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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I have been raising a baby pigeon I found on the street. I've had him for 3 weeks and I think he must have been 1-2 weeks when I found him. He has almost all of his feathers now - the ones under his wings are almost all in now. He can eat seed (he started doing this awhile back) but he is very fussy with it. Often he'll peck at it but it will just fall out of his beak - but I've seen him eat and swallow it too, so I know he can do it. He has been drinking water for awhile now too and he has just started flying (that is - he can fly up to the sink - he's in my bathroom. He doesn't fly around - the bathroom is kind of small.) The other day when I was running the tap he jumped in and literally sat under it, with the water rising up around him. (It was really cute. I guess he really wanted a bath!)

I have started bringing him outside into my yard for a few hours a day to get used to going outside. I put him in a cage - it's quite big, but only about 2 feet high so he can't practice flying. Anyhow, he hates that cage. He tries his best to get out, and I feel guilty! But I know I have to acclimatize him to going outdoors and also get him used to the area so he will come back to a guaranteed food source. My next plan is to put the cage out on the lawn area and put seed out to attract other pigeons, so he can observe them feeding around him. I also plan to eventually leave him outdoors at night so he gets used to that as well.

Here are my questions: (finally!) - 1) I have still been hand-feeding him - I tapered off from 3 feedings to 2/day, and in the last day it's gone down to about one. I have been feeding him water-softened dry kitten food from the start and he's chowed down very well on that! However, now it seems that he doesn't like me feeding him. He'll still come over and sort of get excited, but then he walks away after a few kibbles. I have been leaving seed out for him for about a week now, so maybe he's eating on his own, but when I come in to see him it doesn't seem like his crop is ever full. I know he needs to start eating on his own and I want to encourage that, but I'm worried he still needs extra nutrition and I want to give him every advantage and fatten him up as much as possible! Should I stop with the kibble altogether? He's still sort of interested, but I really don't think he likes me feeding him anymore.
2)how will I know his flying is strong enough for him to be released? He really only flies up to the sink and down again. I don't think there's enough room for him to really fly around and practice much. Will he still get strong enough in there regardless and if so, how long will it take and how will I know he's ready?
3)I know he should probably be socialized with other birds, but short of trying to find another juvenile who needs to be released, how can I do that? Is my plan to put his cage out where other pigeons feed a good one? What else can I do?
4) The temperature these days is in the high 60's. When should I start leaving him out at night? I don't want him to get cold - I want to make sure he can take it before I leave him out at night.
5)I go in and see him about twice a day, but I stay for about 30 minutes each time (feed him, clean the area, etc.) I don't think he is overly tame, although I do chat to him...I really want to maximize his chances for survival. Am I handling this okay?
6) How will he learn to forage once he's released? Will he later join the birds that feed around him if I put his cage out on the lawn as discussed above? If he is put out in the cage every day for a period of time, will he know to return in order to get food? I want him to know how to get food on his own, but to have me as a safety net...

I guess I'm paranoid - but I love the little guy and I'm so proud of how far he's come and how well he's done - I am determined that he will succeed! Any advice and comments on what I have been doing would be very appreciated! Thank you!
 

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yep,,sounds like how i got started.,,,if you take him outside and release him chances are good,,he will be gone to the happy hunting grounds,..if you can accomodate him with housing,water pigeon food,heat 60*,,he,ll be happy--you sound attatched,,but feed pigeon food,,from a farm supply store,pet store,etc...sincerely james waller--fully feathered and flying in 30 days/good luck
 

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You are a long way from letting this bird go, in fact he may not be a good candidate for release at all.
This will never have the benefit of being taught by parents where to find food, what to recognize as food and how to survive. If you really do want to release him, the best option would be to find a rehabber near you that has others birds to released so that he can spend time getting to know them and be released with them. The best release would be into a flock that is supported by human caregiver.
As for feeding him now...you can defrost peas and corn and hand feed as you did the kitten food. You should feed 40-50 pieces per feeding. Also, if you have a feed store near by, you can ask if they sell pigeon or dove mix. YOur bird might like that.
 

