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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! :)


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!


The following information is from a fantastic book about hand-rearing birds. It includes rearing guides for a variety of different species.

Hand-Rearing Birds

by Laurie J. Gage and Rebecca S. Duerr

2007, Blackwell Publishing

Chapter 20: Pigeons and Doves by Martha Kudlacik and Nancy Eilertsen

The number and variety of hand-feeding diets being used in rehabilitation and captive breeding are such that they cannot all be covered in a short chapter. The underlying principle is to mimic the natural diet as much as possible.

The first 2-3 days of life, columbids are fed crop milk, which is high in protein and fat. About day 3 or 4, small amounts of regurgitated seed are added to the milk; crop milk production ceases about day 7-9 and regurgitated seed is fed throughout the fledging period.

Table 20.1. Mourning Dove tube-feeding schedule (weights based on California population). Feed hatchling diet to chicks of weights in bold. Birds on the hatchling diet may not require as frequent feeding as is listed. Check the crop at the interval and feed when crop empties.

Weight (grams) Quantity (ml) Hours between Feeds
10 1 1
15 1.5-2 1-1.5
20 1.5-2.5 2
25 2-3 2
30 2.5-3.5 2
35 4 2
40 5 3
45 5 3
50 6 3
55 6 3
60 6-7 3

Above 65 grams, skip meal if any seed in crop

65 6-7 3-1/2

Newly admitted juvenile mourning doves over 70 grams will usually self-feed unless debilitated, emaciated, or otherwise compromised.

70 8 4
80 8 4

Above 90 grams, do not tube-feed unless bird is debilitated. Healthy juveniles will almost always self-feed at 90 grams.

90 9 3x/day
95 9-10 3x/day

Expected weight gains of hand-reared Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.


I won’t go into my love/hate relationship with a certain video website, so here’s the video of me feeding a little squeaker stock dove:

I just love the way baby pigeons beak your fingers when they want food. They are such sweet, endearing creatures and I just cannot get enough of them! :)

Although this week at work my love of pigeons is being tested. We have way too many babies and I have to feed them all in the morning and late afternoon. I love it but it really takes a long time to get through them all. … Who am I kidding? My love is not being tested, just my endurance! :)


I’ve only seen the lesser known or overlooked stock dove (Columba oenas) a few times – and the other day a squeaker was found out of its nest and brought to my work. I fell in love with it immediately!

I like to think of the stock dove as being a mixture of a feral and a woody. They are similar in shape and size to a feral pigeon but have more similar colouration to woodpigeons (this is just how I see them – for a more accurate description, please visit: http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/stockdove.htm). The most distinctive features are their black eyes!

Here’s the little squeaker stock dove. Isn’t he a beaut?! :)

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At first he was scared (the baby pigeons are almost always are), but after his second feeding of the day he emited a tentative squeak, then a slight hesitant wing shrug. Once he realised that our hands equaled food all his fears fell away and he begged sweetly for food. I have a video of him doing this but once again have failed to upload it (…deep breath, don’t freak out…).

Today I watched this little fella gobble seed down, so I won’t need to hand-feed him for long. He’s already starting to shy away from us again. I hope to take photos of his progress as he grows into an adult, and I’ll keep you posted.


At work we have our fair share of baby pigeons that I have the responsibility of hand-feeding. And I must say that whilst some mornings I cannot see past the flapping wings and hear through the intense squeaks, I enjoy feeding them immensely. Baby pigeons – squabs or squeakers as they are called (depending on their age) – are irresistibly cute and crave your attention for food and comfort. It is hard not to fall in love with them.

Note: Just to be clear here – I work at a wildlife rescue centre so all hand-reared pigeons are released once they are old and healthy enough. We aim not to tame them because they need to be released as wild birds.

There are two little darlings that spring to mind now and I want to share the following video clips to demonstrate how adorable baby pigeons can be. Although they are still begging for food from me they are perfectly able to eat seed on their own, which you can see in the videos:

I love the way they put their wings over each other’s back and pat them on the back! Funny!

What darlings! :)

As for feeding baby pigeons, there are many different methods (see end of paragraph for links). At my work we use the ‘gavage’ or tube-feeding method – it is clean and easy once you know how to do it safely. Other methods lean towards a more natural way of feeding them (and I love that idea!) – I think these are good if you only have a few pigeons to rear, since these methods can be a bit messy and more time consuming. The trick is finding which method suits you best – all are good ways to hand-feed pigeons!

Tube feeding a pigeon

Syringe method

Caring for a baby pigeon

Bottle feeding a baby pigeon

I recently tried the latter method (bottle feeding) to help boost the food intake of the baby pigeons with seed instead of just formula and it works really well – as long as the pigeon isn’t afraid of you. If they are then they won’t start eating from the jar – a little encouragement and patience is needed.


I think baby pigeons are so beautiful! And they are such darling little creatures that would melt anyones heart with their affections. :)


Two clips of some of the baby pigeons and other birds at my work – a small glimpse of the hectic world of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation: