What to feed a baby dove with feathers
Baby Mourning Doves: Caring for and Feeding Abandoned Dove Babies
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You step outside to get the mail and you find a baby bird in your driveway—what do you do? Should you leave it, rescue it, try and put it back in its nest?
It can be nerve-wracking finding a baby bird on the ground and wondering what the best option is, especially since not all species can be treated the same.
Here are a few tips to prepare you for that day:
Step 1: don’t panic
Step 2: read this article
Here, you’ll learn all about baby Mourning Doves and how to care and feed them if they’re abandoned. It’ll be just a little more information in your pocket, should you ever be in this situation.
Let’s dive in!
Baby Mourning Doves are called squabs or chicks.
When they are just hatchlings and a few days old, their bodies are covered in patchy, yellowish down. The down is very thin and you can still see their naked bodies. Their bills are dark, as well as their faces, and their eyes will be closed. At this point, they are only a few inches long.
Around 7-ish days, the squab’s eyes will be open and will be dark. They also will have started to get in some pin feathers. These look just like the shaft of a feather without the barbs. They will lay in a relatively ordered fashion. You’ll also still see the scraggly, yellowish down poking up around the pin feathers, which makes the nestling look pretty frazzled and messy! They will have almost doubled in weight and size.
Around 12 days, the Mourning dove will be a fully feathered fluffball. It’s feathers will be a slaty brown color. They will have grown so much that they will be larger than your palm. At this size and age, the babies will be about ready to leave the nest and take flight for the first time!
What do baby mourning doves eat?
Unlike many other baby birds, little doves don’t gape—the mouth wide open, begging for food behavior. When they’re hungry they will root around. The parents provide “crop milk” to their babies.
Crop milk (also known as pigeon milk) is a semi-solid excretion that is made by the sloughing of fluid-filled cells from the lining of the crop.
The crop is a thin-walled, sac-like food-storage chamber that extends off the esophagus and is normally part of the digestive system. Food can be stored here quickly while the bird is foraging in the open and allows the bird to go back into a secluded area to digest. Most birds have crops, but not all make crop milk.
As said before, the crop is normally part of the digestive system, but it shifts its function to milk production just a day or two prior to the eggs’ hatching. This is believed to be caused by hormonal changes. During that time, the parents may stop eating entirely so there is no seed in the crop. Brand new hatchlings aren’t able to digest seed yet, so this is for the better! After several days of feeding crop milk to the babies, the hormone levels taper off and the crop no longer produces as much milk. By this time, the squabs are able to digest regurgitated seeds from mom and dad.
Crop milk is nutrient-dense and contains more protein and fats than human or cow milk. It also has immune-building properties with antioxidants and antibodies from the parent.
Both parents can produce crop milk, so both are able to feed their babies. This is done by opening their mouths wide and allowing the squab to stick their little heads in and suck it up through their bills like a straw. This is important to keep in mind if having to hand feed baby doves, as sucking is their natural instinct and the safest way for them to eat.
Crop milk substitute
If you find a squab that needs rescuing (we’ll talk about how to determine this in the next section) chances are you’re going to need to make a homemade crop milk substitute or purchase a formula.
A great formula substitute is RoudyBush Squab diet. Yes—there are pictures of parrots on it. Don’t worry, it can be used for baby doves, too.
Roudybush Squab Diet For Birds, 1-Pound
- No Added Sugars Or Colors
- 100-Percent Edible And No Animal By Products
- Scientifically Formulated
Last update on 2022-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The only potential issue with this is it will need to be ordered online and might take a day or two to arrive. If it’s likely you’ll be hand-rearing the baby for a few weeks, this is a good option.
Another substitute is Kaytee Exact Handfeeding Formula which is available at pet stores. Some reviewers say this formula doesn’t offer the babies as well of a nutritional panel as RoudyBush, and the birds are often below the curve for weight. If it’s a matter of life or death for a squab, this is better than nothing.
A last option if you don’t have access to a pet store and need it immediately is homemade formula using baby cereal. Make it more runny if the baby is wee little and gradually thicken it up as they get bigger. A good test is to see how quickly their crop empties. If it empties too quickly, start to thicken it up.
How often do baby mourning doves need feeding?
Brand new babies will need to be fed more often than older squabs. The younger doves will also eat formula that is more watered down. All feedings should occur within a 12-hour span.
- 0-4 days old: 5 feedings per day
- 5-7 days old: 4 feedings per day
- 8-14 days old: 3 feedings per day
- Fledgling: seeds
The safest way to feed a baby dove is by pouring the formula onto a tablespoon and letting them suck it up. Remember earlier when I said to keep their straw-sucking instincts in mind? If food is poured into their mouths, they may aspirate by trying to suck while you’re pouring or dropping it in. So it’s best to let them take the lead and let them slurp it up themselves!
Does the baby mourning dove need to be rescued?
A few different factors go into the response to this situation.
The first step in deciding if a baby dove needs rescued is by determining what stage of growth it’s in. The second is analyzing what the situation is while keeping its growth stage in mind. For example, a 2-day old baby found in the driveway vs a 14 day old found in the driveway will have different solutions!
Baby dove growth stages
Stage 1: unfeathered
Unfeathered babies are roughly 0-6 days old. This early in the brooding stage, it’s unusual to find babies out of the nest, but not impossible.
One reason a baby might be out is if the entire nest was blown over or knocked down. Wind, predators, or weather can all knock a nest loose.
Babies can also be found on the ground if the parents perceive it to be defective in some way and decide to remove it from the nest.
Babies this young cannot be left on the ground!
At this point in their life, they are too young and too naked to keep themselves warm. If a baby is found, it needs to be warmed up immediately. This can be done using a heating pad on the low setting or using electronics that heat up and are warm to the touch, such as laptops or game systems. A little heat goes a long way for them, and this is the first priority.
While the baby is warming up, see if the nest can be located. If the nest turns out to be blown over, see if it can be put back securely so it won’t fall again. If it can’t, find a new place for it that isn’t entirely out in the open and won’t get drenched when it rains.
Once the baby warms up, put it back in the nest and watch for the parents to come back to it. If they do, you’re good to go. If not, the baby might need hand-reared.
