Diseases in pigeons?

Discussion in 'Pigeons and Doves' started by Jrose, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. Jrose

    Jrose Songster

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    Howdy! I've been keeping homing pigeons for a year and a half now with good success. I'm about to move to a property where no livestock has ever been, and want to take biosecurity seriously with this move. I've only had 3 mystery pigeon deaths and I wanted to see if anyone here had any thoughts about them.

    1st; squab, 1 of 2, died at 4-6 weeks (guesstimate?). Between 2 nests I had 4 squabs of the same age. The other 3 were up, walking, and badgering the parents for milk. This squab never got up or walked. This nest was extra filthy, I cleaned it a couple times but holy smokes these two squabs were covered in feces despite my efforts. The parents picked a very small hidey-hole to rear them in... Anyways, this squab died without ever getting up or leaving the nest. I did not do a necropsy, assuming contaminations/exposure was the cause.

    2nd; the sibling of the above squab. Survived to 3-4 months of age, never flew though. Started favoring 1 leg as an adult. Lived on the ground and mostly ate and drank unenthusiastically. Developed diarrhea and I eventually put it down. It was a decent weight, not quite as fat as the others I butchered at the time. Nothing out of place in the organs. I don't recall exactly how its liver looked, but it wasn't anything so freaky it stood out in my mind. Possibly signs of fighting infection, but no tumors, lesions, etc. Squab was covered in feces and had loads of mites (which I have NEVER seen on any other pigeon I've handled, dead or alive)

    3rd; mother of those two squabs. Age unknown, got her as an adult, but her nose/beak bumps (? still don't know what they're called and haven't found info on them!) were HUGE, unlike any of my other pigeons. I thought maybe this could mean she was very old, but that's just a shot in the dark. She lived over 1 year with me, but did die this winter. In January I noticed she always seemed to be on the ground. I eventually deduced that she had stopped flying altogether. I would put her on a roost (they live in a large outdoor run with 6.5' roof) and she'd topple off of it like her wings didn't work anymore. I wasn't sure what was going on so I let her be. She maintained a good weight and ate normally from the ground, but eventually died with really bad diarrhea. Nothing in her organs stood out to me, she was a good weight, and I didn't notice any mites on her body.
    Edit: The mother and her squabs both displayed inability to use legs and/or wings. This was her last brood before death. However, I have breeding adults that are her offspring (+same father) who have displayed no signs of illness.

    I have no idea why these three died. I thought "marek's" due to one never standing up, one not using a leg and another stopping flight. But from what little I can find, marek's doesn't infect pigeons? I can't find much on pigeons illnesses and diseases otherwise/

    I've had in excess of 16 birds at one point, but try to maintain 2-4 breeding pairs. My founding stock came from an auction as 2 different lots of birds. I mark breeding groups and have not had any in-bred pairs yet. Anyways, I've not had another pigeons get sick or die on me yet. It's been 2 months since the last girl died and my flock seems just fine.

    But these three deaths put my hackles up.

    Any thoughts or opinions from pigeon keepers out there?
     
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  2. biophiliac

    biophiliac Traveler in BYCLand

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  3. LamarshFish

    LamarshFish Songster

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    From a pathogenic standpoint I really have no clue. That being said, if it were me I would discontinue that genetic line completely.
     
  4. Jrose

    Jrose Songster

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    Thanks, I'll check it out! I had culled down to 3 breeding pairs + 1 extra female in January, so I took 14 birds down to 7. Unfortunately I lost 3 birds after that- 1 was the gal that stopped flying and died, but the other 2 were killed by a great horned owl :( Luckily that took me down to 2 breeding pairs (vs. all boys or all girls). Unless pigeons can change their gender. Sometimes I wonder, really truly :p

    I've got 1 daughter left from her. I don't disagree, but it does confuse me that her first several clutches were all healthy and I never lost a single one! It could be that she was super old and her last squabs just weren't healthy, or she could've had an illness. I dunno. I'm on the lookout for some fresh genes this year though, even if I raise up both pairs' offspring to adulthood, both groups will be fairly close related...
     
  5. Jrose

    Jrose Songster

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    Can anyone tell me more about the terminology for and normality of the "nose lumps" above the pigeons beak? Most of my birds appear to be American homers, and there is nothing special about this feature on their face. The bird that died had had a large, flared, lumpy nose-bit from the time I got her. Never seemed to get bigger or smaller. It never worried me, still doesn't, but I did venture to guess that maybe it was a sign of old age? I've looked at other breeds with nose flares and carbunkles but haven't seen anything that looked like what she had.
     
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  6. biophiliac

    biophiliac Traveler in BYCLand

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    Salmonella could be your culprit in the loss of the squabs. Almost all pigeons carry some level of the pathogen that is held in check by the immune system of a healthy bird. Stress, including the stress of breeding(or loss of flock mates to a predator) can upset this balance and cause an outbreak. This could have been exacerbated by the excess build up of poop in a confined nest area. Youngest birds with less developed immune systems would be most at risk. This is just my theory or you could say WAG.:lol: Best of luck with future babies.

    PS You mentioned one or more of your babies had no down, i think that means it carries the pale or dilute gene, can't remember exactly but info is available online 'pigeon genetics'... You posted a pic of a bird with a soft brown color that made me think 'pale' or 'dilute' ...BUT IM NO EXPERT! lol
     
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  7. biophiliac

    biophiliac Traveler in BYCLand

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    Is it the 'beak cere'? The fleshy circle around the eye is also called cere i think.
     
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  8. Jrose

    Jrose Songster

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    I suppose I didn't give a clear timeline. The squabs were hatched during a bustling and quite safe time for the pigeons- just before I moved, actually. No predator issues at that point. The first died before I moved. The second died as a young adult about 2 months after I moved, just before I developed the owl problem. The mother died a month later, after I lost the first pigeon to an owl.

    The pigeons endured a 12 hours truck ride and and over-night in the u-hual before being released into their new run, which was a bit roomier than their old run, but with familiar nest boxes and features. So yes, I suppose it could be as simple as "1st squab died from feces build-up, 2nd from stress of move/relocation, and 3rd from that and/or predator". Didn't really think about that! Although the other 13 birds did just fine.

    I don't think I mentioned a downless squab- both these babes, and all the babes I've had, have had a seemingly normal down-to-feather progression :) And I also don't think I've posted any pigeon photos on this site. However, the mother that died was pure white and both her babes were pure white. The adult daughter I have from her now is also pure white, in excellent health. Don't know if that means anything?

    Beak cere? I think that's it! Thank you! Her cere was quite large and lumpy. I've seen some mutations of this in other pigeons breeds, but nothing quite like hers.
    This photo from google was the closest I could find, however she did NOT have carbunckled eyes and had a normal "American homer" face and beak. http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/wwfeatures/624_351/images/live/p0/31/vl/p031vll8.jpg

    Maybe she had a funny throw of genes? I did get a single squab last year with a "flare"/mohawk/feather curl on the back of the head. Not from her breeding group though. My pigeons might be a bit "Mutty" ;)
     
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  9. Quacking Pigeon

    Quacking Pigeon Crowing

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    At the start of the year I had lost basically all my fantails from something. They all flew around healthy last year except two of them got sick and one recovered and the other didn't. I still have my breeding female and her squeaker. They seem happy but I'm worried I will loose my breeding female overtime, also someone in the loft has had a fair bit of diarrea. My other pigeons seem perfectly fine. I'm thinking mine have something in the blood line like yours did.
     
  10. stuckinthecity

    stuckinthecity Crowing

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    funny you say that...about them changing sexes. After seeing multiple hens mounting cocks I agree with what you said
     
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