Last month I discovered an injured ringneck dove in my yard. It was Thursday night. I’ve been feeding the wild birds for six years and have doves, sparrows, blue jays, and cardinals as regulars so it was normal to see a dove. I had let my dog out and normally they flight into the tree but this one was not able to take flight.
His left wing hung awkwardly. We caught him (my mother and I. Not my dog and I) and placed him in a shoe box. At my mother’s suggestion, treated the bare spot underneath about the size of a chicken McNugget with iodine soaked cotton ball because she believes in using iodine for all wounds. I googled bird wounds and found something at the pet store, but my mother believes so firmly in iodine she convinced me that was enough.
The first night I kept him in a covered milk crate. He was a little spooked and cowered down whenever I went near him, but as time went on he perked up confidently. The crate didn’t have much room for him to move but at least he could see through the grates. The next day put him outside in the crate so he could be near the wild birds.
Feeling bad that he didn’t have much room, on Saturday morning, I let him roam around on the porch. At first, he remained on the broomstick perch but then when we left him alone he roamed about the room.
We decided to let it out in the yard to experience a taste of freedom and socialize with his dove friends, he explored the yard a bit, perching on a palm branch and then made a break for the fence and tried to escape through the chain-linked fence. He was still fairly subdued and was easy to catch but he had to return to the crate after that.
Fortunately for him, I had a bright idea and he was blessed with a room upgrade. I set him up in a personal shopping cart. I laid newspaper on the bottom and placed a file box lid on top and voila it was a birdcage on wheels! I could even stick a branch through it and he had a perch.
By Saturday night we decided his wing was still hanging awkwardly and time alone wouldn’t heal it. When I first encountered him I was concerned with the wound, I thought if that healed he would be able to hold his wing normal but now I became concerned that the wing needed to be set a particular way to heal. I googled what to do for an injured bird wing and saw a clever post using a sock. It said to cut out the toe and cut a place for the bird’s legs in the sock and slide it over the bird to hold the wing in place. I can see how this probably would have been more comforting (though constricting) for the bird. I’m still didn’t think I was qualified to be providing medical treatment. So I decided I would take him to the South Florida Wildlife Center the next day.
I knew about the center because I found an injured a black bird in my yard a few years ago. That time I didn’t have notions of rehabilitating it myself. I immediately searched online for where to take an injured bird and found the South Florida Wildlife Center and took him there. I didn’t even know what the other bird was until I received a letter from the rescue calling it a grackle.
Coming back to the current patient, when it came time to take him to the wildlife center, I placed him in the carrier (the milk crate). I said my goodbyes, genuinely feeling a little sad not to have him around anymore, but knowing he was going to be in better hands. I put him into the crate and secured him in the car.
I arrived at the South Florida Wildlife Center and there was a tall blonde man carrying a creature in a giant Rubbermaid bin (big enough to fit a 50-pound dog). The wildlife attendant manning the desk had just identified the creature as a European something (bird) and the guy was amused cause he was going to Europe tomorrow. I peeked into the bin and it was a tiny bird, he was much smaller than my poor dove in his red milk crate.
When it was my turn, I filled out a short form providing my personal information and explaining what care or medication I provided to the dove. I glanced at the whiteboard as I waited for my turn and saw that the wildlife center received 55 animals yesterday! The place survives purely on donations and I couldn’t imagine how they sustain it. I had only heard about it because I searched for a place to take an injured bird in the past. My mom made a small donation into their box and I promised to give more next month.
The attendant came to me and placed the dove in a clear Rubbermaid shoebox container with breathing holes and transported him to the care area. In a moment my little friend was gone.
There are shelters for domestic animals, but it’s nice to know there is a place looking out for the wild animals as well. I found the dove in my yard, but the man with the little European bird found him on a public median and took the time to bring him in. I thought that was admirable.
I offered to pick the dove up when he got better. The attendant said he would make a note in the file but they usually just let the birds go if they get better. I haven’t heard from them, but I’m hoping the dove found his way back and he’s still coming by for meals.