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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, I recently found a juvenile Wood Pigeon in my garden that could not fly. I took it to our Local Wildlife Sanctuary in Cheshire, UK. It appeared that a Hawk may have tried to catch it, and it had a damaged wing. Fortunately it was not broken, and after a course of antibiotics and some rehabilitation, it learnt to fly again. Throughout the time Woodie was in the hospital I phoned regularly to check on it's progress, as I wanted to collect it again, when it was better and re-release it back in our garden (near to where it's family was). When the time arrived, the sanctuary asked if I would take some other Pigeons and Collared Doves to re-release in my garden, as they had 22 Pigeons round their bird table that week, and they thought things were getting a bit over crowded there. I happily obliged. I took 4 Wood Pigeons, 2 Feral Pigeons and 3 Collared Doves. Since their re-release I think I have spotted the 3 Collared Doves, but maybe only 1 Wood Pigeon, and maybe none of the Feral Pigeons. I was wondering if anyone knew about the homing instincts of the Pigeons and Doves I have re-released. I have no idea whether they would do this, and if so where they would home back to. Would they attempt to go back to where they were born? (in which case my young Woodie was re-released in the right place), or would they try to go back to the Wildlife Sanctuary? They may be happy to stay near my garden, as I feed the birds every day, and supply 2 Groundfeeder tables and a Bird table full of suitable seed, raisins, nuts and fruit scones!! I must say, I had not given this fact any consideration before re-releasing the "Rescue Birds". All the birds flew well on release. I would be interested in your views! Thanks!
 

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Hi Squirrel,

This an interesting question, and I too wish I knew more about this fact as regards to Woodies and Doves.

When I take a juvenile Woodie to a rescue centre for release they keep them in an aviary for a while before releasing them, hopefully with others. I must say when I go there for any reason, I rarely see a lot of Woodies around feeding once released. Whether they're still nearby is hard to say as generally Woodies are shy and obviously wouldn't come close to feed in an area where the public are walking about.
However, there are a lot of ferals that come and go from an open aviary and stay close as there is always a good supply of food for them. The centre tend to think if there's food on hand the ferals will generally hang about.

I have a Collared Dove at present that is recovering from an injury and infection. I am concerned about releasing it if it does make a full recovery as I don't personally get Doves in my garden, and feel it should at least be released in an environment where other doves are thriving.
I brought it home from a local sanctuary where I volunteer that doesn't give any treatment, so I have no idea where it was originally found.
I just wish this place would at least make a note of where birds are brought in from so if they do recover, they could at least be taken back to a familiar area for release. If they do have any such instincts to try and get back, they would settle better once back in the wild.
After getting them through an illness you want to know they are going to be able to thrive once they are out of your care.

I assume the Woodies had been released and were free to come and go at the sanctuary where you got them from or were they still in an aviary? If free then they obviously saw that place as their home, or at least a good place to call home!
Ferals tend to prefer to settle in a built up area rather than countryside and trees, so in that case they might not settle in your garden.

I know this doesn't give you an answer, but I will try and find out more and come back to you.

Janet
 

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The feral pigeons will have returned either to the sanctuary or to where they originally came from as they didn't have enough time to recognise your garden as home.

Wood pigeons and doves don't have the homing instincts of ferals and racing pigeons. However, wood pigeons are accustomed to operating over a wide territory (some migrate) so they can find their way around and collared doves are very adapatable, following other birds to feeders, so you will probably see them around at sometimes. As far as I can make out they are not as predictable as feral pigeons who will not only know where to go for their meal but at what time it is likely to be "served" and arrive half an hour early.

Ideally, before they are released at an unfamiliar location, birds should have some days in which to observe their surroundings and the location of the feeder from a holding aviary and then be allowed to leave their cage slowly. But this is something that is only possible where there is a lot of land, strategically placed holding aviaries and no cats.

