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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 15th October 2019, 12:43 PM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8

Need advice on caring for injured pigeon please


Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum, hope I posted my thread correctly and that I can get some advice

We found a pigeon on the side of the road today, he was just sitting there and I could catch him easily...he appears to either have something with his wings and or feet. He walks funnily...like he is limping...from side to side...if you look where (in humans) shoulder blades are, they move up and down. He can spread his wings and move them fast, but can't fly.

This is my third pigeon that I took in, I have contacted someone who rescues and keeps disabled birds and was advised that he is probably juvenile pigeon and I need to feed him, as he may not be able to eat himself. Not just seeds, but directly in his mouth. I have left him some seeds and water with a little sugar and salt in his enclosure, but not sure if he was eating yet (actually, I'm looking at the CCTV inside our garage now and he appears to eat the seeds).

The thought that he is a juvenile pigeon came to us because he is all one colour grey-brown...with kind of blue-green eyes and beak same colour as his feathers. I haven't seen a pigeon like this before, maybe because I have never seen a juvenile pigeon.

I fed him through syringe as well with some oats with water as well as critical care formula that I normally use for my bunnies. He ate and after the feeding seemed to be less afraid of me. Even jumped on my hand from floor and got cosy on it

Also I forgot to mention, his tail feathers seem to be kind of drooping to the floor.

Is there anything else I should be doing? Is he better in a quiet garage or inside warm house (mostly quiet as well)...he was inside the house already and doesn't seem to be scared. He was VERY scared when I originally rescued him, but after hand feeding this got a bit better. So I'm hoping he has a chance, just not sure about his wings/feet. Every wildlife hospital/sanctuary that I know of seem to have very unclear policies on pigeons and are pretty much 100% likely to put them to sleep if they are disabled like this, which I don't think is rights. Any advice would be hugely appreciated. I'm more than happy to look after him until he gets better.

Thank you!
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 15th October 2019, 12:46 PM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
Also here is a picture of this beautiful baby if that helps

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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 16th October 2019, 05:32 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
Couldn't view the photo. What does his droppings look like? If he is eating seeds, it will be brown, round and firm with a white dot on top. If not eating, it will be green/creamish. At that age, best to force feed him will be defrosted peas.

It's possible he was just weak from hunger when you found him.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 16th October 2019, 07:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
Thanks so much for your response! Actually, I don't think he was eating seeds...maybe just trying them out. It's difficult to judge through that camera video. He is inside of the house today, so that I can feed him. I tried several methods including syringe and filling small spice jar with seeds and having cloth with hole on top. Unfortunately he would't eat that way. I managed to get some bread in water paste/oats in water paste into him by opening his beak with my fingers. The little guy struggles a lot though, he doesn't want me to open his mouth at all. I hope I'm not hurting him. He doesn't drink by himself either.
I'm going to follow your advice regarding defrosted peas. How much does he need a day? I'm attaching few photos once again and a photo of his droppings (they are very watery). Hope the photos can be viewed now.



Last edited by gaiab; 16th October 2019 at 07:24 AM..
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 16th October 2019, 09:23 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
He is still a youngster. You can feed him between 30 and 35 peas 3 times daily, total of 90-105. Peas have a lot of moisture, so he don't really need water for now. But you can teach him by gently dipping the tip of his beak (not over the nostrils) in a small bowl of water.

To feed the peas: Defrost some in lukewarm water till soft. Put him on your lap (facing to the right if you are righthanded). Reach with your lefthand over his body and head and open the beak with those fingers. Have a pea ready in your righthand and put deep inside the beak over the tongue. If he spits it out, you are not putting it in deep enough. Give him time to swallow and proceed with the next one. Sounds complicated, but gets easier with practise.

