The one that got away

I just ran into an injured wood pigeon (Columba palumbus, also known as “culver” in southeast England, apparently). I suspect that it had been in some kind of altercation as a nearby magpie and crow were upset, though I didn’t see a cat in the area. Maybe it had been in a collision with a car. Or hey, the crow? Crows do occasionally attack pigeons, and also magpies. The magpie was chattering quite loudly so had presumably witnessed something that worried it (which is why I first looked for a cat).

The pigeon had an injured foot (no visible bleeding), so I decided to grab it and take it home so it could get some rest and heal.

But as I am currently in terrible shape, I wasn’t quick and agile enough, though I almost got it. (I did actually touch it, when I tried to towel it.) It flew off then, clearly knowing where it wanted to go to, which was a reassuring change from its behaviour when I spotted it, so I am hoping that it had been in shock, that I helped it snap out of it and that the injury is not too bad and able to heal.

(Also, I  had forgotten that I was wearing a long RED silk scarf at the time. This can alarm birds as they recognize it as the colour of blood, I have learned. With pet birds, you can teach them that not all blood red is actually blood for example by taking a red marker and scribbling on your hands. It may depend on the bird species, obviously.)

I will keep an eye out for the poor thing. Around here, wood pigeons are quite shy. I was amazed to see them scurry around seated people’s feet in Amsterdam a few months ago.

Yes, birds can be in shock.

In Tierra Verde in Florida, I once found a bird sitting in the middle of the road, stunned. I scooped it up and put it in my bike basket, and it stayed there for the duration of my remaining bike ride. Ten minutes or so. But when it was time to examine the bird, it flew off before we got the chance, leaving a few healthy-looking droppings behind.

And Lee Fox, who founded and ran the wild-bird hospital at which I was volunteering at the time, once stopped a guy from killing a pelican, just in time. He’d hit the bird with his car and wanted to put it out of its misery, not realizing that the bird was probably mainly stunned. Lee Fox happened to be passing in her car, stopped and rescued the bird.

Fingers crossed.

 

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