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What we're about

This group is for people who live in or around DC or travel to DC on a fairly regular basis and want to take action to help wildlife suffering from people’s littering. We can’t do anything hands-on to help the sea turtles who are eating plastic deep under the oceans, but we can do something to help the pigeons we see limping around right in front of our eyes on the city streets. These pigeons are injured by hair (or string, thread, etc.) that gets wrapped around their toes and feet and slowly and eventually amputates their toes and feet, crippling them and sometimes killing them. These pigeons are called “stringfoot pigeons.”

There are already groups of people helping stringfoot pigeons in other cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and the stringfoot pigeons of DC need a group, too! Some of their feet are in very bad shape. Here’s a short instructional video by the people of Chicago Pigeon Save that shows how we can help the stringfoot pigeons:

Here is another method of catching stringfoot pigeons posted by a woman in the San Francisco group. This method didn’t work for me, but it might work for a short person:

Here is a new video by the same woman showing two more methods of catching pigeons:

Once we catch a stringfoot pigeon, if the injury is not at an advanced stage, we can cut the hair or string off right on the spot and set the bird free. Trust me, you get a great feeling from doing that! If the injury is at an advanced stage---for example, already cutting into and/or stuck in the bird’s toes, foot, or leg so that it cannot be removed with suture scissors and tweezers---we can take the bird to City Wildlife, DC’s wildlife rescue organization. In most cases their wildlife vets can treat the bird and then release him/her. Sometimes the vet determines that there is too much infection and necrosis going up the pigeon’s leg for the injury to be healed, and in that case the pigeon is euthanized because the bird is suffering.

Besides catching stringfoot pigeons by hand, we can use City Wildlife’s pigeon trap to catch them. I travel to DC from Charlottesville, VA, on a regular basis and would be happy to meet with you on one of my trips and show you how to catch pigeons. Right now we’re limited to catching stringfoot pigeons at the Union Station Greyhound Station, where we have permission to catch injured pigeons, but City Wildlife is working on getting permission for us to catch them outside the Union Station building at Columbus Circle, where they’re easier to catch.

In addition to catching stringfoot pigeons, here’s what we can do:

- Pick up and throw away any litter we see that could get tangled in pigeons’ feet, which could be hair, string, fake hair, thread, etc. The number #1 culprit appears to be fake hair from hair extensions. When possible, I cut up the hair or string before throwing it away in case it ever ends up falling out of the trashcan and back into the environment.

- Inform our family, friends, and acquaintances about this human-created problem and encourage them to pick up and throw away litter as well. Keeping the fake hair and other litter off the ground in the first place will save us a lot of trouble, not to mention save the pigeons a lot of suffering!

- Do a webinar training session or an in-person seminar with City Wildlife. We can work both independently of and in partnership with City Wildlife.

If you want to learn more about pigeons, doing a search of "pigeon documentaries" on YouTube will yield some very interesting documentaries about pigeons.

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