While the pigeon is a very hardy species, particularly the feral variety found all over the world, pigeons do from time to time come down with illnesses that are generally quite unique to the species. There is no truth to the urban legend that they harbor diseases dangerous to our health any more than any other household pet, as avian veterinarians’ have repeatedly attested to. Besides not giving us illnesses, pigeons do not kill or maim people every year as dogs and a few other more exotic pets are known to do. They have not been the symbol for peace and love for millennia for nothing.
With that said, like all species, they are subject to the same type of injury, effects of age, and disease that we all recognize. Broken bones, wounds, internal organ failures, such as heart attack, cancers and other non-infectious disease, do afflict pigeons. The usual gamut of infectious disease brought on by the normal cast of characters, including bacteria, virus and both internal and external parasites also afflict pigeons. Now a pigeon can’t really catch a cold from us and we can’t from them. Remember that veterinarians’ statement. But, these issues do afflict our pets as well as the feral populations and this chapter of the Pigeon cote is here to help. There are some fine books that deal with pigeon health and a few are available on the Pigeon cote bookstore.
Good medications, including antibiotics, vacine, and anti-parasitic are available. Every person involved with pigeon husbandry will benefit from the medical formulary. Nearly all common pigeon medications and their efficacy for specific ailments are detailed, including conversion information and suggested dosage information. An absolute must have. Print this page’s information out and keep it the pigeon medicine drawer.
Starvation and dehydration is certainly a threat to abandoned young and the infirmed. Tube feeding is a well established method and just how and when to tube feed can be found on that page
Infectious disease can be eliminated with the closed aviary concept provided by Dr. Rupiper. The main idea here is to keep your flock isolated from all possible sources infection, and flock immunity will deal with any disease organisms that are present. Even if you can’t keep your flock totally isolated as he details, the general concepts will aid in keeping a healthier flock. A rather more unusual virual disease in called Circo Virus and Drs. Rupiper and Briggs provide an explanation for us.
There is not much we can do for heart attack, strokes, and cancers in general except relieve pain, but in specific situations an avian veterinarian can cure. The only web page I ever found specifically dealing with injury was from Pigeon Rescue. They have long since stopped publishing to the web, but an annotated version of their original page is available here.
If you can't find a local avain Vet the NPA (National Pigeon Association) provides a method to contact a veternarian over the web.