How to Care for an Injured Pigeon?

Caring for an injured pigeon is not something most of us plan to do. But life is full of unexpected turns, and sometimes we find ourselves in situations we never imagined. One such situation is stumbling upon an injured pigeon. Pigeons are common city birds, often unnoticed until one is in distress and needs help.

Providing care for an injured pigeon requires a few steps: identifying the bird is injured, safely capturing it, assessing its condition, giving basic first aid, feeding and hydrating, monitoring recovery, and finally releasing it back to the wild or finding long-term care. These steps, while they may seem daunting, are crucial in helping the pigeon recover.

Caring for an injured pigeon is a compassionate act. It’s about giving a voiceless creature a chance to heal and return to its natural life. It’s about recognizing our shared responsibility for the beings we share our urban environments with.

Spotting an Injured Pigeon

Physical Signs to Look For

Often, physical signs are the first indicators of an injured pigeon. This could be a limp, a visible wound, ruffled feathers, or drooping wings. If a pigeon is having trouble flying or is grounded for an extended period, it may be injured.

Unusual Behavior Indicating Injury

Behavioral changes are another indication of an injured pigeon. These could include lethargy, lack of appetite, or staying alone away from the flock. If a pigeon allows you to approach it without attempting to flee, it may be in distress.

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Safely Capturing the Pigeon

Necessary Equipment

Before approaching the pigeon, gather necessary equipment such as a towel or blanket to gently capture it, and a cardboard box or pet carrier for transportation. Don’t forget to wear gloves to protect both yourself and the bird.

Handling Technique

When capturing the bird, throw the towel gently over it to keep it calm and prevent it from injuring itself further. Hold the bird firmly but gently, ensuring not to squeeze it. Always be cautious about its wings.

Creating a Temporary Shelter

Place the pigeon in the box or carrier. Ensure it’s comfortable and the box is secure, preventing the pigeon from escaping and injuring itself further.

an injured gray pigeon

Assessing the Pigeon’s Condition

Visible Wound Examination

Once the pigeon is safe and secure, your next step is to assess the bird’s condition. Start with a visible wound examination. Look for any external injuries such as cuts, abrasions, puncture wounds, or broken feathers.

In addition, look for signs of blood or unusual discharge, as these could be indications of internal injuries. However, remember to handle the pigeon gently during this examination to avoid causing more distress or injury. If a wound is found, you will need to provide first aid.

Identifying Common Illnesses

Apart from physical injuries, pigeons can also suffer from illnesses. Common signs of illness include unusual droppings, disheveled feathers, loss of appetite, lethargy, or strange behavior. Other indications could include discharge from the eyes or beak, breathing difficulties, or a change in weight.

These signs might indicate common pigeon diseases such as paratyphoid, coccidiosis, or canker. Recognizing these signs early is crucial in providing the right care and treatment. However, diagnosing bird diseases can be challenging, and it’s recommended to seek professional help when dealing with sick birds.

When to Contact a Veterinarian

While some injuries or illnesses can be managed at home, more serious cases require professional help. If the pigeon has severe wounds, isn’t improving, shows signs of a serious illness, or if you’re unsure about the bird’s condition, contact a veterinarian or a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

These professionals have the necessary training and resources to care for injured or sick birds properly. Remember, it’s important not to administer any medications without professional guidance, as incorrect dosages or types of medicine can cause harm.

Providing Basic First Aid

Cleaning Wounds and Applying Antiseptic

If the pigeon has a visible wound, the first step is to clean it. Use warm saline water (1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 pint of boiled, cooled water) to gently clean the wound. Avoid using household antiseptics as these can be too strong for birds.

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Instead, use a bird-safe antiseptic available at pet stores or vet clinics. After cleaning, apply the antiseptic using a clean cotton swab.

Stabilizing Fractures and Wing Injuries

If the pigeon has a fractured leg or wing, it’s crucial to stabilize the injury before taking it to a professional. You can use a small splint and bandages to secure the fractured area. However, avoid trying to set the fracture yourself – incorrect setting can cause more harm.

Keeping the Bird Warm and Comfortable

Comfort and warmth are key to an injured bird’s recovery. Keep the pigeon in a quiet, dark, and warm place. You can use a heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to provide warmth. However, ensure the bird has space to move away from the heat source if it becomes too hot.

Feeding and Hydrating the Pigeon

Suitable Foods for Pigeons

Proper nutrition is critical for a pigeon’s recovery. You can feed them bird seeds, peas, corn, or chopped fruits and vegetables. Avoid giving them bread as it doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients.

How to Safely Provide Water

Dehydration can worsen a pigeon’s condition, so it’s crucial to provide water. Place a shallow dish of water in the box. If the bird doesn’t drink on its own, you can gently dip its beak in the water. However, ensure not to cover the nostrils to prevent water from entering the lungs.

Nutritional Requirements of Injured Birds

Injured or ill pigeons may have special nutritional requirements. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can aid recovery. Consult a vet for advice on any dietary supplements the bird may need.

Monitoring the Pigeon’s Recovery

Daily Health Checks

Monitor the pigeon’s condition daily. Check for improvements in its behavior, appetite, and physical condition. Also, observe the bird’s droppings as changes can indicate health status.

Signs of Improvement

Improvement signs could include an increase in appetite, more activity, cleaner feathers, and improved balance. These signs suggest that the bird is on the path to recovery.

Possible Complications to Watch For

Watch for signs of complications such as loss of appetite, lethargy, change in droppings, or worsening of the initial symptoms. These could indicate an underlying disease or complications and should be addressed immediately by a vet.

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Preparing for Release or Long-Term Care

Assessing the Pigeon’s Readiness for Release

Before releasing the pigeon, ensure it’s ready. It should be able to fly well, exhibit normal behavior, and feed on its own. Release should ideally be done in a familiar environment to the bird.

When Long-Term Care is Necessary

In some cases, the pigeon might not fully recover and require long-term care. Consult a wildlife rehab center or a vet on how to proceed in such cases.

Finding a Wildlife Rehabilitator

Wildlife rehabilitators are professionals trained in caring for injured wildlife. If long-term care is needed, it’s best to hand the pigeon over to a rehab center where it will receive professional care.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if a pigeon is in pain?

Injured or ill pigeons may exhibit changes in behavior, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or difficulty moving. They might also have visible wounds, ruffled feathers, or difficulty flying.

What should I feed an injured pigeon?

Injured pigeons can be fed bird seeds, peas, corn, and chopped fruits and vegetables. Avoid feeding them bread as it lacks necessary nutrients.

Should I attempt to treat a sick pigeon myself?

While you can provide basic first aid, it’s always best to consult a vet or a wildlife rehabilitation center for treating sick or severely injured pigeons.


Caring for an injured pigeon is an act of kindness that can make a difference in a bird’s life. It requires observation, a gentle approach, knowledge, and patience. From identifying the injured bird, to providing first aid and nourishment, and monitoring its recovery – every step is crucial in this compassionate journey.

Remember, your goal is to help the pigeon heal and return to its natural environment. However, sometimes despite our best efforts, a bird might require long-term care or might not survive. In such cases, take solace in the fact that you provided the bird with comfort and care during its time of distress.

Lastly, while it’s essential to help our feathered friends, always ensure your safety and the bird’s welfare by seeking professional help when necessary. Caring for wildlife, even in the heart of our cities, reminds us of the interconnectedness of life and our shared responsibility for all living beings.

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