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Do you have other pigeons in your lawn?
If so, release chances are better if you can't take him to a rehabber.
He will have to first join a flock and then learn to forage. That's why it's important for him to have contact with other birds first. If you have a flock that comes for feeding to your lawn, chances increase. You will need to keep feeding him where you'd normally do and letting his cage outside even when he's released, for a while.
Where are you located? Maybe we have another member with another feral for release where you are. They can "team up" and chances increase.
What you have to know is that even if you do your best and release him, there is a big chance that he won't survive. Many pigeons don't survive, and you are giving him a second chance, but as if it's a chance to live free, there is always a big risk involved.
Are there many cats, hawks or cars where you live?

My pigeons started "refusing" me feeding them, but I did until I was sure they could eat on their own without trouble. It's a safe bet.

PS. I seriously need a synonym for "chance" in English. Anybody knows a new word to teach me?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi, Thank you for the responses. I am already feeding him special pigeon/dove feed that I got from the pet store. Today I put him out on the lawn in his outdoor cage and spread seed around it. The pigeons that hang out in my yard were a bit wary about coming down to eat it, but a few of them eventually did. I want him to get used to them and vice versa, and also for him to observe them chowing down. In any case, I figure it's good to get him out in the sun and fresh air, and I guess I'll just start bringing him out for longer periods each day. He still hates the cage, but I guess that's par for the course.
I worked with a rehabber before and released a few pigeons, but when I got them (from the rehabber) they were already juveniles. Still, I'm not worried about him being too bonded to me. I don't treat him in a pet-like way, except for talking to him when I feed him. I don't let him climb on me or try to stroke him or teach him anything un-pigeonlike (e.g holding out food for him to come to me.) I'm also only with him twice a day for about 1/2 hour. Once he has been released, I will continue to put food out every day, so if he knows this and is fully able to eat on his own he'll have that at least. My main concern is getting him to eat more on his own. Maybe he nibbles when I'm not there, but not enough. So I guess I'll continue hand-feeding him a bit - he really doesn't like it though! I think he wants to do his own thing, although he likes that puppy chow!
Even though the pigeons didn't come down much today, I think they will start to, and a lot of other birds did come down. I think it was good for him to see them too. There are some really big trees in the area, and when he finally gets released, I know he will be happy to be able to fly up there! A bird's gotta fly...I do not want to deprive him of that, so I'll play it by ear and work up to it I guess...I think he's a strong guy (how he fell out of his nest and landed without any injury is beyond me) so I think he's going to make it...any other pearls of wisdom will be much appreciated however!!! Thanks!
 

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I agree with Charis, the littele one has been fed by you, even if you did not traet him like a real mother, he considers you his mother, and you are not able to teach him to find food or water once released, like his parents do in nature. He will simply die from hunger. Not to mention that he is not afraid of his worst predator: humans.
He should be released with the help of an experienced rehabber.
Myriam (Lapalomatriste Pigeon Rescue Belgium)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I used to volunteer for a rehab group and even though I never raised a pigeon from baby to release, thus all the questions - I did have one as a baby (he went to the rehabber at a certain point) and I also had ones which I was given for a slow release. So I've done the beginning and I've done the end - just not the middle.
Telling me to keep the bird and that it will die if released is NOT helpful. The bird is going to be released. I have a houseful of pets now and I am NOT keeping a pet pigeon. Nor do I think it would be fair to the bird. It IS a wild bird and it needs to be free. If there is a good chance for it to survive - and I see no reason why there wouldn't be - it was done at the rehab group I used to deal with HUNDREDS of times - then it should be released. If I was a bird, I'd want to fly, and not in some woman's apartment or bathroom.
He's eating seed and drinking and practicing flying. I just want to keep him strong until he is able to sustain himself completely on seed. From reading and just common sense, it seems to me this is an intermediary stage and he will move past it. I am lucky to have a yard in the city so I can control his release. If he is slowly acclimated to being outside, in my yard, around another flock of pigeons, and recognizes the area as a food source to return to, I think he'll be okay. It's spring and the weather couldn't be better.
Not everybody is going to keep a pet pigeon and I think people should try their absolute best to return them to the wild. If the bird was injured in some other way, or had really been treated like a pet and was obviously attached and not a "normal" bird, that might be different. He's perfectly healthy, has always been very strong and active, and i don't see how his care so far could entirely wipe out all of his instincts.
I would still welcome any practical advice on facilitating the transition, but please don't tell me he can't be released and will die. If that's the case, no pigeons could ever be raised from babies and released successfully, and I know for a fact that they have.
 

