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Critterwoman's Avatar
Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 4th April 2019, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Sep 2015
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Feather loss - ill pigeon - advice welcome, as always


This morning, a friendly pigeon pair that knows me well asked for my help. The female is very unwell and now in my house in a cage, just standing quietly. She stepped inside all by herself, and when she'd been standing there for 2-3 hours, I took her and put her in a cage. She's relaxed. (This is my third rehab pigeon, and have rehabbed other birds.)

Have not examined her yet, but she didn't feel heavy when I grabbed her.

One dropping was bubbly, all three components present, dark green slimy-looking feces. Watery.

Does still fly, and still has some fight in her. Is losing feathers, bald patch on head. One eye is shut. Just standing quietly, fluffed up. Does still seem to do some eating.

Bill looks fine from the outside and the white patches at the top of the bill - whatever they're called - are normal white, look fine. The feathers themselves look fine too, will look at them under a magnifying glass later, just in case.

We had a sudden drop in temperature two nights ago and it looks like that did her in. On the other hand, yesterday, I saw a school kid throw a heavy object at a pigeon, who flew away in time. Makes me wonder if something like that happened. Could that cause the feather loss? It certainly could explain the shut eye...

It had been my impression that the two had a nest, as I was not seeing them together recently, but one after the other, so they were likely taking shifts.

I've known this bird for about four years and this is the first time I've seen her unwell. Her mate has always been fine too, though he had a leg or toe injury once from which he recovered.

I don't know what to make of the feather loss. She lost a bunch when I grabbed her too. Anyone? Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 5th April 2019 at 03:11 AM..
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bootface's Avatar
bootface bootface is offline
Posted 4th April 2019, 10:12 AM
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Can you post pictures? Feather loss can be caused by vitamin deficiency, vitamin A deficiency is common. Parasites, or being grabbed by a predator are more common in adult birds though.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 03:09 AM
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Update


Okay, she's survived the night and she appears to be feeling a little bit better. Her droppings are still very watery, but I'm also pretty sure she got attacked, likely by a bird. Her mate also has a tiny spot on top of his head that looks like a bill may have grabbed him there. The male is okay. Keeps dropping by.

The feather loss only concerns small feathers, so that is good. Her feathers are okay. A few tiny mites. She looks nice and shiny, too.

Am not seeing any signs of bleeding injuries, so that too is good.

Too soon to tell if she suffered vision loss. I don't think so, as she had managed to land on a narrow ridge (my window sill), but it is hard to tell as she's keeping that eye closed,mostly. ;-) Sometimes she peeks out of it, briefly.

As she's been holding her head up high (so no concussion), I think it's okay to start supplying some heat. It was very cold outside yesterday, so it was good for her to be inside.

Have put Harkers 1-in-3 in her drinking water, because her droppings are definitely still too watery (not entirely sure about that, but it seems my best bet, for now). Stress only does that for a short while, but I don't know if it could be related to her having a nest. Has not done any drinking yet, as far as I have seen (no wet bill tip).

Last edited by Critterwoman; 5th April 2019 at 03:26 AM..
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 03:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bootface View Post
Can you post pictures? Feather loss can be caused by vitamin deficiency, vitamin A deficiency is common. Parasites, or being grabbed by a predator are more common in adult birds though.
Hi, yeah, thanks, was going to post photos, was not able to yesterday.

Here are two photos of a dropping she left on my windowsill indoors after she came in and a photo of the feathers she dropped when I grabbed her off my window sill (in a grey plastic container). No pics of head yet. My feeling was that letting her rest was important. The bald spot on the head looks swollen to me.

Raptor attack (or perhaps by gull or crow). I had seen her a few days ago from a distance and did notice that she did not want to fly down to a usual spot, but wanted to stay between houses. May have been a coincidence, though. But see my other post; the male has a tiny spot too, like a bird bill grabbed some head feathers.

Sorry, pics show up as pretty large. Will resize them later.






Last edited by Critterwoman; 5th April 2019 at 03:29 AM..
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Ladygrey Ladygrey is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 05:59 AM
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If you can take a sample and have it tested at the vet , then you would know if you even need to medicate this pigeon.

You call it a she, how do you know it’s the hen? ... If your sure about that then I would give her calcium with d3. This time of year hens come from the darker winter and start laying eggs more frequently and get calcium depleted. The droppings being watery could just mean she drank a lot not long ago. Treat for the feather parasites. Doing these two things does not hurt to do even if she didn’t need them.

Medicating on a guess can be harmful as undermedicating. So I would use a vet to look at the fecal.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladygrey View Post
If you can take a sample and have it tested at the vet , then you would know if you even need to medicate this pigeon.

