There’s nothing that puts a smile on the face of Lewes area Realtor Lisanne Kane more than watching her “babies” take off in coordinated flight, creating formations in the sky that warm her heart in a way only other animal lovers can truly understand and appreciate.
And there’s no shortage of her beloved feathered friends to keep her happy and content these days.
Now making her home in the “First Town in the First State,” Kane’s flock of children now numbers more than 100. They all live with her, in their very own outbuilding on the grounds of her coastal Delaware home, eating her food and bringing her a special and unique kind of joy.
Once the owner of a New Castle County-based animal rescue service aptly named the “Bird Lover's Loft,” Kane today has more than 100 pigeons, in addition to cockatiels and doves, that she cares for. Some are rescue animals, some are not – all are looked after and adored by the long-time animal rights supporter.
“It's definitely a labor of love, but to watch their beauty and to share that with other people makes me feel really good,” says Kane, now a Realtor with the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty in Rehoboth Beach. “I love watching the people interact with them and give them kisses. Many of my birds now have lipstick prints on the tops of their heads from people loving on them.”
While the doves and cockatiels are used mostly for humanitarian purposes, including visits to sick patients and young children, the pigeons are trained by Kane to utilize their natural homing tendencies.
Starting at between two and four months of age, the birds are taken various distances away from the Delaware beaches and taught to return to their home base. Kane starts them at just a mile or two away from her home, then increases the distance to five, 10, even 25 or 30 miles away from Lewes.
She knows exactly when they've mastered the current distance and are ready for a new mission.
“They have a natural homing instinct, but if you want them to fly any significant distances, you have to work with them and give them practice so they can learn the area,” says Kane. “It's when they beat you home that you know they're ready to be moved out further. If I get home first and I have to wait for them, I'll take them back to the same spot again until they master that distance and can arrive home before I do.”
Kane has constructed a 12x24 outbuilding on her property to house her more than 100 homing pigeons which, she says, is the most significant cost to raising such a large amount of birds, some of which have now reached the ripe old age of 30 or older.
Meanwhile, just a short distance from the self-made “pigeon coop,” the more exotic birds live in Kane's home and enjoy a much different life than their counterparts in the great outdoors. That's especially true of the ringneck doves that are often used for therapy, in much the same way as dogs and cats that visit people in local retirement homes.
“While my doves are not as widely accepted as therapy dogs, if someone wants me to bring them in and I'm able to, then I will certainly bring them,” she says. “I take them to visit folks in retirement homes or people who might be under Hospice care. It really brings them a lot of joy and that can sometime make the whole situation better. Being around birds can often lower your blood pressure and give you a sense of inner peace.”
As a young girl growing up in northern Delaware, Kane would often visit local farms and ask if she could exercise the horses or milk the cows. This led to a lifelong love of animals, and a long history with animal rescue organizations.
She has volunteered with the Delaware Humane Society as well as, due to her history as a three-time breast cancer survivor, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and other cancer support organizations.
While she once worked with many types of animals, she made the decision to focus on birds during a time when her health was failing and she was overwhelmed with so many animals to care for.
“I just decided that I needed to focus on one kind of animal and, at the time, I had more birds than I had of anything else,” Kane admits. “So I began focusing on birds and never looked back. “I've never regretted it for an instant.”