I just wish this place would at least make a note of where birds are brought in from so if they do recover, they could at least be taken back to a familiar area for release. If they do have any such instincts to try and get back, they would settle better once back in the wild.
I agree. It is far better for any bird to be released in its familiar territory.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Feefor and Amyable for your replies. It is really interesting to hear other peoples views and knowledge. The birds were not free to leave the Sanctuary. Their last place there, was the Large Mixed Aviary, where they learnt to fly and get their muscle tone back. The very first taste of freedom for them after their release was my garden. I think I did the correct thing then, for my Wood Pigeon. I'm not so sure about the others. When I released the Feral Pigeons, there was a welcoming committee of 6 already waiting on my roof. I regularly get between 6 and 9 each day which come to the garden for food. Hopefully my Woodie may have found it's family, and if not, recognised some of this area, as it is locally bred. As you say, I think the Collared Doves are quite adaptable. I think they may still be hanging about locally. Anyway, the food it out as usual. Any of the birds hanging around here won't go hungry. I think the Sanctuary was a bit concerned that all the re-released Pigeons and Doves would breed in their area and they would be over-run!!
 

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Anyway, the food it out as usual. Any of the birds hanging around here won't go hungry.
I think your new arrivals have found heaven. It's lovely you take so much care of your visitors, and you obviously get quite a variety.
I love the fact the ferals had a welcoming committee. :D

I might just sneak any rescues up to your garden and pop them over the fence when they need to be released !!!!!!!! ;)

Well done for getting your juvenile Woodie the treatment he needed, I hope he finds his family and has a good life.

Janet
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks Janet, it's lovely when there is a happy ending. Sadly that is often not the case. I can say I did my very best for Woodie, and my intentions were good for the others!!
 

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Hello, and thank you for rescuing the little one.

It sounds as if she is fully fledged and able to look after herself, but she might still rely on you for food as their parents continue to feed them for a while after they leave the nest. Can you put food and water out for her in a form that she recognises (eg the dish she knows or next to the empty budgie cage?)? Or you could leave the bedroom window open for her to have a quick meal inside occasionally?

As you only had her for 10 days she will not have lost any waterproofing she had or forgotten her own kind. You chose the right time and location: you released it in its own territory which is good. The weather is fine, in autumn birds benefit from "nature's bounty".

It is a good sign that you have been unable to catch her easily.
 

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I posted elsewhere how I've been looking after a Woodie and I realise this is an old topic, but rather than start a new one, I searched for 'releasing rescued pigeons' as since about 26th June, I have been caring for an injured (due to next door's cat, thankfully my dogs saw it and the cat ran off) very sweet Wood pigeon that looked quite young and frightened and you can see where the cat had got hold of him before my dogs chased it away......



and I've kept him in an old cockatiel cage so he had a perch at night and he loves warm peas and sweetcorn... and I feel so attached to him and although I have let him go several times, he didn't seem to be able to fly very high as his tail hasn't grown very long. The last time he tried to follow another pigeon and flew into a garage door so I picked him up and brought him back.

His tail is a bit longer now and I know I should let him go, but I wanted to see what others who have rescued did, so I think after he's had a good lunch, I'll let him out of the cage onto the lawn to see if he wants to leave. I'll never forgive myself if he gets injured and I just hope he'll have a happy life and find his family.....

Do rescued pigeons instinctively recognise their parents if they are around and do the 'absent' parents recognise and acknowledge their youngster, or will rescuing and handling a baby pigeon cause them to ignore it?

Here's my gorgeous Woodie from a pic last week. I shall miss him hugely!!!




I took these two pics yesterday! He's looking so much better now than when I found him!




I think I should call him Tufty now!!!!!



Oops... sorry the pics are so big!!!
 

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Hi,

I just love that last picture...Tufty is a perfect name. :D

I've only ever taken any rescued Woodies to a rescue centre for release as they're not the easiest of birds to do a soft release with.
That's more due to the fact that the wild Woodies in thje garden are so spooked when they catch sight of anyone, so being able to take a youngster out in a cage and gradually integrate them into a flock is impossible as can be done more so with ferals.

