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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I found a pigeon with a foot injury. There is a wire wrapped around his ankle, his foot is very swollen, he is missing a toe and he limps. I took him to the wildlife center. They said they couldn't do anything for him because the wire was too deep. Also, his foot had been broken. They predicted that he would lose his foot in the future but they couldn't help him. So I took him back to his flock and released him. I now feed him every day. He is flying. Looks clean. But he limps badly. I'm worried that he won't make it through winter if he loses his foot. Do I take him in or leave him be?
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I'd bring him home. I don't actually see any wire in the photo, is it visible perhaps just inside a crease in the skin, or has skin grown over it? It might be possible to cut the wire in two or three places without removing it immediately. That should lessen the pressure, allowing fluids to drain. Once the swelling is down (which may take more than a month), the wire might not be so difficult to remove entirely.
 

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That must be very painfull Are you sure it's wire and not maybe human hair? Catch him and bring him home. Soak the foot in warm water and try to remove whatever is embedded in the skin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for the replies. I'm confused because when I took him to the wildlife centre for help they told me that removing the wire or whatever it is (extremely thin gauge) is not an option because it's too deep and ingrown. They declined to take action and sent him home saying he should be left as is. Is that unusual advice?

I'm very nervous about attempting this removal myself when the experts wouldn't even risk it. I've never dealt with pigeons before. If he walks and flies, do you think he can survive out there with that foot? I'm attaching another picture. I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons. Since he has a mate, would taking him in be crueller than leaving him out there? When I trapped him, he was very upset and very happy when I released him.
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The wildlife centre probably view pigeons as a nuisance and waste of time to treat. Check some videos on youtube how to remove string/hair from the foot of a pigeon. You won't need to keep him seperate from his mate for a long period, only to do the removal. He might eventually lose the foot.
 

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If he walks and flies, do you think he can survive out there with that foot?
Yes, pigeons can definitely survive losing a foot, which he will if the issue is not addressed. I also think that he has one chance of keeping the foot, and that's you. You could post on Palomacy's Facebook page seeking someone local to your area, with experience in dealing with string-foot?

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Need help with a pet or rescued pigeon or dove? Please join our Palomacy Facebook Group and post your photos, questions & location to find support from fellow pigeon & dove rescuers & adopters. (Note: We are against the breeding and use of birds, whether for racing, meat, show, “release”, etc. We are a rescue & adoption community!)
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Hi Sunshine how is your stringfoot friend doing? This is one I can offer some tips in case it may help--I love removing string from their cute little feet, have done quite a few mainly bc I love pigeons and Ive been sewing my whole life so I have a thing for strings/thread and cant resist. And bc my own long hair that Ive always checked my babies toes for bc my hair gets everywhere. And believe me thats a risk too.

For your guy here, its swollen so hard to see the 'string' which is likely hair, flesh/tissue may have grown over it, somewhat anyway. Doesnt mean its hopeless tho.
Heres what you do, have someone help you.
Get these items, you may not need them all but will want them:
-Wide stretchy sock
-basin of cold water
-ice
-tiny manicure scissors
-tweezers
-if you have a metal cuticle remover--the small tool that is sort of U shaped.
-antibiotic ointment
-small cloth squares, even toilet paper is fine if thats all you have. I use gauze.
-clean cloth for a number of possible reasons, just have a cloth
-cornstarch if you dont have blood clotting/ stopping agent
-magnifier, use your phone if thats all you have
-light, again phone is fine

Goals: 1) locate strong/hair 2) USUALLY 1 tiny snip is all thats needed to free a footsie, one snip usually breaks the pressure tension.

-cut end off sock to make tube, hold it wide open while one of you puts him in it. Its a calming restraint. Ive had them so relaxed and sleep.
-keeo his head up, be mindful of comfortable normal position- bc they can get relaxed and its easy to start turning them all around to get to foot if they are too compliant in sock, if that makes sense--so just be mindful hes not accidentally in a crazy position, upside down etc. Youd be surprised
-one holds him on lap, use magnifier and light to see even the smallest part of string/hair. Also know bc of swelling, sometimes you can use cold pack to shrink the area. Ice does wonders.