If the baby you find is not from a blown over nest and was kicked out by its parents, it will need to be hand-reared with a crop milk substitute, at least for a few days. After a few days of feeding, put it back in the nest and see if the parents take care of it. If they kick it out again, it will need hand-reared until it’s old enough to survive on its own.
If it turns out that you have to hand-rear the baby for a while, a makeshift nest box will be needed with either a fake nest inside or nesting material like straw. A heat lamp is the best option to keep the baby warm, so your heating pad doesn’t get dirty.
Stage two: partially feathered
Partially feathered babies are roughly 7 days old to fledging age (12-15 days old).
At this age the babies are far enough along that the parents probably didn’t kick them out, so if a baby is found on the ground, it’s almost always from nest failure. This is actually a good thing because there’s a better chance the parents will take back over when the nest is fixed.
As with the younger babies, get these squabs warmed up. Once they’re warm, investigate the nest situation. It either fell in a storm or broke apart because it was poorly constructed.
If it only fell, try and secure it as mentioned before. If the nest is found to be broken or falling apart, a new one will be needed. You can buy fake nests from a craft store, or make one. Don’t be afraid to make them, there are online tutorials to show you how!
Once the old or new nest is up, put the baby inside and wait for the parents to come. If they don’t come by nightfall, bring the baby in for the night and then return them again in the morning. If the parents still don’t come back, by the afternoon or evening, the baby will need to be hand-reared and kept in a nest box with heat.
Stage three: fully feathered
Fully feathered babies are fledgling age (12-15 days, give or take) and are nearly self-sufficient. If one of these babies is found on the ground, it doesn’t need to be returned to a nest. Actually, it’s highly possible that this baby just took its first flight from its nest to the ground!
Babies at this age are still being monitored from afar and fed by their parents. The best thing you can do for this little one is to leave it be. Of course, there are exceptions.
If the fledgling is in a high traffic area, like a driveway or close to a road or sidewalk, move it somewhere more relaxed. Don’t move it across town, because the parents are still caring for it, just move it a few feet away to safety.
If the fledgling doesn’t try to run away from you when you approach it and it appears cold to the touch and lethargic, it might not be getting fed by mom and dad. You can gently palpate the crop to feel if there’s food inside. If there is, the bird might have an injury or may be sick, in which case it’s best to call a wildlife rehabilitator. If there isn’t anything in the crop, the bird might just need a meal. Some mashed bird seed might help it out.
Helping out a baby bird can seem daunting, but with the right information, you can do it safely and confidently. If you’re still unsure, you can always call a rehabilitation center to see if they can take the baby in!
Chaifetz, T. (2017, September 26). How to Determine the Age of a Mourning Dove Hatchling. Retrieved 2020, from https://animals.mom.me/how-to-determine-the-age-of-a-mourning-dove-hatchling-12452713.html
Ehrlich, P., Dobkin, D., & Wheye, D. (1988). Bird Milk. Retrieved 2020, from https://web.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Bird_Milk.html
Mayntz, M. (2019). Do Birds Produce Milk for Their Young? Retrieved 2020, from https://www.thespruce.com/glossary-definition-of-crop-milk-385209
Mihaylo, K. (2017, August 11). How to Care for a Baby Mourning Dove. Retrieved 2020, from https://animals.mom.me/care-baby-mourning-dove-6968.html
Sebastiani, J. (2012, April 26). Baby Birds: A Dove Story. Retrieved 2020, from http://blog.delawarenaturesociety.org/2011/11/10/baby-birds-a-dove-story/
White, H. (2014). Mourning Dove. Retrieved 2020, from http://www.diamonddove.info/bird13%20Mourning.htm
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What Can I Feed Orphan Baby Wild Doves & Pigeons? – Ron Hines' Vetspace – 2nd Chance – The Animal Health Website
Ron Hines DVM PhD
All Of Dr. Hines’ Other Wildlife Rehab Articles
I love doves – their personality and their graceful beauty. Quite a few have come through my hands over the years. That has been primarily due to their poor nest building abilities. Once a few sticks have been carelessly crossed, doves and pigeons consider the job done.
Doves and pigeons are one of the few groups of birds that you are likely to encounter in the USA, Canada or Europe that require a very specialized diet. While other baby birds are simply present insects and perhaps some of their parent’s adult food by their parents, doves and pigeons (columbine birds) that are raising offspring transform their crop into a “milk” producing organ. Only flamingos, penguins and parrots do something similar. (read here)
Lest you take the word “milk” literally, cow or goat milk is NOT a suitable food for doves or pigeons because they both contain too much lactose sugar (milk sugar) that doves and pigeons cannot digest. This sugar ferments in their digestive tracts causing bloat, diarrhea and respiratory distress that eventually leads to their death.
The percentage constituents of dove milk are unknown. But pigeon milk, which is likely to be very similar, is about 70% water. Of the remaining solids in it, about 53-58% is protein and 34-35% is fat. Very little carbohydrates (including sugars) are present. The actual percentages of the contents of the milks of all species of animals never remains constant. It varies over time. Factors like the time of day, the diet consumed by the parents, the number of offspring being fed and the current age of the offspring all factor into its composition. Luckily, the infant animals of all species have been given the flexibility to deal with these variations. Of course, natural pigeon/dove milk also contains all the essential vitamins and trace minerals that the babies require. As the baby doves or pigeons mature, partially digested grains are regurgitated into this mix as well.
If you have occasion to raise orphan doves or pigeons, there are many recipes that have raised them quite successfully. For fat content, many recipes contain Nutrical® and/or olive or vegetable oils. For protein some contain peas, hemp powder, or vegan soy products. Varying amounts of one or another human or animal vitamin supplement as well as digestive enzymes are often thrown in the pot for good measure. A pinch of this, a smidgen of that – God bless Nature for being so flexible.
One commonly used recipe is called MAC Milk:
Many have found that commercial parrot-raising formulas like Exact® work quite well for doves. Others in Europe use the Psittacus Catalonia Wildiet® formula.My Technique:
Every year I feed out baby doves and pigeons with a recipe I have prepared at home for many years. I chose the ingredients based on what I know about avian nutrition, on products that are are safe, economical and readily available to almost anyone on short notice. This formula has worked well for me and I hope it will work well for you too:This oversize coffee cup of mine comfortably holds 1.5 measuring cups of coffee:
1) Pour 1.25 measuring cups of dry instant oatmeal into the empty cup.
