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Olive's Place Story November 11, 2018 10:31

I have always had a love for birds.  One of my earliest memories is of a little blue parakeet landing on our roof.  We adopted the lost budgie, and have had birds ever since.  As an adult looking for a way to give back, I interned at Farm Sanctuary and learned about caring for birds in a sanctuary setting.  Later, I began volunteering as a wildlife rehabilitator.  One day I was given a fallen dove nest with a newly hatched chick - who I named Olive (and another egg about to hatch - her brother Trevor).  While Trevor grew up perfectly healthy, Olive had lingering problems, and despite the efforts of a wonderful avian vet, we weren't able to save her.  Olive's Place is named in her memory.

 

As I continued to work with wildlife, I recognized a gaping hole in the animal rescue community.  While dogs and cats have many shelters and resources, birds have far fewer options. Furthermore, pigeons and doves are usually excluded from parrot-centered bird rescues, and because they are not all native, they don't necessarily fall under "wildlife" rescue.  Farmed animal sanctuaries don't generally include them either.  Palomacy Pigeon and Dove Adoptions, a rescue based in CA, provided inspiration, encouragement, and a network of help.  I found my niche, and Olive's Place was hatched!

In 2014, we began renovating a shed on our property.  We moved several tons of soil and designed and built two aviaries connected to the building.  That summer, we welcomed our first 6 resident pigeons.  We are grateful for grants from the Microsanctuary Movement, which allowed us to make additional improvements and build a third aviary so that I could have space to continue helping wild doves.  We are always looking for great homes for our sanctuary birds - pigeons and doves make great companions!


Sample Adoption Contract November 11, 2018 10:27

I ask my adopters/fosters to sign an agreement when they take pigeons or doves into their care.  This acknowledges that they understand how to care for the birds, and will return the birds to Olive's Place in the event that the arrangement doesn't work out.  Your contract will include information about your specific birds, and any additional details we need to add - including a more detailed care sheet for your birds.  My adoption fees are normally $20 per bird, but I am more concerned with adopters investing in good food and housing for their new pets.

Adoption Contract – Olive’s Place Dove & Pigeon Sanctuary     www.OlivesPlace.org

Contact:  Ashley Dietrich {phone number}  canvasdove@gmail.com

I ask all adopters to sign this simple contract that confirms you understand how to care for the birds, and if the adoption doesn't work out for any reason (or a bird is sick or injured and you cannot provide vet care) you will notify Ashley and make arrangements to return them to Olive's Place as soon as possible.  Minors require a cosigner. My priority is that the birds AND adoptive family are happy and comfortable - and have all the information needed. I am always available to help or answer questions. 

Birds Adopted:  

Date transferred: 

The undersigned adopter(s) understand and agree to comply with the following terms, including the attached list of specific care instructions:

Daily Care

Pigeons require a predator-proof aviary with adequate shelter from the elements and/or a safe indoor cage and supervised out-of-cage time.  Pigeons will require fresh water and seed every day, and keep their habitat clean (at least one cleaning per week). They like baths, so please provide a shallow dish of water a few times per week. Caged indoor birds need at least a few hours per week to come out of cage (indoors) and fly / wander. The more time you spend with them (even watching TV or sitting around), the more tame they will be. For households with other pets (cats, dogs, etc), birds are not ever to be allowed out of the cage unless other pets are in a separate space (behind closed doors) - for their safety.  Birds should never be taken outside without a cage or secure harness.  Checking for eggs and replacing with fakes is an important twice-weekly task, to ensure no accidental hatching.  The adopter agrees to prevent breeding.

Vet/Emergency Care

All adopters should locate an avian vet knowledgeable in pigeon care, in advance, to have ready in case of illness or injury.  If you cannot afford vet care, the bird must be returned to Olive’s Place immediately so that he/she can get treatment ASAP.  I am available to consult on any health issues.  Birds often hide illness until the issue is very serious, so it is crucial to treat problems immediately.

Etc

Adopters are responsible taking care of the birds' daily needs, for the lifetime of the bird.   If adopters are unable to provide care or choose to give up ownership for any reason, the birds must be returned to Olive’s Place .   