I'd still be a little wary of letting your little one go just yet if it's flying abilities are questionable. As you say, it would be terrible if it were to get caught again due to not being able to fly well enough yet.
As it obviously lost some feathers when caught before, have those grown back yet? It was lucky it didn't succomb to a bad infection from the cat's saliva, that would normally kill them quite quickly from the bacteria.
Do you know of any wildlife centres around your way where they take pigeons.
From my experience with the pigeons I have at home, the adults don't really see their offspring as their 'children' once they're weaned and independent. I was watching a youngster today being pushed away by it's parents as they're now raising a new baby. Not a lot of sentiment there I'm afraid!
So as far as your youngster being accepted by it's parents now, it's unlikely so he doesn't necessarily need to be released from your garden.

If you don't have a rescue centre to hand where it can be integrated with some others before release then I'd carry on taking him into the garden and leaving him confined (for his safety), then scatter some bird seed about so he can watch other Woodies coming and going for a bit longer. He may just need to grow or moult out some damaged feathers so he can fly better.

I can't remember if you said you had a shed or somewhere he could practice his flying in to allow him to get stronger as well before going out again.

Let us know what you think and good luck with him

Janet
 

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Thanks for your lovely reply Janet. My husband thinks I have paid too much attention to my Tufty headed friend and thinks he'll find it difficult to live outside on his own. But having rescued him (thanks to my dogs barking at the horrid cat) I just couldn't let him wander off without keeping an eye on him and I watched him in our garden all on his own for a couple of days (roosting just off the ground on a branch under a blackcurrant bush at night) and thought he'd starve as no adults seemed to be around to feed him! I couldn't have left him like that and read up quite a lot and knew they're very gentle birds... and I couldn't believe just how gentle he is!!!

He will probably forage for food OK as I can lift the metal cage off the plastic base and place it on grass or the path as you can see from the pic - and he does peck at the ground and I have sprinkled seed down and he pecks it up off the floor OK, so hopefully he'll come back and feed with other pigeons (I hope he can be integrated with them).

He loves warm sweetcorn (was frozen) and peas and a few blackcurrants off the bushes too as well as his mixed seed. What other titbits can I offer him? Should I give him grit like budgies have or do they get it from the floor mas I've seen him pecking gritty bits from the path or between the little paving stones?

You can see from the full pic of him in the cage that his tail is growing, but not sure how long it needs to be for him to fly at full strength. He flutters his wings like mad to get any lift, which I'm guessing a nice long tail would normally be a good help, judging by the way adult pigeons take off!

Any advice is very welcome. Oh and we don't have a shed suitable for practice flying but our garden wall on two sides is about 8ft high, the house is obviously higher and then we have a 4ft fence and highish trees on the other side and he's been over one wall and up onto our roof one day last week and stayed out overnight but I found him back in the garden the next day looking sad and lonely and he hopped onto my hand - friend say that he thinks I'm his mummy!!! Aww bless his little heart!!!

On our roof preening himself in first pic, prior to the adult chasing him in this clip>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIJM55AkJig
A short video clip of our tufty head friend on our roof the first time he left home - he was back next day)




On our neighbour's roof (huddled by the chimney) having followed an adult pigeon!

 

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Hi woodysmum,
Tufty certainly is cute & lucky that you found him.
Judging by the way he doesnt fly from being "seen off" by the other bird who is being territorial, he is definately too young to be released at the mo. Any other predator would have had him for lunch by now so be very careful.
I would definately keep him confined in a cage when outside untill he can fly properly & confidently.
A sudden burst of energy & the high walls wont stop him, but could leave him in a situation where you couldnt get him, a predator could, and he wouldnt have enough flight power to escape.
Their tails are used more for steering and landing rather than actually flying.
As Janet says, soft release can be very difficult with woodies as they tend to stay at a safe distance from humans, and also dont really gather in as large numbers as ordinary ferals, so it can be difficult to attract enough of them near so that tufty can learn reactions etc. He may well be able to peck around the ground, but its the learning when to flee and also always be aware of surroundings when eating that he needs to know.

