Caring for Handicapped Birds - Pigeon-Talk
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Maggie-NC Maggie-NC is offline
Posted 1st April 2008, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 9,856

Caring for Handicapped Birds

It was suggested by several members that a thread be started dealing exclusively with caring for handicapped pigeons. This can include pigeons that are blind, amputees of either a wing or leg, crippled, etc. Hopefully, any member that has a handicapped pigeon will contribute to this thread and share their experiences and tips on how to care for these special little guys.

Being handicapped, no matter how severely, should not mean a death sentence. Handicapped pigeons can live a pretty productive life if their caretaker is willing to help them.

I need to say that federal law prohibits anyone from keeping a migratory bird that cannot be returned to the wild. This DOES NOT include pigeons.

We have had two pigeons that fall in the handicapped category and need special care.

SILVER: a feral who fell from a high bridge, breaking one leg at the body. He was taken to the vet and, although they tried to save some of the leg, wound up amputating it. If a pigeon can be left with even a "nub", it helps them move around better.

Silver was a tiny squab and did very well when he was small. He was even able to fly some. However, as he grew older and gained more and more weight, he could no longer lift off to fly. Even walking was impossible. He would propel himself with the one leg and his wings. We tried many things with Silver. We put him the aviary and made a box that he could go in but he was continually beating his wings so badly that they bled. One morning we found him nearly dead from blood loss because he had beaten against the side of the aviary. We brought him inside the house and tried him in a large plastic box and various cages. Again, he would beat the sides so much his wings would bleed.

Finally, we purchased a small cat bed. It was soft and had sides all around. We put clean cloths in each day, and loosely placed his seed/food at one end. We took him out numerous times each day to give him water. He was placed on the hearth in the family room and adjusted to this environment wonderfully. Lewis would take him out each night and hold him in his lap and they would go to sleep together. Silver had an additional problem with tumors all over his stomach. The vet removed several but they kept coming back. We were picking him up one afternoon to take him outside to sit in the grass when he convulsed and died. The vet believes the cancer finally killed him.

MR. HUMPHRIES: a feral who fell from a canopy at Home Depot. The fall broken several bones in both legs and even after numerous attempts by three vets, the legs could never be set correctly. This left him in a semi-crouch, being able to raise up only about 2 inches. Both legs are somewhat deformed.

We keep Mr. H in a regular cage but put bubble wrap on the bottom, then fresh newspaper and paper towels on top of that. The wrap provides a soft cushion which helps the knee part of his legs keep from getting sores. His legs and stomach are checked regularly and we apply pure aloe vera to his legs fairly often. I use a fairly shallow water dish, about 2 inches high, filled to the brim and he can reach that. I use a triangular shaped makeup sponge to hold his seed bowl in place so it can be at an angle and is easier for him to reach. He has a nest that we make using cartons that hold 24 canned drinks, cut in the middle, put together with tape, and filled with wood chips and either a cloth or paper towel on top. He is able to hop in and out easily.

He is able to go into the aviary each day unless it is very cold but is brought in each night to keep him from being too tired plus he cannot reach the water containers. He is able to jump in the bath water and loves it. He flies very, very well and seeks a spot on one of the limb perches that has a dip in it. He fits his body in the dip and dares the others to mess with him.

These little guys are very precious. Sure, they take a little extra care but they are alive and appear to be happy.
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kippermom kippermom is offline
Posted 1st April 2008, 06:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: thousand oaks, ca
Posts: 777
HENRY - Our little "Henry" was an oops baby, born with or developed severly splayed, malformed legs. We tried everything we saw on this site and then found a vet who performed surgery on the worst leg. Well, over $1,000.00 in vet bills later Henry is still without the proper use of what had been the "good" leg. The foot cannot grasp and has no strength to keep it in the right direction. It is almost useless. For the first month or so we kept him in a cage in the aviary so he could be near the flock, but not taken advantage of. Then we opened the door and he ventured out. For the next month or two, he lived on the top of the cage. The wire gave him something to graspe. We kept a food and water dish on the top of the cage. We were afraid other birds might sense his helplessness and attack him, but all of them left him alone. Then one day we saw him on the floor of the aiviary, eating from the main food bin. And we saw him flutter the 18 inches back to the top of the cage he lived on. We cheered! Another month or two and we found him on a higher perch..another mile-stone! Then he was regularly flying to the lower perches. Now, after a year of "rehab" Henry can fly anywhere in the aviary and has even staked out a nest box and bowl. He has trouble landing on some perches and has to flap hard to get his bad foot in a good position, but he has slowly progressed to the point where he is independent and just being a "pigeon". Now we need to figure out how he can take a bath and his world will be complete!

