About 100 domestically raised pigeons were abandoned in a parking lot in Ravenswood Tuesday.
By Friday afternoon, most of them — more than 60 — had been rescued with 20 or so still flying around the North Side neighborhood. A handful of others, though, weren’t so lucky.
In the parking lot on the southwest corner of Wilson and Ravenswood, fluffy white feathers and a splotch of blood on the asphalt told the story.
Neighbors told volunteers with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, an affiliate of the Chicago branch of the Audubon Society, that a man pulled a van into the lot, where he unloaded the birds.
He told neighbors that he was letting them “get exercise,” but drove off without them, said Katie-Anne O’Neil, a volunteer with Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.
At least some of the birds were racing pigeons, with bands on their legs detailing their age and where they were hatched, O’Neil said. They were left in the parking lot with no food, water or protection from predators. Since they were domestically raised, they had no idea how to find food or avoid animals higher on the food chain.
“Since they’ve been dumped, neighbors have watched them get picked off by hawks and other birds of prey,” O’Neil said.
The bird carcasses and entrails in the neighborhood have been off-putting to several residents, though several have thanked the volunteers for their efforts, O’Neil said.
While rescuing the pigeons, volunteers saw a snowy owl make a dive at one, though it came up empty. Their white feathers make some of the pigeons — which were initially thought to be doves, but are slightly larger — a “magnet for predators,” O’Neil said.
“That’s what makes this abandonment so cruel,” she said. “I sincerely hope that anyone who saw this happen will come forward and that the responsible party will be found and held accountable.”
The birds already rescued were taken to the Fox Valley Wildlife Center, a wildlife hospital in Kane County. A representative from the animal hospital could not be reached Friday afternoon.