2) To the oatmeal, add 1 cup of shaken Silk® unsweetened organic soy milk that has been microwaved for 30 seconds. Unsweetened, non-flavored Silk® milk adds protein and, as importantly, calcium.
3) Mix them together well with a spoon and microwave the mixture for 1 minute or as you would a cup of coffee.
4) Once the oatmeal and soy milk have cooled, add the contents of 2 large whole eggs and mix very well. Never microwave once the eggs have been added because the mixture will become lumpy and unusable.
As the birds reach maturity, reduced the number of eggs used to one per cup. Oatmeal is deficient in Vitamin D3. Egg yolk is a good sources of vitamin D3 and the egg whites are an additional source of balanced protein.
5) Mix well with a spoon until homogeneous.
6) Top off to a comfortable height with Silk® soy milk. Silk® soy milk has a short refrigerator shelf life. When I have only a few doves to feed, I freeze the soy milk in smaller pouches and thaw them as needed.
Let the finished mix sit in your refrigerator for an hour or so until it become smooth and creamy and all small lumps have dissolved. Add a bit more soy milk if it is still too thick or if the babies are very young or if you suspect that they are mildly dehydrated as many fall-from the nest youngsters are. (read here) During the first week, the formula should drip from a syringe. As they get older, you can feed the formula thicker.
Bring your formula to room temp before feeding.
After feeding, the cup goes on the upper shelf of your refrigerator until it is time to bring it to room temperature again for another feeding.
I prepare no more than I will use up over a 48-hour period.
The most common cause of crop burn-throughs is feeding formulas that have been unevenly microwaved and contain hot spots. So, I always stir well after microwaving and after that, place a dab on my wrist to be sure the temperature is safe.
This mixture can be fed to baby doves and pigeons in many ways. I place it in a disposable pipette like the one above which is also seen in view in the topmost photo layouts. With this pipette, I place a bit of formula within the baby’s mouth with the bird allowed to swallow until its crop is moderately full. But never so overfilled and tight that it extends up the neck. If placing your finger against the bird’s neck causes regurgitation, you have given considerably too much at one feeding. Many smaller feeding, spaced throughout the day are always much safer than larger, infrequent feeding. Babies during their first week of life get fed four to five times. That is gradually reduced to three feeding and then to two. When the crop is empty and a little dent has formed at the collar, it is time to feed again. If the crop does not empty completely, you have not waited long enough or there is a health issue. After sundown, there is no need to feed.
Because I usually have a lot of mouths to feed and because baby birds can be messy, I often feed this formula to doves and pigeons using a 3ml disposable syringe and a catheter (tube feed). I cultivate contacts at local hospital supply departments and ask that intravenous catheter extension sets that have passed their FDA-mandated expiration date be set aside for me.
This is what they look like (you can enlarge all my images). You can see one laying next to the scissors in the third photo – before I have cut it to length and another already placed down the squab’s throat. Once your second finger feels the end of the catheter where the bird’s neck enters its body, slowly express the majority of the formula. As I slowly withdraw the catheter, I leave a teaser amount of formula near the rear of the bird’s mouth, so it gets some taste, pleasure and satisfaction out of the procedure. Over the 50+ years I have been tubing baby birds, I do not recall a single case where the tube entered the windpipe rather than the esophagus. Baby birds have a very strong reflex when they gape or feel food in their mouth that locks their larynx shut. So, a gently inserted tube going down wrong is quite unlikely. Nevertheless, watch an experienced aviculturist or wild bird rehabber tube feed before attempting to do so unassisted.Temperature
Infant doves are very susceptible to digestive problems and slow crop emptying if they are kept at the wrong temperature. The white wing doves in the photo above are about two and a half days old. The larger one weighs 27.6 g the smaller one 25.0 g. At that age, their crop emptying time was best when they were maintained at 32 C (89. 6 F) with a 100 watt incandescent bulb. At that temperature, these two dovlings took 75-80 breaths per minute. They began to pant and were hot to the touch when their surrounding temperature reached 37 C (98.6 F).Those Were Some Of Your Dos What Are Some Of Your Don’ts?
Don’t put pressure on the full or partially full crop or the bird might regurgitate and inhale formula.
Don’t attempt to pass a catheter or pipette unless the bird’s head is in a star gazing position and the neck extended.
Don’t ever attempt to force a catheter or pipette downward that does not pass effortlessly.
Don’t ever attempt to feed a bird that is not bright and alert. They need subcutaneously administered fluids and glucose. You can read about that here.
Don’t neglect good sanitation. If it would not pass a health inspector’s muster in a restaurant setting, it’s not a fit in a bird kitchen either.
Don’t develop the habit of always feeding the dove or pigeon from the same side. That predisposes birds to developing scissor beak – a situation where the upper and lower beaks are misaligned. You can enlarge this photo of a hand-fed nightjar that developed this problem:
South Texas summers are quite hot and many of these infants are brought to me from far away. Most are dehydrated. After windy storms that blow them out of their nests and drench them, many are chilled despite the hot weather. Neither dehydrated babies nor chilled babies absorb nutrients well. In those babies, the natural wave like motion (peristalsis) that propels food down their digestive systems function poorly or not at all. Tube feeding babies suffering that condition actually speeds their demise because the formula just putrefies and ferments in their crop. As I already mentioned, markedly dehydrated babies need subcutaneous and intramuscular fluids. (read here) Mildly dehydrated babies need their first few feedings to be no more than warmed lactated ringers solution (LRS). They also need supplemental warmth if they are chilled. All wild creatures are masters at concealing stress, weakness and illness – until the very end. If the circumstances favor dehydration or chilling, just assume they are so, even if it is not outwardly apparent.
Once only small tufts of down remain on the head, I begin to place dishes of water and seed grains in the bird’s enclosures. A small rock (or marbles) placed in the water dishes (as seen in the second photo) help keep the birds from turning the water containers over when they perch on them. Since I give them no gravel to line their gizzards (gizzard gravel) at this age, I grind the grain mixture before I offer it to them. You can see the grinder I use in the photo above.
