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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A rescued an urban feral baby pigeon a while back. He had flown/fallen out of his nest, but was otherwise uninjured. He was too young to fly, but could eat seeds on his own. He turned out to have canker which I successfully treated with fish zole. I minimized human contact and exposed him to the local urban feral flock I planned to release him into on a daily basis, following the directions I read here in the forum.

I raised him in a 6-foot by 6-foot utility closet (at work, where I found him) which has a wire mesh window and vents to allow airflow and he has done quite well there. He has been spending most of his time eating and sleeping and watching other pigeons through the wire mesh and vents. This also allowed him to grow up being accustomed to the outside temperatures. I've brought other pigeons into his closet to feed them (there are a couple of birds who trust me and will do this.) When he was younger he would run up to them and beg to be fed. As he got older (over the last 3 weeks or so) he now chases the other birds out.

Based on everything I've read here, he's been old enough to be released for about a week, so I let him out today (Sunday.) He hung around by his utility closet for an hour or so and then flew up to a nearby telephone wire. I threw out food every once in a while and he came down and ate with the flock.

Despite all this, I think he's having problems adapting. He kept shivering and panting when he was around the other birds. I put out his water bowl and he drank from it once, but still seemed to constantly be panting. He hung out in the shade, like the other birds, and he's used to the temperature, so I don't think he was overheating or anything. After about five hours, he flew back to the utility closet door (which I'd left open) and he went back inside and perched in his normal spot. He immediately stopped panting, and seemed a lot calmer. I left the door open for a few hours, but he showed no interest in leaving again.

What do folks here think? Is he too domesticated, or does he just need more time outside in the urban "wild" to adapt?
 

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I think he will adapt. It also sounds like he may not have had the opportunity to build his muscles and become a confident flier. That's really critical in the wild. He is probably very frightened which is why he is shivering. If he stays with the flock, I think he will adjust soon. Just monitor him as best you can, being ready to intervene if he needs you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice Charis. It looked a bit dubious for a while, but turned out OK in the end. I let him out this morning and he came back after an hour or so and drank a bunch of water. He sat on his old perch for about an hour and ignored the open door, then he flew back out. He stayed withing 20 feet or so of the door for much of the day, and then just took off. I waited around through sunset and spotted him roosting with the flock on some phone wires (or to put it more accurately, jockeying for a position on the wire.) He ended up getting pushed off to the far end of the line of birds, but seemed fairly content to be there.
 

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That's good news. Thanks for letting us know.:)
 
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