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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 15th October 2017, 01:26 AM
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Behaviour: what does a pigeon's hammering mean?


So I found this pigeon on Friday night, hugging the facades along a busy street on the sidewalk, while all other pigeons had gone to roost already. Didn't even try to fly. Grabbed it and took it home. It's in my improvised ICU, a heating pad providing warmth as of yesterday, which clearly helps. Is eating, pooping and drinking well, preening a lot, gaining strength. I have a feeling the bird may be pretty old, and I don't think he or she has a mate (feathers around bill not preened). The issue seems to be respiratory (wing lifting, and breathing rapidly when resting on belly), but hey, maybe some internal canker (mouth is clear). Was not dehydrated.

Anyway, this morning, the bird started hammering on its water dish, in its mostly covered enclosure. When I looked up, he or she did it again, and a bit later, again. After that, started to eat. Before that, had been preening very busily.

What does it mean when a pigeon does that? Hammering. In cockatiels, it may mean "this is mine", apparently. I searched web and forum but haven't found anything yet for pigeons.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 15th October 2017 at 03:06 AM..
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alby68 alby68 is offline
Posted 15th October 2017, 04:51 AM
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could mean it wants to bath?
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 15th October 2017, 04:57 AM
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Oh! You may have a point! Thanks!

It did seem to have hopped into the large water dish yesterday, but I thought it had been trying to "escape" because I had left one of the covers off its temporary glass-walled home. I concluded that on the basis of my experience with my previous rescue pigeon, but this bird has not actually displayed similar behaviors (yet).

And it pooped into it too, later this morning, so may have hopped onto it again.

Will offer bath and see what happens.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 15th October 2017 at 05:09 AM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 15th October 2017, 03:17 PM
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I use the four pint plastic milk bottles with a hole cut in the side for my pigeons feed and water, they can't poop in those and damage their health by drinking/eating anything contaminated by droppings.


Last edited by FredaH; 15th October 2017 at 03:22 PM..
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Posted 15th October 2017, 03:21 PM
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Maybe I should have added that I change the water several times per day. (As soon as I see it's dirty.) I can also see when the bird has actually drunk from the water and so far that has always been from clean water,

Last edited by Critterwoman; 15th October 2017 at 03:27 PM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 15th October 2017, 03:34 PM
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I change mine once a day, it's much easier that way with seven birds. I do what you do with their baths though because there's always someone who'll poop in them despite putting out three at a time.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 16th October 2017, 01:12 AM
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Freda, that milk bottle idea is brilliant, by the way (now that I've seen the images). I don't use milk but I know that the plastic these bottles are made of is soft, so won't have sharp edges when I cut it. Am going to buy some milk today! (I'll find a use for the milk.)

The bird I currently have apparently does not want to bathe, though it did seem to like sitting in warm water (but when I offered a bath this morning, it avoided it). It may still feel too vulnerable to bathe. Has not tapped on the water dish since. Maybe it was happy enough sitting in warm water yesterday.

Are your seven birds all rescues?

Last edited by Critterwoman; 16th October 2017 at 01:29 AM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 16th October 2017, 02:38 AM
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It takes a while for young ones to understand about bathing unless you have older ones who they watch, I used to cup water in my hand and let it fall from a height and also swish my knuckles in the water much the same movement as they do when they bath. They all love a bath now and fly over immediately to try and eat the pigeon bath salts I put in before the water, lol I don't know what it is about these bath salts but they all go crazy for them - maybe it's the bicarbonate of soda they contain, strange little birds.

My birds are rescued eggs, I know that sounds strange, lol. The three ferals were eggs from a building site whose nests were being destroyed because of the work that was being done so my son brought them home and the two tumblers were eggs from a breeder who didn't want them, so I had them because they had already started to form inside - the third tumbler was an oops baby of an egg that I'd missed, the parents didn't know how to feed him so I raised him too. Then I have a white feral hen that I got from a rescuer on the pigeon group on Facebook - Pigeon Rescue and Protection UK - she was rescued from a vat of oil by a member on there. All little darlings they are.

You could buy fruit juice in similar cartons if that would be something more useful to you instead of milk.
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Posted 16th October 2017, 03:24 AM
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Ha, you're a real rescuer of pigeons! Thanks for that!

As far as I know, it's a bird's instinct to feel vulnerable about bathing, as wet feathers generally mean they can't fly away easily. As this bird is unwell and completely unable to fly, period, I'd expect it to feel very vulnerable about bathing.

