On our wedding anniversary in May, sweet husband and I made plans to go to the Hayden Planetarium and the American Museum of Natural History to bask under the stars and walk with the dinosaurs. Just as we were awakening to our lovely plans, I heard a knock on our door. It was my friend, Jonellen, with an animal carrier.
J: I’m sorry to bother you. I found this sick pigeon this morning and I have to go to work, can I leave it with you?
J: Great! Don’t let the cat get it. I’ll call you from work.
So there I stood on my doorstep, in my nightgown, holding an animal carrier with a sick bird inside that I had to keep away from the cat! It turned out that while Jonellen was walking Sammy, her dog, she saw this sick pigeon in the street on the side that was about to be cleaned by the giant sweeping machine. Fearing it would be caught in the brushes and mangled, she scooped it up, took it home, put it in the carrier, and brought it to me so her own cat, Luna, would not be tempted to have the pigeon for lunch! She made some phone calls and determined that the best thing to do would be to take the bird to the Wild Bird Fund over on Columbus Avenue. Since that was on the way to our own tryst, sweet husband and I took the pigeon in.
We got some strange looks and head-shaking on the bus when people saw the occupant of the animal carrier was a pigeon and not the expected dog or cat. Pigeons don’t get a lot of respect in New York City, many considering them to be rats with wings. I’m not sure how happy the pigeon was to be lurched about in the bus…but we made it. At the Wild Bird Fund, I filled out an intake form, giving Jonellen’s contact info, and the vet who saw the pigeon told us it looked like a very sick bird and did I want to hang around for the diagnosis. I confessed at that point that I don’t do well with birds (old childhood trauma) and that Jonellen would be the one to call with updates.
Five weeks later, I get this phone call from Jonellen;
J: They called me about the bird! She’s all healed! Can you believe??!!
J: The bird! The one you took to the sanctuary! I just got a message on my answering machine. She had lead poisoning and she’s all healed now! They called her Louise. I can’t believe it!
Me: Wow! So what happens now?
J: I’m going to pick her up after work tomorrow. She has to be released by six o’clock so she has enough daylight hours to orient herself and find her colony. Are you going to be around?
Me (somewhat dazed and virtually speechless): Yeah!
On the following afternoon, I met Jonellen and Louise out on the street, close to the spot where Louise had been found. Jonellen sprinkled some birdseed on the pavement, set the carrier down, opened the door, and, after a slight hesitation, Louise took her flight to freedom! She first perched on the building across the street, and then she flew to the top of the building on the corner, her movements strong and confident. She sat up there for about five minutes, getting her bearings, and then she flew downtown to join her peeps…I hope!
Louise, alert and ready to flee the coop!
Louise, across the street, feeling freedom again!
Louise’s perch as she got her bearings and looked for her peeps!
As we watched her fly away, I heard Maurice Chevalier’s voice in my head singing Leo Robin’s and Richard A. Whiting’s song;