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Hi, I found an abandoned baby feral pigeon four days ago and could do with some advice and reassrance that what I am doing is correct.
I have a tame 7 year old cockatiel so I am not a complete stranger to caring for birds.

From looking at pictures on the net I think the pigeon is somewhere around 18 days old although maybe younger.
At the moment he is in a wire cat basket in a warm, quiet room with a towel 'nest' and a water hopper.
I feed him Complan 3 times a day with a syringe until he appears to loose interest.

Now the questions-
Is Complan really suitable as his only food and when and how should I begin to wean him?
I understand the basic difference between tame and imprinted. I'd rather not imprint him, how do I avoid it and how do I recognise it if he is? I (reluctantly) spend as little time with him as possible.
Due to my clumsiness and the pigeons desperation during the first few feeds he has a lot of dried food caking his breast feathers especially at the top which is too much to just wipe out. Could this be CAREFULLY cut out? I had wondered about a bath?
Assuming that he is not imprinted at what sort of age/ level of developement can I start to think about releasing him? There is a local pigeon flock although not his.

Any advice or comments are very welcome.
 

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From what I read about complan, it is 43% skim milk. Pigeons cannot digest milk products, so it isn't good to give to a pigeon. They do sell baby bird formulas which are good. Also a baby cereal with rice or mixed grains, but without milk in the ingredients would be okay to use. If he is almost 3 weeks old, you can start to wean him onto solid foods. You can hand feed frozen peas which have been defrosted and warmed under warm running water. From there you can go onto a seed mix. Here is how you would feed the peas.

If you need to feed peas to a pigeon, hold the bird on your lap and against your body. This gives you more control. Reach from behind his head with one hand and grasp his beak on either side. Now use your free hand to open the beak, and put a pea in, then push it to the back of his throat and over his tongue. Let him close his beak and swallow. Then do another. It gets easier with practice, and the bird also gets more used to it, and won't fight as much. If you can't handle the bird, then use the sleeve cut off a t-shirt, slip it over his head and onto his body, with his head sticking out. This will stop him from being able to fight you so much. Just don't make it tight around his crop area. It helps if you have him facing your right side if you are right handed.
He should soon see this as a food source and start to pick them up on his own. Then you can change over to a seed mix.

Can you post a picture of the baby? Thanks.
 

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Don't cut out the dried food, it's always best to clean it off after each feed but too late for that now. Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a pint of warm water will often got off dried food better than just water alone. Apply it with cotton wool to soak and gently take it off with finger nails without pulling the feathers, when the bulk is off take the rest off with baby wipes moistened in the bi carb mix. Pigeon bath salts contain bi carb so it's safe for them. Complan won't do, Kaytee raising food bought on line would be great, or you can make your own by soaking pigeon food (or a wild bird seed mix) in water to soften it for a couple of hours then blend it with a little ready brek or porridge oats (to help with consistency) plus a half teaspoon of natural live yogurt and a dessert spoon of defrosted peas. Blend it up to a paste, no big lumpy seeds, more like a cheese sauce consistency and feed with a syringe. You can use a small jar if you don't have a syringe but if you do you cut the end off the syringe (needle end) then stretch a balloon over the end and cut a slit in it for the bird to put its beak in and feed, that's how pigeons feed from the parent, not with the parent putting food into its mouth like sparrows do. You'll need to add a calcium and D 3 supplement too, Calcivet can be ordered on line although some pets shops here stock it. Hope this helps also if you're on Facebook join the Pigeon Protection and Rescue UK group, loads of folk there who will help or take the baby if that's what you want. I'm in Essex (Southend) if you're near and would also be glad to help.
Good luck. :)
 

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If the baby is almost 3 weeks old, then ordering formulas online, or buying them at pet shops for another week aren't really necessary. He should be weaning soon onto seed. In my loft, the babies are pecking at seed by then. The peas are easy to feed. And you want him weaned soon.

At this age, the baby probably won't eat from the syringe balloon method. Easier if they are very young when taught to do this. Easier and better at this age to get him onto solid food. Also, putting a bit of yogurt with the live bacteria in it would be good for the probiotics. You could give just a little bit daily for a few days. The Calcivet is a very good idea.
A picture would help a lot in determining his age.

I always found it easy to remove food with a warm damp paper towel if done right after feeding.
 

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True Jay, if he's got the age right. I used to hold a baby wipe round my little ones necks like a bib when I fed them, so much easier than dealing with the aftermath, lol. Hope the little guy survives and glad he's not outside tonight, Guy Fawkws night is terrifying for the poor pets and animals over here - I hate it!
 

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I never heard of that. Had to look it up. Sounds awful! Poor animals must be scared to death.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone for your replies. I just aswell admit it now, his name is Nelson. I will read them properly tomorrow and probably come back with more questions!
I hope I've managed to post a picture of him, I'll try for something better tomorrow but I hope this will give some indication. Looking at the picture he looks far younger than I thought.

Thanks again.
 

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Picture isn't all that clear, but I'd guess at maybe 2 1/2 weeks. I would still go with the peas. You can use both frozen peas and corn. This will start him on the road to weaning, and is fairly easy. He's a cutie. He does need to be kept warm in order to be able to digest his food well.
 
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