Prince the Pigeon: Her Beak Was Broken But Not Her Spirit

The now thriving pigeon is ready for a home along with 100 other birds

Riya Bhattacharjee

The baby pigeon with a broken beak was found in April, barely 3 weeks old and about to be euthanized.

Instead the vet technician got in touch with Elizabeth Young at Palomacy, a rescue organization for pigeons and doves in San Francisco. It had somehow survived after being attacked by an animal, though its wounds were infected and its beak was split. It had been living on the ground at a gas station, fed by its parents despite its injuries.

Today the pigeon is thriving though with its crooked beak it can never be released into the wild and is available for adoption. It has taught itself to eat pigeon feed, but needs a deep dish and extra time. Its beak is as fixed as it can or needs to be, Young said.

And though named Prince after the musician who had just died, the pigeon is now thought to be female.

"She does great," Young said. "She's completely self-sufficient."

Palomacy had lots of interest from people interested in the birds on Saturday, during NBC's Clear the Shelters pet adoption drive, but the birds need large cages or outdoor aviaries so their adoptions take more time.

"We're planting seeds and starting the process," Young said.

More than 650 shelters across the country took part in Clear the Shelters, and in all more than 45,000 animals were adopted.  Most were dogs and cats, but iguanas, guinea pigs, ferrets, rabbits and toads also found homes.

Palomacy -- shorthand for pigeon diplomacy -- has more than 100 pigeons and doves in foster care. They are domestic birds, survivors of pigeon racing, raised for sport or show, or like Prince, wild birds that for whatever reason cannot be released.

"We always have a waiting list of new birds that need our rescue help," she said. "We can never keep up."

Young founded Palomacy nine years ago because no one in the area was helping the birds and they were routinely killed in the shelters. They are meticulously clean and do no transmit diseases easily to people, she said.

"They make amazing pets," she said. "They've very smart, they're very emotional, they're very loyal, they're easy to care for." 

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