Companion and Urban Animals > Wild Animals > Wild Bird Index

Advice on caring for a pigeon

January 02, 2006

Homing Pigeon Kicked Out Now Living in Apt Complex;
Confused and Not Being Cared For

Can anyone give me a clue as to where I might be able to take this poor bird and how to catch it if so? He or she is a homing pigeon that was owned by someone in my apt complex and then they moved and kicked the bird out. From what someone told me, homing pigeons never leave their "area," and this poor thing has adopted someone's patio on the second floor of an apt complex. The people are giving it bread, and maybe seed, and they've put a little bed out on the patio for it, but I'm pretty sure that bread isn't good for it, I know other birds require vegetables, meat and other things, and I believe they need to be more confined in a warmer area. The bird also travels within the complex picking at the ground and sometimes goes to the top of the stairwell of other apts and just sits there for a while. He is also chased and pursued by some nasty little kids and a cat that roams free in the complex. He cannot possibly survive this cold weather and the people that he/she has adopted don't really care about him/her, they just find him/her amusing.

I cannot catch it, but I do have a cat trap, but I don't know if that would be dangerous and I don't know where I would take it. California Wildlife Center won't take pigeons. I used to have a wildlife contact, but not anymore. I cannot "build" anything for the bird or take it in since I do cat rescue. The only thing I can do is buy it some food and spread it out on the ground, but I want to help it. It is a beautiful tan and white, plump bird and very peaceful.

Can anyone help or give me some contacts or advice?


Answer from Barry MacKay

First and foremost….

Keep feeding the bird in one place, to build up trust and to keep the poor thing nourished.

Meanwhile, seek to find a home. Not always easy, and I have no special contacts in California, but there are sometimes members of pigeon societies who will take in such "unwanted" strays. The best thing may be to try to find just one homing pigeon society and then see if there is, among the membership, someone willing to take the bird, or direct the caller to other such organizations. Some wildlife rehab facilities keep lists of people willing and able to take in pigeons and white doves.

The bird can be re-"programmed" to another cote. It is not doomed to always want to return to the same place, but it requires a patient process of re-adjustment.

A cat-catching live trap is humane if the bird is not left in too long, but there’s little use in catching it until disposition is taken care of. Feeding is very important. Water should be provided in a shallow container, and it does not hurt to put out some grit (budgie gravel is cheap and easy and works fine). They like dry sand. They are, however, extra-vulnerable to predation (hawks, cats, owls etc.) and yes, they tend to be very gentle birds.

The bird should be fed a mix of larger grains, including oats and dried corn.

The bird, if it can’t e placed with other homing pigeons, can live a good life in benign captivity (large space, they tend to get along with other gramivorous birds, such as chickens and ducks, so a poultry rescue sanctuary could work).

Barry MacKay