How to Care for Lost Pigeons
By: Frank Mosca
What to do if you find a lost pigeon ?
Most lost birds are hungry and thirsty. Water is necessary
before all else. Since pigeons drink by suction, any water
container should be at least 1 in. (2.5 cm) deep. An open
container, i.e., a dish, an old margarine container tub, etc.,
is best. While a thirsty bird may drink immediately, it also may
not. A bird which has gone without water for a while is
sometimes a bit less than itself. It may be so exhausted, it
doesn't even realize that water is in front of it, especially if
the water container you use is different from what it is
familiar with. A trick I've often used is to trickle a few drops
of water from on high into the container to make a splashing
sound. When they hear that, most birds will invariably head to
drink. If a bird looks really exhausted, Gatorade or other
proprietary sports drink may be added to the water. A teaspoon
or two per cup (250 ml) of water will help replenish
Pigeons are grain eaters. While park pigeons will eat bread,
most domestic birds have been raised on a multi-grain mixture
and have never seen a slice of it. In fact, they would likely
ignore it as possible food. Instead of bread, you might try
feeding them something else from around the house. Popcorn
(maize), rice, split peas, barley, buckwheat (kasha), canary
seed, etc., are all good first options to feed a lost bird with.
THESE GRAINS SHOULD NOT BE COOKED OR POPPED BUT FED RAW. Water
should also be provided since pigeons normally drink immediately
What Should I Keep It In ?
Any container that a dog or cat can't get into will be fine. An
old bird cage will hold the pigeon for a day or so with no
problem, as will a cardboard box - a screen on top of such a box
is better than simply closing the flaps since there will then be
enough light for the bird to see to eat and drink.
Finding the bird's owner
What if it won't go home ?
the bird has a band on its leg, the owner can sometimes be
traced through one of the national pigeon organizations.
However, this is often not even necessary. After twenty-four to
forty-eight hours rest with food and water, most homing pigeons
are more than capable of finding their way home on their own.
Simply release the bird in an area free of wires or other
obstacles and it will usually head home immediately. NEVER try
to attach a note to the owner by rubber banding it to the bird's
leg. This cuts off the leg's blood circulation and often leads
to gangrene and amputation of the limb.
Many birds can be traced to their owner by the numbered band
(ring) on their leg. In North America, homing pigeons normally
carry bands with a combination of the year plus the
AU -- American Racing Pigeon Union
IF -- Internation Federation
C.U. -- Canadian Racing Pigeon Union
Outside of North America, racing homers can be traced through
the national racing club of the country of origin.
There are ONLY 200 breeds of pigeon. Some fly very well, some
don't. Those which carry a band marked with NPA National Pigeon
Association can sometimes be tracked to the owner. Many,
however, can not because these bands are also sold through
feedstores and other outlets where permanent records are not
If the bird carries a band with other letters than those
listed above for racing homers or for NPA banded birds, it may
be privately banded or belong to someone who has banded with a
specialty club band. Your local feed store often knows many of
the pigeon breeders close to you and can often refer you to one
of them. Such individuals often know of local club secretaries
who may be able to help you.
I Want to Keep the Bird. It's Cute !
Because these Homing Pigeons are protected by most state laws
and because their owners care for them, every attempt should be
made to locate the owner... However.
If the pigeon you have is unbanded (no way to trace the
owner), or, if, after searching, and not finding the owner, you
decide you'd like to keep the pigeon as a pet, by all means do
so. Pigeons make fun pets. Many will become extremely attached
to you - and you to them. There are many fine books on the
market which will help you become a responsible pigeon
Just remember a few basics:
1) Clean water, feed, and mineral grit (available at most feed
2) Pigeons must have dry surroundings, they're not ducks. They
love a bath, but whatever you keep them in must normally be bone
3) Enjoy one of the most fun animals alive.
4) Send for a free information packet from the American Racing
For More Lost
Pigeon Contacts please Click Here to contact the
American Racing Pigeon Union