Always leave a small bowl of peas with him, they quickly learn to eat peas by themselves. Don't feed him bread and don't syringe food into his beak. The above method works best.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 16th October 2019, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2019
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Great! Thank you, Marina.
Strangely his droppings vary throughout the day. Is the below look ok for now? I will start feeding peas this evening once I get hold of them, so hopefully that would help.
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 16th October 2019, 11:29 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
Looks as if he is able to eat seeds, if you look at the droppings. Check next time you fill the bowl with a variety of seeds if some of them keep on disappearing. They usually start eating the small round seeds first, and then later on move on to the other types. If he is eating seeds, then he will need to start drinking water.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
Thought I would post an update. Our pigeon really liked the peas and started eating them on his own after about half a day or so. I'm not sure if he's keen on seeds...I think he picks up the big round ones like dry peas etc, but doesn't really like the rest.
The problem is defrosted peas give him diarrhoea...his droppings are just all over the place, it's not pretty.

Yesterday, when we returned home we found our bathroom (where he was currently in), absolutely trashed...he started flying so trashed the place

Hence why he had to go back into puppy crate for the day and night.

So we thought he is eating by himself pretty much, he can fly and looks like a very healthy pigeon now.

So we decided to take him to our garden to see if he can be released, he was VERY keen and flew off my hands right away, BUT only to the nearest tree. We spend ages with him there in the pouring rain (it started suddenly) and he looked rather nervous and wouldn't fly anywhere, only from branch to branch rather low to the ground. I was worried about cats in our garden, so had to take the ladder and get him off the tree, he was half happy to go back to my hands. So looks like he is ready to go, but not quite. At home he was very active and was flying and landing on my head (!) haha while I was cleaning the mess in his puppy crate.

He still looks like a youngster...

So two main questions are:

- Do we keep him with us for a bit longer until he's fully grown and looks like a wood pigeon?
How many days/weeks is good?
- What do we feed him? Defrosted peas were good to start with, but his dropping are like water with them, and he's covered in it.

Thank you for your help in advance! This forum was amazing in helping me figure out what to do.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
I forgot to mention problem with lice/mites...he had lots of crawling creatures on his feathers, so I have treated him with a spray for birds. Same day I saw lots of dead mites lying everywhere near him. I have repeated twice as it was pretty bad (even though it says once a week on the bottle), hope it's ok, he seems fine.

But now I see some sort of small insects in other places, especially on the boxes where I keep straw and hay. I can't tell if it's same insect that was on his feathers? But I'm scared, as I have my pet bunnies that are my world and one of them already had big problems with mites. She has some sort of lower immune system and other issues, so it's hard to get rid of them completely.

Is this just a coincidence and these are different type of insects (on the pigeon and on the hay boxes). and if they are the same, can they transfer to people and other animals? I feel a bit lost.
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 10:38 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
My heart just skipped a beat when I read the part that you released him. You can be so glad you got hold of him again. He is much too young to be released. In nature he would only have fledged now and still be following his parents around for the next couple of weeks.

He must be able to eat all kinds of seeds before releasing. Mix some small seeds of all shapes and sizes into the peas, he will start eating them eventually and then you can add less peas. Have you taught him how to drink? Dip the tip of his beak (not over the nostrils) in a small bowl of water. You can also put down a large bowl and play with the water by using your fingers. He might even take a bath.

He will also need to spend time outside to get familiar with the area. He will need a backup food supply as he won't know where to find food. He might even be too tame to release. How about building him a small aviary outside? You will need to keep him for at least another month. He must be old enough to defend himself against the other adult pigeons. So what you are doing now is actually the easy part.

Those insects must be pigeon flies. Try to get something at your local petshop to treat him with. As long as he is seperate from your other animals, it won't be a problem. Just always wash your hands after you have handled him.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 01:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
Oh really, I only released him as he really doesn't like being in the puppy crate and constantly wants to fly. He just flaps his wings all day and wants to be free in the house, which is now not an option as he just trashes everything + I have rabbits in every room of the house. I have been advised by a bird rescue that it is fine to release him in a couple of days after he starts to fly.

