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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 15th March 2012, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Weaning baby pigeons: Help please!!


Hi everyone!

I have two orphaned baby pigeons that I've been hand-feeding. They looked to be around 9 days old (yellow fuzz, pin feathers just starting to sprout) when they were handed off to me, and within a week they were covered in feathers and up and walking around! I sprinkled loads of dove seed mix in their enclosure, and added safe plants and spray millet for exploration.

Now, it's been a week and a half, and they are starting to resist feedings. I can only get them to take a small amount of formula twice a day. I'm worried sick that they're not getting enough to eat! I've observed one of them (the smaller, feistier one, dubbed Dime) swallowing seeds, but not nearly enough to fill his crop. The other bird (the larger, calmer one, named Nickel) will peck at things but I haven't seen him actually eat anything on his own.

Does anyone have weaning experience that they can share to ease my worries? Is there anything I should be doing to encourage them to eat? Should I change the layout of their enclosure to foster foraging? Any help would be much, much appreciated

And I can't resist including a photo...




Last edited by Diatom; 15th March 2012 at 12:02 AM.
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Msfreebird Msfreebird is offline
Posted 15th March 2012, 03:19 AM
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He looks old enough that they will start to eat a little on their own, but will still need a couple feedings a day from you. They have to be taught to eat and drink. Put 2 bowls (about 3-4 inches deep) in their cage. Fill one with seed, the other with tepid water (room temperature). You will have to dip their beaks in the water (don't put their nostrils in it), to show them what it is, pigeons suck water with their beaks like a straw. Do that a couple times until they get the idea. Also, take your fingers (index and thumb), and 'play' with the seed. Peck at it with your fingers, pick it up and drop it. Pigeons learn to eat by watching their parents. It's much easier to raise 2 babies, as one will usually learn faster, then the other will follow.
Awful cute little guy
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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 15th March 2012, 09:46 PM
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Thanks so much for all the good information!

Dime took his/her first drink of water today without me having to show her. She's a natural at this eating-&-drinking-on-your-own stuff. Nickel, however, has yet to catch on. He/she will pick seeds up and drop them when I show him, but he won't eat them. And he'll peck the water, but will just shake it off rather than drink it.

Now that they are beginning to eat whole seeds, will I need to show them that they need to eat grit too?

I can't wait to see them fly for the first time
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Msfreebird Msfreebird is offline
Posted 16th March 2012, 03:36 AM
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Boy this time change is killing me....I overslept AGAIN!
The slower one will get the idea, he'll follow the other one. You still might have to give a feeding a day so he doesn't get dehydrated. They usually just start pecking at grit on their own once they learn to eat.
I wouldn't let them fly outside......they'll be sitting ducks for hawks at this age.
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jondove jondove is offline
Posted 16th March 2012, 05:14 AM
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You are doing a great job, you just need to wait a few more days, they learn very quickly. From what I understand they are around 20 days old, in 2 weeks they'll surely figure out how to eat by themselves.
All young pigeons learn how to drink first, that's easier it seems.

They say that you can wean baby pigeons when all the white feathers under the wings are fully grown.



Look at 1:35 in the above video.
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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 17th March 2012, 08:16 PM
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@MsFreebird: Your post is displayed as being submitted at 2:36 am... do you normally wake up earlier?

@ jondove: You are right about the white feathers. They still had pin feathers on their armpits (wingpits?) towards the beginning of the week.

Today was a really good eating day for them. They ate and drank a lot on their own, although I was still supplementing with feeding. Yesterday, I talked to several individual pigeon breeders/fanciers/racers and the most common advice I received was to soak and cook a bean mix (chick peas, garbanzo beans, etc) and pop these into the birds' mouths to make sure they're getting enough food. The babies resisted having their beaks pried open at first, but now they are begging and holding still for me to put the beans in their mouths. What are your opinions on this method?

