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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Something weird happened last evening.

I went in to feed Willie, our rescued homing pigeon, and found him standing on one leg with the other held up limply behind him. Sometimes he sits like that, but this was different. He lives now in a big puppy-training cage, and when I went near the cage, he didn't flap and run to get away from me, as he usually does. Instead he hopped feebly on the one foot to try and get away.

I couldn't see anything wrong, but started setting up his smaller cage so that I could check him out and ready him for a trip to the vet if necessary.

For twenty minutes he stood like that, on one leg, and he was NOT himself - he acted as if he were in a trance. My husband came near to talk to him, and Willie didn't move away and grunt at him as he usually does; I cleaned out his big cage and he didn't fly away from me. He just stood staring. I thought he might be subdued because of pain from an injury, but my husband thought he seemed half-asleep.

Then, after twenty minutes of this, he suddenly gave a big stretch of the favored foot and that wing, put the foot down, and started prancing around in his perfectly normal, feisty way. He had a drink, ate some seed, and was fine. He has injured himself slightly before, trying to get out of his cage and fly; I thought this had happened again. But there's nothing wrong with him.

My husband wondered if I walked into the room and startled him from a REM state. But he was wide awake and staring and watching. And it would seem normal, if his leg was fine, for him to put it down and walk on it, instead of hopping on one foot to get away from my hands. But again, he seems fine now.

Has anyone seen this behavior before? I'm not sure, but he seems slightly calmer, after this incident; he doesn't get quite as ornery when I have to cage-clean...

Thanks,
Aggie
 

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Ya know...it just doesn't sound quite right. I would take him in for a check up asap.
Birds in the wild pretend to feel OK even when they aren't. Doing so is a natural defense against predators so they won't be singled out. You could have caught a glimpse of how your bird is really feeling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Charis;

(Sorry if two versions of this are posted; I messed up my first attempt to respond.)

I talked to my vet about it today, and he's never seen a case of 'sleep paralysis' in birds; but I really think that's what happened. I've experienced it myself several times in my life; and I am certain that I've witnessed it in my cats. Maybe it happens to birds, too.

Anyway, today Willie has been back to the usual Pigeon Self that he's been since we found him.

He even seems more interested in treats. I tried him on peanuts again, and he seemed to eat some; and I gave him thawed frozen peas - he picked those up, tasted them, and threw them around. That indicates to me that he's interested in GREEN things, if not in peas; so I'll be trying more greens.

Today I googled "taming a wild pigeon"; and I found the website of a lady who raises Diamond Doves, and has a lot of experience with other doves. She has a taming procedure, which I'm going to try this weekend. I think poor Willie is just dying to get out of his cage, and it's time now. (While Willie isn't exactly wild, he's obviously been a free-flyer, without much human handling. He needs to exercise, and I'll just sit in the room with him, while he explores :) )

Thanks to everyone who responded; I apologize for coming onto the board, starting a few threads, and then disappearing. We've had family visiting, and I haven't had much time for PT. I will keep you updated.

Best,
Aggie
 

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Sorry Aggie but I do disagree with you. It would be worth your while to take him in for a throat swab and fecal float.
 

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My birds sleep with one leg tucked inside them so they are standing with one foot sleeping. That is normal. They are trying to conserve heat that way. Once they start sleeping with both legs, then I get worried because when they get sick, they use both legs to balance themselves up to go to sleep. Obviously sleeping with both legs doesn't necessarily always mean they are sick. They can lie down to go to sleep, too. Your experience seems normal to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My birds sleep with one leg tucked inside them so they are standing with one foot sleeping. That is normal. They are trying to conserve heat that way. Once they start sleeping with both legs, then I get worried because when they get sick, they use both legs to balance themselves up to go to sleep. Obviously sleeping with both legs doesn't necessarily always mean they are sick. They can lie down to go to sleep, too. Your experience seems normal to me.
Thanks, folks.
It's been two days, now, and Willie hasn't repeated the behavior.

He often sleeps on one leg, or lying down completely. I was just worried about that 20 minutes during which he seemed to be "out of it". But it seems to have been a very short-lived issue. He was back to his old self immediately, and the past two days he's been normal - eating and drinking and pooping well, trying to get out of his cage, interested in treats (I'm finding new things that he likes) and damn curious about everything :)

I'm currently 'pigeon-proofing' his flying room, so that I can let him out to explore. I really believe that he can be 'tamed-up', as our friends across the pond put it. If he has any real problem at this point, it's just that he hates being in a cage all the time; so my priority is to give him some daily free time.

I work in an animal facility, surrounded by very supportive vets and vet-techs; that's how I came by Willie in the first place. They know everything that goes on with Willie and advise me daily; and he's only 10 minutes away from the best care in our region, if he should require it.

He seems to be a very hardy - and a very intelligent! - bird.

Thanks again for all of your help,

-Aggie
 
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