Be sure they are accepting mixed grains before you release them. A quality seed mix suggested for wild songbirds is fine. I add about a quarter amount of game bird (or turkey) starter crumbles to the mix. When whole seeds and grains are offered, I mix a bit of fine stone grit in with their food. The Hartz Gravel’n Grit™ is much too fine and goes right through them. So using well-washed masonry pea gravel from a building supply or river, I first remove the finer sand with a kitchen sieve. Then I remove the larger stones with a kitchen colander (with ~3/16″ holes). Then I wash and re-wash what is left and let it dry. Ground poultry oyster shell sifted in the same way works just as well and provides the birds an additional source of calcium. There is an inset image top right in the 4th photo at the top of this page of the proper size grit for a pigeon. The bird in that photo is already beginning to peck at whole grain.
My wife and I sometimes delay our release of doves beyond what my State allows. We don’t release late summer babies close to the Texas dove hunting season. Others that stay longer are birds that face medical issues and need care. In both cases, I find it wise to supplement a grain-based/seed diet with a small amount of ground dog chow prepared with the meat grinder as seen in the photo.Why Do You Use A Human Oatmeal-Based Diet?
Of all the cereal grains, whole rolled oats are among the most nutritious. It is considerably more so than corn or wheat. Instant baby oatmeal also blends readily with warm water. And because oats are practically gluten-free, the formula is not as sticky as one based on wheat would be. The brand of instant oatmeal that I purchase is pre-fortified with vitamins and calcium that the all infants including doves and pigeons need. Because this product is marketed for children, liability issues dictate that the ingredients be of top quality. Products intended for human consumption are considerably more rigorously monitored for quality than diets intended for animals. For example, the FDA and USDA spend 24 times as much money regulating human versus animal food. Name brand producers like Gerber have the wherewithal to do in depth analyses of their products -batch by batch. That is something that small niche pet food manufacturers generally do not have.
You will see two brands of baby oatmeal cereal in the second photo at the top. At one time I purchased Parent’s Choice™ because I noticed that it was all whole grain oat flour whereas the Gerber’s was only partially whole grain oat flour. I suppose because of that, the protein content of the Parent’s Choice was listed as significantly higher. But I cannot say that I noticed any difference in how the doves grew up eating one versus the other.Why Do You Add Raw Eggs To Your Diet?
1) Egg increase the formula’s fat/energy as well as its protein content
2) Raw egg albumin (the egg white) also makes my mix very “syringable”. Lumpy diets are hard to force through a standard syringe. The lecithin and albumin in eggs is also an excellent lubricant – so I do not need to use products like KY jelly on the syringe catheter when I am using one. I don’t feed soaked dog or cat chow to doves or pigeons. But when I soak and blend dry kibble to feed or tube other types of wildlife, I have to ream out the tip of the syringe with an 1/8” drill bit held in a vice-grip™ in order to get the slurry to pass through the tip freely.
3) Like natural pigeon milk, raw eggs contain important vitamins and antioxidants.
4) One of the most important thing that raw eggs contribute and that is lost in heating and cooking are protective antibodies. Most of these egg antibodies are called IgY antibodies. They are found primarily in the egg’s yolk. Although the chick was meant to absorb these antibodies from its yolk before hatching they remain protective in the intestine even when furnished after hatching. These antibodies are not only effective in controlling intestinal bacteria, they are also though to control the growth of C. albicans, the cause of avian thrush or candidiasis. Powdered egg will not do. Its antibodies were lost in processing.
Once the pigeon or dove hatches, these antibodies – which are also present in the parent’s natural crop milk are still important. But after birth the antibodies are thought to only have the ability to act locally within the squabs intestinal tract. Their molecules are too large to pass through the squab’s intestinal lining intact. Their presence there is still quite beneficial. It is not only the egg yolk that contains protective qualities – the whites do too (lysozymes).Well, isn’t there a danger in feeding raw eggs?
Yes, but the risk is small. One out of 10 – 20,000 commercially produced eggs in the United States tests positive for salmonella. That risk can, perhaps be reduced even further by buying free-range chicken eggs. (read here)
Pasteurized, whole egg are perhaps another option. But I do not know if IgY antibodies survive the pasteurization processes used. If that processed did not take the egg contents to over 60 degrees C (140 F) for ten minutes, these antibodies should have survived intact. (read here) I am still waiting to hear back from Davidson they never answered my email.What About The Lack of vitamin A In Eggs and Oats?
It is true that you will not find any vitamin A listed on oat cereal labels and a single large egg has only about one tenth a human’s suggested daily vitamin A intake. But both egg yolk and oatmeal are rich in carotenoids that avian bodies have the ability to convert into active vitamin A (retinol). (read here) A source of either vitamin A or carotenoids are very important in maintaining a strong defense against infections and maintaining healthy skin and feathers.
Although some egg producers darken their egg yolks with artificial feed additives, more often darker orange/yellow yolks are a sign of higher carotenoid content. When given the opportunity, pick eggs with the deepest orange yolks. It is always safer to provide carotenoids than it is to supplement with vitamin A from things like cod liver oil or bird vitamin tonics. That is because too much vitamin A is toxic. (read here)What Are Feather Stress Bars?
During the period that a bird’s feather is forming under its skin, the follicle that is producing the feather relies on a steady stream of protein building blocks obtained from the bird’s blood stream (the amino acids needed to build feathers including β-keratin). If that steady flow of amino acids are interrupted – by a lack of appropriate food, a disinclination to eat or starvation – the feather will no longer develop normally because the bird can no longer produce the keratin proteins required to form the feather. When those nutrients again reach the proper level in its blood stream, feather development returns to normal. So, a careful examination of a bird’s feathers gives you a look back into its past. In this particular dove in the two photos above, I or one of my volunteers apparently missed a scheduled feeding while the feather I am pointing to was developing. That resulted in the narrow white line – like a scissor cut – present to the right of my finger. Each incident of low blood amino acids causes a discrete line. You can see that the integrity and strength of of the feather shaft was compromised at that point. With time, that feather will break at both points. You can view a more idealized image of stress bars here and read a bit more about the problem and feathers in general here.Is There Enough Calcium In The Diet You Use?
