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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

This forum has been great since I took in 2 wood pigeon squeakers aged approx 5 days, really helpful, thanks so much!
Both birds are now 6 weeks old and I was originally going to post about having weaning troubles since both birds are still having 2 tube feeds a day (1 feed = 1 tbsp birdseed, 1 tbsp porridge and water) and showing no signs of eating on their own despite having access to food and water all day. I was worried that I was over-feeding them meaning that they didn't NEED to eat outside of the feeds, hence their lack of interest.
However, today I found another baby woodie (feels like I'm starting a collection!!) at the side of a dual carriageway and although he's obviously younger than my two - he still has a few tiny threads of his yellow chick down scattered across his otherwise full plumage, like mine did when they first feathered up - he is a far more substantial bird. He's fatter, heavier, his feathers are much denser and he makes my two look scrawny!
I've fed the original two as much as they would eat up until last week and they cut themselves down to 2 feeds by starting to refuse food in the 3rd feed. Is it really possible that I have somehow underfed them and retarded their growth? I weighed them yesterday and they are 275g & 320g, both active, bright-eyed and pooping like nobody's business.
I'm really worried that I've done something wrong - can anybody offer any advice? I'm in Leeds in the UK, btw and I'll try to attach a picture... Cx
 

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Hi,
Well done for taking in these Woodies. Looks like you've been doing a great job!
I've just been checking back to a log I kept previously when rearing two woodies and they weighed 350gms around 5/6 weeks so I don't think yours are too far out.
I must say the youngsters I see in the garden do always look bigger and more mature. Maybe it's just the difference in being hand reared and being raised by their parents as obviously they know exactly what to feed and we're giving what we can that mimics that.
Have you looked inside their mouths to make sure they are pink and clear. The one reason they often look a bit bare around the throats is if they're suffering from canker.
If you can see any yellowish growths inside then they'll need some meds to deal with that. I'm only mentioning that as a vague possibility so don't worry. The cause of the feathers tending to look at bit sparce in hand reared youngsters is that when we feed formula it often gets stuck around their faces and affects the feathers temporarily.
This could make the difference between them and your new rescue as under all those feathers they're really qiute skinny!

The fact they're self regulating their feed now shows they're probably quite happy with the amount of food as this is a natural thing when they wean and leads to a slight weight loss in the early stages until they're fully weaned.

You could give them some defrosted peas or sweetcorn aswell now as they do tend to like greens. Maybe hand feed some initially as they may not recognise them as food to start with but generally they love the peas.

Are you planning on releasing them yourself or taking them to a rescue centre?
I expect they're fairly hand tame by now so it's something to consider as they won't know how to fend for themselves if they're just set off without some 'training.'

Brilliant job so far I'd say. :)

Janet

ps. I must say your book case looks a lot like mine. Gardening, psychology, and dog books!!!! Need to make room for bird books now if you're going to keep finding rescues. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the speedy answer, Janet... (I'm Claire, by the way!)

That's really reassuring on all points, thank you. You're right about woodie fledglings in the garden looking bigger, I have seriously questioned whether these were 'proper' wood pigeons several times!!! (No doubt though - the white wing bar and triple stripe tail is a dead giveaway) I've checked their mouths and they're both clear of canker - phew.

As to the release thing, it's a real dilemma. I've struggled to find anywhere that will take them, wood pigeons seem very unpopular for some reason. The RSPCA advice service actually advocated 'just put them back where you found them'.... but I suppose they have bigger fish to fry. I keep the birds in my washroom (unheated, naturally lit, not frequented by dogs or hubby!) and only I handle them and just for their feeds. In this way I hoped they'd be conditioned as the temperature drops and remain afraid of dogs and other people. Until a few weeks ago I had been taking them out in the garden regularly. Then Hollywood spontaneously found his wings, flew the length of the garden, smacked into a fence panel and scurried into the bushes. I thought he'd gone but he turned up - grounded and shaking - half an hour later. Obviously straight release isn't an option! I have a resident population of woodies and had hoped to do a sort of soft release where they could return to the washroom for food if they need it but somehow I'm dubious about how that would work.

