Sometimes I get a sixth sense when it comes to the farm. This morning I woke up at 8am after just a few hours of sleep. Very unlike me.
I went outside to put out the trash and noticed a little white body in a puddle at the bottom of the chicken coop. Assuming it was an escaped quail, which does happen sometimes, I brought the trash to the curb and entered the coop to put the quail back where he belonged. Once inside I realized it wasn’t a quail, it was one of the white squabs. She was cold, muddy and had been pecked by the chickens. She had bloody bruises on her beak and the tip of the beak appeared to be fractured. I put her back in the nest beside her sibling and was going to go back to bed, when I decided she was just a little too cold and could probably use a little more help. I didn’t want to risk losing her. I brought her inside, washed her under warm water and wrapped her in a little towel. Then I put her in a plastic dishpan lined with newspapers in the bathroom with a hot water bottle beside her. Then it was back to bed.
Later once I woke up again, she had come out of her towel and was clean, warm and dry. Her beak was damaged, but not too badly. I checked my calendar and found that they were now three weeks old, which is pretty close to weaning age. I decided that this must be the sign that I should take them in for a little hand-taming. I went and retrieved the other squab and set them up both together in an unused rabbit cage in my kitchen. I made sure that the healthy squab got one good last feeding from his mom, and fed the injured squab some whole corn and wheat as they are used to eating in the coop. I also gave her a few syringes of water, which she drank slowly. I’m hoping that these two will help each other to learn to eat and drink on their own quickly and I will still hand feed them a few times a day if I don’t see them eating and drinking much on their own. It’s not too difficult or time consuming to hand feed baby pigeons.
After just one day, they are both already much more comfortable inside and the interested kittens aren’t stressing them out too much. Since I kind of wanted to hand raise them at about this age anyway, I’m pleased to have an excuse to do so. My goal is to have hand-tamed birds that I can handle without stressing them for when I train them for release. Since my flock of pigeons are all loose inside my chicken coop right now, it’s tough to catch any of them without causing a freak-out.
If I had put the trash out the night before as I usually do, I don’t think this baby would have survived. She was probably about an hour away from death when I found her. It occurred to me that if she had been a wild pigeon, simply falling out of the nest at that age is pretty much a death sentence.