Yuzu & Quince

Guess what’s new here?

Pigeons and Nest Bowl

If you follow the Hitchhiking to Heaven Facebook Page you probably already know that we’ve been building a pigeon house. (I should probably call it an aviary or dovecote, but to me it’s a pigeon house.) We’re still working the details — nest boxes, perches, and so on — but right now, as seen from our kitchen window, it looks like this . . .

We built this big bird house because I couldn’t stand to live another minute without pigeons. Pigeons? So many people have been asking, “Why pigeons?” Or, “What are they for?” It’s a good question. We’re not going to eat them, race them, fly them, breed them, or show them. They aren’t a productive source of eggs like chickens or ducks. So ask me again. Why pigeons?

Because of this . . .

King Pigeon

Yuzu

And this . . .

King Pigeon

Quince (You Can Call Him Quincy)

They are so beautiful. And they are an absolute joy to have around.

Yuzu and Quince are King Pigeons. These pigeons are, in fact, primarily bred to be meat; typically they are slaughtered as squab at about four weeks, just a little younger than these two are now. Sometimes people see these live birds in meat markets and, struck by their fragile beauty, they buy them and “set them free.” Unfortunately, because Kings are so thoroughly domesticated, to free them is to condemn them. They aren’t capable of surviving without human care. Most abandoned King Pigeons die of starvation, illness, or predation within a matter of days or weeks. It’s a sad story.

But it doesn’t have to be. Here in the Bay Area, there is a wonderful organization called MickaCoo. It’s the “pigeon and dove” division of Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue. Since its beginning, MickaCoo, under the direction of the extraordinary Elizabeth Young, has placed hundreds of rescued pigeons with adopters like me. Elizabeth writes about her work (and her birds!) on her blog, The Rescue Report.

The pigeons that arrive at MickaCoo are most often picked up by caring folks who find them in all kinds of difficult circumstances. Yuzu and Quince were rescued — confused and sick — on the corner of Geary & 9th in San Francisco. They were brought to San Francisco Animal Care and Control, where two kind volunteers kept an eye on them and delivered them to Elizabeth when it became clear that they needed medical care. (Again, most aren’t so lucky as these two. Most of the pigeons brought into animal shelters are euthanized without ever being considered for adoption.) Now they’re here with me, where I am finishing up their treatment for respiratory infections and helping them adjust to their new home. They’ve been through a lot in the five short weeks since they hatched!

King Pigeons

This Morning in the Kitchen

Here they are, getting used to the pigeon house, where they’ve discovered that it makes good sense to sit right down in their garden of baby lettuces. Because why not? You can relax and snack at the same time.

King Pigeons

We think that Yuzu is female and Quince is male, but only time will tell. Yuzu is smaller, but she is feisty. I’ve decided that Quince’s name suits him well:  He is round and docile as a pomme. So far, he is as cooperative and easy to handle as Yuzu is scrappy. One thing I’ve noticed about him is that he’s an emotional eater — he eats when he’s scared. (I have heard that many pigeons do that. They are trying to act hearty and strong in the face of a threat.)  So whenever I pick up Yuzu, Quince runs for his feed. It’s funny to watch. Yuzu doesn’t do that. She stands and stares me down.

I love them both.

King Pigeon

Quince Meets the Straw

In the weeks to come, I will share more about these two — and the two more we eventually want to add to the flock. Sometime, I’ll also tell the story of how I came to know and love Kings in the first place, because of one young pigeon who found me years ago and made it clear she wanted to be my bird. Her name was Luna and she lived with me for almost thirteen years. I always knew that when I was settled into a good home of my own I would want, in turn, to provide a safe place for as many smart, funny, snowy white birds as I could make space for.

King Pigeons

Did we really throw all that seed on the floor?

Welcome, Yuzu and Quince!

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26 comments to Yuzu & Quince

  • Susan

    They are beautiful birds and so lucky to have a wonderful home to enjoy life. Your photos are also awesome!

  • Georgi

    So wonderful to share in your happiness and that Yuzu and Quincy have such a loving home.

  • jane

    Beautiful story!!!! Good luck with the kids.

  • Yay for Yuzu and Quince (formerly Snowball and Popcorn)! Thank you SO much for creating such a wonderful home for these innocent and gentle little birds, saved from euthanasia because they were adopted.

  • Cyn

    They are adorable. I love the photo with the lettuce in particular. I’m happy for you and I can tell from your post that you are over the moon to have these beautiful creatures. Congratulations to you all!

