“Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament” Shines a Spotlight on Pigeon Shoots

smidgeycover18lo-dropNew Release, from Who Chains You Books:

Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament

by Tamira Thayne
Illustrated by C.A. Wulff

smidgey1loIt was a gorgeous summer day in Central Park, and Smidge and her brother Ridge had time to share one last adventure before it was time to grow up, as Mama Pidgey primly informed them. Yuk, where was the fun in that?!

Smidge slapped Ridge’s wing with hers. “Hey, you hungry? Wanna be real birds, and scavenge the park for seeds, or go see if Mrs. Laney is providing Pidgey Take-Out today?”

Ridge rubbed his belly. “Yum, Mrs. Laney’s for sure! Maybe she put out french fries again,” he grinned mischievously.

The two were so intent on their scramble for treats that when they heard the first squawks of protest, they assumed it was just a squabble over a savory morsel. Soon the cries became louder and more frantic, and more birds joined the chorus.

Finally realizing something wasn’t right, Smidge and Ridge looked up from their breakfast.

smidgey5-1But it was too late—a black sack came down over their heads, engulfing them both and turning their world to darkness…

Who was stealing the city’s pigeons, and what’s to become of Smidge, Ridge, and the others? Find out in Smidgey Pidgey’s Predicament, excellent for ages 8 and up, and perfect for humane education in today’s classrooms. Includes Vocab Builders, as well as information about the very real threat to pigeons, and what you can do to help these wonderful birds.

$12.97 Paperback$3.97 Kindle • Kindle Unlimited

$1.00 from each Paperback and $.50 from each Kindle
sale will benefit the nonprofit Showing Animals Respect and Kindness through the end of the year.

What are pigeon shoots? Well, they’re as bad as you can imagine. From a June 5, 2017 article in the Philly Voice by John Kopp, titled “Pennsylvania clings to pigeon shoots that have nearly vanished nationwide”:

“During such shoots, live pigeons are placed into spring-loaded boxes and propelled into the air at the shooter’s command. The shooter then fires at them from a distance of about 30 yards. Hundreds of birds are wounded or killed.”

From that same article: “One group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) has protested the Philadelphia Gun Club shoots by posting videos of wounded pigeons and aerial videos of the shoots.

“We’ve really been pressing them hard and exposing the people who have been participating in it,” SHARK activist Stuart Chaifetz said. “We treat it the same way as if you saw someone dogfighting – it’s inexcusable.”

About the Author

tamijewelonyxloTamira Thayne is an animal activist, and the founder and former CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit organization seeking an end to dog chaining.

She is also the founder of Who Chains You Books, publishing titles for those who believe people—and animals—deserve to be free. She is the author of Happy Dog Coloring Book, Capitol in Chains, Foster Doggie Insanity, The Wrath of Dog, The King’s Tether, The Knights Chain, The Curse of Cur, (upcoming) and the co-editor of Unchain My Heart and Rescue Smiles.

Tamira lives by a river in the woods of northern Virginia, with her husband, daughter, one dog, six cats, and hundreds of outside birds and critters she adores from afar.

About the Illustrator

abstract-meloC. A. Wulff has been involved in pet rescue for over twenty-four years, volunteering with Ohio humane group Valley Save-a-Pet. An author, artist, and animal advocate, Wulff uses her art and writing to spread the joy of the human/canine bond.

Her books, Born Without a Tail: the Making of an Animal Advocate and Circling the Waggins; How 5 Misfit Dogs Saved Me from Bewilderness, chronicle her personal journey of animal rescue. Her books How to Change the World in 30 Seconds and Finding Fido. are guides for animal advocates and pet parents. You can follow her on her blog “Up on the Woof”, where she shares biscuits of dog-related info. [thewoof.wordpress.com]

Wulff currently resides in one of our nation’s National Forests with her lifemate and five dogs. She attributes her love of animals to having been raised by Wulffs.

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He Stood in the Tree, Worm in his Mouth, Looking for Babies to Feed

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The bluebird stood in the tree, a green worm in his mouth, but he had nowhere to go with it. There was no nest.

