Recognizing and Catching a Sick Pigeon
The following is intended as assistance towards recognizing problems through elimination of possibilities until arriving at the most probable cause of illness and diagnosis - a Laymans directory!
Assessing a sick Pigeon
Many pigeon ailments have similar symptoms and yet are completely different in their nature and severity. Many common pigeon ailments are equilibrium unbalance problems; that is to say that they are stress related. Bacteria live permanently in balance within the body until something reduces the individuals resistance and the natural balance becomes upset. A sick pigeon will fluff out its feathers as if it is cold. The patient hides perhaps under a park bench or in a doorway, and is seen on the ground at dusk when its flock has flown up high to roost. The droppings may appear green and watery, and signs of bullying injuries by other birds may be visible around the head. An injured pigeon may be in shock, limping badly, drooping a wing or bleeding.
Pigeons suffer from a variety of ailments peculiar to themselves, the most common being the Paramyxo virus and throat canker. The virus causes birds to appear fluffed up, unbalanced or dizzy. They may walk in circles, throw seeds in the air when eating, hang their heads upside down (star gazing) or have fits. No veterinary treatment is available as far as we know but the pigeon can recover after a lengthy period of rest and care. However, he or she must be kept separate from other birds for at least 6 weeks. Canker or Trichomoniasis seems most common in young pigeons aged between 2 and 5 weeks. It is detected by a swollen throat containing yellow/white button-like cheesy growths, wet or bad smelling discharge from the beak and unwillingness to fly. Depending on the severity, it may be very difficult for the bird to eat or breath. This disease in young birds is fatal but can be treated with drugs such as flagyl (metronidazole) or spartrix (carnidazole). Crop-feeding may be necessary while healing is underway. Please do not attempt to scrape away these growths unless they are severely restricting breathing, as this may damage the lining of the throat. Keep the patient away from other birds. As with dealing with any animal, please observe common-sense hygiene. Wash hands throughly before and after handling any wild pigeons.
Causes of General injury/ill health
Nestlings falling from nest
String injuries/entanglement of fishing line or fine string from kites
Cat/ dog/bird attacks
Hit by a vehicle
Starvation (weakness) they fall straight to the ground
Guns, BB guns, arrows, darts etc
Cold weather - frost bite
Dehydration - insufficient water
Bad or poisoned food
- Any disease that has put the bird in a weakened state
Catching the Pigeon
Pigeons are easier to catch than most birds because they are semi-tame. The flock to which the patient belongs can be attracted with corn or unsalted peanuts. A soft cloth, coat or towel is often helpful. Throw it over the bird from behind while its attention is distracted. The first attempt is the most important since pigeons (being preyed on in the wild) quickly become wary of attention. Pigeons very rarely bite and their beaks cannot cause injury. One may be apprehensive of causing further pain or stress by a clumsy catch, but if you leave the pigeon where it is, a cat or other predator will almost certainly find it. If the capture was sucessful, line a cardboard box with something soft and make a few airholes in it. Pigeons will not die of fright through such confinement. Place the pigeon in a warm, dark area away from other animals, children and loud noise. Warmth and quiet are vital to overcoming shock and will also help if dealing with the stress of illness or injury.
Source: Animal Welfare Board of India
Edited by: Pigeonpal2002 (Brad)
Last edited by Pigeonpal2002; 15th March 2005 at 10:04 AM.
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