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Hi everyone. I've just registered and this is my first post but you've all helped me out with invaluable information for the past month and a half as each time I searched for an answer online, this site came up. :) So, thank you and I hope you can again. (I apologize, this may get long)

I have just given myself a crash course in raising a baby feral pigeon that I found dehydrated and abandoned back on July 27th. He/she (?) was about 2 weeks old at the time so I'd think Perry is close to 2 months now. I think he's a male by his actions and my gut instinct so we'll go with that for now.

I brought him to my vet about a month ago because I thought he had PMV since he still couldn't pick up any seed on his own and had been walking in circles and I thought I saw him have a stroke with recurring paralysis. Tests came back negative for any active infection so that was good. Mysterious but good.

Incidentally, for feeding, I'd been hand feeding him Kaytee Exact Baby Formula and putting Pigeon Seed in it, which made it tacky so he was able to pick it up that way) At the doctor's advice I bought smaller seed - Parakeet/Finch food and he did start to pick it up within the next 2 days.

But now he has lost a lot of weight! He is way too skinny. I can feel his entire breast bone all the way under him and his head is looking bony too. I'm very worried. He's acting angry at times too.
Another concern is at the moment I am forced to try to find a better home for him and I'm not getting any takers. I feel like he needs one to get better but the sicker he gets, the less anyone will want him :-(

I am in the process of moving to another city and only staying at someone's apartment when I found him. It's definitely not ideal for him but I couldn't let him die outside where he most definitely would have with the predators we have here. (hawks, coyotes) He has no other pigeon friends and has never even flown outside which just kills me. He is alone most of the day and only gets to fly in a bedroom.

Do you think he had stopped eating because of his living conditions? He is very imprinted on me and I haven't been able to spend as much time with him as I used to. He is expressing it by snubbing me in favour of my daughter or pecking at me in an angry way for a while when I do see him. I usually sing and cuddle/pet him every night and missed a few to try to make our separation easier. Is this what I should be doing?
Do pigeons need to be in groups? I figure they aren't solitary creatures.
I feel so responsible for not only his health which is perilous but also for his happiness. :(

I'm sorry, there are a lot of questions here. I'd appreciate any direction at all. Thank you so much.

Bella
 

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He may be under some stress which hasn't helped. He stopped eating because he is too weak and/or sick. Start hand (force feeding) feeding immediately.

You can give frozen peas (defrosted, warmed and drained) for now. It is easier and not so invasive, which means less stress for the bird. Open beak, insert pea, allow bird to swallow/close beak and repeat.

I wouldn't go back to feeding baby bird food, usually they don't even want it when they are grown plus it is stressful. Get him on some real pigeon seed while you hand feed him.

He needs to gain back the weight he lost as well as get his immunities in order or he will perish. Give him some probiotics each day and/or a drop of organic apple cider vinegar to get his gut ph on track and help get weight on.

Keep him warm and out of drafts of air.

What diagnosis did the vet give you?

What other symptoms does he display?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks....more info ...

Thanks for your reply. You're always great for getting back to people.

The thing is, Perry does eat his pigeon seed but I don't know how often he's eating considering he's lost weight the way he has. I suspect not very often. He may be waiting until he sees me which is only around 3 or 4 in the afternoon for about 4 hours. That's why I wondered about the whole 'community' aspect vs 'solitary bird' thing and him being out of his natural/innate habitat. I don't know what to do about that though. Hence, finding him a Rehabber as soon as possible I guess. :(

I still mix a bit of the parakeet/finch seed in with the pigeon seed (because it has probiotics in it) and he prefers those seeds first. I wondered if maybe eating just those over pigeon seed caused him to be malnourished?

He won't eat peas (never liked them much) but used to love corn - could eat huge kernels in a gulp. Now - can't or won't pick even a small one out of my hand. He rips at my hand and throws it at the wall over and over again.

