Saturday, 23 May 2015

Casulty 152461 - An injured pigeon in our garden

A while after I got home from Birmingham on Thursday, I glanced into the garden and saw a woodpigeon. There's nothing unusual in that but this one was lying on its back with its legs in the air. I checked it and it was still breathing. I decided to give it about 20 minutes to see if it would come round by itself.

The rescue
20 minutes spent watching for cats between mouthfuls of my microwaved meal and I was out again. The pigeon was still on its back, but clearly conscious and alive - it was blinking now and then.  The situation was clearly not going to resolve itself. Fortunately our area is well served by the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue & Ambulance Service (WRAS).
WRAS to the rescue.
I phoned up and was instructed to put the pigeon in a box, making sure that it was the right way up. I got a box from the loft, put on a pair of soft gardening gloves and squatted down by the pigeon. It looked at me with bright black eyes as I noted the lovely shading from pink on its side to almost white on its belly. As I cupped my hands around it rather plump body, it stretched out a protesting wing. It had a rather nasty wound on its back. I put it in the box the right way up but pigeon had other ideas and promptly rolled over again. I decided to leave it be and carried the box into the conservatory. I dropped an old towel over the whole thing, vaguely remembering that excluding light would calm a stressed, caged bird.

As I waited, I wondered what had happened. I think the most likely explanation is a sparrow hawk. We've seen some clusters of feathers on the ground recently and I glimpsed one in the garden carrying a rodent just a few weeks ago.  Some feathers from our pigeon, scattered over the grass, seemed to confirm this.

The ambulance arrived with two gentle but efficient rescuers. They asked me some questions and examined the bird while completing a form. Admin and examination over, they put the pigeon in a carrier. It snuggled into the soft pink lining, tucking its head into its wings as if it knew it was in good hands. They gave me a casualty number (152461) and information about the organisation including how to donate. I have already donated a few times. I remember giving when I heard about the cascade of baby hedgehogs they got over one winter then to the related Sussex Badger Vaccination Project. However, I've done the decent thing and texted a another donation.

Woodies in our garden

Woodpigeons are regular visitors to our garden. They are rather amusing with their self-important walk and are surprisingly agile when dangling from oak twigs to reach for acorns.  They sometimes build their untidy raft-like nests in our trees and I have occasionally found a discarded eggshell.

Woodpigeon in our garden - 21st May.
Back on the 21st of March, I was surprised to see a juvenile bird. It must have been born at the start of that month. I understand that pigeons make a sort of milk that enables them to start breeding early in the year.  I was able to identify it as a juvenile using the information on the Pigeon and Dove Rescue site.

The post script

On Friday (23 May), WRAS put a post on Facebook outlining the tremendous number of rescues they had done on the day they collected my pigeon. They kindly told me that "He is still with us, doing ok but early days, he was trying to push himself up on the side of the towels we are using to support him earlier."

On Saturday (30 May), WRAS responded to a question on Facebook by saying "Was he the adult one falling on his back with the wounds? ... doing well. Early days for the adult as he has a lot of healing to do, but he is standing and more balanced and eating. It is woodie central at the moment"

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