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Need advice for release of pigeon in Jersey City, New Jersey

1057 Views 11 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Charis
In late August, 2008, my mother rescued a very small pigeon who she found on the sidewalk outside her 3-story apartment building in Jersey City, NJ. We did attempt to release him a few weeks later after he was eating and drinking again, and seemed much stronger. However, at that time, he still wasn't really able to fly particularly well and ran into the street in pursuit of a couple of other pigeons who flew away. Horrified, we brought him back indoors immediately.

By the time he was able to demonstrate any real flying ability, the temperature outside was significantly colder. Many months of cold weather have now passed, and we finally expect to have consistently warmer weather within a few weeks. We need to know what we can do to prepare our pigeon for his release into the urban jungle. We are certain that his family lives right outside my Mom's window, on the ledges of her building and therefore we would not want to release him in a park across town. Is there a rehabilitator in Hudson County, NJ who can offer some help or give us advice?
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I'm guessing that your bird is strong enough to fly and manage to eat on its own...You can release him/her to where your mom found the bird and maybe he/she can fly with the rest of its flock...There's a guy who fly pigeon by Newark Av close to Philippine Bread House but I'm not sure if he is available to take the bird...
Please keep in mind that although your bird may be able to fly well on it's own now, it still doesn't have the skills necessary to survive on it's own in the wild.
Pigeon parents teach their young what to eat and where to find it and so you need to do what we call a soft release.
Does your mother feed the pigeon family outside?
I'll go fing the link and post it for you to read.
Pegasus and Charis, Thanks for your replies, and thank you for the link. I actually did read that post prior to initiating this thread. It made me even more concerned that our pigeon might need some sort of rehabilitation, in the company of other pigeons. Unfortunately, most of the city folks who kept pigeon coops on rooftops are not really around anymore, and the few who are still around, seem to be very particular about the types of pigeons they will keep.

The pigeons who live outside my Mom's building do come to the window if she puts food and water out, but she wasn't sure if it was such a good idea to start doing that, so she doesn't do it anymore. The pigeons outside do not really seem to take any interest in our pigeon at all - they were only interested in the food and water. On the other hand, our pigeon goes absolutely wild at the very site of them, even when he spots them flying in circles in the sky above.

We've been trying to come up with ideas to teach him how to get along on his own. My mom puts seeds on the floor in various parts of the apartment, hoping that this will teach him how to spot food from above (he likes the windowsills and tops of cabinets) and also to eat it off the floor. I don't know if this method has helped him at all. My biggest concern, however, is that he may not recognize a dangerous situation and he may not flee when necessary. There are cats roaming around outside all the time, and even some relatively large predatory birds can be spotted once in a while these days. Also, those awful people with nets have been seen in certain parts of the city. Our pigeon's own behavior also concerns me and I'm afraid he may think it's OK to swoop down and land on any person who happens to be walking around outside. People in general are not usually very nice to pigeons as everyone here probably knows.

Since I don't know a whole lot about pigeon behavior, I also want to mention that he has become very aggressive in the past month. He was extremely attached to my Mom in the beginning - he followed her wherever she went in the apartment, night and day. But whenever I visited, he would fly onto my lap or shoulder or head, for the sole purpose of pecking at me - and it can hurt! Now, he is much more aggressive with me than before. He does not follow my Mom around anymore and has even started pecking at her a little bit. Also, he has a large wire cage, but for the hours that he is allowed outside of the cage, he seems to have made himself a spot on top of a china cabinet. He's even been collecting dried twigs and leaves from my Mom's houseplants up there. I think he may be desperate for a mate at this point, but I don't really know if this explains the behavioral changes.

I'm sorry for this long post, but we love our pigeon and do not want any harm to come to him. We just don't know what we can do next to try to help him. We feel that it's cruel to keep him indoors with us when we can see how much he seems to want to join his family outside. Of course he does. So should we encourage the pigeons outside to come to our window, by putting food and water out there for them? I thought we could try the soft release method of putting the food out, and then scaring the pigeons away a few times a day for a few weeks. The main problem is that we would have to do this on a fire escape here, because the sidewalks are way too busy with people.
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Your Pigeon is displaying teenage behavior...changing hormones and you are right...he/she is ready to find a mate.
How are his/her feathers? Has the bird had the opportunity to bathe?
Yes, he actually loves to bathe. He bathes every couple of days. When my Mom found him, he was very scrawny, and mostly black, and his feathers were just a mess. From a distance, it sort of looked like he was wet all the time. But now, he is much larger and his feathers have changed completely - the colors and the texture of the feathers are much different. To me, he just seems very proud and elegant in appearance. I've read about pigeons developing a powder after bathing... is this some type of dander? He sheds this white powdery stuff all the time - it's the bane of my mother's existence lately.
Yes the powder is very good. It keeps the feathers water proof and may offer a minimal amount of distraction to any predator that would grab a pigeon in it's mouth.

Regarding letting the bird go...it would be best to wait until you are sure the outside temperature won't drop below 45 degrees at night. The best way to release this one I believe is from your mom's apartment. Perhaps you could leave the window open enough for the bird to come and go, with food just inside the window so that if he/she needs food he/she will know where to find it. Also, if the bird gets sick, scared, he/she will know where to come for help.
Ok, then it's still too soon because it does get pretty cold outside overnight. My Mom wants me to find out if there is any sort of marker we can put on our pigeon, but I'm afraid a band will get snagged on something. I read on another thread that we can try using a non-toxic fabric paint on her toes, so I guess I'll look for that at a craft store.

Thank you so much for all your help! I will update the thread when we are ready to attempt a release. We don't even know if our pigeon is a male or female, and my Mom refuses to investigate this matter. However, our pigeon is named Mili because in our language (Hindi), that word means "Found". But it's sort of a girls name so I don't know if that was such a good choice. Anyway, Thank You again!
Thank you so much for your kindness to and care of this pigeon. Even though she is not particularly near you, you might want to contact Gretchen to see if she knows of anyone in your area to assist. Scroll down to the NJ listings here, and you'll find Gretchen: http://www.pigeon-life.net/prd.htm

Thank you Terry. I will definitely give Gretchen a call.
That's a beautiful name. If you should decide to keep her, she will calm down...just like teenagers eventually do. It doesn't take as long with pigeons,thankfully.
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