The tricky thing is, aviary is out of question for us, but taking him out even in a low rabbit enclosure to exercise is a challenge, he is so strong and just doesn't want to stay on my hands when in the garden, so there is a very high possibility that he escapes and I won't be able to catch him, which won't be good. We have cats visiting our garden every hour pretty much and used to have foxes too.

I have already started the treatment against flies, so just hope that wasn't them around the house as if they decide to move on to the rabbits I just won't be able to keep him, as our bills for mite control on the rabbits very very high this year with consistent injections and vet visits.

I will keep filling him up with seeds and providing him warm place to stay, but I wish I could explain better how active he is. I had another pigeon back in August, he never flew again unfortunately, was quite tame and just sat in one spot. He is with a lovely lady now, who provides home for disabled birds for the rest of their lives. After two months, he still sits in one place and doesn't want to interact with other pigeons. Totally healthy and alert.

I wish I knew exactly when is a good time to release him, as I was advised that he is good to be released now and we were SO lucky to be able to get hold of him, if he went on a different tree or to neighbours garden, we would not be able to catch him.

He just flies off my hand and I have no idea if it's for good or he is just exercising.

When you say he may be too tame to be released, does that mean that he would need to stay with us or someone else for the rest of his life?

Apologies for so many questions, but with previous pigeons that I had, he either went to forever home for disabled birds or once when the pigeon was ready, he just flew on his own after about a week. With this baby it's seem a bit different.

I always feed birds and pigeons in my garden, so the food is there, but unfortunately I can't control where he decides to fly when we release him. It could be somewhere else. I wish he could just hang around in our garden, so that I can provide food if needed.

I got hold of some sunflower seeds, he seems to be interested in them in small amounts.

P.S. as for drinking, I'm trying every day, but I haven't seen him drink yet. Since he needs to be in a crate, there is no room for a bath unfortunately. So we are working with what we have here.
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 10:12 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
He will starve if you release him now. The food might be there, but if he can't eat properly and getting chased off by older pigeons. Can't the bird rescue take him? Can't believe they gave you that advice. He needs to be with other pigeons and gets released in a flock. Or what about the lady that took in the other pigeon? She must have an aviary and she can do a soft release from there. Meaning, she will provide food for him after releasing. There's also a lot of facebook groups where you can post and hopefully someone can take him in.
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 18th October 2019, 10:14 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
Keep him in the rabbit enclosure for now, if it is easier. As long as he has space to move around and flaps his wings, he will be ok in there.
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gaiab gaiab is offline
Posted 19th October 2019, 02:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 8
There probably is someone out there, but previously when I was checking out the rescues or wild animal hospital, I couldn't get a clear answer that they definitely don't put pigeons to sleep if they can't be released. I imagine people bring several pigeons a day to them, I doubt that they keep all that survive and don't fly, that would be hundreds by now.
I'm doing what I can for him with the time that I have. He was near the road not moving, no-one else seemed to be bothered by this fact, so we just took him in, hoping that he can get better. We are very busy, so at the moment don't have time to drive far away, but it's certainly a possibility later on if I find someone. The lady who took another pigeon is also a possibility if she would be willing to take him, however the aviary there is also very small and crowded with other disabled pigeons. I will see how he does in the rabbit run, hoping that he won't just escape off my hands.
He was found close to our house, so would be really nice if he can be released in the same area.
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Marina B Marina B is offline
Posted 19th October 2019, 05:16 AM
Join Date: May 2011
Country: South Africa
Location: Lamberts Bay
Posts: 2,363
Just concentrate now on getting him to eat the seeds and drink water. If you see some seeds disappearing (they always start eating the small round ones first) then add more of those.

If you can't get him to a rescue centre soon, just try a soft release in your garden. Let him wander out on his own, don't scare him by cathing him and putting him outside. He will hang around and start eating with the other pigeons. But only do this if you are sure he is able to eat the seeds and drink water.

They usually are able to fly before eating by themselves, following the parents around. So being able to fly is not an indication of releasing him.

Let us know how is doing.
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