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It is not often that you see a pigeon of this colour:

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This poor roller pigeon was found in a garden and brought to my work (a veterinary practice) for assessment. As soon as I saw him I could see that he was very thin and needed care. We placed him in a warm cage with food and water, and left him to settle. The pigeon perked up after a while but was too weak to be interested in the food and water. I dipped his beak in the water to tempt him and he took the most pitiful little sip. My heart was breaking. I willed him to stay strong and survive his ordeal.

After examining him I found him to be in sound condition, no breaks or injuries, but simply extremely thin as if he had been lost for a while and unable to find any food (I’m not a vet, by the way, but I have worked with wildlife casualties, especially birds). It is a miracle that this pigeon wasn’t caught by a predator – his colouration making him an easy target (but I guess that some predator species do not see the same colours we do). The heat pad did its magic and the pigeon started eating a bit and looked livelier, however, it will take some time for him to regain his health and have strength to fly.

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The unusual thing is that this pigeon doesn’t have a metal identification ring on, only a plastic ring (ok, the second most unusal thing about him after being pink). I assumed that all fancy pigeons were ringed after they hatched so that their owners or breeders could identify them. So finding the owner of this pigeon will be impossible as the plastic ring hasn’t got any identification numbers on it.

I did manage to speak to someone at a roller pigeon club and they told me that roller pigeons are sometimes dyed different colours so that the owners can tell them apart when they are flying and doing their acrobatics. So that explains the pink dye.

We will have to find this pigeon a new home since he’s not a feral pigeon and won’t survive out in the wild. I shall keep you updated once I have more news on his progress.

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Previous posts about painted pigeons: Painted pigeons – is it right?, Pretty in pink?, and Promoting feral pigeons – by painting them?

26th June UPDATE:

“Pink” pigeon has gone to Blyth Wildlife Rescue for long-term care and rehabilitation. He is now in an aviary with other pigeons, settling in well, although looking the odd one out. :) We are grateful for everyone at Blyth Wildlife Rescue for taking him. Please visit their website and Facebook page to support them.

 


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! :)


Our gorgeous, precious girl, Georgie, turns 6 today.

Happy Hatchday, Georgie!!

This is the very first photo of baby Georgie, the day she was found abandoned and alone on the ground. Isn’t she such a sweet looking squeaker?! :)

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Here she is at the rescue centre some months later, already comfortable with people:

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And one of my favourite photos, me with Georgie, all snuggled up together:

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For those of you who are not familiar with Georgie pigeon’s background, here’s a short bio:

George is a feral pigeon and hatched in 2007. She was found as a baby on the ground and taken to a wildlife rescue centre for care where it was soon discovered that there was something wrong with her eyes. George was taken to a vet, however, he didn’t know what was wrong with her eyes. Due to her reduced vision George had to have specialist care and attention and she quickly became imprinted on humans, leaving her unhappy to be left alone with other pigeons. We brought her home in June 2008 to live with us where she quickly became one of the family.

We were informed that George was a boy, however, in October 2008 George laid an egg (imagine our utter surprise!) and hence became Georgie. We have established that despite having clouded eyes she has some limited vision in them.

In the beginning of 2011 we took Georgie to an avian vet and he told us that Georgie had had an eye infection when she was a baby caused by mycoplasma bacteria that scarred the eye tissue (hence the clouded eyes) and distorted her pupils.

Georgie has bonded to Revati, however, we believe she would bond to a pigeon if we found the right one for her. So far we haven’t found a pigeon that will accept Georgie’s disability. You can find Georgie on Facebook: www.facebook.com/georgiepigeon Feel free to add her as a friend! :D


The big news this month is that the Pigeons as Pets group are moving to Newcastle upon Tyne!!

As the old cliche goes, when opportunity comes knocking at your door, you answer! Which we did. So a new job and life up North is soon upon us, and I’m very busy preparing for the big move.