I think the one I have now is old. Something about the bird, from the beginning. The way its face looks, perhaps. Let's assume she's a she. I have meanwhile noticed that she seems to recognize glass very clearly and must have plenty of experience with it. Yesterday morning, after I tried to feed her peas, she ended up with the rim of an eye partly red - though nothing unusual happened - and that suggests tender skin to me, which also tends to go with old age. I am keeping an eye on that, yes, but am not concerned yet.

Although eating, drinking, pooping and preening fine, she is unwell and I am limiting handling to the minimum.

After yesterday morning, she's been making very clear - hissing and growling, initially - that she does not want to be handled. I have learned from another bird (not a pigeon) that birds can have very good (medical) reasons for not wanting to be handled (and handling can be highly detrimental to a seriously ill bird).

This one is improving, but as she is not using any energy at all right now, that is no surprise, though still good news. There is a local vet whose dad had (maybe still has) pigeons and I may stop by there in a little while. For now, I'll keep supporting the bird as well as I can, let her improve and see what happens. Most likely, she has internal canker, because it is so common and there has to be a reason why she became so weak and thin. I can't see anything else (though another possibility is worms, so I understand). Or maybe it is simply old age that she is suffering from? Her wings feel very muscular, but her body does not.

She likes standing on one foot, by the way.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 16th October 2017 at 04:06 AM..
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Posted 16th October 2017, 04:25 AM
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Eye problem (resp)


Nope, she definitely has an eye problem. When she came in, on Friday evening, I saw she had something white in her eye, but it disappeared soon, so it could have been anything. But now I see white mucus again, while the bottom of the rim of that eye is red and a bit swollen. The eye does seem to water a bit, but not much.

So is this the so-called "one eye cold" that I just read about here and is actually respiratory so has to be coming from the sinus(es) around/behind that eye? If so, I have seen something similar in a hookbill (parrot).

Will use nebulizer with F10. Can't do any harm and might do the trick.

Meanwhile, does anyone have a photo for me of what an eye affected by pox virus looks like? (for my own learning, should I ever run into a pigeon with pox that shows in eye)

(Ha! This may explain the hammering this bird did. To get stuff to move in the sinuses. I once saw a collared dove deliberately making use of the sea breeze to help clear up sinus problems, btw.)

Last edited by Critterwoman; 16th October 2017 at 05:21 AM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 16th October 2017, 10:42 AM
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If you're on Facebook there's a brilliant group called Pigeon Rescue and Protection UK. That's where I got my adopted feral girl from and everyone is so helpful. Because it's a rescue group they have lots of experience of poorly birds, some injured or attacked by other birds, pigeon pox, PMV etc. They'd be only too pleased to help identify what's wrong with your girl and how to treat it. Metronidazole is the treatment for canker but you have to be careful in case she has pox because antibiotics deplete the immune system and encourages pox to run rife.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/PigeonProtection/

Last edited by FredaH; 16th October 2017 at 10:48 AM..
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 16th October 2017, 11:21 AM
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Thanks so much for all your help!
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Posted 16th October 2017, 11:53 AM
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Sick birds won't usually bath. That is something you look for when you set up the bath. If one doesn't go in, then it may be ill or coming down with something.
When I have a rescue and know it is ill, but don't know why, then I try to cover most bases. I treat with Baytril for 10 days and Metronidazole for canker. This will cover most things. If not flying than probably ill. If it shows respiratory symptoms, Baytril may help. If not, Doxycycline is often best for respiratory. Doxy-T even better.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 17th October 2017, 12:09 AM
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OMG. Last night, I thought I was imagining hearing her purr, just the way my late last quaker parrot used to do. But nope, this clear character of a pigeon really was purring, and we did a little back-and-forth purring. It seems to be a sign of contentment.

She is putting on some padding, getting stronger by the day and appears to be breathing easier now when on her belly, but probably still has a long way to go. Will continue nebulizing F10 (a veterinary antibiotic that is also often used for sinus flushes etc; my avian vet uses it and has published about it). I've also gotten safflower and hemp seeds to add to the seed mix. But, she may need a trip to the vet, yes.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 17th October 2017 at 01:13 AM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 17th October 2017, 05:52 PM
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They are lovely birds aren't they? They're so wonderful in how they interact with us and I've seen people feeding wild flocks of ferals with them all over them. I think ferals are much more likely to trust humans than collard doves or wood pigeons - I've been feeding woodies and collard doves for a couple of years in my garden and after all that time I only have one pair of doves and one woodie that will actually stay out there when I feed them. In town the ferals come right up to your feet and I feel so sorry for them because we're not allowed to feed them or even 'accidentally' drop a chip. Poor little loves, I hate going into town for that very reason.
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