Q: A pure white pigeon has been visiting me the past three days, and he hangs out for hours. I feed him and give him water. I’ve done some reading and this seems to be a pigeon that may have been used in a wedding and thrown into the air. I’ve read that if these birds are not re-caught and taken care of, they’re unable to fend for themselves. But I’ve also read about diseases I can get from the bird and I don’t want to die. Still, I’m on the verge of buying a cage. What do you think? S.M., Chicago
A: Buy the cage and give the bird a new home. You can do so without needing to buy additional life insurance. Dr. Peter Sakas, a Niles, IL veterinarian with a special interest in birds says parrot fever (Psittacosis) is the most likely concern regarding disease transmission. However, this disease, while possible, is very rare in parrots, and even more rarely carried in pigeons. Over several decades of practicing veterinary medicine, Sakas has not seen parrot fever in an outside bird, or the disease transferred to a person.
However, pigeons do potentially pick up parasites. Unless you have other pet birds, which the parasites may spread to, they’re species or at least bird specific. Still, for the health of your bird, if you do take the bird in, seeing a veterinarian with pigeon experience is a good idea.
“Sadly, you are right, this bird might not make it through the winter, unless you step in,” says Sakas. “’We’ve had many clients over the years take in white pigeons, and they’re always pleasantly surprised at how great and smart a pet they are.” S.M., Chicago, IL