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At work at a wildlife rescue centre I see a lot of injured, ill and often very scruffy looking pigeons – ones that have come in after having escaped the clutches of a sparrowhawk and have injuries and many missing feathers, or ones that are very thin and weak. So I am somewhat surprised to see my sleek and shiny girl when I return home. I forget how healthy Georgie is, and although she’s not as heavy as other pigeons, she’s still got a nice layer of muscle and fat on her.


"Don't point that camera at me!"

I have George on my lap at the moment – she’s kicking out her feet in attempts to mould my body into a nice comfy nest. Once she thinks she’s made her ‘nest’ suitable she’ll settle down for a snooze. We still have no eggs and I’m starting to think that Georgie has given up on the idea. … She’s only 3 years old and so still has many more years of egg laying if she wants to start up again.

When she’s all snuggled up like this I can have a closer look at her and admire the tiny feathers around her beak and eyes. She’s got a few white ones there, small delicate little feathers. Very pretty!


Earlier on Georgie modelled her take on the ‘feather hat’:


I think she pulls it off better that this lady:

Two days ago I posted Goddess of the Sun in which I wrote about Georgie being out in the garden, having a good time soaking up the rays of the sun. Well, after I had posted that I noticed that Georgie was closing her left eye a lot. We checked her eye to see if she had anything stuck in it but we found nothing. Instead we noticed that her eye looked very dry. Her right eye was normal looking.

Georgie’s left eye is the one that is quite cloudy, as seen in this photo:


All day on Sunday Georgie kept closing her eye and first thing Monday I got some eye drops for her, which we applied (too early to say if it has helped).

I think that maybe her day out in the sun caused her eye to dry up so when I take her out next time I’ll put a drop on her eye and see if that helps. If it doesn’t then a trip to the vet will be in order.

When things like this happen I feel very sorry for George because she cannot tell me in words what’s wrong. She relies on us to take care of her and understand what she needs, and when she’s having a bad day or has health problems it can be hard to interpret her needs. It can be hard to do the right thing because on the one hand you don’t want to over-react and take your animal to the vet for tests and injections, but on the other hand, if you are slow to react you can make things worst. I guess all you can do is trust your instincts to know what action to take in bad situations.

When Georgie became eggbound last year (Georgie eggbound) it was tough to sit back and wait for her to respond to the treatment she had to help her expel the egg. Although I had sought veterinary advice and done what was needed, I still felt very powerless and as if I hadn’t done enough to help her. I now can see that we had done everything right in helping her in that situation, which gives me confidence to respond if it ever happens again, but I think there’ll always a part of me that fears the worst.

Ok, gotta stop this train of thought now.

I love my pigeon and my pigeon loves me! :)

Nearly everyone has seen an ill, injured or orphaned pigeon in their life – be it in a city, town, park or a garden. There are a lot of predators, disease and harmful things out there that affect pigeons, and sometimes people don’t know what is the right thing to do when they come across a baby pigeon or an injured or ill pigeon.

First, let me just say that pigeons do not carry millions of diseases that humans can contract. That is just scaremongering, mainly from pest control companies (that are out to make money) and ignorant people (who either hate pigeons or are afraid of them). All living beings carry disease – humans included! – and some do pass on to other species, however, if everyone just used a bit of common sense, such as good hygiene measures (e.g. wash your hands after coming in from outside), then this myth that pigeons are infested with disease that will kill you and your family wouldn’t be as big of a problem as it is. You can contract disease from a dog or a cat but are they hated as much as feral pigeons? Makes little sense to me.

A pest or vermin is defined by people as any animal that is unwanted or destructive, such as rats, mice, pigeons, foxes and racoons, but this term could very well be attributed to cats, dogs, parrots and songbirds, depending on which country and area you are in. ‘Pest’ and ‘vermin’ are not synonymous with ‘disease’.

The following website supplies good points on the subject (particularly the last paragraph): Pigeons and disease

Ok, back to what to do when you come across an injured, ill or orphaned pigeon.

First, after you have correctly assessed that the pigeon is indeed in need of rescuing (a broken wing or foot is pretty easy to recognise, however, read the following about Recognising a sick pigeon and Rescuing a baby pigeon), you need to safely capture it and place it in a box, cat carrier or other secure container (make sure there are air holes!). Put an old towel, cloth or tissue paper in the box so that the pigeon can grip onto something and to also keep it warm.

After you have the pigeon in a secure box and put it in a warm, safe place (not outside!), contact your local animal rescue centre or wildlife hospital and ask if they can help. Unfortunately, some places do not treat pigeons (since they may consider them as pests) so you need to find a pigeon friendly rescue centre. The best place to find your local rescue centre is to search for it on the internet or look in a phone book. Your local vet or pet shop may also know of an animal rescue centre in the area.

You can take the rescued pigeon to a veterinary surgery, however, many will simply euthanise the bird unless you are willing to pay for its treatment and care. Ask before handing the pigeon over. Some veterinary surgeries will transfer the pigeon to a wildlife rescue centre.

Please read the information on these websites as they contain good instructions on pigeon rescue and first aid: Pigeon and Dove Rescue, Pigeon Aid UK and Pigeon Recovery.

The following link contains a list of wildlife hospitals, sanctuaries and veterinary surgeries around the world that are pigeon friendly: Matilda’s List

This website lists pigeon friendly places in the United Kingdom: Pigeon Friendly Rescue Centres in the UK

The main thing is to not panic. Find someone who can give you advice and help you and the pigeon. Hopefully you’ll feel good about rescuing a pigeon in need. :)


Editors note: Due to various commitments I am unable to check messages and comments frequently, so if you have an injured or orphaned pigeon please search the internet for your nearest pigeon friendly rescue centre or vets that can give you advice and help (some helpful links are already on this post).


Feral pigeon caught in netting. Photo courtesy of Dave Risley.


Baby feral pigeon – few days old


2 baby feral pigeons – few weeks old

On the 5th April 2009 Georgie became eggbound with her second egg. I was at work but thankfully Richard was at home and he noticed her having problems laying the second egg (which comes two days after the first). Now Georgie has been laying eggs nearly every month since she surprised us with her first egg in October 2008 (please read: Eggs for breakfast?). We haven’t had any problems but I always had a nagging doubt that her egglaying behaviour could lead to a problem since Georgie is an indoor pigeon and might not be getting the correct amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

So when Richard called me to say he was worried about Georgie I immediately thought with horror, “She’s eggbound”. I asked him to keep her in a warm location, to apply some vaseline around her vent to soften the mucus membranes (to help pass the egg out), and keep a close eye on her till I got home. When I got home Georgie was still struggling. She was unable to stand up and was using her wings to move about. She was clearly distressed. It was a Sunday so our avian vet wasn’t open but I had an out-of-hours emergancy number to call, which I promptly did. Our vet advised us to give her a few drops of calcium (which I thankfully had at hand!) every 2-3 hours and keep her in a warm, humid location (which we had already done).


The 2nd egg finally arrives

There was nothing more to do but wait and see. It was a nerve-racking time. About 5 hours after Richard had first noticed Georgie having problems, she laid the second egg. It was half the size of a normal egg and had rough patches on it. Not a nice looking egg to lay! The next day I took her to the vet and she received a calcium injection. Georgie couldn’t stand up yet and couldn’t fly – she was temporarily paralysed (from the egg hiting a nerve).



2nd egg on the right

Egg-binding is thought to have a few causes, but lack of calcium and vitamin D3 are main factors. Calcium is needed to form the shell of the egg as well as maintain strong bones, but crucially also for the proper functioning of the muscles used to expel the egg. With the extra calcium injected in her (as well as drops given to her by myself), Georgie slowly recovered. 5 days later Georgie was 100% alright, walking and flying as normal.

I now have an egg diary to record the dates and times when Georgie lays eggs in order to monitor how frequent her egg laying is. We give her Calcivet (a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement that also has vitamin D3) in her water and I’ve recently bought a fluorescent bird lamp to give her that added support. Grit and oyster shell are also part of her diet.

Being eggbound is a very dangerous condition for any bird and veterinary advice and assistance should be immediately sought.

