I was repotting my succulents on Saturday afternoon when I noticed a single woodpigeon sitting on a paved area near the house. It just sat there, looking unscared, blinking occasionally.Immediately, I saw an opportunity to take a good woodpigeon picture and ran for my camera. But something was wrong.
The pigeon did not move, not even when I came really close to it. Its head was tilted to the back, as if in a cramp. I intentionally stumped my feet to scare it and that's when I definitely knew something is very very wrong. The pigeon tried to fly, but it flopped backwards, flapping around in circles, looking utterly terrified, showering the floor around it with little feathers.
I saw this at the zoo while I worked there, lots of the domestic pigeons suddenly started behaving weirdly due to a virus and had to be out down. So I phoned Wildlife Aid and asked them what to do. Based on their instructions, I put on gloves, transferred pigeon into a box and off we went to a wildlife hospital in Leatherhead. I have not held a pigeon in my hands for twenty years, snce I was seven and visiting my great grandfather in Czech republic who kept domestic pigeons. I remember the little pigeon babies trying to peck at us from the nests when we tried to pet them.
The hospital took it in and gave me its diary number so that I can call to check on how it's doing. Unfortunately, when I checked on it on Sunday, I was told it had to be put down.
I am not too sad though, as the disease was most likely pigeon paramyxovirus, which is highly infectious among pigeons and can lead to slow death by starvation. It does not harm humans but I feel better without sick animals around our home. Hopefully this means that other pigeons in our garden will be safe. Even though we complain about them eating out our birdfeeder and leaving poop around, I do not want to see them ill.
And I know that this might be going a bit too far, but I think that maybe this bird came so close to our house because it knew that we could help it out of its misery.