In a café, I overheard two woman talking about having spent the morning untying string from pigeons’ feet. Wha? I broke into their conversation.
“Who would do that to pigeons?” I asked.
They explained that often birds step into litter and aren’t able to step out of it. And birds (shiver) are sometimes targets of avian sadists. (My term.)
I couldn’t resist going to the open house. In the lobby sat a white turkey that had recently recovered from an illness thanks to the volunteers. A mallard whose leg had been injured was being encouraged to try to walk on it to build up the muscles. Someone told me that a hummingbird was recovering downstairs.
While I was there, a couple from Riverdale with a little boy stopped in to check on an ailing crow they had brought in last week by subway. The volunteer explained that the crow was given a charcoal pellet because it absorbs toxins that aren’t metals, which is a frequent cure for poisoned birds. You should have seen how relieved they were. I fell in love with that family.
“What happens if the toxin is metal?” I asked the volunteer.
The volunteer explained that a professor from Columbia University wrote a paper on high levels of lead found in pigeons. Since pigeons mostly frequent the same place, it was easy for them to find where the pigeons had been hanging out—NYC playgrounds! Mount Sinai Hospital took the results and found that children who had dangerous levels of lead in their bloodstreams also frequented those playgrounds.
Remember when we found out that canaries were lowered into mines to check for dangerous gasses? Paying attention to wild birds might save our own lives.
I could have stayed there all day, but I’m allergic to feathers. I’m still sneezing. Ah-choo!
The center is located on the Upper West Side, between Central and Riverside Parks, and near three subway lines (1, B, & C):
565 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024