You call it a she, how do you know it’s the hen? ... If your sure about that then I would give her calcium with d3. This time of year hens come from the darker winter and start laying eggs more frequently and get calcium depleted. The droppings being watery could just mean she drank a lot not long ago. Treat for the feather parasites. Doing these two things does not hurt to do even if she didn’t need them.

Medicating on a guess can be harmful as undermedicating. So I would use a vet to look at the fecal.
Hi Lady,

I've known her for a long time. Her first mate picked my home for a nest once; that's how I became friendly with them. Had to show them that my kitchen window was not always open. I'd found him looking down on me one day, from the microgreens tray. Indoors! When they started coming over with twigs, I realized what was going on. That first mate later stopped by with babies on my window sill, but later got killed and she eventually teamed up with another bird who'd been on his own for a while.

I totally agree re the medicating on a guess, totally; it is usually what I say too. I have been very conflicted about this and must admit that I was wrong to do this.

I know that water consumption can make the droppings watery. I've seen it after birds bathing, but this does not strike me as such unless she consumed a crazy whopping amount. We did have downpours in the past two days.

Sadly, can't afford a vet at the moment, but I agree. A quick look at droppings under the microscope can tell you a lot. There used to be a local vet whose dad had pigeons; last time I checked he was only doing night shifts and I could not get hold of him and was told they no longer do avian species. I may try again and ask if he could do me a favour. He's still listed as working here and doing night shifts. There are no other local avian vets either, but last time I looked, I found one not too far from here. I used to have to travel far.

She is eating, though not much.

Here are pics. She looks better (shinier) than the limited light in these pics makes it look like. I am keeping her under cover and she is in a corner of the room. I can't get her bad eye well because she uses the good eye. No discharge. Can't get a pic of the top of her head yet either.

The D3/calcium angle could be spot on, too. Thanks.

There could be all sorts of things... But the feather loss when I took her and put her in the cage seems to hint toward a trauma response, I gather from reading here and there, and that then might make it more likely that that's also why she has the bald patch.

(It looks like she had a lot of pin feathers on the top of her head, new ones growing out that were still in the shaft, and not enough preening by mate because they were too busy. Still can see a few. The white bits at the front is from droppings, looks more than it is.)








Last edited by Critterwoman; 6th April 2019 at 05:07 AM..
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Ladygrey Ladygrey is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 10:06 AM
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Sounds like you got it handled as best as you can. Not much else to do without a check on the droppings.

The back of the head is where pigeons get pecked by other pigeons. It’s called scalped. So another bossy bird or her new mate maybe picking on her, or mating ruff with her. I’ve seen cock bird grab the Feathers and skin hard on hens heads showing dominance. The skin is thin there so the feathers pluck out quite easily.


Hopefully the pair do not have babies somewhere.

Last edited by Ladygrey; 5th April 2019 at 10:09 AM..
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Friend John Friend John is offline
Posted 5th April 2019, 10:25 AM
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I feed a feral flock and they peck each other on the back of the head quite a lot. They usually do so when fighting for food, when one pigeon is eating and another pigeon wants to chase it away and take over the food. They sometime peck and don't let go.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 6th April 2019, 05:05 AM
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Hi,

Thanks for all your help!

If it was her mate, then he would have been really really rough (read on). Her previous mate was very gentle; this one does have a different character. I've never seen him be rough, but that does not necessarily mean much. She did not respond when he dropped by, just stared at him. I did see him approach another bird too last week, strutting his stuff. Don't know if that resulted in mating. (I have seen her chased by another pigeon for over an hour once, when she was still with her previous mate. She was flying all over the place to lose him.)

These two both stand out, she a bit in terms of coloring, he a lot more.

I'd heard one or both of them on my windowsill in the morning, and could tell that something was different. I heard him coo there too, which he's never done before. After I took her in, he sat cooing on top of the roof a few times, too.

Anyway, she's given me a good look at the other side and the top of her head now and there had been bleeding after all. Something got her, and I don't think it was her mate.

The feathers on top of her head must have let go in response because the skin looks smooth on the rest of the head. Perhaps she used the rain to clean the lesions and that was why she got so much water in her. Pigeons can be really smart in terms of what helps them heal best.

I can't tell yet what exactly is going on with that eye that she keeps closed. It may be the eye lid that needs healing. As she was able to land on a narrow ledge, I am assuming that she still has enough vision.

There is no discharge or anything, anywhere.