DROP-WING AND YETI...This pair were rescued, background unknown. Banded and together...Yeti has a permanent limp and is huge. It is hard for him to land so he ventures out less than most. His mate has a permanently drooping wing, but it does not slow her down much. This pair "found each other" and stayed together and seems "made for each other" with similar handicaps that effect them in a similar way...they are our "stay-at-home couch potatoes".
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Charis Charis is offline
Posted 1st April 2008, 07:17 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Country: United States
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 13,043
Cutie Pie...A red roller that just showed up one day and never left. His band only said, 2003 and so there was no way to help him find his way home.
An adorable sweet bird that longed to have a mate and it was incredible to me that none of the eligible hens wanted anything to do with him.
He had been here about a year when I found him hanging by his leg, from an old ladder I had put in the garage for the birds to roost on. The band had gotten hooked on the hinge and he had been struggling for probably several hours to free himself. At the point I found him, he was only hanging by skin and the band... the bone was severed. It wasn't easy to free him because he was still trying to free himself but I did manage and was able to get the bleeding to stop.
EVERYONE thought I should have him PTS but I said no. His leg was cleaned up and he went on Baytril and some pain medication. Within 7 days he was hopping on one leg, cooing and trying to charm the girls. I adjusted dishes to accommodate him and he did really well.
Then a miracle happened....someone brought me a very small feral hen that was unable to fly due to a broken wing. Once they saw each other, it was love at first sight and Cutie Pie has been attentive,faithful and loving toward her since that day. Since, another little roller has joined our odd little flock. She is crazy over Cutie Pie and it's almost embarrassing to watch her following him around always in pursuit, all while her mate minds the wooden eggs.
Recently, I realized some oops babies were about to hatch. I put one under Cutie Pie's mate and I have never seen such devoted,thrilled parents. Another miracle.
The ladder has long been removed and I have never regretted my decision to save little Cutie Pie 2003.

If all the beasts were
gone, men would die
from great loneliness of
spirit, for whatever
happens to the beasts
also happens to the man.
Seattle 1736-1866

Another Life, Gone To The Birds!


Member, International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

Last edited by Charis; 2nd April 2008 at 09:47 AM..
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Skyeking Skyeking is offline
Posted 2nd April 2008, 06:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Country: United States
Location: SE Coast Central Florida
Posts: 25,397

Birds that started out normal and became handicapped

My bird Whiskey, who is a hen has a wing that drags a little, but it was broken in a place that enables her to only fly a foot off the ground, yet it almost looks normal when she holds it to her side. My rehabber examined it thoroughly and told me should not be able to fly anymore. She is able to live a somewhat normal life with her mate, Pluto who is not handicapped. Because he provides a box for her and himself. I lift her to the dining room about three times a day. I also leave seed and water on the aviary floor so she can help herself, when the weather is agreeable. She blames me for her injury and pecks at me every time I help her. It is especially hard for her when the male is chasing her to the nest. I have to lock him up so she can get a break to eat, because he doesn't understand.

Hamilton, my male handicapped pigeon, also injured his wing but he can't get any lift out of it, though he holds it normal. Life was very difficult for him after rehab, he lost his cubby and his role in the pigeon hierarchy. He lived on the floor and tried to reclaim his mate. I made him cubby close to the floor but she wouldn't come near, and another male stole her heart. I was heartbroken to see him watching her and when Laurie posted that she needed a handicapped male for her beautiful handicapped hen, Penelope I was all for it. He now resides on a farm in Virginia in a specially made handicapped loft for two. It's become a love nest and the two are devoted to each other.

They both (Whiskey and Hamilton) broke their wings around the ame time, so watching them I thought I had something major, like Paratyphoid in the loft, but that wasn't the case. They must have run into each other making a quick getaway into the loft upon seeing a hawk. They just don't understand there is a barrier between them and the outisde.

Here is what I learned about handicapped pigeons:

1. Hens can make the adjustment in coop life, if they have a non-handicapped mate, though the human has to help. They are still as honory as ever, it hasn't humbled her at all, in fact she is meaner now. But I pamper her.

