Basic Care for Pigeons young & old
This can be a satisfying experience for the whole family, but this is not a Project for small children! Offered here are temporary, emergency provisions.
Here are the basics required to keep a mature Pigeon well nourished and healthy
Housing: Choose a quiet area safe from pets or small children. If you don’t have a large birdcage, find a cardboard box, clean laundry basket or large dresser drawer. A window screen or an unused oven rack makes a good temporary cover – but be very careful, an oven rack will crush the pigeon if it falls on it! Line the pigeon’s quarters with fresh newspaper and change it daily. The pigeon’s quarters should be partially covered and darkened at night for sleeping. Do not leave cats or dogs alone with the pigeon!
Water: Always begin with plenty of fresh water! Life runs on the simplest stuff and this begins with clean drinking water. Water should be offered in a shallow dish, such as a pudding dish. A banded pigeon lost during a race is likely exhausted and very thirsty. You may include avian vitamins in the water, such as Nekton-S, but follow dilution rates carefully. Diluted PediaLyte and even Gatorade (mixed 50-50 with water) can help restore a tired pigeon’s vitality. As pigeons enjoy an occasional bath, room temperature water in a large shallow container is also appreciated.
Feed: A pigeon mix containing finely cracked corn, millet, poso and other seeds are recommended. In a pinch, any wild bird feed or canary mix will do. Pigeons also enjoy safflower, thistle, small sunflower, sesame and other small seeds. Other treats can include dry, small split green peas, crushed peanuts and unpopped popcorn. Thawed frozen peas and corn are also welcome treats.
Grit: Go ahead and feed the pigeon but plan to pick up some grit. Pigeons do not hull their seeds, but swallow them whole. To grind the seeds for digestion, pigeons require a supply of grit. A high calcium grit, such as LM Animal Farms, is best. Grit should be offered separate of the pigeon feed. This way the pigeon takes in as much grit as it needs and no more, as accidental over ingestion of grit is dangerous to your pigeon’s health.
Bonding: As time passes you and your pigeon will learn a lot from one another. Always speak gently and provide a safe and quiet atmosphere for the pigeon while cleaning its quarters, changing water, etc. Pigeons can be very affectionate. Just how affectionate? True stories are available on the Pigeon-Talk forum ‘Pigeon & Dove Stories’ – take a look. Now you have to ask yourself, what are your plans for this pigeon? Will you return it to the wild or will you keep it? We urge you to discuss your options on Pigeon-Talk
Long Term Housing: There are many innovative, inexpensive and safe solutions for the long-term housing of a pigeon. Get ideas from Pigeon-Talk
Nutrition & Care Of Baby Pigeons
If you’ve found a baby pigeon, the best place for it to be is back with its parents. If for any reason that is not possible, you should know that many people have been successful with the rescue and raising of a pigeon chick, or squab, despite some serious injuries!
You may wish to consider an animal hospital or wildlife shelter, if you won’t be home to care for a hungry baby.
If you have other birds in your home, isolate the pigeon in a different room and wash thoroughly after handling the pigeon chick. This is always a wise precaution and will be explained in detail later.
Life runs on the simplest stuff and if you provide the basics for the baby, there’s a good chance the two of you will be successful. Pigeons are very resilient and respond more quickly than many animals to human company and kindness. This will get you started:
To Get Started You Will Need The Following
A Nest: Choose a safe, quiet place away from other pets and small children. Make a nest with things at hand, like a Cool Whip bowl lined with crunched up cloth and a paper towel. Make a space big enough to contain the baby.
A Refuge: Place the nest in a larger box or dresser drawer. Again, choose a safe, quiet area away from pets or small children. A window screen or an oven rack makes a good temporary cover–but be very careful, as an oven rack will crush the baby if it falls on it! Get more tips on caring for your baby pigeon at Pigeon-Talk.
Warmth: In cold months, place the nest box near a nonflammable heat source, like a radiator. You may also use a light bulb (about 40 watts) or a heating pad on the oven rack cover. Do NOT cover a light bulb or heating pad. The idea is to keep the baby’s space around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Food & Water: The baby will take its food and water together. The best way to provide this is with a 1cc syringe without a needle (most drug stores can supply these). If you can’t get a syringe, a clean eyedropper will work. Baby Bird Formula is recommended, but you can often use what’s at hand in a pinch. Make a soupy mix of warm (never hot!) water and baby cereal, or smashed Total, Plain Cheerios, Kix or similar cereal, low in sugar, but with plenty of calcium. The mix should be easily drawn into the syringe or dropper. Post questions or concerns on Pigeon-Talk.
Feeding: If the baby is awake, it is most likely hungry. Holding baby gently, offer the mix by gently placing a tiny glob of cereal mix on the end of its beak. If its beak is open, so much the better! The goal is to part the baby’s beak and deposit a quantity of cereal mix directly into its crop, visible beneath the skin on the baby’s throat. You will see the baby’s crop fill with food. Take it slow, as it is possible to choke the baby pigeon. The baby will need to eat every 2 – 3 hours, with no more than a 6-hour fast in the evening (take heart, the ‘squab’ will grow very rapidly!) Plan to pick up some Baby Bird Formula at a pet store or veterinarian, and switch to this as soon as possible. Again, always be patient when feeding baby.
Important: The baby’s crop should visibly empty over the course of a few hours. If it doesn’t, do not feed! This indicates a problem! Consult a veterinarian trained in avian medicine ASAP, or log onto Pigeon-Talk for help.
Support People: Log onto Pigeon-Talk and let us know how you’re doing. There’s a wealth of experience here and some very nice people to guide you in your efforts. We’re here to help!
Long Term Care: Always handle with care. Do not over handle the baby pigeon. You will find that your voice will imprint on the little ‘squabbie’ and it will come to look forward to your visits. At this point, if you have succeeded, you have some decisions to make. Do you wish to keep the bird? We recommend that you discuss your options with your friends at Pigeon-Talk.
Permanent Housing: Inexpensive, safe, permanent quarters for juvenile or mature pigeons are easy to make or purchase. Discuss your needs and get ideas at Pigeon-Talk.
Baby Pigeon Development: This Photo Gallery will show you the development of a baby pigeon (Sara – a Seraphim) from day one.