Georgie is now sitting on two unfertilised eggs. She’s doing the usual behaviours (e.g. attacking anyone who dares approach her, siting on the eggs for hours, pooing ma-hu-sive poos!) and everything is going fine, but the memory of that horrible eggbound time still haunts me.

On a lighter note, Georgie has an odd behaviour when she’s broody. Occasionally, and quite suddenly, she’ll lift both wings straight up a couple of times. She doesn’t take off or get up for a stretch, she simply raises her wings then settles back. Not sure what that’s about, but everytime she does both Richard and I raise our arms in response. It’s become a little game of ours. We’ve even done it when we’ve had guests over. … I know, we’re weird pigeon people. :)

As many pet owners know vacation time can bring up a number of problems. What to do with the pets? Do we leave them or bring them with us? Who will look after them? Will we be able to afford pet sitting? How will we enjoy our holiday knowing our pets are probably missing us? Instead of a nice week or more of relaxation and fun one can get stuck worrying how your pets are faring.

Richard and I have come across these problems. Last year we prepared for our annual trip to Cornwall. In previous years it had been care-free and a simple ‘lets pack and drive over to Cornwall’. Now it isn’t so easy. This time we had 2 pigeons and 2 gerbils living with us.

So… Thinking caps on… Maybe we should take our pigeons with us? Mum can pop in to feed the gerbils and give them fresh water. Their care is fairly hands-off.

Note: Our gerbils live in a long fishtank and have many tubes and containers to run around in. Suri and Petra came from a rescue centre so we don’t really know how old they are, and they aren’t very tame (they don’t really like being handled). Unfortunately we lost Petra late last year to a tumor.

Ok, the gerbils care was settled, now what about the pigeons? Taking them with us didn’t seem like a bad idea. We’d be staying in a static caravan so they’d be protected from the elements and from predators. We bought a wire cage run so that they could be out on the grass in it. The only problem was that I had discovered that Georgie gets car sick. Yep, you heard me, car sick! For some reason I never really thought birds could get motion sickness but I had clear proof of it when I took Georgie to the vet and on the way back she had had enough and vomited up her breakfast. Nice.

This happen a few more times whenever I had to take Georgie somewhere in the car. The thought of subjecting her to a 5-6 hour drive to Cornwall was too inhumane to us so we asked a friend if she could look after her while we were away. With that settled we turned our attention to Elmo. I asked his previous carer if he ever got motion sickness and the answer was ‘no’. Great!

Elmo in travel cage

Elmo in the car

So with a little bit of an anxious mind – we didn”t really know how Elmo would take to being in the car for 5-6 hours – we put him in the voyageur carrier (with a towel for him to grip onto and a bowl of seed at the back), secured the carrier with a seatbelt, and set off to Cornwall. We made regular stops to give Elmo the opportunity to drink and to make sure he was alright, and eventually we made it to Cornwall with our pigeon. The holiday went brilliantly and Elmo enjoyed it too. He didn’t seem to mind the car journey at all.

We think that we might take both pigeons this time since I have now noticed that Georgie has stopped vomiting after a car journey. Hooray!

This happened awhile ago, but I thought I’d share it now.

On 25th September 2009 Elmo was sat peacefully on the backrest of the sofa. I was working on my computer, as was my wife.

All of a sudden Elmo fell backwards off the sofa and landed on the floor with a thud. He tried to right himself with his wings, trying to stand up (unsuccessfully). He flopped around the kitchen before I managed to get to him.

His legs were stiff, as was his tail and he had a very scared, helpless and confused look in his eyes as he looked at me. I held him close and comforted him.

Within a few minutes he was able to move his legs. A little wobbly, but OK! After around a week he was back to normal.

A very scary moment. Which we now think was a seizure and a symptom of his paramyxovirus (PMV) which he used to / continues to suffer from.

Note from Revati: We took Elmo to an avian vet and he said that this type of seizure can be caused by three things:

  1. Heart problem – but vet didn’t think this was the cause
  2. Lack of calcium – since Elmo was moulting at the time
  3. Neurological problem due to PMV

The vet said it was most likely a one off thing but to increase Elmo’s calcium and sun intake.