2. Male pigeons can't survive as handicapped pigeons in regular loft. You either have to design a loft off the ground with easy access to everything, or find a home that will provide that. They have to have sure footing so they don't fall over, so make sure the wire is 1/4 inch and well supported with frame. Bowls should be non-tippable, and low so they can't fall into the water and drown. Bowls should be tied down too. Hamilton learned to run real fast, but I had to be there, because he would trip in an uneven area and couldn't get up again. Also, make sure that their every step to and from anything leaves no chance for them to trip or fall.

3. It's far better to find a home for a favorite bird, if you love him, then to keep the bird and have him be unhappy the rest of his life. If you can't make the proper home for a handicapped pigeon, find him is worth all the works to do it. They DO need companionship-of at least one other pigeon.

As far as one eye sighted pigeons, I have two. It isn't a real issue as they seem to be doing fine with other pigeons. Both mine have mates and do well.

Completely blind pigeons are another story, and I'm going to leave that to those who have them, because I only baby sat one for three weeks. But what a delight and a learning experience that was.

I baby sat Larry, and fell in love with him. He is every bit as normal as any male pigeon, but without eyes. I could not leave him with my birds without being there, but he needed to feel part of the group without getting picked on.

His bowls are always in the same place and had to be cleaned several times a day, because even though he figured out where they were, he still pooped in them. He loved the sun and loved being hosed off and delighted in the smells of outdoors. He loved the feel of grass under his feet, as all he ever felt was the bottom of a cage. I lined his cage with paper towels and he loved it, as I could tell, all the poop he left was on the paper towels not the rest of the wired cage.

It's hard to provide them company as he either will get picked on or the pigeons thought he was weird and won't go near. Recently Doreen has tried to find him a mate, but he is so overaggressive it's hard. He also pecks at anything that brushes up against him, until he feels the hand scratching and preeining him, then he preens too. But his hearing and his sense of touch, and feel and his sense of smell and taste is all he has now, so its best to provide him with things that fill those senses with delight. I gave him plush paper towels for bedding, frequent access to sun and wind and the grass and other pigeons, as much as we could handle.

His eyes are only sockets and sometimes he had discharge that needed to be cleaned, and I washed them with a drop of colloidal silver. He was very easy to adminsiter vitamins and stuff too, as he didn't see me. He did weird head rolling and reminded me of his blindness. He would roll his head clear to his back. Sometimes he would run in circles, and I didn't know if he was bored or because he was blind. I don't know if those actions are because of his blndness or the residual effects of the blunt trauma to his head that he received with his initial injuries. I gave him as much attention as I could, they do need lots of attention and love, especially if they cannot have contact with other pigeons.


Last edited by Skyeking; 2nd April 2008 at 06:50 AM..
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pigeonmama pigeonmama is offline
Posted 2nd April 2008, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,140
Could you get a "stuffie" for Larry, especially if it was one of those birds that made breed appropriate noises when touched. I've seen some at the feed store, look like birds, and I know there was a dove that coo'ed, not sure about pigeon.
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Skyeking Skyeking is offline
Posted 2nd April 2008, 07:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Country: United States
Location: SE Coast Central Florida
Posts: 25,397
Originally Posted by pigeonmama View Post
Could you get a "stuffie" for Larry, especially if it was one of those birds that made breed appropriate noises when touched. I've seen some at the feed store, look like birds, and I know there was a dove that coo'ed, not sure about pigeon.
Doreen already has toys for him, but those sound unique.Thank you

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pigeonmama pigeonmama is offline
Posted 2nd April 2008, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,140
Many years ago someone asked me to take a handicapped serama (chicken) hen. She was shipped here, poor thing had severe splay leg, was silkie feathered and in terrible shape, thin, weak, balding all over. They called her Scruffy. Her name was changed to Beauty.Her feed became the best I could find, and handfeeding with cuddles required. She had a bath and a nice warm blow dry. She lived in a laundry basket that I cut most of one side out of, on soft clean pieces of blanket. I thought about using a chicken diaper on her, but was afraid she might not tolerate it, and preferred to keep her clean at all times. Sweet little Beauty, couldn't walk, but would scrabble around, using her wings like crutches, and would always try to be in amongst all the action. She lived in the house with her human family for her entire lifetime, much loved, very spoiled. Every one at the poultry meetings would have to take their turn holding and loving Ms. Beauty.
dr phoebes dr phoebes is offline
Posted 17th May 2008, 05:59 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 10
i am really heartened to find this site as i am kinda isolated from other people who care for feral pigeons . its a great place to find. what kind of toys can i get for my recovering bird? do they like the sort of toy made for parrots?
do they respond well to mirrors or is it a no no?
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AZWhitefeather AZWhitefeather is offline
Posted 17th May 2008, 07:18 AM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Mesa, AZ USA
Posts: 7,333
Originally Posted by dr phoebes View Post
i am really heartened to find this site as i am kinda isolated from other people who care for feral pigeons . its a great place to find. what kind of toys can i get for my recovering bird? do they like the sort of toy made for parrots?
do they respond well to mirrors or is it a no no?
I think mirrors are fine. I've got two in the aviary.
Neither Pij'ette, Sadie or Sam pay any attention to them. It's a 'guy' thing.
One of the mirrors is at Mikko & Pij'ette's place & many a times I've seen Mikko stop to admire himself as he struts along.