 

I agree to these terms.  (Please sign and date) 

print________________________________                 __________________________________

sign________________________________                 __________________________________

Contact phone: _____________________________

Email: ________________________________


Pigeons as Pets November 10, 2018 19:54

Pigeons are smart, emotional, and social.  They thrive in a flock or with loving humans.  They mate for life, and are loyal and devoted.  They can live over 20 years with proper care.

Food:  A basic pigeon mix for variety.  I buy a mix with no corn, and add human grade popcorn and size medium Zupreem pellets.  Smaller billed pigeons such as rollers might also like a dove mix with smaller pieces. Calcium grit offered in a small amount once per week.  Fresh chopped veggies on occasion (no onion / garlic / mushroom / avocado).  Safflower seeds and raw, unsalted peanuts or sunflower hearts make good treats in moderation.  Avoid processed chips and breads except for rare occasions – they have no nutritional value.

Water:  Wash & refill bowls daily.   Automatic waters should be emptied and scrubbed twice weekly

Bathing: Provide a shallow dish for bathing several times per week.

Caging:  A cleaning should be done weekly (plus more as needed), scraping shelves and washing surfaces.  A safety check, looking over the aviary weekly or monthly, ensures that everything stays in safe condition.  A safe aviary is built to keep predators out.  Half-inch wire mesh hardware cloth or similar should cover all openings (NO chicken wire).  The floor or perimeter should have anti-digging measures.  There should be no spaces more than ¼” due to snakes and rodents.  A good aviary provides a variety of shelves, cozy nest boxes, protection from the elements, and modifications for any disabled birds.  It should be large enough to provide ample room - uncrowded birds are healthier and less stressed.

Taming/Interacting: If you want to interact with your birds, the more time you spend, the more tame the birds will become.  They are curious and social, but take time to adjust to changes.  Be patient and don’t force interaction.  Treats are a great way to get a bird to want to be near you.  Children should always be supervised when interacting with birds.  Other animals, such as cats / dogs / parrots should never interact with pigeons. Regardless of the temperament of another pet, Olive’s Place only allows interaction among birds of the same size/species. 

Sunlight/Outdoors:  Never take birds outdoors unless they are in a cage or securely harnessed.  Birds should not be allowed to free-fly due to the dangers of getting lost or harmed by predators.

Nesting: Pairs will usually nest and lay eggs.  This is part of their natural behavior and they love to gather nesting materials such as hay.   Check for eggs once or twice per week, and replace any eggs with fake ones.  Far too many birds need homes, so Olive’s Place does not allow breeding.  Replacing eggs is necessary so that females do not over-tax their bodies constantly laying new ones.  Pairs will usually lay a new pair of eggs about every 3-4 weeks.

Dangers: Birds have sensitive respiratory systems, and the following can be harmful: smoke, fumes from nonstick cookware, candles, air fresheners, etc.  Keep them away from anything small enough for them to ingest.  They often explore on the ground, and can get underfoot.

Outdoor Birds: Being outdoors in an aviary is wonderful for fresh air and sunlight.  Being outside, it is possible for birds to contract feather lice or internal parasites such as roundworms.  Both things are easily treatable. (Scalex spray for feather lice, Moxidectin Plus for internal parasites)


Doves as Pets November 10, 2018 19:48

Doves are wonderful pets – sweet, curious, silly, loving, and social.  They are relatively easy to care for, and can live over 20 years.  While both have a distinctive laughing call, females tend to be quieter overall and males also bow and coo.  Doves are social, and happiest in pairs.  They can be territorial, so flocks of more than two will need enough space.

Food: Doves eat seeds and grains, easily found at pet stores.  A basic parakeet or dove mix will work.  Harrison’s Lifetime Fine or Superfine pellets are a good addition (your bird may prefer one size or the other).   Calcium grit should be offered in a small amount once per week.  Many doves like fresh chopped foods such as carrots, cauliflower, broccoli florets, greens, bell peppers, and berries (NO onion / garlic / mushroom / avocado).  Safflower seeds make good treats in moderation.  Avoid processed chips and breads except for rare occasions – they have no nutritional value.  Wash & refill water daily.

