By the time Tammy & Maya & Virginia rescued her, she had already lost one toe completely, another was severed BUT STILL STUCK IN THE STRING and all of her toes were cut and constricted and very painful and at risk.
Pigeon feet are very important- they launch a pigeon into flight and allow them to land safely not to mention forage. A pigeon earns a living on its feet- they walk to eat. Painful, tied-up and damaged feet can, if not freed and treated, kill a pigeon.
After the first round of major string-removal (there will be a follow up check with magnifying lenses to make sure that every bit has been removed), Virginia bathed her feet in a Nolvasan solution and then we put her in a crate with food and water and a mirror and a nice soft sheepskin to stand on.
Patience is doing great. She's greasy and skinny and needs a little more time to recover but her feet show no sign of infection and she's eating and pooping well and eager to be free again. She will be released (I'm hoping by Maya) back where she was found in a short while to continue her life, thanks to Maya and Tammy & Virginia- people that didn't just turn away when they saw a pigeon in trouble.