One of the first things I thought of was to find a pigeon-friendly rescue centre and vet. Our two disabled pigeons, Elmo and Georgie, are part of our family and I have to ensure that we have pro-pigeon contacts to help us if they become ill or if we need a pet sitter or help.

Some suggestions have come in from my facebook enquiry, so I will definitely be looking into them further:

Blyth Wildlife Rescue

firstvets in Heaton

I’ve also done an internet search and a few places came up that also look promising:

Robson & Prescott Veterinary Centre

The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre

So soon you’ll be reading about Elmo and Georgie’s new adventures in the north of England. Very exciting!! :D


The subject of predators is always a touchy one. Many people don’t like to see animals being killed by others, especially when it isn’t a quick, clean kill. However, the fact of life is that there are species born to be predators and species born to be their prey. And pigeons and doves are definitely a prey species.

Witnessing the attack, or aftermath of an attack, of a predator on a pigeon is traumatic, especially if it is one of your own. No one wants to lose their pigeon in such a horrific manner. When I worked at a wildlife rescue centre I saw the results of such attacks, and thankfully we were sometimes able to mend and rehabilitate the victims. But each case was heartbreaking and people would often say to me how cruel predators are. I actually disagree. I don’t see animals as being cruel to one another when they are hunting for food. They do what they have to do. Doesn’t mean I like to see it happen (or the results of an attack), but I don’t hate predator species.

There are many species that predate on pigeons and doves. Birds of prey, such as peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks, are the main ones, however, domestic cats, foxes, rats, corvids, snakes and dogs can all do their fair share of harm. If you have an aviary that isn’t predator-proof, then you only have yourself to blame if a predator gets in. It is the responsibility of the animal carer to ensure the safety of their animals. So please don’t blame the fox when it breaks into a flimsy chicken wire cage and kills all your chickens or pigeons. By containing birds in a small enclosed space you’re essentially taunting the predators with what they must view as a box full of goodies. Of course they are going to attempt to eat those goodies. Predator proof your aviary!!

Of course, many will state that most domestic cats don’t kill to eat anymore and therefore are cruel, however, cats are still a predator species. They may not have the need to kill for food, but most cats definitely have the urge to hunt. It is in their DNA. Simply domesticating a species doesn’t necessarily change that. However, for some reason cats often get off lightly when they kill birds. Is it because so many people love cats and have them as pets? Sparrowhawks, on the other hand, are usually the target of hatred, particularly here in the UK and certainly amongst the pigeon racing clubs.

Last week I watched in horror as a sparrowhawk chased a feral pigeon in the air, catch it then drop to the ground right in front of me! I was in my car, driving slowly down my street, so when this happened I stopped. The sparrowhawk and I stared at each other for a second. Before I could get out of my car the sparrowhawk released the pigeon, who flew away quickly. He didn’t look injured but I knew he would have some painful puncture wounds on his body from the hawk’s claws (I’ve held sparrowhawks before and had one sink its claws into my hand so I know from experience how painful it is), and it upset me that I couldn’t help the pigeon further. I have to hope the wounds heal quickly. The sparrowhawk flew away too, most likely to hunt another bird.

Now, I’ve never actually seen the chase and capture before so it was a shock to witness it (both birds flew incredibly quickly). There was no way I was going to allow the hawk to rip open a pigeon right in front of me. I know that it has to eat but I don’t want to see it happen. I will always stop it from happening if I can – and I’ve interrupted a few sparrowhawks from killing pigeons and doves in the past (there was one that visited the rescue centre every now and then to have a go at the local birds) – but it doesn’t make me hate sparrowhawks. Even after everything I’ve seen from injured birds, I still don’t dislike birds of prey. They are beautiful, skillful and amazing birds. They are built for speed and agility. And do you know what? Pigeons are also built for speed. Pigeons are amazing flyers and can escape from the chase of a sparrowhawk. In fact, predators usually have to hunt many times a day in order to get just one kill. Most of their prey escape, therefore predators have to try harder.

