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The inevitable happened.

I rescued a pigeon (first time since moving up North).

It happened at a local railway bridge that is home to a pigeon flock. I was walking under it and saw a fluttering of wings across the road. A pigeon was flapping up a fence but fell down to the ground with a squeak. I could see it was a young pigeon trying to go back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to fly back up to his parents, and I knew that he’d either be squashed by a car or kicked by a kid (sorry, I have little faith in some of the children I see). I crossed the road but couldn’t reach the pigeon through the fence. Thankfully the builders nearby were kind enough to herd the pigeon towards me so I could pick him up.

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I felt a bit self-conscious walking home with a pigeon in my hands. I wanted to shout out, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to kill the pigeon. I used to work at a rescue centre. I know what I’m doing.” But I doubt anyone would have cared either way. No one was interested in the little pigeon.

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First thing I did when I got home was assess his condition (I say “he” but I don’t know if it was male or female). No injuries, no signs of illness, no broken feathers – he was in perfect condition. The only problem he had is that he didn’t have the muscle strength to fly his well-fed body up higher than a metre or so. Such a pity since I could see he was so close to fledging. I set up Elmo’s old carrier with a towel, food and water (with Critical Care powder mixed in), and dusted the pigeon with some anti-mite powder to kill any parasites. The pigeon was very well behaved but clearly a bit frightened of my presence and hid in the cage.

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I kept the little pigeon upstairs away from Elmo and Georgie since I didn’t want to risk anything just in case the pigeon was ill in any way. But Hugo came over to investigate the newcomer before I locked him out of the room. He was very interested in what was in the cage, as you can see:

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The next step was to find someone who could care for the pigeon while his feathers grew longer, ready for release. If I had an aviary, I would have gladly kept the pigeon for conditioning, but without the space to let the pigeon flap about, staying with me wasn’t the best option. So I contacted a local pro-pigeon wildlife rescue centre and thankfully they had the space to take the pigeon, so the next day the little fella went to his new temporary home to join other young pigeons being cared for till they are old enough for release.

Good luck little fella! :)


There are many pigeon friendly organisations, sanctuaries, vets and rescue centres that will help you if you find an orphaned, ill or injured pigeon. There is also a lot of information on the internet on what to do as the first step, such as this post: Pigeon Rescue: what to do with injured, ill and orphaned pigeons

For a world-wide list please visit this forum: Matilda’s List

For a UK list: Pigeon Friendly Rescue Centres in the UK

Organisations that can help:

Websites and forums that have good information and advice:

There are also many Facebook groups of pigeon friendly people who can advise you on all things relating to the pigeon (you must have a Facebook account to see these groups):

All the above organisations, websites and centres can help you with your query if ever you come across an injured, ill or orphaned pigeon. The best thing to do is to rescue the pigeon, keep it safe and warm, and immediately contact your nearest pigeon-friendly rescue centre or organisation who can take the bird from you to give it the medical care it needs.

Editors note: I am also able to give advice, however, please don’t rely on me in an emergency as I may not be online every day. Thank you.


Many people don’t know what a baby pigeon looks like. This is not surprising since pigeons usually nest in secluded spots away from human sight (read Invisible babies). What is surprising is how many people, when finding a baby pigeon, think that the squab is a… wait for it… duckling.

Now please excuse me if I offend anyone, but even if you are a city dweller and have never been on a farm before, you should surely know what a duckling looks like! Ducklings are everywhere: on TV, in childrens books and on toys and clothing. Usually ducklings are depicted as all yellow, however, wild ones are generally yellow and brown or black.

When queried as to why they thought the pigeon squab was a duckling, the usual reply is, “It has such a big beak.”

Ok, fair enough, the beak in a squab is large and out of proportion (especially in woodpigeons), however, people are overlooking a very important factor of the make-up of a duckling: webbed feet!

All ducklings are born with webbed feet. So if the bird you find hasn’t got webbed feet, then it isn’t a water-bird.

I will post a few photos so you can see for yourself how a pigeon squab looks nothing like a duckling. I apologise if I have offended anyone with this little rant, but I’ve been so amazed by people’s lack of knowledge. We had one man say to us, upon hearing that the “duckling” he brought us was in fact a 5 day old woodpigeon squab, “Oh, I’m glad I brought it to you then. We were thinking about putting it onto the lake to join its mother.”

And now I must apologise to all the pigeon lovers out there, but another important distinction between a duckling and a pigeon squab is people’s reaction to them: People react with “aaahs” and “how cute” when seeing a duckling, but more often than not, when seeing a pigeon squab, they say, “oh, how ugly”. (For the record, I think baby pigeons are adorable looking.)

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MALLARD DUCKLING - notice its webbed feet!

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COLLARED DOVE SQUAB - notice its feet: no webbing!

