Although pigeons usually take care of their young, people must occasionally intervene to rear the young squabs. The first few weeks after hatching are an important time in pigeons' lives when they can easily succumb to cold temperatures and malnutrition. Taking care to provide appropriate nourishment and warmth can give baby pigeons a successful start in life. Whether you find an abandoned nest with newly hatched eggs or you are a longtime bird enthusiasts, rearing baby pigeons can be a successful and rewarding experience.
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Things you need
- Incubator or ventilated box
- Red light bulb
- Feeding syringe
- Dry cat or dog food
- Pigeon seed mix or pellets
- Aviary or large bird cage
- Bird water feeder
Keep the bird warm and protected in an incubator or a cardboard box. Poke holes in the box for ventilation and cut out a hole to attach the red light bulb. Affix a thermometer and keep temperature between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius (86 and 95 Fahrenheit). Line the box or incubator with towels.
Prepare cat or dog food or whole grain bread by soaking it in water and mashing until it is the consistency of ketchup. Alternately, buy canary rearing milk from an pet shop. Place food in a syringe.
Feed the squab three to four times a day starting 12 to 24 hours after birth. A newly hatched squab needs rest and warmth more than food. Gently take the squab's beak and move it in an up and down motion until the bird opens its mouth for food. Insert the syringe and feed a small amount into the squab's mouth. Take frequent breaks to allow swallowing and breathing.
Start adding small amounts of pigeon seed or pieces of water-moistened pigeon pellets once the bird grows feathers. Gradually add more seed. Once the bird begins pecking motions, scatter seeds or broken pellets on the ground in the nest.
Transfer the squab to an outdoor aviary or large bird cage at 4 weeks old. In the wild, this is the customary time mother birds remove their squabs from the nest to begin new clutches. They will no longer need extra heat. Continue to scatter bird seed or pellets and provide with fresh water.
Tips and warnings
- If you are keeping the bird place an identification band around its ankle within the first week of life.
- Keep the temperature warm inside the incubator. The most common cause of death for squabs is low body temperature.
- Never give bowls of water to young squabs because they can drown easily.
- Do not use paper towels for lining the box or incubator because the squabs can peck at paper and eat it.
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