The Pigeon - R.I.P

xrayspx's picture

I am no longer a default bird owner.

Today I had to have my pigeon put to sleep. He had been "a little off" for the last couple of weeks, and went downhill really fast the last week and over the weekend in particular. The vet said that she hadn't heard a pigeon's heartbeat be so slow and still be alive, and that it sounded like he had some sort of heart defect, plus his breathing sounded like there was fluid in his lungs (pneumonia?).

We had always worked with the assumption that he was probably raised as a throwaway "dove" to be released at someone's wedding or a used car dealer grand-opening or some such nonsense. He had no band on his leg as he would have if anyone cared about him, and you don't get wild perfectly white pigeons much in Boston.

We never really had the facilities to deal with him properly, he lived in a 6' x 12' x 6' chicken coop where he could fly around a little bit, but it wasn't heated, and we always felt bad about that, but for the last two winters he did just fine with his fluffy coat and the warmth the hay provided. Most times he chose not to get down in the hay unless it was really cold, male pigeons don't really "roost" per se. I never really liked his diet of Blue Seal Pigeon Feed either, but it was about all he'd eat. We tried broccoli and lettuce, but he would just not eat anything with fiber in it.

I'm also questioning my decision not to have let him go. He had no skills at all that would help him live in the wild, so I was pretty certain he'd immediately get picked off and eaten by a real bird. Looking back, which would you rather, die of heart disease and pneumonia, or be gliding along and get plucked out of the sky by a diving hawk. Tough call. Myself, I'd prefer "not dying".

All those questions are in the past though, and I have to think we made the best decisions we could with the information we had. The vet said they could try and do x-rays and prescribe medicines, but that the prognosis for any recovery was very poor and that this was realistically the right thing to do.

Please, if you have a pet, know what's involved in that pet, and how long they live, and don't just let them go, they can't fend for themselves. If you are raising feed-squab just so you can let them go at weddings and don't want to invest the time in training homing pigeons, I have no respect for you. If you are planning to release birds at a wedding or used car dealership grand-opening, research the vendor and verify they have banded homing pigeons. I don't know how to do that. I probably wouldn't take their word for it.

Since he never really had a name, here are some names that didn't stick:

VistaBird - This was never a valid option IMHO since I thought it was a dumb naming convention for everything else in the office people had named "vista-whatever"
Snow(flake, ball, variations) - If you know me, do you honestly think I would say "hi snowflake, time to clean your cage"?
...Mike... - Not a joke at Mike's expense, a Down Periscope reference.
PooBird - This one pretty much stuck for the last six months or year, but considering his circumstances at the end, seems cruel. It just came from me having to go to town with a shovel and a putty knife every weekend and scrape the chicken coop.

I'm sorry little buddy, wish you had let me be your friend (he wasn't very snuggly):

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