I noticed from some of your other posted videos that you seem to either frequent Edinburgh, or possibly stay here ??
If so, you could try give Gorgie City Farm a call, they usually have woodies & other pigeons around and may be able to help integrate him to other woodies.
All the birds there are free to come and go, and food is left out for them.
51 Gorgie Road
Edinburgh EH11 2LA
0131 337 4202
(Its the Dalry end of Gorgie Road on the Left, just before the Railway Bridge.)
 

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Aww thanks Quazar... and yes I am not far from Edinburgh and wasn't sure if he should be released close to where he was found... ie in my garden. Would he be looking for his family or do they soon forget where they were from?

I'll take your advice and try to hang on to him until he's stronger, but I wondered if staying in the cage wouldn't help the strengthening of his wings, ready for when he finally makes the move away!

If you saw the video clip above, where an adult bird pulls out some of Woody/Tufty's feathers, are you meaning that he should have flown away from the adult for being so nasty? That was almost two weeks ago and he's looking much better now than then, but he has been given two chances of moving away since then and one time he stayed in the ivy on the wall and the other time he flew over the wall (about 8/9ft high) and bumped into a neighbouring garage door, landing on the path so I picked him up and brought him back!

I could contact Gorgie City Farm, but wondered if he was released here, would he not pay me visits with other Woodies for feeding a couple of times a day as I have become really attached to him and would miss him! What else can I give him to eat and should I get grit like budgies need for grinding their food/seed?

Thanks
 

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Hi,

Just been watching the video of Tufty on the roof.
You can see he's reacting to the adult with a gentle quivering of his wings when they're asking to be fed but sadly this adult isn't his parent obviously.
I've seen them doing that in my garden to each other and they really will keep pecking another until they fly off, so poor Tufty will have a 'tough' time unless he hardens up and pecks back. This would come with maturity so it shows how vulnerable he is at the moment.
I can understand how attached you can get and so it would be nice if he hung around. It's a difficult decision but I'd perhaps have a word with Gorgie City Farm and see if they have any Woodies in at the moment. If they do I would seriously consider taking him there because in the long run you'd want him to have a safe life and if he was accepted amongst some Woodies and released, especially where food is available, then that would be a Woodie heaven.
Maybe they'd be prepared to have him there until he's stronger and flying better and then let you take him back to release in your garden. Of course by then he would have become more independent of you and so might be more wary of you, which is really how they need to be to survive.

Personally I just can't watch wildlife programmes where animals are killed by preditors but if you have the nerve to watch any of those UTube videos next to the one you've posted of Tufty where mindless morons kill Wood Pigeons, then you can see why these lovely birds have to be very aware and frightened of getting too close to humans.
I'm really not saying to send him off as I know how hard that can be from experience of raising youngsters, but I just thought I'd try to say what might be a safer option for Tufty to live a long, good Woodie life.

Basically, he must be stronger before he goes off permanently, so if you can keep him safe while he does that then great, give him that edge first.
Just keep watching and see how he goes.

Keep the pictures coming, I love to see how he gets on.

