The Beetley Pigeon

On Saturday, Julie and I were talking about something in the living room, when we heard an almighty bang from the kitchen area. My first thought was that a bird had flown into the window glass, something that happens quite frequently. But when I went outside to check, there was no trace of any bird on the patio, or on the lawn nearby.

When I was making coffee on Sunday morning, I saw a large Wood Pigeon sitting on the lawn at the far end of the garden. From that distance, it appeared to be asleep, not something you see that often.

By the time I went out with Ollie a few hours later, it was still there. As I walked over to the shed to get Ollie’s lead, the bird began to run to my left. It was flapping its right wing, and the left wing was lying outsretched and useless at its side, obviously badly broken. It managed to hide under a large shrub, staying hard against the wooden fence.

I went out with Ollie, and that afternoon, Julie told me she had put a small container of bird seed on the ground for it, as it had been trying to fly up to the feeder. Checking the container, it was half-empty, so it seemed the injured bird had managed to walk over and get something to eat.

Not long after I went to bed last night, I could hear constant flapping sounds outside the bedroom window, and presumed that the distressed pigeon was trying to fly, or perhaps escaping a local predator, like next door’s cat.

This morning, I found the bird hiding under the garden table, and as I approached, it vecame very distressed. I decided to leave it alone, and put out a small plastic box full of water for it.

Thinking about what to do, I considered killing the bird as quickly and humanely as I could, to end its suffering. But it was looking directly at me, and if a bird can look terrified, that was the expression. I thought about catching it, putting it into a box, and taking it to the Vet in town to be put to sleep. But even trying to catch it not only made it flee in panic, it was also doing more damage to the badly-broken wing.

Wood Pigeons are considered to be a pest in the countryside. Farmers shoot hundreds of them every week, to stop them eating crops. Many are also killed by local birds of prey, and flattened by cars on the main roads when they don’t fly away in time.

But the pigeon in my garden is still a bird, and an injured bird that has affected me.

I don’t know what to do about it, except to keep it fed and give it water, until such time as it eventually dies.