Pigeons – For Whom the Telephone Rings

Posted: August 3, 2013 in Chat
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We have this long-standing agreement with the local Vet – if there is anything small, preferably feathery, they are having difficulty placing or need help with… we’re here.

So, I got a phone call.

I was tired, didn’t want to take anything else on. I made this plain, but said I’d have a look anyway. It was tiny, a baby pigeon someone had picked up off the floor. It should not really have been out yet. ‘It’d be no trouble, something that small.’ I thought. Brought it home.

We snuggled it down in an old cat carrier, with a warming mat underneath. We built up a higher and higher roosting platform, as it got stronger. Pigeons don’t seem to like roosting low down.

Authorities had recommended baby foods, so we tried this, that – didn’t take to them. Rice definitely not. Then we came across Egg Food: Quiko Classic Eggfood. Excellent. Never without it these days.

Ok, feeding him up – every four hours throughout the day, though: hold him lightly but securely with one had while with the other roll a small bolus of egg food, grain and grit, then prise open his beak and push as far back as comfortable so that he has to swallow it. Otherwise it gets shaken free and spat out. Sometimes stroking his throat downwards aids the swallowing. To check it is actually down there and not spat out all over the place (!) you can tell by finding and then checking how full his crop is getting. Not a natural way for a bird to feed or be fed, but needs must.

Pigeons are one of those birds that drink by sucking, as opposed to say, hens, crows, blackbirds etc who fill their beaks then lift to drain it down. No, pigeons drink like us. And don’t they drink!

Over the weeks his beak changed shape from a flatter bumpy light coloured beak to more grown up dark and adult. His nostrils actually seemed to retreat down his beak from about half way, to the base. He lost his yellow baby fluffy look. Our boy was growing up.
His feathers were a bit of a mess, with food stuck here and there. We tried to bathe him. We eventually managed to clean him up. He got the hang of it and started his own grooming. And bathing – they love bathing. It goes everywhere but that’s the fun of it. It is, isn’t it?

He hasn’t grown very big, though. Usually stunted growth is due to parasites at an early age. He had been checked and found to be free. It probably means he was a runt or has something a bit askew.

So, growing up meant he was readyfor big-boy food. We actually had to teach him how to take on large seeds from pigeon feed. Online sources recommend we start him on peas and sweetcorn. Frozen, then thawed but not warm or hot. We got him to take these easily enough.

The difficult bit, the most risky time, is when he has to learn for himself how to manipulate food from his beak tip to the back to be swallowed. No easy thing; it involves correct use of tongue in combination with slight throws back up the beak. While all this is going on they’re out of the nest, so early flying lessons and independent eating are going on concurrently.

We got it right.

 

Then one of us came home a few days before Christmas with a little bundle: another one! This one was drenched to the skin in freezing December rain and sleet. It seemed he had given up. Warmth and food did the trick. The same procedures all over again: every four hours during the day with the egg food, then getting the big stuff down. Then the risky times.

Ok, now there are four!

I had said No, that’s enough! Then the Vet rang that first time.

Beware for whom the telephone rings – it rings for you, your time and your patience

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Comments
  1. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

  2. Thanks ever so much – birds, take a bow! (Stop biting!)

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