At the moment I'm concentrating on weaning and seeing if I can get their weight up a bit (or at least keep it stable). Then of course the newest one is coming to the vets with me tomorrow (suspected trauma, maybe broken leg but contained and resting now). I swear I'm turning in to a batty pigeon lady! I don't suppose you know of anyone in Yorkshire with an aviary and room for 2 skinny wannabe wood pigeons, do you?

Cx
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
PS - My bookcase definitely says way to much about me..... thank goodness you couldn't see the lower shelf where I keep my many tomes on correcting bad dog behaviour (none of them worked!) and the paranormal! Cx
 

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Going out in the garden sounds really nice. I wonder if there's a way to do it with maybe a cage for your young ones?

When I was raising my baby, I was worried that she didn't have any other pigeons to guide her. So before she could fly, we would have breakfast every morning outside. I brought food to attract the nearby ferals. She got to watch them interact with each other. I think that taking her out daily helped her stay oriented so when she finally flew outside for the first time, she didn't get lost.

At first she hated going outside & just wanted to hide indoors. But when I started bringing food & treats & making it fun, she began enjoying it. Now she barely stops to eat before rushing outside to find her friends. She is 4 months now & is occasionally spending the night outside. I expect her to gradually get wilder as time goes by.

Familiar situations seem to give confidence. Is there a way you could bring your pigeons outside every day & see other wild ones? Just a thought.
 

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Going out in the garden sounds really nice. I wonder if there's a way to do it with maybe a cage for your young ones?

When I was raising my baby, I was worried that she didn't have any other pigeons to guide her. So before she could fly, we would have breakfast every morning outside. I brought food to attract the nearby ferals. She got to watch them interact with each other. I think that taking her out daily helped her stay oriented so when she finally flew outside for the first time, she didn't get lost.

At first she hated going outside & just wanted to hide indoors. But when I started bringing food & treats & making it fun, she began enjoying it. Now she barely stops to eat before rushing outside to find her friends. She is 4 months now & is occasionally spending the night outside. I expect her to gradually get wilder as time goes by.

Familiar situations seem to give confidence. Is there a way you could bring your pigeons outside every day & see other wild ones? Just a thought.
This is exactly how a normal soft release should be done.
However, woodpigeons are a slightly different matter.
Woodies do not gather to eat in as large numbers like normal ferals (except in fields in the wild where there are no humans nearby)
In and around gardens most woodies hang out in their already mated pairs or as a family wt their young.
They are notoriously skittish and wary of anything new out of their normal
surroundings, and will take flight at the least little thing, so introducing another youngster even in a cage would probably spook them.
Although not impossible to do it is extremely difficult, frustrating and time consuming (weeks rather than a few days with ferals)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone - I really needed your reassurance. Having never done this before, I was worried that my assessments and ideas might be wrong and you've made me feel so much better. I know that I haven't exactly solved any of Hollywood & Berry's growing up stresses but at least I know I'm focussing on the right things now!
Thanks for the Wood Pigeon info, Bob. I have had up to 14 woodies at the bird table at one time but that's in Winter and you're right about them being spooky - a vigorous hand-flap at the kitchen window sets them off! I understand that Winter starvation is one of the main population controls for the species so I'm beginning to think that these little house-guests of mine won't be checking out until the Spring.....
I'm going to carry on feeding and trying to wean them and I'll keep looking for someone with an aviary where they can build up their muscles (and their landing skills!) but at some point a decision has to be made. They aren't happy being pets, they have space to flap (but not to properly fly) and they sit at the window, constantly watching. I've got time yet and they're still babies really so I'll see what happens. I'll try to update you all on progress.... if there is any!
Thanks again,
Claire
 

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Hi Claire, sorry I've been out all evening so have only just seen your replies.