Beautiful so enjoys talking to his 'friend' in the mirror.

A Pigeon's Dream

As we fly,
Let us be safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Let us find safety where we are welcome to stay.

Cynthia Boyce
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mr squeaks mr squeaks is offline
Posted 17th May 2008, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 10,523
Cindy, are you going to tell about Rae Charles??

Hugs & Scritches to the lovely Rae...What a wonderful blind bird!

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mr squeaks mr squeaks is offline
Posted 17th May 2008, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 10,523
I live in an apartment with three handicapped is interesting, to say the least.

I've had Mr. Squeaks since 2003 when I found him as a squeaker with a badly broken wing, half of which, had to be amputated. I am his mate and he rules me and 3 cats with an iron beak.

Then, on March 16, 2008, I came home with two handicapped pigeons.

Dom, was shot by a BB gun and has a wing that droops. Although he can fly, he tends to be awkward at times and prefers to run. His mate is Gimie, has a broken leg that healed so badly, she essentially hops on one leg, occasionally using her bad leg as a crutch. She can fly beautifully and leads me a merry chase when "time out" is over.

Both birds are in a cage that sits on top of Mr. Squeaks' home. Both are in my bedroom. Dom and Gimie are given time out to fly and run around the bedroom. Mr. Squeaks and the cats are kept in the living room while they are out.

Although I have let Squeaks in the bedroom when they are out, the visit is short lived. Squeaks thinks Dom is an intruder and attacks him every time he sees him. I haven't tried his reaction - yet - with just Gimie.

So far, the arrangement is working just fine. Livng with fur and more feathers definitely means future fun times and exciting learning experiences!

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Mighty Heart Mighty Heart is offline
Posted 28th August 2008, 11:00 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Country: United States
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 26

All of my birds are handicapped gems!

I have 5 handicapped keepers! With each one comes a new wealth of knowledge in rehabbing. 3 had severe compound fractures of the leg. 1 has a damaged wing (he can only fly about a foot high) and the last bird lost one eye. I must say I love each one of them immensly. I have a couple of pigeons completely recoverd that fly during the day and come home every night to the coop.These birds adapt amazingly well.
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philodice philodice is offline
Posted 6th September 2008, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: East Mesa, Arizona USA
Posts: 984
Little Phoenix the dove had a wing eaten off by a cat. I got the usual suggestions of PTS, but I decided to give Phoenix a fighting chance. Now he lives in his own apartment. I give him plenty of room because he still thinks he can fly, and beats his good wing so hard, it knocks him over onto his bad side and he flops around. I put padding and small, low sided non-tip bowls in the cage, and a tiny low slanted ladder instead of the usual perch.

He cannot be raised more than a few feet off the ground, or he will fall, and he hates being carried, so it is very important to securely hold the dove at all times when he is out of the cage or just put him straight on the floor. He has dashed himself to the ground too many times.
hockeygirl hockeygirl is offline
Posted 19th June 2009, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2
I found a pigeon with what looks like a broken leg or legs and missing feathers on one wing.
I named him or her "Em"
Other than not being able to walk or fly, Em is eating birdseed and drinking water.
I put birdie in a nice cage with a fluffy soft towel in a secluded quiet and warm place where the cats can't get at him or her.
I am taking Em to the vet to see what exactly is wrong and to see if the leg and wing can be set.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 19th June 2009, 09:13 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Country: United States
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 29,810
Hi Hockeygirl, and welcome to Pigeon Talk. I have moved your thread to "SICK AND INJURED PIGEON DISCUSSIONS". This way it will be noticed by more people, and you will get more replies. Here is the link

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass........It's about learning to dance in the rain.
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broken leg, broken wing, colloidal silver, feral pigeon, male pigeon, male pigeons, wooden eggs

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