Housing:  Doves should be kept indoors in most parts of the US.  Minimum cage size for a dove (or pair of doves) is about 20x30x36.  Bigger is always better – length and width dimensions are more important than height.  They need a variety of perches and shelves.  The cage will probably need to be cleaned once weekly, or more often if needed.  You may want to rearrange perches and toys as you see them use the space.  Doves love to bathe!  Provide a shallow dish for bathing several times per week.

Exercise/Enrichment: Doves are social, and I suggest they be kept in pairs.  If you want to interact with your bird, the more time you spend, the more tame the bird will become.  They are curious and social, but take time to adjust to changes.  Be patient and don’t force interaction.  Treats are a great way to get a bird to want to be near you.  Caged birds are happier with out-of-cage time at least a few times per week to get exercise and fly.  Safety first – they can only be let out if the room is shut (windows and doors) and any dogs, cats, or other pets are in a separate space.  Children should always be supervised when interacting with birds.

Sunlight/Outdoors:  Never take birds outdoors unless they are in a cage.  Even caged, they should never be left unsupervised outside.  A few hours of natural sunlight per week (not through window glass) helps them maintain vitamin D3 levels – so taking them out is important, when weather allows.  Another option to supplement light is providing full-spectrum lighting such as Featherbrite bulbs.

Nesting: Pairs will usually nest and lay eggs.  This is part of their natural behavior.   Check for eggs once or twice per week, and replace any eggs with fake ones.  Far too many birds need homes to be breeding and adding more.  Replacing eggs is necessary so that female doves do not over-tax their bodies constantly laying new ones.  Doves will lay a new pair of eggs about every 3-4 weeks.

Dangers: Birds have sensitive respiratory systems, and the following can be harmful: smoke, fumes from nonstick cookware, candles, air fresheners, etc.  Keep them away from anything small enough for them to ingest.  They often explore on the ground, and can get underfoot.  Doves shouldn’t interact with or be housed in the same room as cats or dogs.  Larger birds such as pigeons, and even a smaller hookbill can also severely injure a dove.  Regardless of the temperament of another pet, the only way to be safe is to keep species separate. 


How to photograph your pet for a portrait painting November 10, 2018 19:03

This is a simple guide to taking reference photos for a pet portrait painting.  These suggestions will help solve the most common problems I see with pet photos. 


Location: It is best to have a background that is plain, neutral, and contrasts your pet - such as a blank wall. Hanging up a light colored bed sheet (or draping it over furniture behind your setup) is a quick way to achieve a neutral setting. Place darker pets on a lighter background, and white or very light pets on a darker background.

Lighting: Choose a spot by a window with good natural lighting. Flash and indoor lights can often distort true colors and create washed-out photos or odd shadows. Experiment with lighting and location options with a few test photos, then take the rest of your shots in the best spot.

Angles: The best basic portrait photos are at eye level with your pet. You may have to sit or crouch on the ground, or place smaller pets on a table top. Shots from above create forced perspective that distorts size – which is sometimes a desired technique, but not often for formal portraits.

Focus: Do you want a full-body portrait, or a headshot? Get close and try to fill the viewfinder with as much of your pet as possible – the larger the usable area of the photo, the more detail that is available for a good painting. If you want a headshot portrait, focus on just that area.

Multiple animals: Group portraits are always more tricky, and often require much more effort. With animals of greatly different size, separate paintings are usually better. If separate pictures have to be taken, include an object for size reference (such as a soda can) in all photos.

Review: Take a look at the photos and make sure they accurately represent your pet. Are the colors correct? Do the poses capture his/her personality?

Sending photos: Full-size, unedited photos are best. More photos to choose from is always better than not enough. Make sure to earmark at least one as a good example of your pet’s true coloration, even if the pose isn’t perfect.

Photos do not have to be perfect! I can make adjustments to an image as I paint, so long as photos are clear and sharp enough, have a workable pose, and a good color example.