Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I have a couple of dog kennels, the plastic kind with holes in the sides. I cut a tree branch and stick through the holes from one side to the other to make a perch. You can also buy wooden dowels from the home improvement stores. Put seed and water in containers that can't be turned over and put them in the floor of the kennel. Put the bird in and put him very close to the area where you are feeding other birds outside. Bring him inside at night. This way, he can watch the adults peck seeds.

DO NOT use a small bird cage to do this, for several reasons. First, cats can reach into the cages and can, and do, injure or kill birds left outside in this way. Second, the bird has no shade protection in a cage. The kennel (if big enough) provides protection from both dangers. I still try to put it in the shade for added protection.

After about a week or so, and after you have made sure the bird can fly (in a room in your house--no ceiling fans running!!!), you can begin to leave the kennel door open. It's best to do that when there are 4 or 5 days of clear weather in the forecast. It may take a few days for a dove to get the nerve to venture out. A sparrow may leave as soon as the kennel is opened. The dove will continue to come to you for a few days to a week or so and then it will turn wild. The sparrow probably won't

If you want to be able to recognize your bird at your feeder after release, you can put food coloring in a spray bottle and spritz him. It doesn't soak into the feathers very well, but it will some.

Keep feeding in the yard for at least the rest of that season until the bird has had a chance to learn to forage well on his own.

Please, please, please feed only fresh seed and in clean conditions. Sweep the area and pick up old seed hulls, etc. regularly. Offer clean water as often as you can. I also continued to feed the soaked cat food for a full season after the release (for the sparrow....and the adult doves eat it too). Keep seed away from rodents. There are so many horrible diseases that are unintentionally spread at feeders and water supplies.

We have a part of our yard that is protected from our dogs during the times of the day when the birds are feeding. We have an old house door set up on two sawhorses. We cover it with clean butcher paper (we have also used plastic that you can buy in rolls) and change the paper at least once daily. We offer water in a plastic sandwich storage container. We feed three times daily, changing the water each time.

Wild doves are protected species and it is not legal to own them. I would never encourage anyone to keep any bird in confinement for any length of time, unless it was disabled and not able to be returned to the outdoors. Birds were meant to fly, be with their own kind, and be free. I have always raised every wild bird with the intention of returning it to the wild. Please don't try to make pets of them.

Good luck to you and to any baby you try to help.

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