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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

A couple of days ago, my two hand-raised ferals escaped. I was certain that I'd lost them for good and was very worried about how they'd fare. At the end of the day, I found that one of them, the female, had returned. The following day, I was surprised to observe the other pigeon foraging for food with a local flock. He seemed to have made a seamless integration and flew away with the others when I approached him.

I am wondering whether I should release the remaining bird with the flock and her brother the next time they come around. She was always the friendlier of the two, but now she avoids me for the most part. The only exception is that she will roost on my shoulder in the evenings. Also, the fact that she flew back into my car makes me worry that she'll approach other people. She seems lonely all by herself, and it seems that she doesn't appreciate my company very much. I just want what's best for her.

What do you think is the correct/ethical course of action here?
Thanks in advance for your help.
 

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Here is what I would do. I would put her in a cage with food and water where the ferals come to eat. And keep it in a 15 minute session. Don't hadle her too much so she will not become attached to you any more then she already has. Then release when you feel the time is right.
Lucas
 

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She's pretty young, based on what you said about them being about 9 days old on March 15th. Personally, I'd give her a little more time and then try the soft release.
A few years ago, I had a similar situation. The male went and the little female came back every night wanting back inside. She never flew off with the flock but hung out on my roof all day until dark. Every night, I'd let her back inside. She wasn't particularly friendly toward me either. Finally, after several tries, I let her stay. The difference between my situation and yours though, is that I have other pigeons.
While you have her in your care, do give her a mirror and she will remember her own kind. I'd give her another couple of weeks and try it again.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the anecdote and great advice. She was around 9 days old when she was found on March 2nd; I just found this forum a bit late :) Do pigeons ever get too old to be released? If on this next try she decides she doesn't want to leave, I don't have a problem with adopting a buddy for her.
 

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Here is what I would do. I would put her in a cage with food and water where the ferals come to eat. And keep it in a 15 minute session. Don't hadle her too much so she will not become attached to you any more then she already has. Then release when you feel the time is right.
Lucas
Exactly. IF she is at least 6 weeks old .....as Charis says, because younger than that and even a Feral-raised feral will have a really hard timeout there...what Lucas advises is exactly what you wanna do.

Bring her in a locked cage and feed the flock, and drop some in her cage too so she can also copy them...hopefully her sibling will be there so they will see each other. 15 minute session, once every few minutes clap your hands or make a quick movement with your arms to startle the flock so they 'jump'.

When you see your remaining baby doing this too...along with pecking at the food in her cage....for a few 'sessions'...then if you so desire you can go ahead and release to the Flock.

Your concern is very valid...IF she thinks it's OK to land on a person,or next to their plate, or anything like this....that can be a bad habit for a Feral....given how cruel and ignorant most people can be regarding Pigeons. So that is something to think about....
 

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Thanks for the anecdote and great advice. She was around 9 days old when she was found on March 2nd; I just found this forum a bit late :) Do pigeons ever get too old to be released? If on this next try she decides she doesn't want to leave, I don't have a problem with adopting a buddy for her.
Please, I really would NOT give her the option of jumping in with the Flock yet....I think that would be a big mistake. You really do need to do some acclimation sessions. This is a very abbreviated version of "Soft Release".
 

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Jaye is right, this should be a gradual process.

Actually it's pretty irrelevant if "on the next try she decides she doesn't want to leave" or on the contrary, she wants to leave.

If she leaves, after a while she will still want to come back inside, where it's warm and she has food and feels safe. The problem is she might not make it back this time.

On the other hand if she doesn't leave now, this doesn't mean she won't want to leave sometime later, especially if she is gradually integrated into a flock.

...

About not handling her too much... I know all specialists recommend to keep contact with a bird that is going to be released to a minimum, to keep them wild, but lately I've come to the conclusion that may not be so after all. Maybe only if you want her to leave at all costs and never come back.

I heard about people releasing very tame pigeons into a flock they were feeding, so they were able to check on them every day, after 2 weeks with the flock they had gone completely wild.

And I just had an opposite experience, some acquaintances gave me a 2 month old pigeon they had found about a month ago and raised in a box, keeping contact to a minimum. Even so, that pigeon immediately started to preen my fingers, then in a day or two started to fly to my shoulder and eat out of my hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi again everyone.

Today i tried a "feed and jump" session with her when the flock came by at around 4PM. When I set her down in the cage, all she did was pace back and forth at the door wanting out. I'm not sure if it's because she was just unaccustomed to being shut in a cage or if she wanted to be with the other pigeons.

I also got her a mirror and it seemed like she couldn't care less about it. I think that I will continue to keep her company until she is releasable, just to keep her from being in distress about being alone. It seems like the birds do wild up pretty fast from my limited experience. The male bird, when he comes by, will not tolerate being near me anymore, even though he allowed me to give him head scratches and cuddles just a week before.

Is there anything else I should be doing while she is with me? Both birds had a vet exam last week and I am scheduled to bring in a sample for a fecal... should i go through with this even though she will be released?
 

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Will she be ok at night by herself or should I allow her to sleep with me? She seems depressed when I pluck her off my shoulder and put her in the cage. She'll just stand there in the exact position I put her down, staring at me, and won't settle down or preen or anything like she usually would.
 

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OK, you can let her sleep in the room with you. I would tend to leave her in the cage, i your room, however...at night.
Again, as John says...don't take the "minimal handling" thing literally...I do not think whether you handle her or not will be a major determinant as to whether she begins to acclimate with Ferals. As a matter of fact, I sorta KNOW this.

You see....your first Soft Release Acclimation session illustrated exactly why you need to do quite a few of those sessions. In the first session she paced back and forth...but did NOT mimic the Flock when they were pecking/foraging...and did NOT 'spook' and jump when the flock did. So..she's NOT acclimated and would be a really poor candidate for release....NOW.

Do about 6 of those sessions...10-15 minutes each, you can skip one day here or there but not more than that. Feed teh flock, be sure some food lands inside her cage too. Startle the Flock, let 'em return...do it again...do it again.

I usually startle four or five times during a session. Hopefully, by session #5 she will start to jump at the bars of the cage WHEN the Flock startles.

People make the error in thinking that if they jump at the cage bars while the Flock is feeding, that it's Ok to release because "look, she really wants to go with them ! She'll be fine."

That's an unfortunate interpretation to be making, although quite a common one.

Keep it up.
 
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