It sounds as if the set up you've got for them is actually ok for now. The main thing is that they don't get too used to people and animals so you've covered those problems well.
I do know of folks that have released woodies into their own gardens and although as Bob (Quazar) say, they're a lot more skittish than ferals, you could try as you suggested,to let them observe other Woodies feeding etc.
If you have a dog do you happen to have a dog cage? This sort of thing would be a good way of letting them be outside for periods of time but at least be safe from preditors. I used to have a simliar sort of cage and put the Woodie outside for a few hours with seeds and water. I covered the cage with branches etc so it didn't scare the wild Woodies but so the youngster could see them. Scattering seeds around to encourage the birds to come closer.
I get a good crowd of Woodies coming down to feed every day but sadly they do scatter quickly if they even sense my presence. This is still a good thing for your youngsters to see as it will encourage them to be aware and once they're outside feeding for real they should pick up the same alarm reaction when they see others fly.
I will ask around to see if anyone knows of any rescue centres near you that take Woodies but failing that I think you've got all the right points covered and could well be able to set them off from your home.
As you say, get them up to full size and fully feathered and let them observe others as much as possible and they'll probably tell you when they're ready to go!
Giving them the back up of regular food supply will certainly help them survive once out there too.
I hope your other one can get some help from the vets.
Keep us posted on how things are going.

Janet

ps. welcome to the Batty Pigeon Lady Club. :D
 

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I haven't heard "retarded" to describe a person or animal for the longest time. Here in the US, deformed, underdeveloped and developmentally delayed are the terms we're using.
 

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I'm new at this so I hesitate to say much. Maybe some others have had similar experiences?

2 things I noticed made a big difference. First, my chick had canker without the throat lesions. The feathers around her beak would not grow. By chance someone here mentioned that as a sign of canker. I treated her & she started eating with greater enthusiasm - both baby food & seed. Poor thing had begun eating less because she was uncomfortable - I had no idea.

Maybe yours don't want to wean because of canker pain.

Second thing, when she started on pellets - Harrison's is what she likes - I noticed her energy level went up very quickly. Her droppings looked way healthier & she just seemed brighter. So pellets make up about 1/2 her food now. Maybe a formulated food of some kind would give your pigeons a boost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks BethanyElodi, I need to go to the feed wholesalers anyway and I noticed they do pigeon corn and various feeds last time I was in, might pick some up.
Had fun and games with the peas, Janet.... they wouldn't eat them directly, got utterly FREAKED out when I tried to poke one into their beaks but when I popped one into the feeding tube with formula they were knocking them back like smarties! I also experimented with a shallow bath in their enclosure. I'd not tried it before, thinking if they didn't have enough instinct to drink it they'd never try to bathe in it. I was completely wrong, they seem to have had a ball judging from the state of the water (and the enclosure!) and their plumage seems a bit softer and smoother already. Regular bathtime from now on.....
Sorry if i caused offence, PigeonIsFun, I used the correct meaning of 'retard' as defined in the dictionary as 'to slow down or delay progress or development'. I was careful to indicate that my birds' development was retarded, rather than implying in slang that I thought the birds were mentally underdeveloped. Bless them, Wood Pigeons are not over-endowed with brains but I'm sorry if you thought I was saying they were 'retarded' in the american sense of that word.
Cx
 

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Hi Claire,

Love the picture you painted of bath time. They do love their baths and it always surprises me how instinctive it seems.
Clever you to work out a way to get the peas down them! It's good for them to get some greens. I find in the spring they really like chick weed that grows thick and fast in my garden but sadly not here all year round.

They sound as if they're really coming on well. :)

Janet
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi All,
Quick Hollywood & Berry update..... we've had a breakthrough! I think this tip might help anyone hand-rearing squabs.....
My feeding tool is a plastic tube about the diameter of my thumb with the tip of a bright pink latex glove stretched over the end and sucked inside to form an open 'bladder'. The bright pink was chosen to simulate the inside of a parents mouth and worked well.
My tip is to take advantage of their colour vision by cutting the wrist part off the same colour gloves and putting it around a food dish - basically creating a much larger version of the feeding 'bladder'. They got the idea straightaway and have gone from totally dependant to feeding themselves in 2 days.... hurrah! And to think I said wood pigeons were a bit thick!!! Cx
PS - both have put on 25g in the last 4 days so I'm very happy.
 

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Wow that is great I am glad you found something that worked and was almost natural for them. Great job.
 

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Just caught your update. Really pleased they're doing so well.
Seems you're a natural at this!!!!

Keep posting as it's always good to hear what works for folks. :)

Janet
 
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