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Taking care of feral baby doves

1805 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Feefo

This is a great site.
My boyfriend and I were 'awarded' a box filled with 2 baby doves last week by a stranger, who got them from another stranger...
So we decided to adopt them. :) Judging from their feathers, they were about 1-2 days old when we got them. The first night, we didn't know what to feed them. Upon searching online, we found that we can feed them some crushed egg yolk and milk. Not the best food, but it was an emergency. The next day we fed them human baby food. Eventually I found Kaytee Exact at Petco, and been feeding them that since. We live in an apartment, so we've been keeping them inside a box on top of a router for heat source. This seems to be working well.

They've been with us for about a week now, and are doing fine. One bird is doing better than the other. We are feeding them 4-5 times a day. Laid the box with paper towel and change them 2-3 times a day.

The first bird can now start walking and spreading 'his' wings. The little brother also grow some feathers, but not as quickly as the first one. 'He' is only half the size of the first dove. 'His' claws are closed most of the time, and he support himself with his legs during feeding, if that make sense. One of his leg is semi splayed. We seems to be able to minimize this by putting him in a bowl and letting him sit in it.

My research of correcting splayed legs shows all this tricks that I won't be able to do until he gets older/bigger. His claws are less than 1cm only, if I forced him to spread them, just about .25"

For now I'll try to get him some liquid calcium supplement and multi spectrum lighting for his bone development. I can't take him outside, since it would be too cold for him, and I work during the day time.

Any advice on how to correct his splayed legs? When can I take them out from the heated box to a cage? I want them to be able to have some exercise, but they do need the heat. How can I install the multi spectrum light? what's a good brand to buy?

Thank you
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Thank you for caring for these babies, it sounds like you're doing a great job so far. The small bowl will help with the splayed leg, and others will be along with more advice as I'm not sure how to address the problem in so young a baby. But no worries--someone will know. ;) You don't have to worry about them getting room to move about at this age, not until they're around two weeks or more, I would say. Then you can let them toddle around on a towel or sheet after you feed them for a little bit and then back into the nest bowl. I usually use a big plastic tub for babies with thick towels inside, but if the baby already has a leg problem you want to continue using a bowl for now. Keep checking for more information about the leg and keep up the great work.

You said these are feral baby doves...do you know what kind?

I only have experience of Eurasian Collared Doves (Streptopelia Decaocto), but maybe this will help:

I am never seen calcium deficiency affect growth. There could be something else going on there as well.

They fledge at 18-21 days, so correction needs to be early. They are also extremely prone to stress as they grow older, so early correction wold be advisable.

When I had a baby dove (Poppet) with severe leg deformation I correctd the splay whilst also binding the feet round a pencil shaped piece of bandage. The Wildlife Rescue place at this link appears to use a similar method (you have to scroll down to see a photo:


The person that runs the centre has joined PT under the name wildlife-rescue, there is an e-mail contact on the website as well. perhaps you could contact her for details of her experiences.

This is a link to the thread about my sowrst case of calcium deficiency.

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I don't know exactly what kind they are yet. Hopefully they'll grow old enough to fledge. I'm concern if they're too hot/too cold/too hungry/too full. They second one with the splayed leg seems to be so much weaker. They're inside our apartment now, put under multi spectrum light. We moved them out from the box to a tiny bird cage. I think I won't be giving them any calcium suplement The baby formula I gave them already has Vit D3 in it. I didn't put any water bowl inside their cage, for fear, they might get drowned. So they're very dependent on us now for any food.

The link that you included seems to give some more hint. Maybe I'll try to come up with something. I don't want to stress him even further, if he's too weak now. Can they live a long live with splayed leg?

You also mentioned that they're very proned to stress, does this include sound, bright lights etc..? I might have to put them in a more seclude place then.

Let me know if there's anything further I could do for them.

Thank you for your help

- Levy
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Birds can live a long life with splayed leg but it's difficult for them to perch and eat...drink.
A splayed leg bird can NEVER be RELEASED. ..will ALWAYS need to be supported.

One good way to help keep baby birds warm, is to put them on a heating pad set no higher than the lowest setting and then covering the top of them with a feather duster.

Birds get splayed leg when they have a slippery surface underneath them in the nest. The need a surface that has some traction such as a towel, or in the wild twigs that the parents would have supplied.

As long as the bird is still growing, there is an opportunity to correct splayed leg.

It would be helpful if you would supply us with a picture so that we may better advise you.
Please don't withhold the calcium supplement, if there is a deficiency then they need the additional supplement as well as what is in the formula.

Vitamin D3 regulates the absorption of calcium, it does not provide the extra calcium this bird needs. Sunshine is also essential, so if you could put it out in the sunshine for 20 minutes a day that will help.

trying to post the picture, hope this works.

I still waiting for my order for bird calcium supplement and haven't received it yet. I tried giving it some human calcium, mixed in water, just a dab though, not much. A few days ago. but I got scared if it might get overdosed. Since I read it will not be good for its kidney. I'm giving them Kaytee Formula only in the mean time. Some water before and after meal.

The bigger one is doing much better. It's gaining weight and moving its wings. I've had them both for 8 days now. I'm guessing they're about 9-10 days old each.

The little one doesn't grow much. I do not have a scale I can weigh them in at the moment. The difference between their poop is that, the bigger one's pup is more brown now. The little one's poop is more green. Both their poops were green earlier.

The little one's spread 'his' wings too, but not much. The right leg, is the splayed leg. Both claws are rolled most of the time, but 'he' also open them rarely. The right wing doesn't close properly either. When 'he's' trying to sleep, he will try to push himself, snuggle in the corner, that his right side is pressed closer to his body. If that make sense.

the only way I can think of is putting them next to the window (open) in the morning, for sunlight. I'm doing this starting this morning.

I've also put on for purchase, multi-spectrum light for birds. so hopefully I can do this one soon. I have now, a regular multi-spectrum light. But I don't trust the label too much because it doesn't have CRI index, etc. It's much warmer than other light.

If you think I have to give the little one medicine/supplement, could you please advise me as to where to get them?

thank you so much for all of your replies

- Levy


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here's the little one's picture with the leg problem, weight/size problem. It's eating and pooping fine though


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Well, I don't think those are collared doves.

The leg problem isn't severe and shouldn't be difficult to correct.

I would recommend the method that I sued on Gonzo because it was gentle and non-stressful. She was able to walk while it corrected. However, your little dove will also need to have her toes spread over a pencil sized roll of bandage (as if she was perching).

Gonzo before treatment

Gonzo during treatment

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