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 A very nice article about a very special advocate

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Matilda
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Matilda

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A very nice article about a very special advocate Empty
PostSubject: A very nice article about a very special advocate   A very nice article about a very special advocate Icon_minitimeMon Apr 20, 2009 8:57 pm

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/04/20/DDJT171QBL.DTL

[click on the link to see the article with pictures.]

Pigeons are princes in Bayview hideout
Steve Rubenstein, Special to The Chronicle

Monday, April 20, 2009


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Things are looking up for the pigeon, the once-noble bird with a PR problem.

Pigeons have got their own Web site. Pigeons have got their own rescue group. Pigeons have got their own benefactress, a retired social worker named Elizabeth Young, a woman with a big heart and an even bigger pigeon coop in her Bayview district backyard.


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Elizabeth Young likes pigeons very much. She especially likes abandoned pigeons from the live poultry markets of Chinatown, although any forlorn and misunderstood pigeon will do.

They are welcome to a place in her coop, a giant pigeon refuge and retreat with cozy two-pigeon condominiums, rope toys, wooden perches and all the grain you can eat.

"A pigeon," Young said, while holding Kizzie the pigeon in her well-pecked arms, "is no less worthy than any other animal. This may not be a magnificent animal, like a tiger, but it is an animal that wants to live and has a right to be treated with respect."

That wasn't happening, even in the bleeding-heart world of animal rescue.

"Dog and cat breeds have rescue groups," she said. "Rabbits have a rescue group. Guinea pigs have a rescue group. Even rats have a rescue group. But nobody was looking out for pigeons." Kizzie gave her benefactress a peck on her hand, for emphasis. Every patch of Young's skin, including her nose and forehead, bears the scars and bloody wounds of countless misunderstandings. It's never the pigeon's fault, she said. A bird comes with a beak. Get over it. The pigeon is just being a pigeon.

Young was just a regular volunteer at the San Francisco animal shelter until two years ago, when she spotted a large white pigeon in one of the cages. Its eyes were sweet and its days were numbered. Nobody cares about a pigeon, it seems, except another pigeon. The poultry sellers don't even call them pigeons but squabs, which sound tastier. Most of the abandoned white pigeons - known as king pigeons - are bred for the dinner table and can be had for as little as five bucks. Kizzie was one of those. She was destined to be a main course before catching the biggest break of her monthlong life and falling in with Young at the animal shelter, winning herself a condo in Young's coop. Hers was a familiar tale in the abandoned-pigeon cycle.

Freedom takes a toll
A softhearted soul buys a white pigeon at the poultry mart and, seeking to do a good deed, sets it free in Golden Gate Park. Usually, the only ones to benefit from such an act are the poultry seller and, perhaps, a hawk-eyed hawk. Or sometimes a bunch of white pigeons - which look like doves but cost a lot less - are purchased at the market to be released at the grand finale of a wedding. Such pigeons, unable to fly more than a few feet and unwise to the ways of the world, have almost no chance to survive in the wild more than a few hours.

So far, 65 very lucky birds have made it to Young's coop. Young has set up a pigeon adoption Web site, mickaboo.com/mickacoo and has placed pigeons throughout the Bay Area and as far away as the East Coast.

Young, a soft touch, spends all her ready cash on bird food, bird cages, bird toys, bird doctors and a healthy supply of a product known as Poop Off Bird Poop Remover, a bottle of which is never far from her grasp. It takes a special person to bring home an orphaned pigeon, Young acknowledged. A pigeon adopter must be able to find splendor in the commonplace and grace in a simple act of kindness.

It's not for everyone. Among city dwellers, the fate of a pigeon does not number among life's pressing concerns. Pigeon adopters must answer a five-page questionnaire ("Are you aware bird medicine is very expensive? Are you aware that birds leave droppings everywhere?"), attend a bird care class, pass a telephone screening, submit to a home inspection and answer truthfully as to whether, anywhere on the prospective premises, reside those confounding creatures known as cats.

At present, two dozen pigeons are up for adoption. Young has given them all names - which is simply good strategy in the foster animal line - and posted a profile of each available pigeon on her Web site. There's Art ("I love watching TV"), B.B. King ("I'll never let you down"), Gatsby ("I'm feisty and very cute") and Tony Baby ("I'm confident and charismatic!")

A place of high intrigue
While the pigeons wait for their new lives to begin, they have turned Young's coop into a place of high intrigue. Mocha, a brown pigeon, is the sister of Smokey. Mocha is also Smokey's mate. They take turns sitting on the eggs without realizing that Young has pulled a fast one and substituted fake wooden eggs for the real ones, in the interest of pigeon birth control. Meanwhile, Louis and Rocky turned out to be girls and Charlie Brown, although rehabilitated, refuses to fly away, declining five attempts to be introduced into the wild. Watching the pigeon coop from Young's rooftop are at least three dozen ordinary San Francisco pigeons who, mindful of the constant supply of unlimited food inside the coop, keep trying to worm their way into captivity. And a pair of hawks, unclear on the rescue concept, always seem to be circling overhead.

Young, who loves high-end birds as much as low-end ones, keeps her own, personal green parrot inside the house. He's a conure named Tookie and he has free rein of the premises. His favorite pastime seems to be flying to the phone answering machine and waiting patiently for Young to replay, yet again, a phone message from Young's beloved mother and fellow animal lover, who died last year. Hearing that voice ("This is a long-distance call for Tookie! I wish you'd answer, Tookie! I love you! OK, talk to you later!") makes Tookie and her owner feel almost as good as finding homes for 65 pigeons.

"Look," said Young. "I know what I'm doing is ridiculous. It doesn't make a big difference to the world to save a pigeon. But it makes a big difference to that particular pigeon. I'm not helping the entire planet, I'm helping Louis, Rocky and Mocha. At least that's doing something. Everybody has to start somewhere."

Steve Rubenstein is a San Francisco writer. E-mail us at datebookletters@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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AZWhitefeather
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AZWhitefeather

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A very nice article about a very special advocate Empty
PostSubject: Re: A very nice article about a very special advocate   A very nice article about a very special advocate Icon_minitimeTue Apr 21, 2009 12:08 am

Good post That's a great story.

Young has set up a pigeon adoption Web site, mickaboo.com
I didn't realize SHE was the one who started that.

_________________
Cindy

A Pigeon's Prayer
Please watch over us while we fly,
Keeping us safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Please lead us to safety where we are welcome to stay.
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Matilda
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Matilda

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PostSubject: Re: A very nice article about a very special advocate   A very nice article about a very special advocate Icon_minitimeTue Apr 21, 2009 5:34 am

I think so. She has been a real pioneer for the bay area Pigeons.

She emails a monthyly update which is beautifully done and very impressive.
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Jenaka
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PostSubject: Re: A very nice article about a very special advocate   A very nice article about a very special advocate Icon_minitimeFri Apr 24, 2009 12:20 am

Wonderful article! We need lots more like it! Major kudos to Elizabeth. Thrilled Hip Hip Hooray Jumpin for joy
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PostSubject: Re: A very nice article about a very special advocate   A very nice article about a very special advocate Icon_minitime

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