Birds are often underestimated in their abilities and intelligence. We have all heard the expression “bird brain” to describe mindlessness but the truth is that birds are smart, amazing beings. Their capacity for adapting and bonding is quite impressive and Thunder, the partially blind rescue pigeon, is a perfect example of this.
ADAIR MORAN AND THUNDER
Adair Moran, a lifelong vegan, and licensed wildlife rehabilitator is also a professional aerialist and stunt performer. Prior to 2018, her East Harlem condo served as the headquarters for the rehab nonprofit, Urban Utopia Wildlife, which focuses on rehabilitating wild mammals for eventual release. Adair also worked with birds at the Wild Bird Fund and would often take groups of fledglings’ home with her to facilitate their rehab and release.
Normally, when it was time to release the birds back into their natural habitat, they would all simply fly away. One pigeon, Thunder, had different ideas. He refused to fly away with his group when they were released. Adair took him through another fledgling cycle, but the result was the same. He was not going anywhere. At this point, they paid a visit to the veterinarian.
The vet discovered that Thunder was blind in one eye. This meant that he would never fly because he could not steer correctly. This also meant that he would never be able to survive in the wild. After failed attempts to find a home for him, Adair decided to adopt Thunder herself. In 2018, however, Adair had the opportunity to take her aerialist and stunt performing skills on tour. This is the point where Adair’s mother, Victoria Moran, came into Thunder’s life.
VICTORIA MORAN THE MAIN STREET VEGAN
Victoria Moran, Adair’s mom, has been a vegan for more than 37 years. She is a bestselling author with thirteen books to her credit. Her book, Main Street Vegan, was ranked one of the “Top 12 Vegan Books of 2012” and is touted by some as “the vegan Bible”. On top of her influential career as author, inspirational speaker, and holistic health counselor, Victoria was also named Peta’s Sexiest Vegan over 50 in 2016. In addition, she founded and directs Main Street Vegan Academy offering training and certification for vegan lifestyle coaches.
A BLIND PIGEON FINDS HIS FOREVER HOME
As Adair headed off on tour, Thunder went to stay with Victoria in her home. As the months went by, Thunder made himself at home in Victoria’s world and seemed very happy in his new environment. That’s when Victoria and Adair decided to make her home Thunder’s permanent residence. Though he has a perfect cage, he generally has run of the entire apartment. This means hourly cleaning for Victoria, but she does not mind much. It helps her get her exercise in.
Living with Thunder has been a learning experience for Victoria and her family. Thunder’s blindness prevents him from flying well. “He has to create a meaningful life for himself without the two things that mean the most to birds: flight and flock.” Thunder’s flock consists of Victoria and her husband, William, their rescue dog, Forbes, and of course his rescuer, Adair. Thunder also receives his share of famous visitors like the vegan actress who portrayed Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies, Evanna Lynch.
When it is warm outside, Thunder loves to spend time in the courtyard soaking up some sunlight. You can usually find him stealing Forbes’s water bowl as his favorite bird bath. Forbes also must be careful about where he leaves his toys as Thunder has also stolen a few of them for himself.
When he isn’t playing or exploring, Thunder also thoroughly enjoys Reiki sessions with Victoria’s husband, Rev. William Melton, who is certified in the ancient art form. Victoria jokes that when he is ready for his Reiki session he climbs on William’s knee as if to say, “I’m here for my appointment.”.
SHARING OUR LIVES WITH ANIMAL COMPANIONS
“I’ve learned so much about pigeons and how complex their minds and abilities are. They can read mammograms. In World War I, they saved the lives of Allied soldiers through their messaging abilities. The U.S. government considered using them to guide missiles in the 1940’s. Obviously, they should be living their own lives and not working for humans, but their aptitudes are impressive,” says Victoria.
Most households, especially in the U.S., have animal companions sharing in life’s ups and downs. And as much as most people claim to love animals their love and compassion begins and ends with the type of animals they consider “pets”. Even though society conditions us to see some animals as more deserving of love and protection, the truth is that cows, pigs, chickens or pigeons are just as intelligent and loving as the animals who share our homes.