Care of Lost Pigeons
Lost birds are generally hungry and thirsty. Thirst must be quenched first and since pigeons are among the few birds that drink by suction, an open container of one or two inches deep is needed. To encourage the pigeon to drink, trickle the water from five or six inches above the container so that it makes a splashing noise as it fills the container. Your new arrival may not drink immediately due to exhaustion or fear but once it gains courage, it probably will. To restore the pigeon’s lost electrolytes a teaspoon of Gatorade or similar sport drink may be added to the water although it is not mandatory.
We perceive that most feral pigeons eat bread, but most likely your new charge has never seen bread and was raised on grain by the owner. With that in mind, attempt to feed the bird rice, split peas, barley, buckwheat, or popcorn. These grains should be fed raw. Water should be near at hand as pigeons generally drink after eating. House the bird in an old birdcage or carton that is safe from dogs and cats. If you use a cardboard box, place a screen top rather than close the flaps on it so the lost bird will be able to see to eat and drink. Store the container in a shady, dry location.
If the newly found pigeon has a band on its leg, the band will contain numbers and letters which will enable its owner to be found in most instances. But, after a day or two of rest and nourishment, most homing pigeons will readily resume the journey home if released in an area free of wires and obstacles. Please don’t try to attach a note to the bird’s leg or wing as circulation may be impaired causing loss of a limb or worse. Should you decide to trace the bird to its owner, write the letters and numbers down on a note pad. These bands (rings) will carry both the year and initials of the organization issuing the band to the breeder of the pigeon:
- AU – American Racing Pigeon Union
- IF – International Federation
- CU – Canadian Racing Pigeon Union
The national racing club of the country of origin will be able to track lost racing homers bearing GB, NL, BELG, etc., bands. Any of the three organizations above will be glad to offer assistance in this search process. If your pigeon is one of the fancy breeds that does not fly too well, it will probably have CPFA Canadian Pigeon Fanciers Association or NPA National Pigeon Association on the leg band and by contacting either of those Associations it can often be tracked to the owner. Many of these bands are sold through feed stores, however, and records are not kept. If this is the case, contact your local feed store(s) and they may be able to put you in contact with a local pigeon breeder who will likely know a breed club secretary or someone able to help you. If you decide to adopt the pigeon, contact one of the above organizations for tips on care and housing of your new pet and begin enjoying one of the most interesting of hobbies!
Mr. Andy Loudon
Mid Island Racing Pigeon Association
Qualicum Beach , BC V9K 2L7