Found a Sick or Injured Pigeon? Here's What to Do (and Not to Do)
Pigeons. You either love them or hate them. I personally think they are super cute. Have you ever watched a pigeon walking down the street? They look like they're wearing little knickers. It's adorable!
What to Do With an Injured Pigeon
The next time you come across an injured pigeon, please think twice about helping it. Before you intervene, you must make sure that your help is really necessary. If it becomes clear that you are the pigeon's only hope, here are some steps you can take to make sure your response doesn't make the situation worse:
- Pick up the bird and place it in a box or cage. A cage made for guinea pigs works well.
- Place the cage in a warm, dark area to calm the bird which is probably very scared and in pain.
- Prepare an electrolyte solution: Warm a cup of water, add a pinch of salt and sugar, and stir to dissolve. When the water is lukewarm, pour it into a deep cup, and offer it to the bird. Pigeons drink water by sucking, using their beaks as a straw.
- Don't try to feed it at this time. It needs to be rehydrated first.
- If you have a warming pad, place it in the cage or box. Place an old towel over the warming pad and set it on low.
- Check the pigeon for obvious signs of injury: drooping wing, blood, visible cuts.
- If the bird is drinking and seems to be doing okay, you can provide seeds if you have them. Wild bird seed is fine in a pinch. Pigeons love safflower seeds and unpopped popcorn. They can also be fed the smaller millet seed, a basic component in wild bird food.
- If the bird is not eating, he will need immediate help. Pigeons have a high metabolism and need to eat often.
- The Humane Society recommends contacting the closest licensed wildlife rehabilitation center in your area.
Common Pigeon Injuries
A Pigeon With a Broken Wing
A pigeon with a broken wing is usually unable to fly. Sometimes the wing is drooping or dragging. Occasionally there is blood or protruding bone.
Maybe the pigeon was clipped by a car, had a close encounter with a cat, or high winds threw it against the side of a building. In some cases, a veterinarian can repair the wing, but oftentimes the pigeon will be handicapped for life.
A Pigeon With a Pellet Gun Wound
With this type of wound, you would notice a hole in the pigeon. This wound should be examined for possible infection by a vet. The bird will probably also need antibiotics.
A Pigeon With a Broken Foot
You'll often see pigeons with mangled feet. They often get tangled in fishing wire or other loose string. This is very dangerous for the pigeon because it can cut circulation to the foot and cause infection.
How to Help Sick or Wounded Pigeons
- Visit The Pigeon Forum to post about your bird. The people on this forum are helpful and can assist you in finding a vet and getting meds or connect you with a rehabber in your area who can walk you through saving the bird's life.
- Visit the Palomacy Facebook page to ask for help with an injured pigeon.
Do Pigeons Carry Diseases and Will They Make Me Sick?
Unfortunately, pigeons fall victim to many misconceptions and misinformation. Many believe, for instance, that pigeons carry diseases that are communicable to humans. This is simply untrue according to Nicole Benson, an animal advocate who has rescued dozens of pigeons and has never come down with a disease.
"These misconceptions are put out there by pest control companies who want your business," she says. "While there are a few diseases that a pigeon may carry (such as salmonella), it is far more likely that we will infect a pigeon with one of the diseases that we carry."
What Should You Do If You Find a Baby Pigeon?
Tending a baby bird is not an easy task. Like any newborn, a baby pigeon will need a lot of help. Don't immediately pick up the bird and assume that you can figure out what to do. It's best for the bird if you enlist the help of experts. In this situation, the Humane Society recommends contacting the closest licensed wildlife rehabilitation center. If you find a baby bird outside its nest, read What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird—Helping Wildlife for more information.
How do you feel about pigeons?
What If the Pigeon Dies?
Don't be discouraged if you take a pigeon into your care but you're unable to save the bird's life. Not all pigeons can be saved. Benson says "You did what you could, and, at the very least, provided the pigeon with a safe, warm place."
Why Are There Suddenly so Many Pigeons?
If you are flummoxed by an increase in pigeons around your home, don't take drastic measures like hiring an exterminator or using a pellet gun. The birds' sudden arrival is most likely the result of an increase in food. Once the source of food is eliminated, the pigeons will leave. "The pigeons will eat the seeds in your yard, then move on," says animal advocate Nicole Benson. "It's that or deal with weeds later. Besides, their poop is the best fertilizer—full of nitrogen!" One solution for keeping pigeons at bay involves putting a reflective material that will move with the breeze on your roof. The motion and reflection will discourage the birds from landing.
Should I Glue Cowboy Hats to Pigeons' Heads?
The internet is enamored by a video meme featuring pigeons in cowboy hats. The ruggedly handsome birds first showed up on the mean streets of Las Vegas during National Finals Rodeo. It may sound like a funny visual, but it's also a cruel prank. Pigeon advocate Mariah Hillman told Audubon magazine, the hats were inhumanely glued to the pigeons' heads. The hats also likely impaired the birds' 340-degree field of view making it difficult to navigate their surroundings and fly.
In other words, no, you should not glue a cowboy hat (or any other object) to a pigeon's head. A pigeon is a living creature, not an art project.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.