An amusing internet meme in December featuring pigeons wearing cowboy hats in Las Vegas has ended in death for one of those birds, and there's a copycat in Reno who has apparently glued a sombrero to a pigeon there.
While the National Finals Rodeo was was in Vegas in December, people spotted three pigeons on the street "wearing" tiny cowboy hats — they were actually glued onto the birds' heads and feathers. As the Audubon Society reported at the time, local pigeon rescuer Mariah Hillman leapt into action to try to save the birds after seeing the photos spread virally on the internet, knowing that the glued-on hats were likely causing the birds some distress. Indeed, one of the three pigeons died this week, as the Associated Press reports, though the bird also had a foot condition known as "string foot," in which a piece of string or debris becomes wrapped around the pigeon's foot and causes blood-flow to be cut off.
Hillman says that the hats can impair the birds' vision, and the glue used to attach them could cause problems on their skin as well.
On Wednesday morning, Reno City Manager Sabra Newby posted two photos to Twitter showing a pigeon wearing a tiny sombrero — clearly glued in a similar manner.
"While quirky or fun, it’s still inhumane," Newby tells local ABC affiliate KOLO. "The birds suffered when this exact thing happened last year in Las Vegas. One of them recently died. We don’t want copycats."
So I’m out in the field on a ride along with parking enforcement, and what do I see? It appears to be a pigeon with a sombrero.... pic.twitter.com/SOjPKw8nQ0— Sabra Newby (@sabrasireen) January 15, 2020
Washoe County Regional Animal Services officials tell the Associated Press that this is the first instance of tiny-hat-wearing birds that they've seen locally.
The bird wandered off and was not in Newby's custody, so people in Reno are being told to be on the lookout for it, so that Animal Services can remove the hat.
"Washoe County Regional Animal Services finds this practice of affixing any objects on wild birds disturbing, inhumane and strongly discourages this type of behavior," says the county's animal service director Shyanne Schull in a statement. "Should the community see this take place or have tips on who might be conducting this behavior, please call 775-322-3647 or 3-1-1 and we will investigate and work with appropriate authorities."