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Hi, please forgive any ignorance as I am very new to pigeons. I recently found a weak racing pigeon in my garden, and after taking care of it for a few days we managed to capture it and report its ring number. We then managed to get in touch with the owner after a week or so. The owner told me that the bird had been missing for around 5 years after a dog attacked his loft and the 150 or so birds in there. After some discussion it was decided that I could keep the bird. I know the owner said he'd given up racing after losing all his birds 5 years ago, but believe he plans to start up again. This bird is 6 years old, and since it may have been living wild for 5 years I guess he wouldn't settle well into a young training flock. We were keeping the bird in a large spare adapted rabbit hutch whilst waiting to hear from the owner, and now plan to sort out something more permanent, but I could use some advice on managing this bird. He has been in and out for exercise and baths and always returns eventually for food... however getting him into the hutch has up to now been more of a trapping effort, than his choice. How can I re-acclimatise this bird to loft-living after 5 years of sleeping anywhere he can find? And is it possible to retrain an old bird to return to a new home he wasn't born in?
I'm aware that he may never fully re-domesticate, and to be honest, I'm happy to continue to feed him and provide shelter for him as a semi-wild bird, but would love it if we could get him comfy and get him a hen, so any and all advice is thoroughly welcomed.
 

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Hi, please forgive any ignorance as I am very new to pigeons. I recently found a weak racing pigeon in my garden, and after taking care of it for a few days we managed to capture it and report its ring number. We then managed to get in touch with the owner after a week or so. The owner told me that the bird had been missing for around 5 years after a dog attacked his loft and the 150 or so birds in there. After some discussion it was decided that I could keep the bird. I know the owner said he'd given up racing after losing all his birds 5 years ago, but believe he plans to start up again. This bird is 6 years old, and since it may have been living wild for 5 years I guess he wouldn't settle well into a young training flock. We were keeping the bird in a large spare adapted rabbit hutch whilst waiting to hear from the owner, and now plan to sort out something more permanent, but I could use some advice on managing this bird. He has been in and out for exercise and baths and always returns eventually for food... however getting him into the hutch has up to now been more of a trapping effort, than his choice. How can I re-acclimatise this bird to loft-living after 5 years of sleeping anywhere he can find? And is it possible to retrain an old bird to return to a new home he wasn't born in?
I'm aware that he may never fully re-domesticate, and to be honest, I'm happy to continue to feed him and provide shelter for him as a semi-wild bird, but would love it if we could get him comfy and get him a hen, so any and all advice is thoroughly welcomed.
sounds like your doing good so far, the only thing I worry about with an open situation is birds of prey, If you do end up using him in your flock and breeing him he would have to be locked up anyway if he has eggs/squabs in the nest. It is not easy to rehome homers, but in this situation sounds like he has been without a home for a long time, so this may be different, if he has a mate and know he is being fed sounds like he would stick around, all you can do is try it, he is more of a feral now so Im not as worried for him as if he came right out of someones loft....trust your insticts and see what happens.:)
 

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Normally, we don't recommend trying to break an old bird to a new loft, but under the circumstances, this is a bit different.
Personally, what I would do is keep the bird in the loft for about a month or so. Get it a mate and let them lay eggs. However, I would replace the eggs with plastic ones in case this bird decides it doesn't want to stay. After 5 years, it's pretty obvious to me that the bird can more than take care of its self. After having been free for so long, it's hard to say whether it will actually stay or not. All you can do is try and then give it the choice. IMO, this isn't "just a lost racer"........it has been out in the world for a long time, and to take that away from it and lock it up, again, IMO, would be cruel. It would be the same as catching a feral and locking it up for the rest of it's life.
I'd just give it a try and see what happens. He may decide to stay if he can have a decent place to sleep AND have his freedom at times. If he doesn't stay, that's his choice and one that he made years ago, maybe not by choice, but it's what he's come to know and learned to deal with.
 

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I think it is safer just to keep that bird, breed it and fly the young. My reason has something to with its age. In the wild I think ferals usually don't survive 5 years. This bird is around that age. It may not have the energy or fitness it used to have to survive.

With respect to rehoming/resettling/breaking old birds, you can follow Renee's advice. Breed that bird for now. That is what I will do. Breed him and fly his children. You can also fly him after that, but I am worried about his age. I think it is safer if you keep him inside.

