Pippin turned out to be a boy in the end, a cock from Dalkeith - so he was inevitably re-named as Keith. It seemed fitting. Our rescue pigeon stayed with us for three days and eventually I had a call from his owner. In a distinctive Scottish accent, he told me that the pigeon had been let out in Rippon in Yorkshire, with the aim of flying the 150 or so miles back home to Scotland. Poor little Keith got a bit lost and ended up flying south, almost 350 miles to us in East Sussex. The owner said quite categorically that he didn't want the pigeon back and that it was no good to him, basically that it was crap at its job and that he would just 'dispose' of it.
I mentioned to the owner that it might be nice to take Keith to the vet, or an animal centre or try to get him well enough to be released into the wild. The Scottish voice told me to take him to a pigeon fancier who would dispose of it in a bucket of water.
Well it's a flippin' good job that Keith did fly down South and land in my garden as I managed to find a fabulous place for him to recover. Folly Wildlife Rescue near Tunbridge Wells happily took Keith in, wormed him, put some mite powder on him, weighed him and treated him with such love and care. I was so impressed and relieved that someone else thought of pigeons as precious, sentient beings. They even gave us a reference number so we could check on Keith's progress.
I warned the children that Keith might not have survived, so we all crossed our fingers when we made the call today. Yes Keith was still alive, he's in intensive care but they are worried he might have a nasty virus. The volunteer on the phone said she would just go and see him for us. I heard her tip-toe down the animal hospital and when outside Keith's cage she said:
" Ahhh, your Mummy's on the phone little pigeon, she's called to see how you are, isn't that nice?"
I am so pleased that there are people in this world that are as nuts about animals as I am. Cross your fingers everybody, because if Keith makes it he will be introduced into a flock and they will all be released together - back into the wild.