You've Found a Pigeon, Now What?
Every once in awhile, someone will happen upon a pigeon outside in need of help. If you're reading this, then chances are you are concerned and would like to assist. If you are able to capture the bird easily, then it's most likely injured, ill, or unable to fly. Sometimes domestic pigeons will become lost and weak from hunger and might find their way to your door looking for help. All pigeons in these situations should be taken "in" and placed in a warm, quiet and calm environment. An appropriate sized box with air holes or a laundry basket lined with paper towels/old blanket is good. Here are a few things to consider and make note of.
1) The approximate age of the pigeon. Very young baby pigeons are generally helpless and lightly covered in yellow down. Their eyes could be either opened or closed, rather narrow, but large/bulbous beaks compared to their head. A squab is one that has the beginnings of feathers. They could be just starting to sprout (pin feathers), or they could be out but not covering the entire body and stubby in length. A young pigeon is one that is mostly feathered, some bare spots (under the wings especially), yellow down feathers poking out from in between the body feathers, but still dependant on it's parents. A juvenile pigeons is almost an adult but lacks the sporadic yellow down. Feathers are full size but the beak/cere will be light pink and the eyes dark. Baby/young/juvenile pigeons will have brown or dark grey eyes whereas adults will have red, orange, white, or yellow eyes. Adult pigeons are fully feathered, have coloured eyes, a white *cere*, and long flight and tail feathers. Please see this website to better approximate the found pigeons age.
2) The condition of the pigeon. Quickly do a visual inspection of the bird, looking for cuts, bleeding, puncture wounds, lifeless or damaged wings, legs/feet. The bird might be holding it's wing down, or it might have a leg that is flopping. Pigeons that are sick or injured will have a puffed out appearance or could be closing their eyes indicating pain or discomfort. The pigeon might be very weak and might not put up much of a struggle when held. Listen to the birds breathing. It could be laboured, rattling or wheezing. A bird that holds it's beak open while breathing could be in severe respiratory distress, dehydrated, or in pain as well.
3) Does the pigeon have a band on it's leg. These are domestic birds that belong to someone and probably lost, tired and hungry. It's important that you record the full band number, it will contain both letters and numbers. Birds without bands are most likely wild/feral pigeons but this is not always the case. You can try either of these two websites to locate the club secretary to find the owner or you can post the band number to the group and one of our members will try to trace the band.
If you have found a very young pigeon, keep it VERY warm and post a message with a heading that will catch our eyes immediately and a member will try to get to it ASAP to assist you further. If you have found an older but possibly sick or injured pigeon, warmth is again vital. After the bird has been warmed up sufficiently, the first thing to offer the bird is water. An electrolyte solution is preferred. This is simply water with a pinch of salt and sugar added. Very young pigeons, very sick or weak pigeons will need to be given fluids with an eyedropper. Further information on providing emergency care can be found here:
http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/showthread.php?t=8822. If you have found a lost domestic pigeon with a band, keep it warm again, offer an electrolyte solution or water, then consider providing food if it is eager to eat. Things around the home that can be used to feed the pigeon are: un-popped popcorn, uncooked rice, defrosted frozen peas or corn, any type of bird seed that you might have on hand.
Pictures are always beneficial to us in cases of injury or ascertaining ages and assessing needs. To post your pictures on Pigeon Talk follow these steps:
Write your message in a new thread. At the bottom of the window you will see a button called "Manage attachments". Click this then a new window will open to upload your file. Picture files must be in .bmp, .jpe, .jpeg, or .gif format and under 100k in size. Click the "browse" button and locate your file on your computer. Then click the "upload" button". Close this window and then at the bottom hit "submit new thread".
Try to follow common sense and make note of any other details you notice. Feel free to post any questions and concerns regarding your found bird and we well do our best to help you out.
* the cere is the fleshy area where the pigeons nostrils are. It has a chalky appearance *
Last edited by Pigeonpal2002; 18th March 2005 at 04:53 PM.
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