She's moving around quite a bit now, jumping onto perches (she likes sitting on perches!), was eating better yesterday (fine, and all by herself) - today eating is not good yet, but her mate has not dropped by yet. Her droppings have returned to normal, indeed. She's been preening a bit too. I think that that initially hurt her head, as she stopped again, but this morning I saw her preen her tail again, without stopping.

To my amazement and gratefulness, it really helps that she's known me for several years. I am a friendly face to her and my presence clearly comforts her. She likes when I stand close to her and talk to her, and look at her. She even let me stroke her gently at some point. (Pigeons recognize individual human faces, yes; that's been tested.)

I am sticking with “support and rest”, and as I noticed that her mate was keeping an eye on gulls flying overhead when he stopped by, my money is indeed on another bird as the cause of her problem. I know that there are for example sparrowhawks locally. I have seen a raptor (I think a sparrowhawk) attack a pigeon once, 1 or 2 miles to the north, along the same road. Crows and gulls sometimes go after eggs or young birds, so who knows.

All the local stray cats have disappeared in the last year or so, along with all the local foxes, but a few weeks ago, a new cat started making the rounds. I've never seen her prowl, though, and she may not even be a stray. I've seen her only three times. So I am not going to worry about cat-based infections.

I have noticed in the past that the pigeons fly off when one particular local front door opens, so the kids there may have been pestering pigeons and I can't rule out that someone threw something at her and that she couldn't get away in time, but I find that unlikely, as pigeons have really good vision and can accelerate very rapidly, and such an object would have come from the side, not from above.

So far so good, indeed. If she ends up with a permanent problem, I'll simply adopt her.

If they had little ones, then I am not ruling out yet that he is doing what he can. They must be roosting and nest very close to my home, but I've never seen them.

Over and out for now. I'll update eventually, unless there is an unexpected development.
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Colombina Colombina is offline
Posted 6th April 2019, 06:59 AM
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Country: Italy
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Hi, you could make a cup of chamomile tea (without added sugar) or a mallow infusion and wash the eye (twice or three times a day) with one of them (of course, be careful to find the right temperature, not cold not hot, slightly warm), you could use an eye dropper. I cared about a dove who had a swollen and shut eye because of a concussion, I washed it with chamomile tea, I found it helpful.

A good product for washing eyes sold by pharmacies is this one:

https://www.cocooncenter.co.uk/bausc...5ml/20726.html

The pharmacist suggested it to me when I had a problem; when needed, I used it even for my birds (peck at the blind eye).

I'm glad to hear that her droppings have returned to normal. In any case, I would give her probiotics and also a complete vitamin supplement (vitamins + amino acids + trace elements).

If needed (I can't see the injury on her head from the photos but you talked about a bleeding), you can disinfect twice a day the wound with a disinfectant like Betadine (povidone iodine) and apply an antibiotic cream or a small amount of honey (it's a natural antibiotic and helps to heal the wounds).
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Ladygrey Ladygrey is offline
Posted 6th April 2019, 10:55 AM
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Wonderful plan with the chamomile, and honey. I like that. Often forget about natural remedy’s.

Then the human can make them a cuppa with some honey as a reward for the efforts. ❤️
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Colombina Colombina is offline
Posted 7th April 2019, 05:32 AM
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Thanks so much, Ladygrey, I'm really glad you appreciated it 😊.
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Critterwoman Critterwoman is offline
Posted 8th April 2019, 04:18 AM
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Hi, thanks!

Yeah, chamomile can work wonders. Thanks for reminding me!

She is a lot more mobile now. She is also starting to like me less and less, so she's doing better. Yesterday morning, she started using her injured eye again, first open at 25%, later at about 50. It's the eyelids that needed healing, I think; lower outer looked swollen, but is starting to look better now.

Yesterday morning, I also found neat little poop balls under her perch, so that is good, and she now often perches on one leg, does stretches and has been working her oil gland to heal her skin.

There does not seem to be an open lesion, that is, there is an area with dried blood, which means that any lesion would be under that, and covered/protected. I am going to leave that alone.

I'd also meanwhile discovered that she coos softly at her mate when I am not in the same room. Birds often think we humans grab them to make them our mate, lol; have seen it before.

Will see if I can post a better picture later.

Last edited by Critterwoman; 8th April 2019 at 04:20 AM..
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Colombina Colombina is offline
Posted 11th April 2019, 02:33 PM
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Thanks for the update, I'm glad to hear she is doing better 😊.

Please keep us updated!
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 11th April 2019, 05:09 PM
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Birds are more likely to think we are grabbing them to make them our lunch. To them we are predators.
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