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MALLARD DUCKLING

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WOODPIGEON SQUABS

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MALLARD DUCKLING

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FERAL PIGEON HATCHLING

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SHELDUCK DUCKLING

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FERAL PIGEON SQUAB


Baby pigeons are brought to my work for different reasons: human interference (e.g. building or tree work), cats taking them out of their nest, or bad weather causing them to fall out of their nest. Sometimes the babies are unharmed and only need to be hand-fed until they are old enough to feed for themselves, other times the pigeon squabs are injured and need special attention.

We had one such latter case last month. A little woodpigeon that not only had a hole in its crop but also a scalped head (with the scull showing). :(

Poor little thing. He was very hungry and begged me for food. We feed baby pigeons on Kaytee Exact Hand Feeding Formula in a liquid form, however, if there is a hole in the crop then all the liquid food pours out. So we had to switch to emergancy feeding: defrosted peas and sweetcorn and balls of Kaytee Exact. Being solid, the food thankfully stayed in the crop. It does depend where the hole is, though; if it is further down in the crop then the food will fall out, however, if it higher up then the food has a chance to stay and be digested (as was the case with this little woodpigeon).

At first we thought we’d ask our vets to stitch the hole up, however, after assessing the size and location of the hole, we decided that it wasn’t necessary and that it would be better for it to heal naturally. The vets were concerned about the scalp injury, however, we reassured them that it wasn’t a problem at all and that it would heal quickly (we’ve had quite a few scalped birds before). We decided to take photos of the woodpigeon because it can be quite dramatic to see the quick healing.

Dermisol cream was applied every day to the hole as well as the scalped head. Antibiotics were given to fight off any infection. The crop hole healed up nicely and we were able to switch to liquid Kaytee Exact. I didn’t take photos of the hole because it was too hard to keep the pigeon still. Trying to take a photo of his head was hard enough! He kept “beaking” my fingers for food and flapping about (which is why my hand is in the photos – to try to keep him still for a second).

And here they are:

27th July – 2nd day with us:

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28th July – With the dermisol cream on his head:

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2nd August – Skin regrowing:

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3rd August – The scab fell off:

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9th August – The skin has grown back over his scalp:

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15th August – Completely healed, needing only new feathers to grow back:

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This little woodpigeon is now ready to be in the aviary for flight practice and muscle toning. :)

We are of course so happy for his speedy recovery and happy that there is such a good cream as dermisol cream to help with healing!


Birdie

Birdie girl

We want you to welcome “Birdie girl” into Dora’s extended family.

Birdie girl, as she’s named by her carers, was found as a baby last spring and was hand-reared. She seemed to be a slow developer or maybe she was simply so happy with her carers, but she only started eating for herself after 6 months of being hand-fed!! She then began making nests and laying eggs in the usual female way and seemed quite happy in her home, however, a month or so ago Birdie became stressed and started to pluck out her feathers. Her carers thought that it may be a lack of a mate that was stressing her so they contacted my work to see if we could find her one.

Birdie is too tame to be released, and since there are two single males in the resident fancy and disabled pigeon aviary at my work, we decided to give her a home with the hopes that she will pair up with one of the single boys.

And here’s the two boys, Davey (the white pigeon) and Button (the grey feral), cooing and dancing to Birdie on her first day in her new home (the boys stop when Birdie comes close to me):

I hope Birdie likes her new home and finds either Davey or Button a suitable match. I’m sure both the boys will prance about like little clowns to attract her attention. I’ll keep you posted if I see a romance blossoming. :)

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Pigeons eating


I’m being swamped at work. There are so many woodpigeon babies coming in – all squeaking for my attention, for me to feed them. I find it hard – oh so hard – to resist cuddling them. Thankfully I have a pair of white pigeon squablets that I can cuddle and kiss to my heart’s content!

Their mother was sadly killed by a sparrowhawk and the owners of the white pigeons didn’t know how to feed the babies. Since they come from an aviary, they’ll be returned when they are old enough, so I can talk and tame the white pigeon babies with unrestricted joy. (And we’ve told the owners how to protect the aviary from further sparrowhawk attacks.)

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White pigeons, only 3-4 days old - 19th July

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The two white pigeons tickle a baby woodpigeon - 26th July

Woodpigeons actually drive me a bit mad. Some babies can be very sweet and beg for food, others don’t want anything to do with you and huff and puff away like a little dragon, chest swelled out to look bigger (filled with air!) and wing slap you when you go to pick them up. Then they’ll jump about to get away from you, knocking the gavage tube from your hands and tipping over the food pot, spilling it all over the bench. After the fifth woody has done this I’m ready for a break. I’m only trying to feed them so they can grow to be big handsome woodpigeons!

I’m going to have to invent some sort of restraining vest while I hand-feed the baby woodies (cut a hole in a sock and pop their head through?). Most of the time the babies realise I’m not going to hurt them and calm down but some never do. The day they start eating seed for themselves is a joyous day for me. I can get them out into an aviary and let them feather up till release!

