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    Posted January 31, 2012 by
    New York, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

    Pigeon Lady from Tribeca


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     HarryHaa shot this photo-essay of the story of Jewelene, a New York City woman who rescued a pigeon, named it Patel and raised it and others as pets. He said Jewelene is well-loved by the pigeons, which 'recognize her and fly down to her. I've seen it with my own eyes, amazing! ... I still keep in touch with Jewelene, and will continue to photograph her before the pigeon dies. He is already 16.'
    - jmsaba, CNN iReport producer

    This is a story about the friendship between one special pigeon, Petel, and two lovely people who rescued him as a baby bird. Petel has lived his entire life, 15 years, with Jewelene and her partner Rey. These photographs also depict the friendship between Jewelene and her outdoor pigeons in Tribeca, New York.

    The following text is by Jewelene:

    My boyfriend and I were living in a hotel in my hometown of Clearwater, Florida. One day on his way home from work Rey discovered a couple of boys knocking baby pigeons out of a nest. They had killed one, but Rey was able to grab one. Petel was smaller than my hand; I had to feed him every 2 or 3 hours 24/7 for the first 4 months. Teaching the pigeon to eat on his own was funny. I got on my hands and knees and then acted like what I thought was how grown pigeons eat. He picked up right away. I was at one point going to raise the pigeon and release him back to the wild. But the pigeon was infected with something very similar to chicken pox in humans; he ended up blind in one eye. The doctor who treated him said the bird couldn’t return to the wild, he wouldn’t survive with one eye, the bird was also now domesticated. Now the bird was given a name, Petel. We started playing with Petel, the first trick he learned was how to box. Next he learned to Dance, then was playing hide and seek, the last trick was walking up and down the street with me. Over the next 10 years we were on and off the streets both in New York & Florida.

    Petel suffers from Trichotillomania, a compulsive urge in birds to pull out their own feathers. Trichotillomania, a psychological disorder, occures even in humans as hair pulling.

    Petels first flight.
    We were passing through Savannah Georgia while down at the riverfront. I had decided to let Petel out of his bag, then suddenly something made a loud noise, it spooked Petel, he took flight and then went across the river twice. During the flight I was taking off my shoes, purse and was climbing the half wall and was ready to jump in when Petel returned to the sidewalk. Once I caught him we went to the end of the waterfront to rest. I went to find water. While I was gone the police and ambulance and fire department showed up, someone had called. Had we jumped in the water the current would have made it next to impossible for us to get out. He has taken flight several times; once over Church Street in Manhattan, Flagler St. in Miami, and Cleveland St. in Clearwater Florida.
    The one time that really scared me was when Petel and I were taking a break at a small park on Hudson Street in Manhattan. Petel decided this time to run out in the street. A van from New Jersey was coming towards us, so I jumped in front of the van, it came within 3 inches of hitting me. The guy in the van looked at me as if I was crazy for chasing a pigeon. Petel continued to the other side of the street where he took flight. I was able to catch him. I shook for an hour.

    In March 2001 I had gotten a no-seatbelt ticket. Because I didn’t pay it by the deadline it ended up being an $80 ticket. I asked in writing, if I could make 4 payments of $20 each. I got a letter from the ticket bear stating that if I didn’t come in right away they were going to put a warrant out for my arrest and they would seize my property. The early morning of 9/11 about 6:30 AM I was at home in Jamesburg NJ preparing to travel to Manhattan to pay my ticket. I took the pigeon to the park. Normally I would get out of the car and let him walk and fly around, but the day of 9/11, the only thing I could do was to stare at the letter the NYC ticket bear had sent me. At 6:45 AM I thought I had enough time to catch the 7:25 AM train to the WTC. At the ticket office Petel started to cough up some green stuff. This went on for 15-20 minutes. Then the bird was fine but I missed the train. Had I taken the 7:25 train, I would’ve been 4 floors under the WTC about the time the first airplane hit.
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