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I don't know where you live but I think you are doing very well especially drawing other pigeons and birds to your area for him to see and get use to the environment and the only thing I am concerned about when you leave him overnight when it gets warmer is predators (skunks,raccoons,snakes, weasels, and things of that nature)--don't know about the cage you have him in for security and how wide are the bars and how it is opened because raccoons are really smart creatures---rare I admit--they like eggs but you never know. When I release my birds pigeons and sparrows and morning doves and one robin--this is how I did it--I have a bird room and in time I let them exercise by flying and at times I make them fly just to stretch them a bit to strengthen their wings and in time you will know when they are strong enough for high flight and I take them out every nice day and scattered seeds on the picnic table and this draws the birds to the cage and they eat through the bars to get the guest birds food and I do this as I really exercise him in the house every day--really a exercise program here--making him fly harder each day but not dangerous flying and knocking into things and pretty soon he will have his route the same each day--like flying from table to table or cabinet to another area whatever it possible for him and one day I open up the cage and leave him check out the picnic table and eat some of the scattered seed and I put water down as well and off he goes---this is the most dangerous point---and the tear for you--knowing that he is now free and there is nothing that you can do is to continue for about a week to put seed on that table and the minute you see him with friends make that seed real scarce not so much and gradually end the feeding and cry and know he is free and if he comes back to the picnic table raise your hands and chase him away unless of course he looks bad or something but thats what I do not that it is the proper way but it works for me. Sometimes these birds come back and they come back sick and starving and they can't fly and you can catch them in the yard very easy by trapping them somehow or putting the cage out to get them to build them up once again---this rarely happens but it is a real possibility and you need to do this thing your way---but exercise---is prime objective here to get them totally ready to fly to the highest roof--not just the fence but the roof. If you take a spoon of seed and get your birdie and open its mouth up gently and throw some seed into it--small seed and peas--1/2 teaspoon at a time- and after that play with the seed at the table with the spoon--fill it up--drop it down on a towel in front of the bird and pretty soon he will begin to peck at the seed on the spoon or on the table and real quick he will be eating on his own. I stick mostly with food that they will eat naturally if they have a choice a good seed mixture and maybe some romaine lettuce , some pieces of bread and maybe an apple cut up or even a hardboiled egg and wild bird seed and things of that nature and all I can say is it is possible and good luck and sometimes it doesn.t work out like you want it--but your gave the bird a real chance and you have to do this thing your way and be ready with a tear in your eye as you say goodbye....c.hert
 

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elletea: One more thing I forgot to put in after the initial adjustment of him or her seeing the birds on the table eating seed one day when there are a whole bunch of birds at the table you go out with a broom or something and scare them---make them fly as a flock to safety and in this it is a lesson--when the flock flys he flies too--and start to do this when you have a good moment with a lot of birds--pretend you are angry and they are eating your newly planted grass seed and scare them off with a big flutter and shout some and go back inside and it might scare him somewhat too but the main thing here is for him to see that flock fly from danger.....I hope all of this works out for you and its very hard because we all get so very attached to our wonderful pigeons..c.hert
 
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