New York City Pigeon Rescue Central
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Handling a Pigeon is a scary thing for some (mis-informed) people

Let's dispel some myths...

"To be honest I'm not really comfortable handling a pigeon"

Not to say the bird is going to allow you to pick him up but it's important to say that we all handle pigeons here and be assured that there is nothing you can contract from them just from the mere handling. All you have to do is wash your hands with a good disinfectant soap like Ivory and you will be fine. There are many, many people who have pigeons as pets.

It isn't the pigeon but all wild birds that you would express reluctance about. A sparrow has as no more and no less potential illness than a pigeon.

If a pigeon could talk, he would tell you that he does not like being called dirty. Given the opportunity, the pigeon will bathe in clean water at least once a day. He would eat his normal food, seed and not frankfurters. It isn't the bird's fault that it has to live in a city made dirty by people.

If a bird becomes ill, it is usually an illness that can be transmitted to other birds, not to people. Sure there are a few that can cross over but you have to be very immuno suppressed to catch it. One is psiticcosis. Another is salmonella and that isn't going to cross over to you if you disinfect your hands. Another is Histoplasmosis but that organism lives in the soil where parents allow their children to play. When was the last time you heard a valid scientific report that somebody got sick from handling a pigeon?

These are old wife's tales that create mistrust and even hate for one of the most beautiful birds in Nature. I rehabilitate them and must have had everything that the birds can possibly carry, just a few inches away from my face. Nothing has ever happened to me. My family never got sick and our parrots never got sick.

If you're worried about insects on the outside of the body, a sparrow carries more than the pigeon and in any event, dusting a bird down with a poultry dust kills the bugs.

The people in this group are far from crazy. Quite the contrary. They are some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. They know the potential that these birds have and are trying to save some life. If you think this way, I think you are in good company here....

"But I have a dog..."

I have a dog and have many times brought a rescued street pigeon home. There has never been a problem or confrontation between my dog and any of these birds. But not knowing your dog, if you take him home, you can keep him temporarily in a cardboard box with slits for air and light cut in it, in a safe place like a bathroom or other closable room, or up on something out of reach of the dog, maybe a bookcase.

One reason that fears of catching diseases from pigeons have been exaggerated is that the pest control businesses (pigeon control device installers etc) have a vested interest in people being afraid to be near these birds. But in fact pigeons, being naturally vegetarian, are far less likely to carry some of the diseases that other birds do. For example, Pigeons don't get West Nile Virus because they aren't vectors for the illness. They do eat an ocassional insect for the protein but not often. Generally birds that originated in Europe or north Africa seem to have an imunity because of the many generations that they have been exposed to it. When it first started the birds that were dropping were the ones native to North America.

If you take him in temporarily, you do want to make sure there is a distance between the bird and the dog in case the bird has transmisable parasites of any kind, at least until a day or so after the bird gets Ectiban-D or some other fast-acting flea powder (poultry dusting powder) massaged into his feathers all over (except near the eyes and beak).

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