Instinct told him he had little ones to care for; so, on autopilot, he collected the worm. He held the squirming green body for long moments, hopping along the branch, looking down toward where the nest was just yesterday. Nothing.

He finally ate it himself.

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The evening before, I’d looked out my window to see what my bluebirds were up to—like I did about 100 times most days. I had never been a birder before, and probably drove my Facebook friends crazy with my requests to identify new birds I spotted around my home in the woods of rural Virginia.

“Newbies,” they’d scoff to themselves. “So annoying.”

But I’d become attached to the birds who lived in my backyard, as I became attached to all the wild animals who made their homes in the woods nearby.

I believed in their right to life, their value as members of our planet, their unique beauty, and what they could teach me about finding contentment in the moment.

I treasured them all. The phoebes who built a nest on our drain spout and were on their second batch of the summer. The bluebirds who moved into first one house and then another after successfully rearing brood #1.

So I watched them and waited, hoping to catch a glimpse of the babies leaving the nest, the parents feeding. I knew this batch was still young, not yet ready to go, but I remained fascinated and watched as only a birdie-voyeur is capable of doing.

Confusion assaulted me. Why wasn’t my birdhouse where it belonged? What was going on?

Bear.

I didn’t see it happen, but I knew it was the only explanation that made sense.

I can still envision the moment; the ease with which he reached up, cupped the small wooden house, and batted the nest to the ground, smashing the top and emptying the cubby of its fledglings.

I rushed outside, sobbing, “No, my babies!” but knew there was no hope.

Nothing there.

I desperately tried to figure out how I could fix it. How could I put it back together, bring the babies back? Was the mom dead too?

I didn’t know.

The anger and pain rushed my senses. I screamed “Fuck you, Bear, Fuck YOU!” and then fearfully eyed the bushes as the gloom of dusk eased into darkness.

I may have been enraged, but I wasn’t suicidal. If I actually attracted the bear with my verbal onslaught, I knew who would end up on the losing end of that battle.

Sobbing, I fumbled my way back inside.

I reached out to online friends for support in my grief, loss, and anger at the bear, and inevitably got that one person who feels compelled to say something incredibly insensitive like: “That’s just nature being nature.”

On what planet do people believe that’s helpful?

As a reasonably intelligent woman, I can well understand in theory that nature isn’t pretty, and that animals eat each other every single day.

But knowing that will never stop me from wanting to protect those I consider ‘family’, and grieving if something happens to these tiny beings.

The next morning, feeling empathy for my sadness, my husband climbed to the first bluebird house and cleaned the old nest out. We added more safety netting to the bottom of the tree, and removed a couple saplings that were too close to the old nest for comfort.

Then I waited to see if the parents had made it out alive.

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I saw the male.

He was perched at the bend of the destroyed pole, peering about for his lost family. Where had they gone? I watched as he flew from there to the old house, checking inside just in case, and then to a third house that had remained uninhabited.

I was helpless to fix either of our broken hearts.

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He repeated his treks from the old house to the tree limb and back multiple times, and I hated watching his compulsive behavior, suffering my own grief for the loss of his family.

I’d all but given up hope that his mate had made it out alive; I should have seen her by now. What would the male do under these circumstances? I had no idea.

But then, it happened. Something glorious.

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His mate flew up and joined him on the porch of the old nest.

She’d made it!

She made it.

More tears, but now happy ones. The bad was still there—the babies were still gone—but now there was hope for tomorrow for this gorgeous couple.

Maybe they would try again in the old house; maybe they will be back next year.

The world suddenly held room for maybes and possibilities again.

It will always be hard for me to witness “nature being nature.” I am blessed (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with a heart for the animals, and I feel each loss so very deeply.

Please, do those like me a favor. Next time we share our grief and loss over an animal we care about, don’t tell us it’s just “nature being nature.”

We know that, already, thank you.

But we love anyway.

P.S. Yes, I felt sad for the worm, too.

Tamira Thayne is the founder of Who Chains You Books and Spiritual Mentoring, and the pioneer of the anti-chaining movement in America. She spent 13 years on the front lines of chained-dog activism and rescue as founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better. She is the author of The Wrath of Dog, Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent, and Capitol in Chains: 54 Days of the Doghouse Blues.