Of course, certain domesticated pigeons, e.g. fancy pigeons, do not stand a chance against predators, what with their unusual feathers or body shape. Erecting a pretty white dovecote with pretty white fantail doves in the garden is simply asking for trouble. Fantails are not good flyers and will be easily killed by most predators.

Free flying pigeons are also going to be targets of predators. Hand-reared tame pigeons are more vulnerable because many lack an awareness of the threat of predators (especially if they have been hand-reared with dogs and cats). So if you let your pigeon fly freely then you have to accept the fact that a bird of prey may one day attack. It will be up to you to decide whether the risk is minimal compared to the gains and joys of freedom and make the choice that you feel comfortable with. My choice is easier to make since both my pigeons cannot fly properly anyway, so they stay indoors and any time outside is heavily supervised.

I have hand-reared, cared for and rehabilitated many bird and mammal species at the wildlife rescue centre, both predator and prey species. I have fallen in love with the warning clicks of a baby owl, the adorable look of a baby magpie, the insistent squeaks of a baby pigeon, as well as the stubborn, defensive glares of a sparrowhawk chick. Ultimately, all baby species are adorable so for me it was inevitable to fall in love with them. :)

A few photos of sparrowhawks cared for at the wildlife rescue centre I worked at. They have piercing stares, even the juvenile one!

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Juvenile sparrowhawk

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Adult sparrowhawk

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Adult sparrowhawk


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 of you may already know that I work at a wildlife rescue centre, and as a result, I have cared for many injured and orphaned pigeons (in fact, woodpigeons are the second most common animal we have brought in – over 410 this year! – hedgehogs being the first). My love of pigeons was sparked from hand-rearing the orphaned feral pigeons, and both Elmo and Georgie were first taken to my work before we welcomed them into our home. So while I’ve helped rear and rehabilitate hundreds of pigeons, I don’t often find ones that need rescuing.

In the past few months, however, I’ve found two feral pigeons that needed rescuing. One was walking slowly across a road in town and the short steps it was taking caught my attention. I could see that something was wrong, and as I approached the pigeon it didn’t have the strength to fly away. I picked it up and took it immediately to work. The poor pigeon was painfully thin and sadly died the same day. I had found it when it was at the end of its life. It is always sad when a rescued animal dies, however, at least the pigeon was in a safe and warm environment in its last hours.

The second feral pigeon I found was standing one morning by my car as I was preparing to leave for work. It didn’t fly away when I approached it and was clearly in need of rescuing. Once at work, I could see that the feral was thin and had a puncture wound by his right wing. He’s in a warm cage and receiving the medication he needs, and hopefully, in a few weeks, he’ll recover and be released. Fingers crossed.

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The second feral pigeon in need


It is a special day today: Georgie’s hatchday!

(Well, estimated day. We don’t know the exact date, only month, since she was found as a baby on the ground and taken to a rescue centre.)

Georgie is 4 years old, and still a baby in our eyes.

We have had her in our home for 3 years now, however, I’ve known Georgie for longer since she was brought to my work to be hand-reared and cared for. Georgie is the reason we fell in love with pigeons. Georgie is the source of my pigeon madness. :)

Now, how do you treat your pigeons on their special day when you spoil them so much everyday anyway? … Well, just give them more treats! :D Brioche is something that Georgie hasn’t had in a long time, so it was the choice treat for her on her hatchday.

And what else did she receive? Georgie received a card in the post from a friend (the lion card), and a card and two pigeon books from us that she’s been wanting. I’m sure I’m going to be reading these to her every night now.

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Georgie checking out her presents

Today has been a gloriously sunny day, perfect for a little sunbathing time.

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Georgie sunbathing

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Georgie enjoying the sunshine

A visiting feral pigeon wanted to wish Georgie a “happy hatchday” but wasn’t sure about us humans being in the garden.

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Feral pigeon on the roof

And Elmo has been on his best behaviour with Georgie today. He’s taken out his frustration on my feet instead. Ouch.

Georgie wants to send everyone a message of thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes she’s received on facebook. “Coo, coo, thank you!!” :D


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