  • They are just gorgeous, Shae. And they look like they know they just landed in the best place in the world. Congratulations! And welcome to Yuzu and Quince!

  • They already look happy in their new home. Now, do pigeons like marmalade?? :) Welcome, Yuzu & Quince!

  • Oh, they are so lovely! I’m looking forward to hearing more about them.

  • I didn’t expect them to be so beautiful! I’m in love! And I don’t even really like birds.

  • Annelle Hollingsworth

    A beautiful beginning to a wonderful love story. Bless you for following your passion and love of these birds to give them a home sweet home.

  • Jennifer Miller

    Congratulations! They are beautiful.

  • Congratulations! What a Joyful event for you and Yuzu and Quince. I enJOYed reading your blog!

  • Oh my goodness!! They are so incredibly beautiful and so very lucky to have found their way to a home where they will be loved and cared for and admired.

    What a bright spot they must be for you every single day! I hope you will keep us posted on their progress with you. Thank you for caring enough to be willing to take them in and let them live their lives with you. I do some animal rescue work myself (mainly cats) and it’s always the best feeling on earth when you find a loving, permanent home for an animal who needs one.

    Quince & Yuzu, you are gorgeous! (and great names, too – love them!) I hope they will make regular appearances on your site. :)

  • I love those little birds! Can’t wait to hear more about their adventures outside of your kitchen window.

  • Tricia

    Thank you…

  • meg

    Wow! They really are gorgeous! They seem so sweet! And I love the names =) I can’t wait to hear more about them as you get to know each other! Welcome home kids!

  • they look cuddly! congrats to all of you! how wonderful to be able to provide a home for them. I am looking forward to hearing and seeing more. very very cool! :)

  • Wow, they are beautiful, and seem to be full of personality. Fun!

  • [...] what do my baby pigeons have to do with body scrub? Nothing at all. I’m just so crazy about them that I have to show [...]

  • Those two are so beautiful. I hope we see lots more of them.

  • This is great!…it actually brought a tear to my eye. It is so wonderful that you are able to provide these beautiful creatures with a super slick new pad. Look forward to reading more about them.

  • AHHLOOOHA DEAR SHEA….WE HAVE THE MIGHTY MO-REE-KA BACK WITH US AT THE HUI FOR A SHORT TIME. HOW AWESOME IS DAT??? IT MAKES MY HEART AND MY STOMACH JUMP FOR JOY. ALSO SHE JUST SHOWED ME YOUR SO SUPER LOVELY WEBSITE AND THE STORY PLUS FOTOS OF YOUR 2 ”LOVE BIRDS” YUZO AND QUINCE.

    OH GOOD GRACIOUS…THEY ARE OVER THE MOON AMAZINGLY BEEE-UU-TII-FULL … SUCH ORIGINAL ”WINGED PETS. WITH SOFT WHITE CASHMERE FEATHERS. I LOOOVE LOVE THEM AND YOUR STORY ABOUT THEM PLUS THE IMAGES. THANK YOU FOR PUTTING THAT ON YOUR SITE AND LETTING US ALL KNOW HOW MY=UCH LOV THESE BIRDS INSPIRE.

    WE MIAED YOU AT THE PAINTING EXPERIENCE. BUT UNDERSTOOD YOU HAD MORE IPORTANT CAGE MAKING WORK TO DO.

    LIFE IS GOOD. GALLERY CONTINUES TO ”ROCK”. TEE SHIRTS AND OTHER OBJECTS OF DESIRE SELL LIKE HOT CAKES. BUT SADLY WE SELL NO JAMS AND JELLS. MABYE SOMEDAY.

    OK..GIRLFRIEND. YOU AND YOUR BIRDS ROCK ON…..HUGS FROM HUIVILLE…ARLINKA

  • [...] at Hitchhiking to Heaven just got the most beautiful rescue pigeons and her posts have been so thoughtful and full of gorgeous pictures. I am loving them right along [...]

  • [...] ago when Quince’s breathing became labored. (If you haven’t met Quince and Yuzu yet, here’s a little introduction to my two new rescue pigeons.) It was Easter weekend and there weren’t any easy or clear [...]

  • Jessica

    Absolutely beautiful birds, and a wonderful story, too.

  • [...] pigeons — a noble bird that humans often use for their own purposes, but rarely appreciate. Yuzu and Quince, who have not yet been decorated by the military but have lately gone along to work with Elizabeth [...]