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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Advice on how/when to release a rehabilitated bird

Hi everyone!

Four months ago, in November, I found a pigeon infected with paramyxovirus that couldn’t fly. We were lucky enough that he could feed on his own from the begining, but only on small seeds. He would pick up corn and sunflower seeds with his beak, then drop them.

All this time I have been keeping him in my small, enclosed balcony, where he has recovered pretty well. Now he flies as far as the cramped space allows him, is never twisting his neck and lately has been showing signs of distress that I think are deriving from his captivity situation.

We are emerging from a late winter here in Romania and weather wise it’s a perfect time to release him. Problem is, he still won’t eat big food items. He eats, and loves, sunflower seed kernels though. He also eats millet, wheat, some barley and buckwheat, sesame.

Do you think he is ready for release? What should I do to provide him with the best chances? Thank you!
 

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If it was truly PMV then he shouldn't be released. When stressed for whatever reason, the PMV symptoms will often come back on them. He would then be a target for predators. So if it was PMV then it wouldn't be safe for him to be released.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, Jay3.

He had symptoms such as twisting of the neck, circling, green watery droppings. He couldn’ fly but gradually recovered and now goes like an arrow. Overall, he seems very healthy, except that he won't eat big seeds.

I know that there are chances of recurrence but his accomodation is far from ideal, and I can’t offer him more at the moment. Inside the apartment is a cat with sharp predatory instincts. He seems unhappy and nervous and really wants out.

I don’t want to release him if it’s too risky, but keeping him in such a cramped place (he has only about 6.5 feet room for flying) wouldn’t affect him somehow?
 

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You need to do what you need to do. Finding someone who keeps pigeons would be better. It is what it is. If he gets stressed and the symptoms come back, he will not survive. That's if it was PMV. Maybe it was something else.
What did you do for him? What was he treated with?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I did what I found I need to do based on my research, since veterinarians with expertise on birds are scarce around here: offered him good, various food, fresh water and vitamins, and like a tenth of my house :).

He wasn’t in a very bad state to start with. I assumed it was PMV, but to be sure I’ll try to have him tested in a lab I’ve found out about before anything.

I’ve been trying to find someone with proper conditions to take him in. I’m still trying.
 

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Hi, if you can't adopt him, find him a good home is the best solution.
I don't know how it works in your country but both in Italy and France some vets help animals to find a home (I adopted three baby pigeons looking for a family - a blind one and two healthy ones - from my french vet): if you know a vet who does the same you could ask him if he can help you to find someone. You could also post a message in the adoption section of the forum.

One of my PMV pigeon has recovered well: he has a normal and really happy "pigeon's life" (he has a wife - they love each other so much :) - eats by himself, flies, works hard at his nest, etc) but he easily gets in panic and when that happens he starts to fly in a strange and "crazy" way. In addition sometimes, while he is landing after a flight, he hits his legs. He couldn't survive outside: he would be the perfect victim of a predator or he could be hit by a car, etc. So, if your pigeon has PMV, it's really important to find him a home.

I'm sure you did a great job with him :) You could also leave him always available (in a separate bowl from food) crumbled blocks for pigeons (you can see them in the pictures) containing insoluble grit (the small stones which go into the gizzard and help to grind up the seeds), crushed oyster shells (they dissolve in the digestive system giving the bird calcium), minerals (like iron, etc) and anise (it helps with digestion). If you can't find them, you could look for a different product like, just for example, this one:

https://www.viovet.co.uk/Versele_Laga_Colombine_Grit_Redstone_Pigeon_Supplement/c18652/

I really hope you can find him a wonderful and loving family.

Please keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Colombina, I would love to keep having him on the balcony, but I don’t think he is happy there. I’m looking for a proper home for him, but in my experience adoption of wild pigeons or stray animals for that matter takes a lot of time here, if ever happens, simply because we have too many.

I had had doubts about releasing him in the first place. I guess I was looking for something to ease my doubts. Now I know I need to try harder for a better solution.

Vets I know don’t usually treat birds, but I’ll start asking anyway if they know someone who would be interested in his adoption, thank you for the idea.

I didn’t get into details about his diet, but I do give him something similar to grit. I’ve learned a lot about pigeons lately, and I’m trying to do it by the book.:)

I’m glad your pigeon is doing well, I’m wishing all of you all the best. I hope mine will be soon just as happy. I think he wishes for a spouse too. He looks healthy, restless and his flying is really steady, at least within the limited space available. But I understand that things can be different outdoors.

For now, I’ll try to have him tested in a lab while stepping up my efforts to find him a new home. I’ll keep you updated.
 

