Racing Pigeon Hanging Around- What Should I Do?
I am hoping you can help me with what I should or should not do, who I can contact, etc. I have called our local animal shelter and was told he eventually will leave. But I am not so sure. A pigeon with a band on his leg has made my carport his home. He has been here for 9 days. He doesn’t appear to be injured or sick. He does fly. Sometimes he leaves for an hour or so, but then comes back. Mostly he stays in the carport on the garbage can or my truck bumper.
I have been feeding him with bird seed/grain I bought for Doves and Pigeons and giving him fresh water daily. He is drinking and eating well. I cannot read the numbers on the band. I have not actually touched the bird, although he lets me get within a foot of him before he starts to move away… I don’t know if I should be feeding him or not. Any info you can give me as to what to do/who to call would be helpful. I can’t continue to keep him around, I have two dogs and a cat.
Friend of a Homeless Racer
The bird that you are helping is likely a victim of the pigeon racing sport. Many think it is a harmless hobby but lots of the birds used are injured, lost and/or die along the way. They are domestic birds, not raised to survive in the wild and, without the food and water that you are providing, he’d probably be dead already. Here’s some information about what I call ‘kidnap racing’- Pigeon Racing: The Deadliest Marathons.
He may rest up and regain enough weight and strength to try and return to the home that he was taken from to race. He might even make it. That home may be a good one or it may be a terrible one. (Some pigeon racers kill or “cull” late-returning birds to eliminate them from the bloodline.) Or that home may not exist anymore. (Unwanted racers are often sold- some to be used for hunting dog-training or live, canned pigeon shoots– extra points for killing a banded bird.) Or he may be killed trying to get back home or while hanging around your house (a lone pigeon is at terrible risk from all sorts of predators).
If you are able to lure him indoors with food (either your garage or house) and then, once inside, catch him, you can probably find a good sanctuary-type forever home for him (or provide one yourself). Check Pigeon Talk to find a pigeon rescuer in your area.) He will be much easier to corner and catch indoors than outside. Even tame birds get spooked when someone tries to ‘catch’ them. Once caught, house him indoors in a a large dog crate until a proper home can be found. (Unless you have a compromised immune system, you’re not at risk of disease from a pigeon.)
Homing pigeons make amazingly wonderful pets. And many of us who have pet pigeons also have cats and dogs. Their relationship needs to be managed but most will do fine sharing a household. Here’s an article about Pigeons as Indoor Pets and another about How to Create an Aviary for Rescued Pigeons.
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Thank you for helping this stranded bird. Pigeons are so smart and emotional. This one is asking for (and needs) your help. I call birds like this “self-rescuers.” If you can catch him and give him a good, non-breeding, non-sporting home- yours or that of another compassionate person. That is what he needs.
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All the very best to you and your new friend,