They are getting cuter every day


Last edited by Diatom; 17th March 2012 at 08:30 PM.
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Msfreebird Msfreebird is offline
Posted 18th March 2012, 03:52 AM
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They look good! Whatever it takes to get food into them is fine. Alot of people defrost frozen peas and corn and pop them into their mouths.
And No, I don't get up THAT early.....2:30 'your time', 6:30 'my time'
I'm usually up between 4:30-5 a.m.
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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 18th March 2012, 08:35 PM
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Oh, I completely overlooked your location
The birds would work perfectly as a cooing alarm clock at that hour wouldn't they?

I'm happy that everything is going smoothly now! The beans makes their poop a light green color, but as long as they're well formed, I should have nothing to worry about, right?

I also noticed that the birds weren't drinking very much water. I'd have to present them with the water crock every hour and dip my finger in it and beg them to drink, and only sometimes would they comply. Today however, the moment they saw the clear plastic container of water that I use for rinsing my hands while feeding them, they ran over and wanted to jump right in it. They took long drinks out of it and bathed in it and everything! So just as a note to others who are weaning their birds in the future and might read this: (if my pigeons are representative of the average baby pigeon) CLEAR dishes work better than opaque dishes for indicating water to baby pigeons! Not sure why that is.
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Msfreebird Msfreebird is offline
Posted 19th March 2012, 02:28 AM
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Glad their doing well, pigeons LOVE to bathe
They don't drink alot of water....usually a good drink when they eat and a couple times throughout the day especially in warm weather. They have the idea now!
Are you keeping them?
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 19th March 2012, 04:57 AM
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They are adorable. Where are you keeping them? In the pics, they are in your car? Be careful about leaving them in there in the heat. It would be good if you left a small crock of water with them so that they can drink when they want to.
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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 20th March 2012, 08:38 PM
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Dime has started to flap his way up to my shoulder and sit there while I drive or work. They are both eating and drinking well at this point

I really would like to keep them, but it would be difficult to say the least, since the people with whom live are non-animal-lovers. They are in a basket on my desk while I am at work during the day.

Side story: Today another orphaned baby pigeon was brought to me. It was around the same age as my guys, same progress of feather growth and same remaining pin feathers. The coloring is the "traditional", with the slate blue overall, stripes on the wings, and light eyes. The first thing I noticed when picking it up was that it was much smaller and bonier than my birds. The second thing was that it looked like it had been attacked or severely plucked, because all of its primary wing feathers, except the first few on each wing, were gone. It was terrified of me. I pushed some cooked peas, beans, and corn into its mouth to fill its crop, then later on in the day, I (thankfully) was able to find someone with some pigeon experience to give it a home. I was worried about what that bird's history was, considering its strange presentation. (Also, hopefully the difference in size is a sign that I'm doing well with my babies).

Last edited by Diatom; 21st May 2012 at 09:45 PM.
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jondove jondove is offline
Posted 21st March 2012, 09:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diatom View Post
Side story: Today another orphaned baby pigeon was brought to me.[...] it looked like it had been attacked or severely plucked, because all of its primary wing feathers, except the first few on each wing, were gone[...] I (thankfully) was able to find someone with some pigeon experience to give it a home.
I agree that in your situation you probably couldn't have afforded to keep the other baby, as he certainly needed to be kept in quarantine, separate from the others.

But this is not a side story, it's a matter of life and death for that poor baby.

You (or the person you gave that baby to) should start him on antibiotics ASAP. If he was attacked by a predator, there's a high chance of infection that can kill him in a matter of days, or even hours. It only takes a scratch.
Especially cat saliva is very dangerous, as it contains a bacteria (pasteurella) which, although harmless to cats, dogs and humans, is lethal for birds.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 21st March 2012, 10:22 AM
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I agree with jondove that the other guy definitely needs antibiotics if he was attacked. Is that other person aware of this, and do they have the needed antibiotics?
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Diatom Diatom is offline
Posted 21st March 2012, 07:05 PM
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The person updated me on how the baby was doing. He ate and slept alright, but I will definitely let the person know that he needs antibiotics. What type of antibiotics should be given? I'm guessing that the variety available in pet stores won't do.
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