To search for something string/hair--you need to probe around, you can gently press on foot areas next to indention--best using a tool with flat edge you can probe around with flat edge, pressing gently in spots.
All the while talk softly, telling pigeon what youre doing, and have friend gently stroke his head or cheek, wherever it seems calming to your guy.

If you find string/hair, thats great! Say to yourself Ive got this and be confident--with great care but not fear, this is how you will do it.
All you need to do is catch it--not you arent 'cutting' exactly, when its that tight, you are making contact with scissor edge and string and will gently start to close until it breaks it*your goal is tiny snip of one part to release tension* Put ice on spot again for a moment, pat gently any excess water if needed. Now pressing down with your tiny flat edge tool, if you can see the tiniest area of hair--keeping one spot pressed with tiny flat edge tool, slide one scissor tip under hair, pointing them slightly upwards. You will have to be a little firm at this moment, friend too in holding guy still, get that point under the hair, angled up some.
If you do this, you proceed after with tweezers to start unravel. Be patient and know if you can get one snip, take it from me, you can get it off. Ive had to snip, tweezer unravel, snip again, tweezer more, esp when theyve got it all around toes and in crazy directions. Sometimes, once tension is broke, you can use other ways of snipping--cuticle remover edge. even baby nail clippers. Use what you have and main thing to remember is upward angle away from flesh, hair barely needs to make contact with tool to break so think precision over force. Do NOT 'cut' as you would in traditional terms--you are sliding it under hair to break hold with very little contact needed to achieve this.

If you accidentally snip skin, dont panic. Stop, stay calm, apply pressure for awhile. If it bleeds after 5 or so min, pour cornstarch on it. '
After string removed, clean area, soak it, apply ointment. Even if a ring wound remains, it will heal, fast. Keep it clean with ointment.
If string cant be found to remove or too embedded in flesh, you can ice it regularly and keep checking over days, also can try applying exfoliant such as cream with salicylic acid over time to possibly break it down.

If its just never able to be removed, yes, it will fall off in time. Could take year or more, its slow. So please, if you can--keep pigeon with you and keep working on it. Its worth it. If foot eventually does fall off know he will be fine, its just the meantime is hard, painful. I have one feral with a terrible foot, hers had other issues that would require amputation but in meantime shes fiesty and limps but is the toughest girl out there.

Good luck. Long post bc I love love love removing the hair/strings. Its a great feeling to set their cute feet free and they run off all annoyed but they know what you did and deep down they love you for it.
 

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I want to add, if you are willling to keep him and do this over days to try to get to string/hair embedded deep--as I mentioned, the ice, exfoliant salicyllic acid, also alternate with foot soaks in warm water, with soap. And use tweezers, whatever tool you feel comfortable with, to gently, GENTLY slough away tiny dead skin, using tweezers to help remove and scrape. GENTLY. Patience can get embedded string/hair to surface. Recap--ice to shrink it to reach/access it and dead skin removal with warm soaks and gentle sloughing. These are over time strategies that have a good chance of making now inaccessible string/hair to surface enough to get that tiny edge and break the tension.
 

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Very useful posts, mat6_26!

As you mentioned salicylic acid, I want to say that having on hand a healing cream similar to this one (see its composition in the link, it contains even salicylic acid) would be very helpful.


It is used to promote the healing of wounds especially when the healing process is hindered by the presence of necrotic tissue, clots, debris, etc.

Here in France it is highly suggested because it is able to "dissolve"/remove necrotic tissue and also residual strings
We used it for the first time in 2014 when we rescued Nerone, one of my brother's pigeons (she had a necrotic area on her chest. The vet suspected that someone intentionally burned her....).
Here it is suggested to apply a generous layer of cream, to cover it for 24 hours and to repeat this procedure for at least 3 consecutive days.
 

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Thank you Colombina, that is so helpful to know about this cream. The salicylic acid can do miracles over time in breaking down exactly as you said, necrotic tissue.
Did Nerone fully recover? Thats a terrible experience, necrotic tissue on the chest, I hope she fared well.

Thanks for sharing this
 
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