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hazel 10-28-2017 08:02 AM

A sad story
Something rather sad happened to me today. I was walking the dog when I saw a pigeon crouched in the grass, its wings spread. It tried to fly away but clearly wasn't able to. I picked it up and it sat calmly in my hand; it was obviously used to being handled. It had rings around both its legs, so I knew it was a racer.

If I had left it, it would probably have been killed by one of the park's resident foxes, so I took it home and transcribed the letters and numbers on its rings. There is a racing pigeon website that gives instructions for the treatment of stray birds. You are supposed to give them food and water and hope that they will continue on their way. But this bird refused to eat or drink, and when I examined it more closely, I saw that it was wounded on the left side of the breast.

It then occurred to me that one of the numbers looked like a mobile number, so I tried ringing it and got the owner. He came to collect the bird, which I had put into a bag to rest in the dark. But when he examined it, it was already dead.

He said the damage had probably been done by a hawk. It was the second bird he'd lost in this way and they are worth several hundred pounds each! If it was a hawk, I think it was probably the female kestrel that lives at the north end of that park; I've seen her several times.

I feel rather upset that my "good deed" didn't work out.

sevendogsbsd 10-28-2017 08:18 AM

You did the best you could and with good intentions. I am sure the bird's owner was appreciative in that he at least knows what happened to it and doesn't have to just wonder what happened.

hazel 10-28-2017 08:48 AM

Here's something interesting: as well as the telephone number, the bird had the name Sorin Dudu on its ring. I just DDG'd that and found this: This couldn't have been my bird as it dates from 2016 and his ring showed that he was only hatched this year. But it was obviously the same owner. The asking price is 320.

enorbet 10-28-2017 12:36 PM

I feel your sense of sadness and helplessness, Hazel, and wish you speedy recovery, hopefully in realizing you did all you could and some things are beyond individual control and that at least that noble bird felt Love and Caring as it died, a rare gift for most animals. I leave you with these words


Originally Posted by The Bard
If your mind dislike any thing, obey it. I will forestall their
repair hither, and say you are not fit.


Not a whit, we defy augury. There is special providence in
the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to
come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the
readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is't
to leave betimes, let be.

anisoptera 10-28-2017 05:35 PM

Sadly anything bred in captivity is far more vulnerable to predators than a wild animal. Remaining in captivity is it's best defence. For racing pigeons it's very different as, despite being captive bred, they're regularly exposed to danger. It's nature's way that a weak, juvenile or elderly animal is a prime target for predators.

If you had left it, the local foxes may have had some bonus food to sustain them as winter draws closer.

rvijay 10-28-2017 05:45 PM

This forum is good with pigeon issues:

rvijay 10-28-2017 05:47 PM

hazel you did your best, thanks for your efforts. Use this experience to be prepared to help other pigeons/birds/parrots in need.

frankbell 10-28-2017 08:18 PM

I commend your kindness.

syg00 10-28-2017 09:09 PM

I'm more sanquine. Would you have done the same for a sparrow ?.
The hawk (and the likely fox) need to eat. I regularly find chicks that have fallen out of the nest or injured birds in our yard. I occasionally try to convince the chicks to stay in a temporary nest I build, but usually I wind up having to wring the neck to save whatever any further pain.
Then I toss it in the bush and let nature take its course.

rknichols 10-28-2017 09:24 PM


Originally Posted by syg00 (Post 5774848)
I'm more sanquine. Would you have done the same for a sparrow ?.

Or the "rats with wings" pigeons that infest cities. When I was visiting Mayo Clinic for an examination, they had a nest of perigrine falcons on the roof of one of the buildings (TV camera trained on the nest viewable in the lobby). The primary food for those falcons was pigeons, and you would see the occasional pigeon head on the ground everywhere. I doubt that anyone mourned much for their passing.

frankbell 10-28-2017 09:36 PM


Would you have done the same for a sparrow ?
Nature is red in tooth and claw. I do not consider that cause to question someone's act of kindness.

I have a reverse story that I've never told before. When I was a kid, maybe 10, I was taking a long walk and, on a field road through the woods across the road from the family farm, I found a kitten maybe four or five weeks old which had clearly been run over; it's hindquarters were crushed, it was clearly beyond hope, and it was crying.

I took out my Boy Scout knife to put it out its misery.

I sat there with that kitten in my lap in the woods for half and hour, and I couldn't.

I have regretted my weakness to this day.

hazel 10-29-2017 04:31 AM

@anisoptera: Our local foxes are sleek and fat and quite fearless of humans. They gorge themselves on the contents of people's waste bins and have no need of pigeon pie.

@rknichols: No, I probably wouldn't have done it for a wild pigeon, or a sparrow either. I wouldn't have known how to look after it long term, so there would have been no point in taking it on. I took this bird in because I could see that it was a racing pigeon and probably valuable, and I wanted to get it back to its owner. What gripes me is that I gave it back to him dead. That's not the way a story should end.

@syg00: If it was the kestrel that wounded it, she couldn't have carried it back to her nest anyway. Kestrels are much smaller than peregrines!

@Frankbell: That's a much sadder story than mine. I doubt if I could have done it either, although I agree with you that it would have been the right thing to do. There was a time when every pet owner knew that he might have to shoot his pet or break its neck one day for its own good. We are more squeamish and deputise vets to do that sort of thing for us now.

syg00 10-29-2017 05:43 AM

Country kids are aware of the fact that something has to die for us to eat. Even the vegetarians.
As a (very) young kid you get inured to a carcass hanging in the shed with its throat cut and its guts in a wheelbarrow so you can have a roast on Sunday night. Hosing out the blood on the floor is always a kids job on Monday.

Such is life - except for city kids that think all food comes from a supermarket shelf with no extenuating circumstances.
Welcome to the real world.

hazel 10-29-2017 07:26 AM

When I was a child, you got your meat from the butcher. We had one just around the corner. There were always one or two carcases hanging from hooks on the ceiling and one being swiftly chopped up into portions. The floor was covered in sawdust to catch drips.

I'll never forget my surprise when I read an account by an American in the sixties of how he took his children to Europe for a holiday and they were horrified to see the inside of a butcher's shop. Until that time, they genuinely hadn't realised that the meat they ate was parts of dead animals. They thought the animals "gave" meat like a cow gives milk. And of course he hadn't realised how ignorant they were.

All the same, I feel different (as all urban people do) about animals that I know personally. I remember being shocked by some farm children I met on holiday who kept a rabbit at the bottom of the garden and fed it every day on kitchen scraps. Above the hutch was a furry skin. I asked what it was and they said, "Oh, that's last year's rabbit!"

What shocked me was not that they killed and ate a rabbit, but that they killed and ate their pet, and weren't upset about doing so. I don't think I could eat an animal that I had raised myself.

DavidMcCann 10-29-2017 12:25 PM


Originally Posted by hazel (Post 5774935)
When I was a child, you got your meat from the butcher. We had one just around the corner. There were always one or two carcases hanging from hooks on the ceiling and one being swiftly chopped up into portions. The floor was covered in sawdust to catch drips.

In Chiswick, things haven't changed that much, bar the sawdust:

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