Janet
 

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As Janet mentioned, once they leave the nest and start fending for themselves, their parents get back to their normal life & breed again and he just becomes another wild woodie, so even if he did find his parents, chances are they would ignore him (and treat him the way the one on the roof did - it may well have even been his mum or dad).
If you have any indoor space or garage where he could have some confined fly time, that would help him gain confidence and wing power and help him practice his landing.
The main problem is that at the moment, he feels safe enough and will hang around because he is being fed, but he is not aware of what is a danger & what is not.
They only learn this from being around and watching other woodies.
If you can attract other woodies to feed in your garden, then you could put the cage in the garden & he could watch their behaviour and acclimatise.
With normal ferals this is relatively easy as they come and go all the time, usually in larger numbers, and normally takes about a week of watching & learning, but woodies do tend to be very wary, also normally in housing areas, they only usually hang about in pairs, and sense when humans are close, and may not even feed or come while cage is there, so the process would take much longer.
Another possibility is to speak to someone at "Tower Farm Riding Stables" on Braid Hills Road.
Dont know if they would let you visit several times and acclimatise him in one of their fields, but I pass there regularly and theres always hundreds of woodies foraging in beside the horses and ponies.
It would certainly be an ideal place for him to observe them, and once used to their actions and behaviour, you could either release him there or, if you attract a few to your garden, release him from home.
The amount of woodies would certainly speed up and increase his chances of survival.
If you were to release him from your place, there is every probability he will hang around for a bit, especially for food, but he will eventually find a mate & move on.
You could also give him (a few) raw unsalted peanuts, safflower seeds, and sunflower seeds, or some finely chopped up green beans or lettuce.
Woodies do tend to eat more greens than normal ferals.
I'm presuming hes drinking ok on his own.
As for grit, the stuff for budgies is a bit too fine. but you can get Pigeon/dove grit at some pet shops. Dofos (off picardy roundabout) have small 2-3 kg bags, but havent found a pets at home that have had any in stock recently.
 

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Thanks Janet and Quazar. Will have a think about Gorgie City Farm and the stables. I keep the cage in the garden and it's never been in the house. At night for shelter, I sit the cage in a wooden gazebo which has a roof, just in case it rains. When it's dry, I lift the cage off the base and sit it on the grass (see pic) or path and put him in the shade, in between bushes, and where he can see other birds. Our house was once part of old farm buildings, so only a few houses around here! We have fields all around us... all barley and wheat... just right for pigeons, but sadly not ripe yet!

Here's my guard dog, who, with her sister, probably saved my Tufty headed Woodie's life, by chasing away the horrid cat next door!

 

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Hi, well you've got a wealth of info now and Tufty is certainly in the best caring hands he could have found.
His diet is good and I was going to mention greens as well. They love Watercress and when it's around, chick weed which grows like mad in the fields, (and my garden when I forget to weed).

That picture of your dog reminds me of a photo I have of my late dog Blake who used to sit with his nose up against any cage with a pigeon in. Sadly he would take any chance to bite theirs heads off if I wasn't careful. :(

You do have a great place for Woodies to thrive if you've got fields of Barley and Wheat close. I have one next door and when I walk my dog in there many a Woodie suddenly flies out having been spooked by us. They manage to get a good feed from the odd plant that's been flattened.

I would say if you can give Tufty the chance to beef up and get his plumage in better shape, then he'll do well. I think he lost and shed a lot when he was attacked by the cat.
The more I look at the pictures of him I think he just looks a bit too young to be fully independent yet and has sadly lost the benefit of being guided by parents over this period of his development. As you're doing, just let him see as many Woodies as possible going about their day foraging, and maybe occasionally clap your hands behind him and spook him a bit so he learns to re-act to noise and disturbance.

He really is a sweetie and I can see why you're so attached to him.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted. :)

Janet
 

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Thanks again Janet for your nice reply. I chopped a cauli leaf and some lettuce and put in a little dish for his supper so I hope he'll try some of it for a change! I shall also hang on to him for a bit longer (which will make it even harder to let him go) and although I shall miss him hugely, I should just be happy that I have helped him to survive although I'm sad that his parents seem to have neglected him, but as my husband says, it's nature and the fittest will survive!
 

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You seem to be doing well so far so keep up the good work.
as Janet says, the more woodies he sees, the better his chances once hes got his feathers back etc.
While its no big deal, pigeons feed off ground level, so he may be more comfortable if his seed dishes were on the bottom of the cage (or even just use a heavy flat dish on the ground) this would also help get him accustomed to looking on the ground for food.
 

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Quazar, I do also scatter food on the newspaper in the bottom of the tray, or onto the grass or path if I just
put the metal part of the cage straight onto the ground, (minus the tray) as in pic below, and he does peck
around the grass and path, so he has developed some foraging instinct. His tail is growing a bit better now!!

 
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