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Colombina, I would love to keep having him on the balcony, but I don’t think he is happy there. I’m looking for a proper home for him, but in my experience adoption of wild pigeons or stray animals for that matter takes a lot of time here, if ever happens, simply because we have too many.

I had had doubts about releasing him in the first place. I guess I was looking for something to ease my doubts. Now I know I need to try harder for a better solution.

Vets I know don’t usually treat birds, but I’ll start asking anyway if they know someone who would be interested in his adoption, thank you for the idea.

I didn’t get into details about his diet, but I do give him something similar to grit. I’ve learned a lot about pigeons lately, and I’m trying to do it by the book.


I’m glad your pigeon is doing well, I’m wishing all of you all the best. I hope mine will be soon just as happy. I think he wishes for a spouse too. He looks healthy, restless and his flying is really steady, at least within the limited space available. But I understand that things can be different outdoors.

For now, I’ll try to have him tested in a lab while stepping up my efforts to find him a new home. I’ll keep you updated.

Don't worry Camelias, I understand that you just want to make him happy and offer him the best possible life (you are really doing a great job with him :) ) and I know that it's not easy to find a home for a pigeon or simply a vet to treat him.

Do you have any animal protection association or animal protection group in Romania? Maybe it's not a helpful idea (sorry but I really don't know how things work there) but if you have them there you could try to contact them. Maybe they have a volunteer or a member who can help you to find a good home.

Thanks so much for your wishes, you are really kind :) .I wish you too and all your family all the best. Of course, as I said in my previous post, I wish you to find a fantastic and loving family for your pigeon :) .

Good luck :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Msfreebird, there is not enough space even for him :) That is the problem. I’m keeping him in a small apartment balcony in a big city. I’m currently looking for someone with proper space and conditions to take him in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you for your warm words and wishes, Colombina! May they return to you like a boomerang :).

It is a helpful idea, and I’ve found an association I’m planning to contact on Monday morning. I’ve also started to spread the word. I’ve talked to some people, and I’m starting to feel optimistic. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also, I’ve been meaning to ask: most people who keep pigeons here in Romania keep them in lofts or something similar, and the birds are free to fly – do you think this will be a good fit for him? Will he stick around so he can be observed? Or do I need to find him a home where he is permenantly confined?
 

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There must be people there, as anywhere else, where people keep them and don't let them out to fly, but still have a loft with an aviary where they can get outside. More like pets. It's just finding them. Ask around. Maybe vets would know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So you think that if he is let free with other free pigeons that stick around a loft there’s a risk of him leaving?

„A loft with an aviary where they can get outside” – if this is the best for him, this is what I’ll be looking for.

Even though, for me, this is a sad life for a creature accustomed to wilde life. He was an adult when I found him, so he knows what he’s missing.

From what I know, people here raise them for races or meat, and pigeon pets are not a common thing – but, of course, there are many things yet to learn about this world.

I’m also trying to find vets specialized in treating birds – there are not so many, it seems.
 

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If they get spooked by a hawk and he flies away, or leaves to find his home flock, he could get lost and then become stressed. But he may be okay as well.
 

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Thanks Camelias!

Let us know what the association says, I'm keeping my fingers crossed :)

Personally I think that it could be dangerous let him out to fly: you know, a pigeon needs to be in his best condition to try to survive outdoor. From my balcony I saw pigeons chased by seagulls: just the ones who had good reflexes and excellent "flying skills" (maybe some luck too) survived, the other were eaten by seagulls... :( Then you have to consider the danger of traffic, etc.

Anyway, I think that now the most important thing is to find all the different options, then you will choose the best one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I see, Jay3. The best thing would be not to take the risk, I guess.

Colombina, this is sad, nature works by some twisted rules sometimes :(. As I said before, he seems healthy, with good instincts, like he's never had a problem. Or so it looks to me.

While I’m waiting for some answers – including from the association I mentioned – I’m trying to have him tested. Maybe they can still tell me if it was indeed PMV or at least offer a better assessment of his state of health – further decision to be made based on this.

These things seem to take time. I’ll get back to you as soon as I have more answers. Thank you all for guidance, it is very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi!

Sorry for the belated update, but I have good news :). I’ve found someone who keeps pigeons and was kind enough to take in one more. Pigeon’s new home is more spacious and suitable, and it’s located somewhere in a rural area. I was only able to take him there this weekend, hence the delay.

The person who has taken him has his own vet and we’ll be finally able to run tests to see what he had precisely.

If it turns out that it wasn’t PMV and he’s in good health, I think the fairest thing to do would be to set him free, as he still seems to yearn, and let him live the life he’s supposed to.

If something shows up that requires supervision, he has a nice house, where I can visit him, and plenty of company.
 

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Thanks for the update. Hope he does well.
 
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