PIDGEY IS SO LUCKY TO HAVE VAL
When an elderly lady phoned me for help, I could hear the desperation in her voice.
For several months Val had been trying to rescue one of the many pigeons who relied on her for their breakfast and dinner. She had watched helplessly one day as Pidgey arrived for her meal with fishing line binding her legs together.
As the weeks passed, she could see that one of Pidgey’s legs was bulging and inflamed. She was unable to put any weight on it, so she hopped about on one leg and waited for the others in the flock to eat before she would take something herself. Val rallied the help of friends, but no-one was able to net Pidgey or bring her close enough to throw something over her.
A fortnight later, Val watched in horror as poor Pidgey flew in for her breakfast with one leg amputated by the twine and dangling below her - because it was still attached by the line to her remaining leg. Everyone knew that it was only a matter of time before Pidgey's second leg was also painfully amputated.
Paul and I rushed to the home of a kind soul named Frankie who lives near Val and who had offered for our bulky trap to be installed on her lawn. She and Val took turns at putting feed into and around the trap until some of the pigeons accepted it as a feeding station. Val spent hours patiently waiting near the trap in the wind and cold, ready to close the door behind Pidgey should she be brave enough to enter. During these exhausting days, the amputated leg had somehow been freed from Pidgey’s body allowing her better flight and balance.
Young volunteer Samantha and I were walking rescue dogs when my phone rang. Val’s excited voice told us that Pidgey and a few of her companions were in the trap. I danced on the spot, let out a shout of joy and rushed home to meet up with Paul, who was also dog walking. We put together a hasty medical kit, a cat cage, grabbed the camera, took advice from Sylvia at SPCA Birdwing and headed to Frankie’s.
I stealthily entered the trap and quickly put a soft net over Pidgey while her friends were released. While Paul held Pidgey upside down, I gently snipped and worked at the embedded line until, bit by bit, it came free with a sizeable piece of calloused skin. Sadly, Pidgey had already lost one of her toes. Although her remaining leg looked misshapen, there was no sign of infection or bleeding, so I applied liberal sprays of colloidal silver water to the stump of her left leg and the injury site of her right leg.
When she was right side up and we had all admired and soothed her, dear Val reached out her hand (the kind hand that feeds her) and gently took some time to stroke her little one before Paul threw Pidgey into the air.
It was impossible not to laugh and whoop with relief and happiness as Pidgey circled ever higher and higher above us, seemingly revelling in her freedom from that nightmare piece of fishing line. Val will sleep well for the first time in months tonight and hopefully Pidgey will now thrive due to Val's continued loving care of her.
Val phoned me the next day to let me know that Pidgey had turned up for breakfast as usual and was eating well. She was "walking so much better with hardly any hobbling". How we love a happy ending!
Pictured below are Pidgey, Samantha, Paul and Val. Thank you to all - and to Frankie as well.
NOTE: This is not the first time we have cut fishing line from the legs of innocent pigeons or seagulls. Nor is it the first time that we have seen how treacherous fishing line can be to all manner of creatures, including marine animals. Please abandon this cruel form of entertainment. Please pick up any line or twine you come across during your walks and cut it into small pieces before discarding it. Thank you.