Few animals are as under appreciated — or outright maligned — as the countless pigeons with whom we share our cities and suburbs. But fortunately there are people who believe that, no matter how common, every one of those humble birds is still very much worth saving.
Here's a pigeon who's alive today because of them.
This fledgling baby pigeon was rescued last month by two pedestrians who found her injured on a sidewalk in Oakland, California. Seeing her twisted neck, they weren't sure at first if she was even alive — until she began to peep.
Rather than leave her there to suffer all alone, the Good Samaritans rushed her to WildCare, a clinic that specializes in treating injured wildlife. And it's a good thing that they did.
"We're one of the only wildlife hospitals in the Bay Area that will actually treat pigeons," Melanie Piazza, director of animal care, told The Dodo. "Most euthanize them as 'pest' animals. We treat everybody, so she came here."
Soon after, an X-ray revealed that pigeon had suffered a broken neck, perhaps by crashing on her maiden flight, or at the hands of a cruel person who'd discovered her vulnerable on the ground.
"We weren't sure if she was going to make it," said Piazza. "She was a long shot. Any living being with a broken neck is in trouble. But with the fact that she could still use her legs and her wings, we thought she had a chance. Her spinal cord wasn't severed, so we thought we'd try to help her."
That part would take some improvising. The pigeon's caretakers devised a neck brace out of padding used for casts and pink medical wrap, light enough so she could still walk around as she healed.
"We wrapped it behind her back and behind her wings — like suspenders, to hold her head up," said Piazza.
Given the seriousness of the injury, WildCare staff expected her recovery to take weeks, if not months. But the pigeon proved them wrong.
Four days later, while refitting the neck brace, it was discovered that the bird was now able to hold her head up nearly all the way.
"We were really excited to see her progress," Piazza said. "It's shocking because we're used to things taking longer with something that severe."
In the days that followed, the injured pigeon continued to wear a sleeker, yellow neck brace until she healed more completely. But by the tenth day, she was already strong enough to join two other young pigeons and to feed on her own.
And her health just kept on improving.
It's been just over two weeks now since the little pigeon was first rescued from the verge of death, and her recovery is virtually complete.
She no longer even needs a neck brace, or any medication.
The pigeon will spend the next two months in WildCare's aviary, learning to fly along with other rescued birds like her. Afterward she'll be released to start her life anew.
When asked why so much time and effort should be devoted to helping a bird who, for some folks, carries no value whatsoever, Piazza answers simply:
"It's just the right thing to do. If there's a life that's suffering, and we can help make it better, that's what we can do to make the world a better place. It might not matter to to the world as a whole, but it matters to that individual animal."
To learn more about WildCare, and to find out how you can help, visit its website here.