After days of searching by dedicated volunteers, one of two pigeons seen strutting around Las Vegas wearing tiny cowboy hats is behind bars.
“Cluck Norris,” a common pigeon sporting striped wings and a perfectly sized small red cowboy hat, was caught Monday morning in a neighborhood near Maryland Parkway and Tropicana Avenue.
Mariah Hillman of Lofty Hopes, a local pigeon rescue group, spent six days searching the area near UNLV, hoping to catch the birds and free them from their fashionable — but possibly harmful — head wear.
Hillman is still searching for a second pigeon, dubbed “Coolamity Jane,” who has spotted wings and has been seen wearing a faded pink hat.
The pigeons drew national attention after a video showing them pecking their way through a parking lot was posted online. Hillman and the volunteers at Lofty Hopes jumped into action out of concern for the birds.
“They’re sentient beings, just like any animal, and I have a heart for them because they’re so overlooked here,” Hillman said.
Before she was an animal activist, Hillman and her family often helped the homeless. She said people often speak about homeless people and pigeons the same way, and believe the same incorrect information about both.
“They’re scary, don’t get near them. Don’t touch them, you know, don’t feed them. It’s all the same stories,” Hillman said. “And it’s how we define things, how we talk about them, that makes people treat them like they do.”
When she checked Cluck Norris’ topper, she found that the hat was glued to his head and had caused some of his head feathers to fall out.
Hillman said the hat appeared to be bothering him, adding that she had seen both birds scratching at their heads to try and remove the hats.
Cluck Norris’ next stop is the vet’s office to see if the hat should be removed immediately or if it can be left to fall off in its own time as he molts.
“I don’t know yet, but we’ve got a lot of people on board. Other pigeon rescuers are helping and putting in their info and letting us know, ‘Hey, let’s try this.’”
Since Hillman founded Lofty Hopes just over a year ago, she’s rescued over 750 pigeons and small animals with help from her family and volunteers. Aside from homeschooling her grandchildren, nursing the animals back to help is her full-time job.
She suspects that the pigeons may have been fitted with hats in the same neighborhood where she found Cluck Norris.
Lofty Hopes has received reports of pigeons wearing brown and blue hats, but Hillman has not yet seen them. She said she expects to catch Coolamity Jane in the coming days.