(Just realised I haven’t got many photos of woodpigeons. Gotta get my camera ready for tomorrow and have a woody-photoshoot! :) ).


I’ve talked about Elmo’s balance problems before and we’ve noticed that he finds it hard to stand on one leg and stretch out his other leg and wing at the same time (in the normal pigeon way).

One day Richard held Elmo on his back and touched his legs and Elmo stretched them out with full force and freedom! He loved it!! Finally, Elmo can have a proper stretch (with a little help from us)! :)

Here’s a short clip to demonstrate:

At work we had a surprising new arrival: A silver baby!

He was found on the ground, unharmed but not coping. He’s such an unusual colour. He’s so pretty. I’ve never seen this colouration in feral pigeons before. Maybe he’s a mix?

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And we’ve added a new pigeon to Dora and Pidge’s aviary. He came to us unable to walk and although he’s recovered from his original illness and injury, he’s permanently damaged – incapable of lifting his tail feathers and therefore unable to perch. He has to stay on a level surface.

I cannot think of a name for him. He’s a lovely blue bar with tatty tail feathers. Any suggestions?

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New resident pigeon


In the last few weeks at work we’ve had in our first batch of baby feral pigeons of the year. Baby pigeons are found for different reasons, for example, they fall or get pushed out of their nest, cats catch them or building work disturb them. The lucky ones are taken to a pigeon friendly rescue centre where they will receive care and attention, and hopefully they are healthy enough to be released when they are older.

Our first baby was Hooper. He was found on the ground at a Hoopers Department Store by one of the staff. Hooper is now old enough to be out in an aviary with other feral pigeons. He’s flying about strengthening his flight muscles and eating greedily.

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Hooper

The second baby pigeon was Valentine, brought to us on Valentine’s Day. Valentine was found on the ground and taken to a vets who then contacted us. Valentine is growing steadily.

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Valentine

The third baby was Monday, thus named because it was on a Monday when he came to us. He’s another pigeon that was found on the ground. As soon as we’ve determined that he’s healthy he’ll be paired up with Valentine for company.

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Monday

And today another special little squab was brought to us. I’ve named her Maggie, after the volunteer driver who brought her to us from the vets. Little Maggie is a bit traumatised and scared, and has some small wounds around her beak and face. Hopefully, she’ll soon relax and start squeaking eagerly for the food I give her. Maggie has some interesting colouration and I look forward to seeing her grow up into a beautiful pigeon.

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Maggie


We received a wonderful Valentines present at work this year: a little pigeon squab!! So of course I had to name him “Valentine”. It was love at first sight. Actually, it was love at first squeak! I could hear him through the box he was transported in. A little “squeeaak, squeeaak”. The volunteer driver said that the baby had been talking to him throughout the journey.

I peered into the box and there sat a fat little dumpling, yellow fluff on his head, light grey feather quills sticking out like a pin cushion:

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Valentine pigeon. 14th Feb 2011

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14th Feb 2011

Valentine received lots of love and attention, was fed and put in a cosy nest in an incubator and he’s been steadily growing into a fine looking feral pigeon:

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Valentine on the 18th Feb

We’ve kept talking and cuddling to a minimum because we want him to remain as wild as possible so we can release him when he’s ready. Valentine has a teddy bear to cuddle up to though, so he’s got some soft comfort when he’s not being fed.

Today another baby pigeon (a bit older) arrived so once we’ve established that he’s healthy, he’ll be put with Valentine for company. That way they will both retain their pigeon identity and be releasable. :)

I’ve been feeding Valentine a bird rearing formula in liquid form, however, I wanted to provide him some solid food to aid his growth, so I gave him some seed from a jar:

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I got the idea when I saw the following website: Bottle Feeding A Baby Pigeon and I have to say it works a charm! :)

Valentine new immediatly what to do when he felt the seed against his beak and started gobbling it all down. He became very excited and flapped about in joy:

We all love this little fella and are eager to see him grow up into an adult pigeon. I’m particularly interested to see his colouring because at the moment he’s very light grey with only a bit of black on the wing tips and a bit of white near his rump. He’s very beautiful. I’ll keep you updated on his progress! :)


A wonderful little pigeon has been named!

(I forgot to post about the vote but hey-ho, next time I’ll be more vigilant!)

I hope to hear more about little Galamb as he grows up! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meet Galamb!

Everybody meet Galamb. Galamb was a name suggestion received from Revati Poole, writer of Pigeons As Pets! Coincidentally, the name Galamb also transfers over from Hungarian into Pigeon in English and with a name so unique, I did not find it hard to believe it as the most voted for name. I’m a little stuck as to how to pronounce the name but my Google resources pronounces it as “Ga-Lung” almost, not the literal “Ga-Lamb” as I first thought. Finally with a name, I’m going to try and get him/her used to the name as soon as possible and can’t wait for the fun to begin. Thank you to everyone who suggested a name and to everyone who voted. I appreciate it very much. Pigeon Madness, Get Some!