You're right about the Baby Formula. He used to love it (I've always mixed his seed in it) but now he won't touch it. He seems to 'want' me to feed him 'something'. I just don't know what he wants. :( If I pretend to eat his seeds with my fingers, he will usually eat but I can't be with him all the time like another pigeon.

I don't know much about Imprinting or when they choose mates but can a pigeon starve himself because he's not happy? I'm truly up all night trying to figure out what to do.

Oh, as far as his energy, he's fine. He flies around, rather erratically at times but it appears controlled. Just like he's practicing his tight turns or a bit angry sometimes. He is still very kind at times. Sleeps on us and will not get off of me after his initial snubbing for the first 10 minutes. :rolleyes:
 

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I think it has an illness or disfunction. What kind of tests have you done for him? There are five categories of infections:

-bacterial (like salmonellosis, ornithosis etc)
-protozoan (canker, coccidiosis)
-fungal (aspergillosis, candidiasis)
-viral (PMV, pox)
-worms

For each one are specific kind of lab analyses using microscope observations, bacterial cultures, all based on samples of droppings and saliva. Are you sure you have done all the tests? Because some vet clinics may not have the means of performing all of them or may not tell you about the whole range of tests. The bacterial cultures needs from few to ten days to establish if there is a bacteria(s) and what kind.


Other possibility is that ingested something metalic or another indigestible object or may have an internal injury from a hit.
 

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Vet Tests

Hi and thanks for your help as well.

The vet spent an hour and a bit with Perry and I and was really very nice and helpful. Cost me almost $250. well worth it dollars but we ruled out
Canker or any respiratory illness for sure, tested for PMV - the reason for my visit in the first place (most expensive test since it was sent out of clinic and took over a week for results) and tested stool for any parasites which came back clean. He did a swab in his mouth and cloaca and really examined him everywhere.

At the end, he said, "If you hadn't said Perry was having any adverse symptoms I would just say you have a very healthy pigeon here".

This was all when he was healthily eating his formula with seed in it a few times a day when I fed him, but unable to pick up dry seed on his own.

Oh, I just remembered something! Fungal ! The night after his vet appt. I called the vet back and said that Perry was 'still' standing on one leg and I'd noticed he had a yellow swelling/lump under his foot and it was extending up his toes, swelling them a bit.
I never made this connection to his eating. I feel so badly .....

The vet said he never noticed it but it was so bad that Perry had already been standing on one leg before the appt. but my being such a novice didn't look at his foot - only wondered if it was possibly PMV connected. I'd hoped for a free follow up since it must have been there at appt. He said to email a photo (attached but not very clear, sorry) then said I could try putting Aloe on it.
I have no clue where to buy Aloe for this?? I'm in Southwestern Ontario. Pharmacy item or pet store item?

I tried Kids' Polysporin (safer) with pain relief and it seemed to help a bit but how to keep it on his foot more than a few minutes was beyond me. I also tried something with Aloe and Lidocaine in it (Solarcaine) - for minor burns and pain quick pain relief - because I thought that might have been the problem. I put his bath out about 5 minutes later and he practically ran to it and just sat in it. :(

I would do anything for him but I'm just at a loss. Would a fungal infection in his foot, if it hurts too much make him not want to eat? I guess that makes sense. My poor boy. I can't afford another vet appt. right now though. Is there something I can do for him at home?
 

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First off...your feed him formula way too long. Parakeet seed doesn't have enough protein for pigeons which may have something to do with the weight loss. Call feed store and see if you can find a pigeon seed mix. If you can't find any, you can add lentils, split peas,brown rice. Austrian peas and small pop corn to a dove mix.
Here are some pre-written feeding instructions. I would hand feed him at least 2 times a day.
The yellow lump sounds like pus. Birds have hard pus. it doesn't come to a head and ooze like ours would. If a veterinarian doesn't treat birds as a regular practice, many don't under stand this. If he has a pus pocket on his foot, it probably does hurt and he also needs antibiotics. I don't know why you think that my be PMV. Can you post a picture of the foot?

