Feral urban pigeons - Rock Doves or Columba livia - straddle a nebulous line between domesticated birds and what we usually categorize as wildlife. The result is that even when these beautiful creatures are in need of help, they often disappear in the gap between domestic animal rescue organizations and wildlife rescues.
And many of these birds do need help. Urban dwellers have become so inured to the pigeons who populate our cities that they don't really see these birds. And even if they do see them, few recognize the fact that many of these birds are suffering pain and disfigurement as a result of a condition known as Stringfoot.
Stringfoot is a term used to describe pigeons whose feet have become entangled with foreign matter, whether actual string, thread, monofilament, real or artificial human hair (most common), dental floss, yarn, or the many other materials discarded by the human population of cities.
Because urban pigeons often do not have access to natural materials for nest-building, they pick up these materials and use them to line their nests.
Anyone who has watched pigeons recognizes the way that they tend to turn in circles, and can therefore understand how these materials become wound around the adult birds’ feet.
Even worse, the chicks in these nests get these materials wound around their feet, and as they grow, the materials become embedded in their flesh.
Whether adult birds or chicks, these foreign materials wrapped around their feet or legs — and sometimes binding their feet together — results in pain, infection, loss of digits or entire feet, and the subsequent inability to walk, stand, perch, land, feed or bathe properly, sometimes leading to illness or death...
Unless we help them.