Just adopted a rescue feral(?) pigeon he won't let us near him - Pigeon-Talk
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nindit nindit is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 08:29 AM
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Question

Just adopted a rescue feral(?) pigeon he won't let us near him


Hi! Granted it's only been about a day since we (two adults) adopted him. He had been living in an adoption center for a couple of months, which mostly cares for cats and dogs; I was told they didn't have avian experts. Before that, he was picked up on the street because it was apparent he had an injured wing. He looks healthy, is eating and drinking, and can fly a little (we had a little incident transferring him to his crate and he got away from us briefly) but it's clear there's still something wrong with one of his wings. He cooed a lot last night, and he flaps his wings a lot a couple of times it really sounded like he was trying to get out and fly away.

Basically, he's afraid of hands. It really kills us to stress him out like this, but we need to do things like clean his crate, refresh his feed and water, etc. We can deal with wing slapping and pecking if it means keeping him alive, obviously! But I'd like to move on to things like bathing him, putting pants on him (so he can explore the place on his own), but I feel like I can't do those things until he at least tolerates my presence.

He does have a blue band on his foot, but it's not clear if the adoption center put that on him or if he was found like that. Does that mean he was a racing or homing pigeon? And if so, doesn't that mean he should be used to people?

I hope one day he loves us as much as we love him... does anyone have tips for how to get him to trust us? How long could this take? Might he be happier at an animal sanctuary, since he's an unsuitable candidate for release?

Thank you!!

P.S. I attached a picture of him from the adoption center.
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cwebster's Avatar
cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 09:43 AM
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Thank you for adopting the bird. Our first pigeon was a severely injured feral, Phoebe, who was nearly decapitated and had a broken wing. We got her fixed up. It took a few months for her to get really tame but she became a really tame family member. Patience and ground peanuts help. Pigeons dont need to be bathed but in warm weather will bathe themselves in a shallow dish of water. You can make friends by slowly letting the bird acclimate to his cage and not hurrying things.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 12:12 PM
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Not a feral at all. From the pic can't tell whether a homer or not, but is a domestic pigeon and was owned by someone. Can you post a picture from the side with his profile? Being previously owned doesn't mean he would be friendly. Would all depend on whether or not he was handled, and on how he was handled. Putting pants on him would not be a good idea at all. Even friendly pigeons don't like it and it takes time to get them used to them. I don't like then as they aren't at all natural for a bird. Just put down old towels to protect where he will go, and you can shake them out and wash them later. He does need time out of cage, each day would be good. But do it toward the end of the day so that you can easily catch him again by turning off the light and picking him up. Chasing him would just scare him more.

He may very well be better off in a loft or aviary with other birds, as they are flock birds and not really happy by themselves. They live to pair up and raise babies. They are happier with a mate or companion. But whatever you do, please don't bring him back to where you got him. That place was probably more traumatizing to him.
Even some wild ferals can come around and get used to you if you are very patient and take your time. You need to go slowly and let him learn to trust you. Pigeons don't generally care for being picked up and petted. Rather they like to come to you when they want to.You will need to give him lots of time. But he does need to be able to get out of that cage, as he has been stuck in a cage for a couple of months now.

As cwebster has mentioned, treats do help. All birds love chopped unsalted peanuts. At first he won't even know what they are, so just mix a small amount into his food. Eventually he will try them, and when he does, he will love them. Eventually he should come to you for the treat. That takes time though, and some will just never tame up. If you give him a large container with water. Large enough to be able to splash in, he will eventually bathe. He needs to feels a bit more secure though first. Some use a clean cat litter pan and fill it with a couple of inches of water. Pigeons do love to bathe normally. Don't bathe him. Let him bathe himself.
He may well have had a mate, and that could be who he is calling for.
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FLIGHT 901 FLIGHT 901 is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 04:21 PM
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Well you could be right about the adoption centre putting the ring on. Had it been a stray racer, they could notify the owner, (which incidentally is taboo as the owners don't want them) and if they are returned are killed because they failed some obscure criterion! The rings are readily available on eBay. I ring my rescued ferals.

Get the bird into a routine. Did you say it was caged? I let mine wander around the bath room (it's easier to clean) with paper down and food and water. They do like to get on a perch, normally the taps or vanity cabinet and preferably with cover above. I often think they are born under a railway bridge and feel secure with a roof above them.