Some wildlife rehabilitators and aviculturists associate deformed legs and feet (such as in this deformed white Turkish dove) with insufficient calcium in the diet during their growth period. I have never seen bone or joint problems or flexible bones in pigeons, doves or parrots fed this formula, so I believe that its calcium content is adequate. 8 grams of oatmeal contains about 4 mg of calcium and a 100 gm chicken pullet requires about 130 mg of calcium per day. The soy milk I use is also calcium-fortified.
When twisted or bowed foot or leg problems occur, it is more likely that they were caused by too smooth or too flat a cage floor. When a baby bird stands on a floor that is basically flat, its toenails will begin to curve sideways and exert a small twisting force to the toes. With time, like a tree branch, the toes will twist to accommodate that force. Eventually, the pad of the foot will not rest flat against the floor either. Those sort of problems can be prevented by furnishing the infant with a slightly indented twig mat similar to the mat that forms the coarse floor of a dove’s natural nest. I use a shallow plastic dessert bowl to maintain my artificial nest’s shape. Paper towels or Kleenex™ will not do. They slip and slide. As the bird grows, twigs should always be available that exceed the diameter of the bird’s clenched toes. You can read more about the problem, spraddle leg here.Why Do Your Wild Doves Have White On Their Wings?
I live in the tropical Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Although some mourning doves are brought to me, more often they are tropical white-winged doves or tiny Inca doves.
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- 1 What is the pigeon
- 2 Where to feed pigeons
- 3 How often to feed pigeons
- 4 How to feed pigeons
- 5 than feed pigeons at home
- 5.1 How to feed pigeons in winter
- 5.2 How to feed domestic pigeons in spring
- 5.3 How to feed pigeons in summer
- 5. 4 How to feed a pigeon at home in autumn
- 5.5 Pigeon feeding during the reproduction period
- 6 Feed additives
- 7 than feed pigeons on the street in winter
- 8 feed pigeons with buckwheat
- 9.3 Is it possible to feed pigeons with barley
- 9.4 Is it possible to feed pigeons with rice
- 9.5 Is it possible to feed pigeons with peas
- 9.6 Is it possible to feed pigeons with seeds
- 9.7 Is it possible to feed pigeons with oatmeal
- 9,0005 9.8. Can I feed the pigeons oats
Feeding pigeons became one of the pleasant traditions in modern parks, in squares and in the yards. Beautiful birds in urban conditions need to be fed, and people are happy to sprinkle seeds on them, crumble bread, and buns. Few people think whether it is right to offer such food to pigeons, whether it will harm them. It is especially important to find out a diet that is beneficial for birds before purposefully breeding them.
What does a pigeon eat?
Pigeons are not omnivores. Living in cities, they have to be content with any food waste and top dressing provided by man. But the bird's stomach, designed to digest a completely different food, quickly fails. City pigeons live for about 3 seasons and die not from hunger, but from indigestion, when the stomach is unable to digest abundant but inappropriate food.
In nature, the diet of pigeons is simple - any grains, seeds, small nuts and greens. Of particular nutritional value are flowering tops of grasses or baskets with seeds. City grass is regularly mowed, and trees and bushes are pruned, so the birds have to be content with what the man offers.
Breeding birds at home, it is possible to feed them in a balanced way. Taking into account the needs of pigeons as much as possible, it is realistic to extend the period of active life up to 15-20 years. It is not difficult to feed domesticated birds in a varied and healthy way. The diet does not contain exotic or inaccessible products. It’s worth thinking about useful feeding for pigeons, even just going for a walk in the city park.
Where to feed the pigeons
If everything is clear with poultry - it is customary to feed it in a dovecote or from feeders on the street, then with city birds everything is not so clear. Feeding entire flocks in a square or playground is romantic and fun for kids, but there is another side to the process.
Pigeons are quick to train. By starting to feed them periodically in one place, you can guarantee the regular arrival of a huge number of birds. Such places will very soon be marked with litter deposits, which will make walking with children more problematic, and playgrounds and sidewalks less well-maintained.
Therefore, it is better to feed pigeons in the city, observing a few rules:
- Birds are fed where their accumulation will not cause inconvenience: on lawns, in plantings, parks where there is no active pedestrian traffic, playgrounds.
- Pigeons are fed with special bird food, cereals, cereals, apples, leafy vegetables. Avoid baked goods and other food unusual for birds.
- Wash hands after contact with birds, as after contact with any stray animals.
City pigeons, accustomed to human attention, can even be fed by hand. Few people can resist the temptation to offer grains to a bird right from the palm of their hand.
Important! According to epidemiologists, about 50% of all urban pigeons are carriers of infections. Some of them, such as ornithosis (psittacosis), are potentially dangerous to humans. Infection occurs not only through touch, but through contact with liquids or droppings.
How often to feed pigeons
How often to feed poultry depends on the season. Pigeons have different nutritional needs in different seasons. Meal time is selected according to the length of the day.
The mobility of domestic birds in cold weather is limited, they spend most of the day in special rooms. In winter, pigeons should be fed no more than 2 times a day, preferably during daylight hours. The first time - no earlier than 8 am, the second - before sunset, or no later than 18.00. The onset of the warm season requires feeding pets 3 times a day. The period of rearing the offspring will require the exact observance of the 8-hour interval: around 5 am, at 13.00 and no later than 21.00.
Feeding in summer and autumn should be done with an eye to the fact that birds fly most of the day, getting their own food. It is possible to limit yourself to complementary foods, sometimes filling the feeders.
How to properly feed pigeons
For the full development of breeding pigeons and getting healthy offspring, it is important not only what to feed the birds, but also how to do it correctly.
- A small volume of the stomach requires fractional nutrition. It is not enough to feed domestic pigeons once a day.
- Approximate feed rates should be calculated based on bird size, activity and season. Domestic pigeons do not benefit if they are over-fed or force-fed. Lack of appetite may indicate a disease or lack of vitamins.
- Between feedings, the feeders should be cleaned of old feed, the floor of the dovecote should be swept. Pecking stale food off the floor is a major cause of sickness in poultry.
- Do not feed pigeons human waste. Porridge for birds is prepared separately.
- Even the most balanced diet of cereals and greens is not enough for a domestic pigeon. You will need vitamin and mineral supplements.
Approximate serving size for one adult light breed bird is 20 to 30 g per day. Large individuals of heavy breeds will need to be fed twice as much.
