Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was out cycling with his wife on the morning of 25th April 2010 when she spotted a juvenile bird on the road in the heart of the city (left). It was a juvenile Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans). The nest could not be located nearby where there were tall trees.
So what did the couple do? They fished out a plastic bag, put the bird in it and brought it home. Leaving it behind was not an option to them as there were marauding cats nearby.
“After consultation with Sein-Chiong Chiu we are feeding it mashed fruits – button tomatoes, banana and papaya. The chick is hard to feed as it will not take food and, after reading experiences on the net, have had to force feed it using a syringe. After the first feed it became quite perky and started ‘peeping’ softly. After a number of feeds, today the bird is more able to cooperate and much more friendly. Hope it can take food on its own soon,” wrote Amar.
Looking after an injured young bird is a lot of work. The image on the right shows the bird being fed with mashed banana via a syringe. However, Amar is looking out for other food, especially protein sources.
Dr David R Wells provided some advice on feeding: “You are up against the problem of substituting crop-gland ‘pigeon’s milk’. Protein and calcium might be sortable by adding a little susu lembu or f-c milk powder. Trial and error here!” Amar was thinking of using milk but worried about diarrhoea (indigestion).
Chiu had this to say (he has vast experiencing caring for birds over years, we all turn to him): “Previously when I kept a pair of coppersmith chicks, someone recommended that I give puppy food pellets as protein to the chicks. What I did was to cut the pellets into small pieces that can be swallowed and soaked it in water until it was slightly soft and then fed it to the chicks for about 10 days. I alternated between fruits and pellets to the chicks but after about 10 days the chicks did not want the puppy pellets anymore and went for the fruits only.”
Unfortunately, on 27th April the bird died. “It was feeding well for two days with good stool output,” as Amar puts it. “We had only, as yet fed, it fruits. It was also very active. My wife, to keep the bird’s spirit up, even made sure it had opportunities to sit in the garden (supervised). It is unlikely it had any internal injuries due the fall from nest as it was perky and could hop about. When we went to bed it was as spirited as usual. When we woke up in the morning it was in a moribund state, comatosed. I suspect some form of septicemia,” concluded the medical specialist.
The dead pigeon was buried it in the garden with sadness as both Amar and wife got attached to it. As wife Swee-Im puts it, “we will not nurse another lost chick, too painful,” but Amar suspects that “the next one we find will break her heart as well and will make us take it in. What we really need is a good animal/bird hospital.”
Note: The sad experience brings to mind the recurring problem of people picking up chicks that accidentally fell or were pushed out of the nest by its sibling. Shall we just leave the poor chick to its fate as nature intends it? Shall we pick it up and place it in a safe place where the adults can care for it? Or do we take it home to care for it ourselves? In which case, should the chick survives and subsequently released, will it be able to survive in the wild without the adults around to teach it to seek out food, to recognise potential predators and how to avoid being predated?