I have a certain tune I whistle to them, to let them know I am approaching and I speak to them. It's about interacting and gaining confidence. I try not to touch them and only do so if I want to check them over. When I do they 'growl' hit me with a wing and I laugh and call them naughty boys. I'm hoping to release one soon, he has been with me over a year. Twice I've tried to release him, but he won't fly. The other, 'Top Gun' will never fly, alas, he broke his wing two years ago.

Have fun with your new charge, it will be an experience.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 04:55 PM
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If that is a metal band with no opening on the bird, which it does look like, at least in that picture, then the breeder of the bird put it on, as they have to be put on at around 5 to 7 days old. A clip on band is plastic and opens to be able to remove it. I don't think the place where you got the bird would have put it on him, as you said that they weren't really set up for birds anyway. And most of those places are not going to band a bird.

Also some racers don't want them back, that is true, but not all of them are that way. And it may have not been for racing anyway. Some birds do get lost or injured, and there are owners out there that want them back.
Can you post a profile view of the bird?

A good cage for him needs to be large enough for him to move around in, more wide than high, with flat perches, rather than a round branch like they gave him. And wide enough for him to be able to flap his wings.
Some use the metal dog crates, a good sized bird flight cage, or a good sized rabbit cage works well.
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Last edited by Jay3; 21st September 2018 at 04:59 PM..
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FLIGHT 901 FLIGHT 901 is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 05:27 PM
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That ring will be numbered as a means of identity if it is a racer and the rescue would have been able to contact the owner.

If you would like to know what the pigeon racers get up to, message me and I'll give you the gory details.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 06:20 PM
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The owners are not all that easy to get in contact with. Most people have no idea of how to track a band number. And many of the owners just don't get back to you.
Don't even know that it was a racer. What are the numbers on the band?
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nindit nindit is offline
Posted 21st September 2018, 08:35 PM
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Thanks all for your feedback, it is all well taken. And apologies for the late reply, it's been a busy day of supply shopping and an attempt at getting him (his name is Pippin) to bathe!

To answer your questions in order:

Quote:
Can you post a picture from the side with his profile?
As I noticed he was nodding off earlier, I'll post a picture of him tomorrow morning!

Quote:
Did you say it was caged?
Yes, he currently lives in a medium-sized dog crate (edit: lined with a bed sheet underneath, which we'll replace with something a bit sturdier soon) with a mirror, fake tree-trunk shelter, and a food and water bowl. We bought unsalted peanuts and I've chopped them up and sprinkled them in there, which I hope he enjoys!!

Quote:
What are the numbers on the band?
I believe it only has the numbers "195" on it. From my brief research, that really doesn't tell me anything.

I definitely don't like the idea of contacting this owner. I'm imagining a person who handled him very roughly, and the concept of racing is so cruel already. I'm not thrilled with his environment at the adoption center either. Pippin probably has a family and is feeling very lonely. I'd love to get him a companion if one day another pigeon needs a home, preferably a lady!

I like the idea of letting him hang out in the bathroom more regularly, which we kinda did tonight. But even when we left him alone and returned, he didn't seem to go anywhere. I feel like he might only be flying in what he deems to be a serious emergency (getting away from mean hands). Otherwise, I'm not sure if he's up to it. ex. I left him in the bath tub with a casserole dish of water, and he did not enter, let alone leave the tub.

Last edited by nindit; 21st September 2018 at 08:38 PM..
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FLIGHT 901 FLIGHT 901 is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 04:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nindit View Post
Thanks all for your feedback, it is all well taken. And apologies for the late reply, it's been a busy day of supply shopping and an attempt at getting him (his name is Pippin) to bathe!

To answer your questions in order:


As I noticed he was nodding off earlier, I'll post a picture of him tomorrow morning!


Yes, he currently lives in a medium-sized dog crate (edit: lined with a bed sheet underneath, which we'll replace with something a bit sturdier soon) with a mirror, fake tree-trunk shelter, and a food and water bowl. We bought unsalted peanuts and I've chopped them up and sprinkled them in there, which I hope he enjoys!!


I believe it only has the numbers "195" on it. From my brief research, that really doesn't tell me anything.

I definitely don't like the idea of contacting this owner. I'm imagining a person who handled him very roughly, and the concept of racing is so cruel already. I'm not thrilled with his environment at the adoption center either. Pippin probably has a family and is feeling very lonely. I'd love to get him a companion if one day another pigeon needs a home, preferably a lady!