How to feed pigeons at home
The bird diet is compiled according to the general scheme, where there are mandatory items and parts that can be replaced.
Basic principles for the composition of feed for pigeons:
- 40% of the grain part is given to barley, if necessary, it is briefly replaced with barley;
- 30% of the diet - wheat;
- 10% feed - millet.
The remaining components are added at will:
- legumes: lentils, peas (yellow), beans, vetch;
- oilseeds: hemp, rapeseed, sunflower, flax;
- oat flakes or whole oats;
- raw cereals and cereals made from them.
Be sure to add greens to the diet daily: fresh or dried grass, berries (can be dried), chopped cabbage, apples, raw or boiled vegetables according to the season.
What can you feed pigeons in winter
The diet in cold weather is changed, based on the low mobility of birds. Pigeons should be fed less often (twice a day), birds respond well to boiled foods: potatoes, cereals, vegetables. Greens are replaced by dried herbs, dill, parsley, alfalfa.
Pigeons should be fed at home in winter, reducing the proportion of protein in the composition. This is how the sexual activity of birds is regulated, preventing untimely laying of eggs. To do this, legumes are excluded from mixtures and the share of wheat is reduced. Replenish the diet with oats or barley.
Some cereals are completely replaced with boiled vegetables (eg potatoes) mixed with bran. Closer to spring, they begin to feed with an increase in the proportion of oilseeds, and 2 weeks before the expected mating, they begin to give hemp seeds.
How to feed domestic pigeons in spring
The approach of spring allows you to feed pigeons, returning to the standard scheme. Be sure to add special preparations of vitamins and trace elements to the diet.
Especially important for birds:
If there is not enough nutritional elements, the egg shell becomes thin, the growth of the chicks slows down, the bones and ligaments in adults are weakened.
The presence of all trace elements in pharmaceutical preparations purchased for pigeons should be checked. Phosphorus, sodium, calcium must be administered additionally, these macronutrients are especially necessary. In the spring, poultry is often fed with grated carrots, apples, and pumpkin. It is important to monitor the rate of feed intake. Overeating, pigeons become lethargic and start to get sick.
The best food for pigeons in summer
During the period when birds move a lot and expend more energy, their feeding behavior should be closely monitored. With daily departures, pigeons can find food on their own. If the birds eat less than usual, then three meals a day will not be required. Pigeons should be fed moderately, mainly with peas, buckwheat, millet, rapeseed, vetch.
If there are no decent food sources nearby and the birds return hungry, the diet is left full, three times a day. In the heat, birds drink a lot, so water should be added more often.
How to feed a pigeon at home in autumn
From July, most pigeons begin to molt, this period will last until late autumn. You need to feed the birds taking into account the increased need for protein. Usually increase the proportion of legumes, but completely remove wheat because of the danger of provoking sexual activity.
Pigeons need sulfur to stimulate the growth of new feathers. Birds should be fed with mineral supplements, monthly introducing cobalt sulfate into the composition. There are special preparations based on sulfur, created for feeding pigeons during the change of feathers.
Important! In the autumn, it is advisable to feed your pets abundantly with juicy vegetables, such as chopped cabbage. It is good to add crushed corn to cereals.
Feeding pigeons during the breeding season
Protein foods are most suitable for this period. The daily rate is increased to 60 g per bird, the proportion of wheat and peas is increased. Pigeons in the dovecote are fed mainly with wet cereal mixtures seasoned with curdled milk or skim milk.
Before laying, it is appropriate to feed the birds with germinated grain, add mineral supplements with calcium and phosphorus. Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian vitamin A supplements suitable for pigeons. This substance directly affects the intensity of masonry. Vitamin B2, which is responsible for the survival of the embryo, is found in germinated cereals. With the onset of the breeding season, the proportion of such grain must be increased to 10%.
Compulsory complementary foods include fresh or dried herbs. You can grow grass yourself or mow it in places not subject to chemical pollution, away from roads and factories.
Natural materials are used as mineral additives:
- ground shells;
- brick chips;
- old lime;
- coarse river sand;
- dried egg shells.
Pigeons should be fed boiled cereals or vegetables with the obligatory addition of salt. This is a necessary ingredient in a balanced diet for birds, but exceeding the norm is dangerous for their health. The salt concentration is calculated based on 10 g (1 tsp) of product per 500 ml of water. When feeding with dry cereals, salt should be regularly added to the drinker. Whole crystals burn the goiter of birds, so they give top dressing completely dissolved.
Insufficient intake of vitamins or minerals is indicated by lethargy of pigeons, loss of appetite, disheveled or dull feathers, diarrhea. It is especially important to apply additives during breeding, feeding chicks and molting.
How to feed pigeons outdoors in winter
The best way to feed wild pigeons is to hang special feeders on trees: in squares, parks, on small green islands. By regularly filling containers with products useful for birds, they eliminate the need to look for food in garbage containers and landfills.
In winter, outdoor birds especially need energy to stay warm and fly. And from suitable food there are rare bushes and trees with frozen berries. Therefore, feeding pigeons is especially appropriate in winter. Any cereals are suitable for filling the feeders, but pearl barley, wheat, buckwheat are best and most useful.
Important! You should not feed pigeons with the remnants of your own food: pasta, soups, mashed potatoes. Even porridge from allowed cereals should be less salty than usual so as not to harm the birds.
What to feed a wounded pigeon
A weakened body needs enhanced nutrition to recover. But it often happens that a wounded bird has no appetite. Instead of trying to force feed, start by taking a multivitamin. For birds, it is convenient to use forms in drops. Vitamins are dripped directly into the beak or added to the water.
A few drops of vitamin preparations can completely change the situation. In a few days, appetite will be restored and the bird can be fully fed, based on the described schemes. Until recovery and healing of wounds, nutrition is enhanced, with the obligatory additions of germinated grains and greens.
If the injury is serious and requires veterinary intervention, the specialist will advise the necessary drugs. In any other case, it is permissible to feed a wounded bird with specialized parrot food and vitamin complexes for birds from a pet store.
