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Patient Update: Rock Pigeons Covered in Oil


Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon

In the fall of 2023, two pigeons covered in motor oil were brought into our care on two separate occasions. Both pigeons were drenched in motor oil from head to toe. Motor oil has quite a strong smell and can cause respiratory issues, which birds are quite sensitive to. The other dangers for birds covered in oil can include gastrointestinal issues, if the bird ingests the oil while preening, as well as flight issues, as the oil most commonly grounds flying bird species.




Rock Pigeon

When each pigeon came in, they were given baths with dish soap to get the motor oil off. Wildlife can get stressed very easily so the baths had to be as quick as possible. This means that not all of the oil was able to be removed in the first bath as is common with oil-covered wildlife. Taking a break when doing procedures with wildlife is important to reduce stress levels. It is dangerous to allow stress levels to get too high because it can cause physical health problems in wildlife and impede their recovery process. Even despite the best efforts by wildlife rehabilitators to reduce stress levels, the stress of rehabilitation alone can be fatal even to the most hopeful of cases.




The first pigeon that came in did great on the first and second baths. All of the motor oil was able to be removed and the pigeon was released back to be with its mate. The second pigeon, unfortunately, did not survive the process of rehabilitation despite the best efforts by the rehabilitators at Calgary Wildlife. This is a harsh reality of wildlife rehabilitation, unfortunately. That is why it is so important to protect wildlife by placing a secure cover over

any waste oils and disposing of other waste safely so wildlife cannot get caught in it. Proactive efforts are the most important actions we can take to keep wildlife from suffering due to preventable causes.




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