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In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka gives tips on how to stabilise an injured or ill bird until further assistance

By Maneka Gandhi

My bird puffs itself up. What does dilated pupils and puffing indicate?

A bird fluffs up its feathers to keep warm and to relax when it sleeps. Sometimes it might also indicate that it is belligerent. However, a bird who sits puffed up most of the day could be sick. Dilated pupils could indicate anger, curiosity, happiness or fear. When the bird is relaxed and yet the eyes are pinning then it probably means that the bird is curious about something in her environment. However, if there is a change in posture, or it puffs up suddenly, then it might indicate aggression due to fear, anger or over-stimulation.

Why pigeons dominate balconies and skies?

Pigeons have now essentially become urban birds. They live in and around houses and in architectural niches. People don’t kill them for food (I hope). Most of their predators have been wiped out due to urbanisation. Another reason is the easy availability of food. People feed them for religious and humanitarian reasons.

How do I stabilise an injured or ill pigeon or bird until further assistance is available?

In order to stabilise a bird, three basic steps must be followed: Heat: A bird must be warmed gradually to a normal body temperature. Some heat source suggestions are towel lined hot water bottle and a low wattage lamp. A slightly microwaved old sock, filled 2/3 with rice, will also work; Isolation: Allow the bird to warm and stabilise in a quiet and dark area; Hydration: Fluids should only be given after the bird is warmed, examined for injuries and the severity of dehydration. Be careful so as not to let water enter the nostrils. A cup of water with a pinch of salt and sugar can be used as a rehydrating solution.

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How to identify and differentiate between a hydrated and a dehydrated bird?

A well-hydrated bird is alert, has elastic skin and plump membrane inside mouth. Moderately hydrated bird will have dry, flaky skin, dull eyes and sticky membrane in the mouth. A severely dehydrated bird will be lethargic. The skin will ‘tent’ when pinched and it will have a dry membrane in the mouth with the absence of droppings.

How to rehydrate a dehydrated bird? Should plain water be avoided?

Reversing a dehydrated condition might take up to 24 hours. If the bird is alert, then the bird can be given a solution of water, salt and sugar through an eye dropper, strictly avoiding the nostrils. The fluid should be at room temperature or lukewarm. A cold bird should never be given any fluids. Unflavoured Pedialyte can also be used as an emergency rehydrating substitute. Plain water shouldn’t be given unless nothing else is available.

April 10, 2019

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