Frequently Asked Questions
Those who have never dealt with professional breeding of pigeons have a lot of questions when it comes to breeding a randomly selected bird. It is required to clarify some features for feeding street pigeons, and especially for breeding in an equipped dovecote.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with bread
Products baked from flour with the use of yeast are absolutely not intended for birds. The high salt content and the ability to ferment in the stomach stop the digestion process, making it impossible to fully process even healthy "bird" food.
Thus, the body of the pigeon receives little energy. This condition is especially dangerous in winter. This threatens with hypothermia and death of the bird. Feeding pigeons with white bread is not worth it either in the dovecote or on the street. Black bread is even more harmful to birds due to the presence of gluten.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with buckwheat? Buckwheat is useful for birds in any form.With enhanced nutrition in spring and summer, the amount of cereals can be brought up to 5% of the total diet. It is useful to feed pigeons with unpeeled buckwheat in the spring, but it is worth limiting the amount of such feeding due to the hard pericarp.
Is it possible to feed barley to pigeons
Barley is the basis of a healthy diet for domestic pigeons. Barley, like groats from processed barley, can replace it for a while. Boiled cereals are offered to chicks whose food is not yet digested enough in the goiter. It is also acceptable to feed street pigeons with store barley.
Tip! It is impossible to completely replace barley with processed grain, as well as to feed only this crop for a long time. Refined grains contain fewer nutrients, and gluten without integumentary membranes can clog the esophagus.
Can rice be fed to pigeons? Boiled rice groats with crushed chalk are administered as a food supplement or medicine for indigestion. But if you feed pigeons with rice and cereals from it for a long time, then disorders of the nervous system may occur in birds.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with peas
Peas, like other legumes, are an excellent source of protein for birds. The amount of yellow, crushed peas in the diet should not exceed 10% during the main period, drop to 5% in winter and increase to 20% during the breeding season.
It is useful to feed pigeons with legumes during transportation, feeding chicks and during molting. A long-term increase in the proportion of protein feed in the absence of active sorties can lead to obesity in birds.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with seeds
Sunflower seeds are a valuable food product for birds. Oily grains supply the body of the pigeon with the necessary fatty acids, and the hard peel contains a lot of useful trace elements. Raw seeds can be used as a supplement, and sometimes the basis of the diet. Dull plumage, untimely molting - a signal to add oilseeds to the feed.
Warning! Roasted seeds lose most of their beneficial properties. Heated in oils and salt, the seeds become a slow poison for pigeons.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with oat flakes
The processed product is easily digestible, flattened grains can be useful for feeding weakened, sick birds and rearing young animals. If necessary, oat flakes replace up to 50% of the total feed for a short time. It is not worth it to abuse easy-to-digest food. The goiter and stomach of a pigeon requires constant work and needs hard components.
Is it possible to feed pigeons with oats? Sowing oats contain a lot of fiber, coarse fibers, and the fruit part is easily digested in the body. But only large species of pigeons can be fed with such grain.
Half of the unpeeled oats in the diet are recommended to be given after steaming. To do this, the grain is boiled for 10 minutes, the oats are filtered and dried a little. For cooking, water should be salted at the usual rate.
What can not be fed to pigeons
There are still quite strict restrictions in the diet of birds that are unpretentious and resistant to different conditions:
- Bread (black, white, yeast-free), sweet pastries, sweet, salty, fried dough. In extreme cases, it is permissible to feed the pigeons with white crumbled breadcrumbs.
- Sour-milk products, cottage cheese contribute to the leaching of calcium from the bird's body.
- Fish and any seafood, shellfish, snails.
- Meat in any form.
Several types of food can be used to a limited extent. Seeds are offered exclusively to large individuals and fed with seeds in small quantities due to the tough, indigestible shell.
Millet is an excellent product for all types of birds, but millet should be fed to pigeons only as a last resort. In the grain cleared from the shell, oxidation processes quickly begin. Useful substances eventually become less than harmful. It is better to feed poultry not with millet, but with whole grains of millet in an unpeeled form.
Feeding pigeons seems to be a noble and rather simple task. But, without knowing the peculiarities of the digestion of birds, it is easy to harm them. Beautiful domestic pigeons with shiny feathers, characterized by increased strength and endurance, are the result of the hard work of their owners, who provided the birds with excellent care and balanced nutrition.
how to get out at home if it fell out of the nest
- 1 What does a pigeon chick eat
- In the fourth week
- 4.5 After a month
Chicks, just like human children, need care and attention from their mother. Often in life there are situations in which the chick is torn off from the mother's wing, for example, when he fell out of the nest. If necessary, a person can independently feed a feathered friend at home and, upon reaching the required age, release him into the wild. It is in such situations that it is necessary to know what pigeons feed their chicks, as a result of which there is a high probability of going out and raising a bird on their own.
What a pigeon chick eats
If a feathered bird is without parents and was picked up by a human, then it should be properly fed and then sent to the wild when it reaches the required age. As practice shows, it is necessary to feed a pigeon chick from birth with crushed and well-brewed food. In the first days of life, a boiled egg yolk is perfect, which is injected into the feathered oral cavity through a syringe. In the future, it is worth feeding grains crushed to the state of flour and steamed in hot water. As the diet grows, it becomes much more diverse: fruits, vegetables, chopped greens, vitamins, live insects are introduced.
What to do if a pigeon chick has fallen out of the nest
In the event that a pigeon chick has fallen out of the nest, it is recommended to look around, suddenly its parents are nearby and are afraid to fly up to it because of the presence of people. If there are no adults nearby, then it is worth visually inspecting the pigeon chick itself. If there is plumage, it is completely dry, it behaves quite actively and is warm to the touch, then such a bird does not need help. Most likely this is his first flyby.
If the found pigeon chick does not fit this description and it is clear that without the help of a person it will die, then you should carefully take it without damaging the bones. Take home to a warm place, starting the feeding process.
How to feed a pigeon chick
It is recommended to feed a pigeon chick strictly in accordance with the age category. This is primarily due to the fact that if you give a week-old baby food intended for a pigeon chick aged 2-3 weeks, then the body simply will not be able to digest food and the pigeon will die. For feeding, you can use a syringe, nipple or pipette. Food is introduced into the oral cavity, making sure that the food completely fills the goiter. From the first days of life it is necessary to accustom to water.
