After near miss with a hawk, a pigeon takes up residence in Berkeley pet store

Pidge at home at the Animal House pet store in Berkeley. Photo: Joyce Barison

By Joyce Barison

At the end of March, a hawk and a pigeon were in flight above San Pablo Avenue near Hopkins Street. The hawk attacked the pigeon and the two collided and plummeted to the ground.  The hawk flew off and the pigeon ran under a car in front of Animal Farm, a pet store at the corner of San Pablo and Hopkins. Passersby rushed into Animal Farm asking: “Do you save birds?”

John MacNeil and Gail Irwin have been the owners of the Animal Farm since 2002. MacNeil went out into the street and had quite a time rescuing the struggling pigeon from under the car. After he eventually succeeded, he brought the bird into the store and put him in a box. Eventually, the pigeon, who has white and auburn feathers, was moved to a large cage. He had a broken wing from his encounter with the hawk.

The pigeon, who was quickly named Pidge, sat frozen in his cage for two days, only occasionally eating and drinking water. After a week, however, Pidge seemed more relaxed, and after two weeks he “owned the place,” according to John.


A week later, Pidge’s wing was healed and he could fly, but he hasn’t flown away. Instead, he has happily made himself at home. He follows John everywhere.  They are like best buddies until John tries to pet him or pick him up, then Pidge bristles.  However, the affection between the two is unmistakable.

Pidge has a lovely, large cage, but spends most of the day in the back of the store and outside, near his cage. The cage is brought in at night for Pidge’s safety.

Pidge is the talk of the neighborhood. He has quickly become the center of attention at Animal Farm and customers love hearing about his fantastic rescue and seeing him march and fly around the premises. John monitors him carefully and keeps him out of harm’s way if dogs come into the store. Irwin, meanwhile, stands in the background beaming.  It’s hard not to beam around Pidge.

Going to Animal Farm is now an even greater experience. It has always been a pleasure to shop there for pet supplies and now it has the added attraction of Pidge. Pidge is a sight to see and Pidge has a way of opening up your heart.

Go and see for yourself.