You can hand feed defrosted peas. Run some hot water over them until they are defrosted and slightly warmed. Put the bird on your lap and hold it next to your body. If it helps because you are having a hard time handling the pigeon, you can wrap a towel around it or put it in the sleeve of a tee shirt, with the head out the wrist. This method confines the pigeon without hurting him and makes it easier to handle. Gently open the beak and pop a pea at the back of the mouth and over the throat. It gets easier and faster, with practice, for both you and the bird.
You will need to feed 40-50 per feeding [depending on the size of the pigeon] and every time the crop empties until you know the baby is eating on his own. After a couple of feedings, most squeakers get the hang of it, pick up the peas on their own and naturally transition into a seed diet.
The crop is located below the throat and above the keel bone, which is in the center of the bird. When full, it fills like a little balloon and feels lumpy from the peas.
 

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You are a very good person to spend so much money with her.



The fact that he has no obvious symptoms doesn't mean that is healthy, as birds naturally hide their weakness simulating a healthy behaviour when they have problems, to avoid attacks by predators that select the apparently more vulnerable inividuals. The fact he doesn't eat and has lost weight is very serious from what I've read and seen. He also may have ingested some object so a radiography may help.







The symptoms of PMV (going in circles, not being able to pick seeds) corespond to affections of nervous system and can have many causes, not only PMV.





If you have time to take him out in park or some natural environment (they like very much in natural forests where can find much more types of seeds and plants, even if they don't eat them, they play) you can make a leash for this. If you buy one (I suppose you can find there, in Romania is not such thing for birds) it probably won't fit perfectly his dimensions, hinder his movements and seriously affects his locomotory aparatus which is very fragile, so it is preferably to do it yourself.



I made and used such leashes from thin but resistent cloth (from old and more expensive shirts) at some pigeons. After many several trials, I come to the shape in first photo, which must have the strips cross-tied on bird's back (the big hole is for neck an the smaller two ones for legs, ofcourse). As I said, dimensions are crucial an you won't find the proper ones from first attempt, you need to make one leash, put it on bird and see where it touches the wing joints, or if is too narrow at the neck (it must stay somewhere on the middle of the crop) or too wide making the least to let too much of the body passing through it etc. When you tie it up, you must observe carefully if it doesn't leave the possibility to the birds to get rid of it by being too loose and neither to be too tight causing stress.



After you tie up the cloth part of the leash on bird's body, you attach a strap of it. Is use an 1″ wide elastic band because it doesn't tangles as a rope does and doesn't shock the bird when it tries to fly away and stretches the strap. Is ~12 feet long (if is too long the bird may remain in a tree because the strap tangles with the branches or it may enter somewhere from where you can't get it out etc) and at each end has a loop. I pass one end between the bird's body and the cloth part and through this end's loop I pass the other end, such way fastening rapidly and securely the bird. At the free end of the strap I attach a heavy enough object to not be carried away by bird, because if you simply keep the free end in your hand, you may skip it and lose the bird.


Be cautious that if the bird escapes with the leash on it, it may cause it to be captured by predators, or tangle in a tree and die of starvation etc. I saw a pigeon with a cloth leash (made by somebody else) on it and it managed to fly relatively well because it didn't have a strap attached, but even so, it increases its efforts to fly.


The cloth part must be of high quality textile material, because cheap material ravels more easily than you would expect, during bird's movements.







 

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Now biting and loud cooing

Hi everyone. Thank you for your help and advice. I think I've given too much information and a bit out of order. Let me try to simplify.

The symptoms of PMV were over a month ago and no longer an issue. Perry can 'usually' pick up seeds and is no longer walking in circles or having issues of what I thought was paralysis. (must have been wrong).