Is it possible to resettle/rehome him? Well, yes, because the bird don't have a home! Your place is now his home and the wild. I think having food available and shelter at your place is way better outside than the wild. The oldest bird I have rehomed was two years old. I was the third owner. So I can attest that is possible to rehome old birds. The problem is that they may or may not stay when released. But your bird may be different. It can't go "home", but only go to somewhere it came from.
 

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Hi, please forgive any ignorance as I am very new to pigeons. I recently found a weak racing pigeon in my garden, and after taking care of it for a few days we managed to capture it and report its ring number. We then managed to get in touch with the owner after a week or so. The owner told me that the bird had been missing for around 5 years after a dog attacked his loft and the 150 or so birds in there. After some discussion it was decided that I could keep the bird. I know the owner said he'd given up racing after losing all his birds 5 years ago, but believe he plans to start up again. This bird is 6 years old, and since it may have been living wild for 5 years I guess he wouldn't settle well into a young training flock. We were keeping the bird in a large spare adapted rabbit hutch whilst waiting to hear from the owner, and now plan to sort out something more permanent, but I could use some advice on managing this bird. He has been in and out for exercise and baths and always returns eventually for food... however getting him into the hutch has up to now been more of a trapping effort, than his choice. How can I re-acclimatise this bird to loft-living after 5 years of sleeping anywhere he can find? And is it possible to retrain an old bird to return to a new home he wasn't born in?
I'm aware that he may never fully re-domesticate, and to be honest, I'm happy to continue to feed him and provide shelter for him as a semi-wild bird, but would love it if we could get him comfy and get him a hen, so any and all advice is thoroughly welcomed.
I have had success re-homing many birds.
This Includes both my own birds from moving homes and stock birds I got from others.

I was only 12 back then.

I had 100 + birds, in that time i only lost 2 birds, but was probably due to hawks, our new home then had lots of hawks.

Thing is they need lots of time, took rougly 6 weeks to 2 months, some older birds took nearly 6 months before i was confident to let them out for a fly aftwr their flights grew back.

I Had to clip every birds Flights off and let them roam every day. Them them naturaly moult out their clipped flights and repeat if not confident yet.

Its not safe for the birds but i was there with them everyday watching them like a hawk for 2 -3 hours at a time. DAILY let them out every day for a few hours at a time.

Also the loft was on stilts so they can hide under the loft when they feel unsafe.
And the loft main doors should be open for them to go in and out whenever they like. Make sure they can get up with a caged ramp.

You can trap train them again later once they have re homed. Treat them like young birds again. But with alot more patience.

Let them bath, let them roam, and never scare them in any way, call them wirt good old food when time to come in, be very slow and gentle with them very very important, they need to become very tame around you, even sit with them and feed them out of you hand, let them walk on you, they have to feel very safe with you, i even started to call them by name outside the loft and they would fly up to my hand looking for treats after the whole process was complete, their jittery level became very low and treated me like one of them, they would even coo on my legs and and shoulders while sitting with them.

Also let all of the birds mix, dont seperate them
Cocks and hens young birds and old birds alike let them pair up to whom ever they like, place lots of nest bowles everywhere. Just destroy the eggs if you dont want them to breed, then rinse and repeat. I found that caged birds are unhappy and will fly away the moment they escape.

If a bird is very comfortable and happy and has a nest bowl to come to and a mate they will stay.

I can promise you the birds will stay.
I rehomed every one of my flyers and old stock birds that i purchased when i moved to a new home. All 113 of them, only lost 2, 1 was a young bird the other was an old bird.

I can promise you after lots of time and patience it works very well.

Very important you treat them like they are your favourite puppy, let them out to walk for hours everyday for a couple hours at a time.

When my birds became very tame and happy like this i also saw a huge improvement in their racing as well. I could even get them to land in my hands after a race and trap them quicker with my clock before they got near the loft.

Once all this i done and they have rehomed then you can seperate your birds back to how you like.

I even took 2nd place on my first race in my club and many top places after that with just a few months of racing $hit i was so stoked. I never lost a bird from racing. Only to hawks.
Thing is i started highschool soon and life happened, and i had to give my birds away.

Now heres the funny part, after giving my birds away, the new owner could never re home any of them, they always came back even after many years he had to keep fetching them.

I eventually kept my one favourite bird after many years of returning, to me. we ended up moving again, i treated him the same way i did to my 113 birds and managed to rehome him again.

Homing pigeons are very intelligent and know when their enviroment is $hit or not.

Its not the birds, its the owner.
Happy birds turn into champions.
 
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