Wild Dove Rehabilitation: A Successful Recovery!

A physical examination revealed no obvious abnormalities.

As you may or may not know by now, I really like birds. A lot. Particularly wild birds, including doves (and pigeons, but I consider them feral more than true wildlife). I do occasionally find birds on my property that need a bit of assistance: injured birds, sick birds, and baby birds. I take them in and provide them with the best care I can possibly manage to help get them out on their way. The birds I care for primarily consist of House Sparrows and Eurasian Collared-Doves; the typical species in my area. Anything else pretty much requires a wildlife rehabilitation license and facility which I am unable to provide at this time.

My goal is to help the wildlife I can help, return to the wild to the best of their ability. Typically, I look to see if they can function normally on their own in the wild, including assessing their ability to fly and find food. Some birds do remarkably well and are released with no complications; others quickly succumb to their injury or illness regardless of the care I have provided. Wildlife, especially birds, are much more sensitive to stress than domesticated animals are, and usually hide their illnesses until the condition is serious (most notably in prey species). Sometimes, all I can do is to provide a warm, dark, and quiet environment in their final moments.

The dove in the photo above is a Eurasian Collared-Dove (not native to the US) I came across early last summer (2015). The dove appeared unwell, basically ADR (Ain’t Doing Right in veterinary slang), with no obvious injuries. I was able to approach and capture the bird without much of a fight on his end, indicating that the condition was serious- a poor sign. I quickly placed the dove in a warm, dark, and quiet area to minimize stress (critical birds often die due to stress at this stage); I left him alone and hoped for the best.

After an hour or so, I quietly checked in on him and much to my relief, he was still alive! I’ve had birds quickly deteriorate and die at this point under my care, after the stress and severity of their condition proved to be too much. After the dove was deemed stable, I started him on rehydrating fluids via crop needle to combat dehydration. He tolerated that well, and a few hours later, appeared to be more alert and active.

The dove survived the night and I was able to conduct a quick, but thorough physical examination the next morning. I was unable to find an obvious cause for his illness; no broken bones or injuries I could find. After his dehydration was corrected, I slowly introduced a liquid supplemental diet for birds, which he tolerated well. A day later, I was able to provide him with fresh water and grain, and he took to eating and drinking on his own, not to mention displaying his feisty, wild attitude. Things were looking much better for this dove!

I was happy with his progress and decided that it was in his best interest to release him as soon as possible. The process went smoothly and he was able to fly up to and perch normally in the nearest tree. He stayed for a little while before taking flight and going his own way. Was this experience worth it? Of course!

Additional information about Eurasian Collared-Doves.

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Dove after being rehabilitated and released.
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