Only active symptoms are: Feet - looks swollen under one foot and is yellow under the fleshy center part, going up his toes. NOW it's got brown on top of the yellow. That can't be good! There are a couple brown spots on his leg too. Very small but visible.

Also -- He does eat. But apparently not enough. Because he's losing weight and looks quite skinny. His head and neck and I've hardly ever seen him have a full crop - certainly not in a month or more. But here's the thing, he acts like he's starving (pecking at us all the time, looking for food on the bed/ground/window sill) but outright refuses to eat anything I offer him. It's SO frustrating and heartbreaking!

I have tried to do the force feeding of peas so many times. It is NOT simple or easy and I DO have experience handling him since he was a 2 week old fledgling. I thought he was going to twist his own neck off or I would accidently break it. He is so tough and stubborn. I swear -- I tried over 20 times over the course of 2 days. There is no way that pea would get or stay in his mouth. I closed his beak but somehow .... he spit it out!

I tried bread crumbs, warmed, defrosted corn, his pigeon seed warmed in water or his old baby food thinking 'maybe?' ..... he won't take anything from me. He WILL eat a bit from his dish if I encourage him, but not always and it's obviously not enough. Now he is very loudly cooing several times in a row as he advances towards me and pecks at me or bites me. He bit my 11 year old daughter really hard twice today while she was just offering him food. It's like we aren't offering him what he wants. But what does he want?

The thought occurred to me that he had damaged his crop or something but he appears to eat his seed with no difficulties when he does so on his own and he's still producing around 30 or more bowel movements a day but I don't count them. Seems the same as always mind you. Maybe a bit less.

I'm at my wits end and honestly, I think he needs a good Rehab home with other pigeons so he can be happy. He does not have company much at all. He is alone most of the day and all of the night and that is not fair to him. I can't stand to know he is suffering in any way. I wish someone could just pick him up, make him all better and help him be happy ...... :(
 

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Regarding the foot. To me, and from my experience, looks like he had his foot on a hot surface. Apply antibiotic ointment and bandage his foot. It should heal in 1 week.

Regarding handfeeding him defrosted peas, if you follow closely the instructions and you wrap him in a towel and when you open the beak with same hand you are holding the head/neck, everything will work fine.

Do not let him starve. It's very important to feed him.
 

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He needs the proper grains and seeds first off.

then he needs more stimulation to eat on his own. parent pigeons peck at seeds and grains with their squabs begging beside them, the babies soon learn from the parents actions..your hand needs to peck at seeds and "eat" with him for awhile.. during the weaning process they do lose a bit of weight.

as for finding him a home, you would put adoption adds out. there is one on this site.
 

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I don't think he is sick at all. I think he is spoiled, by your hand feeding him for so long, and he is skinny because most pigeons that age are skinny as they haven't filled out yet. He is picking out the seeds he likes, and not eating all the different kinds. He's being picky. Feeding peas by hand is very easy really. If you hold him on your lap and against your body, then you have control over him. Come from behind his head with one hand and clasp his beak on either side. Now open it with the other hand and put in a pea. Push it too the back of the throat and over the tongue. Let go of his beak and let him swallow. If he spits it out, then you haven't put it back far enough. They all have trouble picking up seed when they are learning, so that is normal. I'm sorry, but it sounds like you are looking for things to be wrong that just aren't there. He's probably fine. How can you be sure how much weight he is losing? Have you weighed him with a gram scale? He knows how to pick up seed, and he is pooping daily. If you want to top off what he is actually eating, then give him the defrosted peas at the end of the day. He will do better in time.
Not sure what happened to the feet, but it is possible, as Dima has said that he burned them. He knows how to eat, he just needs to learn to eat everything, not just what he likes. If he is biting and angry, then maybe he does not like all the handling. As far as eating, the seed doesn't need to be soaked. If he is hungry enough he will eat. Stop spoiling him, and looking for things.Sounds like the only problem now is the feet. Put on antibiotic cream and keep them clean.
 
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