How to feed a pigeon chick at home
Feeding a pigeon chick at home is not as difficult as it might seem to many at first glance. As practice shows, it often becomes necessary to independently feed those birds that were found, fell out of the nest and were left without maternal care. In order to understand exactly how to feed and care for pigeon chicks, it is necessary first of all to correctly determine their age - this is the only way to avoid causing even more harm.
Approximate age can be determined by the following signs:
- rudimentary plumage appears on the 6-7th day of life;
- Eyes fully open on day 9;
- fully developed plumage can be seen by the end of 4 weeks;
- pigeons begin to show the first flitter rides at 6 weeks;
- the first molt occurs at 7 weeks;
- bird stops squeaking and starts cooing at 2-3 months of life;
- first sexual instincts appear at 5 months;
- final molt at 6 months.
If you correctly determine the age of a pigeon chick left without maternal care, then you can feed and leave the baby.
In the first week
If a newborn pigeon chick is in the hands, then in this case it is important not only to properly feed, but also to water. Thus, it is initially necessary to teach the feathered to take water and food. As practice shows, it is most difficult to get out birds that are about a week old, no more. This is due primarily to the fact that in the first 7 days of life, newborns need breast milk. In order to save the pigeon chick, you will have to make quite a lot of effort.
A step-by-step algorithm of actions that allows you to feed newborn birds is as follows:
- First of all, you need to purchase a 20 ml medical syringe from the pharmacy and carefully put a nipple on it, preferably a pipette.
- Egg yolk is perfect as a feed, as it contains a large amount of minerals so necessary for the normal life of a pigeon. You can also use special grains that are pre-ground to a state of flour.
- Received food is gently introduced into the oral cavity through a syringe, allowing time for the processing of the received components.
Pigeon chicks need to be fed at least 6 times throughout the day.
In the second week
From the second week it is recommended to introduce grain mass into the diet, as very soon the chick will start eating like an adult pigeon. It is worth feeding only grain crushed to the state of gruel and well steamed. This will require:
- Thoroughly grind the cereal through a coffee grinder several times.
- Mix the resulting flour with hot water.
- Let stand for 7 minutes.
It is important to understand that such a semi-liquid porridge is still incomplete food and cannot be fed. It is recommended to add chicken yolk to the steamed grain and only after that start feeding.
Since pigeon chicks require calcium for full growth and development, a solution based on calcium gluconate can be added to food. To improve the immune system, before you start feeding the chicks, add 2-3 drops of honey to the porridge.
By the end of the second week, the body of the chick will be completely covered with feathers, it will begin to move and scream even louder. During the day, birds are fed from 4 to 6 times. At the same time, it is worth making sure that the goiter is filled with food to the maximum.
Tip! If necessary, calcium gluconate can be replaced with crushed egg shells.
In the third week
From the third week, the pigeon chicks eat completely differently. During this period of time, it is necessary to teach them to eat whole grains. Before feeding the birds, the grains should be placed in warm water for 10 minutes. In their natural habitat, parents give the chicks seeds of plants that have been in their stomach for some time and have undergone all the necessary processing, partially undergone splitting.
It is worth feeding with hands, young pigeons put no more than 3 grains into the mouth at each time. During this period of time, pigeon chicks begin to drink on their own. That is why, after they have already been fed (not before eating), you should carefully lower the baby's beak into a container of clean warm water.
Attention! It is important to ensure that liquid does not enter the chick's sinuses, as there is a high probability that it will choke.
Chopped greens and carrots can be gradually introduced into the diet.
In the fourth week
3 weeks after birth, pigeon chicks try to start eating on their own. During this period of time, they can be fed more varied. At this age, pigeons can be given a boiled and well-chopped chicken egg and a small amount of white bread. It is important to take into account the fact that only white can be fed, this is largely due to the fact that dark bread varieties have a coarser grinding and are less digestible by chicks.
It is recommended to sprinkle a small amount of grain on the table and lightly tap on the table top, thereby attracting the attention of pigeons. As practice shows, the chicks quite quickly understand what is required of them, and begin to eat food on their own.
Important! For a few more days, it is recommended to additionally feed the birds, giving food from the hands.
After a month
After a month, the diet can and even needs to be diversified. In such cases, it is necessary to feed with fruits, which are pre-cut into small pieces, give chopped greens. Small balls are made from the bread crumb, this is necessary so that the birds can independently take it in their beak and swallow it.
One month old chicks can be fed in the same way as adult pigeons. During this period of time, the babies are preparing for their first flight. Despite this, you should not quickly allow pigeons to adults, it is best to feed them separately for some time.
Tip! If the bird looks rather lethargic and eats little, then you need to add 3% glucose solution to the water.
What not to feed chicks
Despite the fact that growing birds need insects, it is not recommended to feed them the following:
- carcasses of insects of any kind. As practice shows, the death of an insect is a consequence of intoxication, and the poison also has a negative effect on the feathered organism;
- Colorado beetles - they are not recommended because of their toxicity;
- ladybugs - capable of excreting a toxic liquid. Under natural conditions, if a bird has eaten a ladybug by mistake, then it immediately spits it out;
- hairy caterpillars - since such insects contain small hairs on the body, they can quite easily clog the crop;
- Brightly colored bugs - rich colors indicate that it is better not to risk using these insects.
In addition, meat and fish products should not be introduced into the diet, since it is quite difficult to process them.
Attention! It is best to feed the bird with nondescript bedbugs.
What to do if the pigeon chick does not eat
If it was noticed that the pigeon chick is not eating, then it is worth paying special attention to the diet. It often happens that the age of the chick was determined incorrectly, respectively, and further feeding is carried out incorrectly. It is important to take into account the fact that at first adults feed babies with semi-digested food.
It is necessary to feed the bird with a syringe if it is still very small, larger individuals are fed by hand. It should be borne in mind that at first the chick will not be able to take food on its own, it must be helped in this matter. If necessary, you can add a 3% glucose solution to the water, which will help give strength.
How to hatch a pigeon chick
Caring for a pigeon chick should be of high quality and complete. It is important to understand that at first the plumage is completely absent, as a result, the chick may freeze. For these purposes, it is recommended to use a heating pad that will maintain the optimum temperature. When plumage appears on the dove, the heater can be removed, but it is necessary to ensure that the temperature regime does not fall below + 25 ° С.