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Found pigeon - not flying, not sure what's wrong!

2123 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ceren
Hi there, this is my first post here.

I've been keeping birds all of my life - I had a white pigeon for a few years - most of my birds are parrots (budgies etc). However, I'm no expert - especially when it comes to pigeons!

I just caught a pigeon in my front yard this afternoon. It was sitting in the gutter next to the garage. I happened to have some towels with me at the time (coincidentally - I'd gone out to mop up the water in my old car after the rain!), so I threw a towel over it and took it inside. It's in a very small cage at the moment, so only a temporary solution.

It's just your garden variety grey feral pigeon. There are a lot of them in my neighbourhood, especially since I live next door to a retirement village and one women insists upon feeding bread to the birds several times a day (that's another problem in itself!).

The pigeon can't fly. It can flap its wings, but can't get more than 10cm off the ground. It can stand and run around, but when I put it on a branch it just fell off onto the ground again. Nothing appears to be broken - its wings seem fine. I thought maybe it had a broken leg at first, but on second thought, I don't think so.

Aside from a horrible case of lice (or some kind of long, narrow bug), its feathers are pretty good. It isn't fluffing itself up or closing its eyes or shaking anything. I haven't checked its throat as I'm not sure how to go about this, having never done it before. Its breathing seems fine, and when I gave it some seed, it started eating straight away. The droppings are a bit runnier than they should be, though - mostly clear liquid.

A bird crashed into a window upstairs - with considerable force - earlier this morning, so I'm thinking that this is most likely the bird in question (I didn't see it at the time). Could the problem be concussion?

Sorry for the long rant! I'm not sure what to do with it, because I'm not sure what's wrong. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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(Sorry, I don't know how to edit my post!)
Just wanted to add that the pigeon seems a little skinny.
Snuffy - Do the lice/mites look like these things?

I found them on my feral too.

More experienced people will chime in. you might be able to check the pigeon's keelbone to make sure that's not broken, and see whether it's sticking out significantly to confirm that it's underweight.

Good that it's eating - if it's crashed into a window and smacked itself up good, it'll probably either be fine in a few days, or die of internal bleeding. Not much you can do till then other than keep it comfy, fed, and watered, I think.

To check down it's throat, wrap it up in a towel again like a burrito and gently pry the beak open - they don't have anywhere near the beak strength you'd find in a parrot, for example.
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Thanks Ceren!

Yeah, the lice look a lot like those. Kind of clear in colour. I actually mistook them for new feathers at first (they look so similar to the spikey bits when my cockatiel is moulting each year) - and then I realised they were moving!

The keelbone does stick out, so I think it is at least a little underweight. I'm wondering if maybe it's malnourished from the appalling diet of white bread supplied by the woman next door. Otherwise, I'm concerned maybe it has a disease.

Thanks for the tip on checking down its throat. I'll give this a try tomorrow during the day. The pigeon is very gentle so I'm not concerned about it hurting me - more the other way around, since I'm inexperienced, heheh!
as for those mites, I hade huge success with a 'standard mites and lice spray for birds' - containing pyrethrins from the petstore. it was a much bigger bottle than I needed to buy, since I only had to treat the feral for a couple of days before the mites had disappeared - but you might want to spray down your other birds and their cages for a couple days just to be safe, too. :)

Someone else will have to give their opinion of what watery droppings may indicate.

It won't take much effort at all to open the beak and look, but the pigeon might try to wiggle his head away - so, burrito!

I'm still not sure what any of this could have to do with it possibly being the window-collider, if it was.
I think I have some lice spray from a while ago, so if pigeon is still with me in a few days but not flying, I might treat it (I don't want to do anything to upset it at this stage, plus there's not a lot of point if it's going straight back into the wild). I dare say it'll be a lot easier to spray than my poor cockatiel is (and luckily for him, the aviary is nowhere near the pigeon, and the rest of the pigeons don't even visit my backyard)! :)

I really like the burrito concept. I wrapped it up like this when I found it, and from now on, I'm going to refer to that method as the burrito. :D

We're not 100% sure that this is the bird that crashed into the window, but it seems likely. I agree that it doesn't necessarily fit with symptoms like watery droppings, though, which is one of the things that worries me a little.
Hi Snuffy,

Over the years I have found quite a few juvenile pigeons that were unable to fly, probably because they were weakend by lack of food as they were unable to compete with adults. I wondered if this might be the problem with your rescue as he is also very gentle.

Does he squeak at all? Is his cere pink and fleshy looking?

Hi Cynthia,

it doesn't have the cere of a juvenile bird, although it is a smaller - and thinner - pigeon than the last one I rescued (although I have a feeling the previous one was a large male whereas this one I'm thinking is probably female).

It hasn't made a sound at all since I found it. I found it in the afternoon and it's now night here (Australia) so I haven't had a great opportunity to observe it so far.

*Edit* It also has yellow irises, so I think that also indicates that it's an adult. But it is a very gentle little creature indeed!
If this bird hasn't eaten anything, please make sure to hand feed and make sure it drinks, often they won't eat anymore, if they are rundown and near starvation..... unless it is a juvenile, and just hasn't learned to forage on its own.

Follow this link FIRST, HEAT, HYDRATION then food:

Cynthia, I think you were right about the pigeon being a young one after all! When I replied to your post, it was night time and I was going on what I remembered - but the next day I checked and its cere is not as white as most adult pigeons - so probably still reasonably young after all! Lack of food sounds likely too, given that he/she is a little thin.

So, an update on my little pigeon... it's still eating well - and loving the seed that I've given it! Droppings look normal now. It's also more lively, seems healthy in general (just a little thin) and although it can't fly properly, it is improving. I'm taking it out into the front yard each day to see if it's ready to fly away. I'm confident that soon it'll fly away and rejoin its pigeon friends.
Hi, Snuffy!

I've been having the same problem with a feral I picked up, and I'm delighted to say the story had a very happy ending!
I'm leaving you the link to the thread, because all the advice I was given may be helpful to you:
Thanks Teresa - that thread is very helpful! Your pigeon's story sounds so similar to mine! :)

I'll have a good look at her again tomorrow since there are a few things in that thread that I hadn't considered.

(I've named her Ermintrude - though really I have no idea whether she's really a 'she'! Still, she didn't object when I asked if I could call her Ermintrude... :p )
Snuffy, sounds good so far! Putting some mass on the pigeon before release will probably be good for it - you probably don't have to try a release in the front yard every day.

The pigeon will possibly indicate it's feeling much better when it DOES start to object to everything, ornate name included, with a grumble and a wingslap. ;)
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