I like the idea of letting him hang out in the bathroom more regularly, which we kinda did tonight. But even when we left him alone and returned, he didn't seem to go anywhere. I feel like he might only be flying in what he deems to be a serious emergency (getting away from mean hands). Otherwise, I'm not sure if he's up to it. ex. I left him in the bath tub with a casserole dish of water, and he did not enter, let alone leave the tub.
At least you are trying options. Without knowing the history of that bird, it's a matter of trial and error. It will have to get used to you and its new environment and it does take time. From personal experience, I leave them to their own devices. I do the basics.

It's not my intention to have these birds of mine as show-ponies, I want them to retain their feral instinct. It is different with baby birds, they are fully dependent on you and can quickly accept you as a surrogate parent. Introducing a friend to the bird initially causes problems. The resident may attack the interloper for invading its space. It's what I have seen myself.

That band number is not a racing pigeon's identity. It would have letters in conjunction with the numerals. It's probably a breeder's number and somehow the bird escaped from what ever fate was intended for it. Is his wing showing signs of droop? As you point out, he is able to flap them. At this point-in-time, he is not going to be too interested in bathing, don't worry about that. As long as he is eating and drinking.

I might ask: what is the condition of his stools? Also, does he fluff himself up and show lethargy? Pigeons carry diseases inimical to each other (not humans) given the close proximity in which they live. They may not readily show signs, however, at a later date a disease will manifest itself by way of tell-tale signs. There are many here that can tell you about precautionary checks, prevention better than cure, so-to-speak. Keep us updated won't you.
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nindit nindit is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Is his wing showing signs of droop? As you point out, he is able to flap them.
From some pictures of wing droop that I’ve seen, I’d say no. Can you describe it? If anything his wing sticks out a bit instead of being neatly folded. I’ll try to get a picture.

Quote:
I might ask: what is the condition of his stools? Also, does he fluff himself up and show lethargy? Pigeons carry diseases inimical to each other (not humans) given the close proximity in which they live. They may not readily show signs, however, at a later date a disease will manifest itself by way of tell-tale signs.
Re: lethargy, I don’t think so... he fluffs up slightly when we approach and perhaps as he’s preening and stretching. If anything he’s wary and alert to the max, standing in one place keeping an eye on us until he’s sure we’ve left him alone. But he loves to stand in his corner infront of his reflection, only moving around to eat and drink.

As I’m typing I have his crate open and some food and peanuts a few inches away in an attempt to entice him out, but so far no dice. Maybe I need to get out of his line-of-sight.

I attached a zoomed-in profile picture of him. Apologies for the quality, but I don’t want to get too close yet.
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nindit nindit is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 06:27 AM
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Oops, I forgot to address his stool – it’s been all across the spectrum. It was initially great during the ride home, solid and dry, but it quickly became very watery out of fear, I’m afraid. Over the past 48 (I think?) hours at home generally they are solid with a watery sheen, with white and green and a bit of urine.
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nindit nindit is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 06:42 AM
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Wow, breaking update – he hopped out of his cage, wandered maybe half a foot away, then stepped on his snack on the way back into his cage! He kindly left a little poo on the corner of the napkin I laid out. This entire moment lasted about 30 seconds.

Though as I’m typing this, he’s just stepped out again. So maybe he’s testing his boundaries? And he’s eating the peanuts!!
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FLIGHT 901 FLIGHT 901 is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nindit View Post
Oops, I forgot to address his stool its been all across the spectrum. It was initially great during the ride home, solid and dry, but it quickly became very watery out of fear, Im afraid. Over the past 48 (I think?) hours at home generally they are solid with a watery sheen, with white and green and a bit of urine.
Okay so his stools are solid. Wing-droop is fairly obvious, it hangs down and will touch the floor. It's not held out, as if the bird is cooling. The fluffed up look is natural for a bird as they roost in that way. However, I have seen many birds and indeed picked them up when in that condition.

Sometimes they attempt to fly. albeit instinctively in a feeble attempt. I should not be able to catch any bird that can fly away and the fact that I am able to (without using any devices) tells me something is wrong with them. Generally these birds die in a short space of time, it seems I am retrieving them when they are close to death and beyond help.

Looking at your bird, he looks bright and bold.
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FLIGHT 901 FLIGHT 901 is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nindit View Post
Wow, breaking update he hopped out of his cage, wandered maybe half a foot away, then stepped on his snack on the way back into his cage! He kindly left a little poo on the corner of the napkin I laid out. This entire moment lasted about 30 seconds.

Though as Im typing this, hes just stepped out again. So maybe hes testing his boundaries? And hes eating the peanuts!!
He probably is and if you ignore him he will venture further.
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cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 22nd September 2018, 08:41 AM
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Lovely bird. Give him time and a chance to feel at home and i think he will get much tamer.
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