Pigeon fostering

The Starlight Trust is an animal welfare and rescue organisation based in Surrey

We are very passionate about pigeons here and, having been caring for them since 1994, Sarah has built up considerable knowledge and skill. We want to keep being able to help pigeons and even to be able to increase the numbers we help, but there’s only so much we can do from the garden of a terraced house in South London. We need the help of fellow pigeon lovers in the area to be able to keep going.

Once our guests have been treated for their illnesses and injuries we need local aviaries where they can reacclimatise, exercise and build up their strength again before returning to the wild. Ideally, we’d like to place aviaries where the pigeons can be released to join existing flocks but this isn’t essential – plenty of our guests are able to go back to where they are found.

We are one of a fairly small number of rescues which offer sanctuary to disabled feral pigeons. Without the space to do this we would have to put pigeons who could not be released to sleep which is something we would really hate to do. We passionately believe – and have seen with our own eyes – that feral pigeons can live happy, fulfilled lives in a suitable environment.

Caring for pigeons is, we can tell you, incredibly rewarding. In order to help us out, you’ll need to

  • have space in your garden for an aviary of at least 6 foot by 3 foot
  • have or be willing to put in place a paved or concreted area where the aviary can sit
  • feed and water the birds daily and monitor their health
  • keep the aviary clean (around 2 hours work a week depending on size)
  • be within about an hour of us in Wallington, SM6

We will

  • design the aviary according to your space and preferences
  • pay for the aviary to be built and delivered and help you set it up
  • provide/pay for the food, enrichment, equipment and other supplies needed to keep them happy and healthy
  • give you all the information and support you need to care for them
  • visit regularly to check how you’re getting on

We would also ask you to consider that funding and setting up an aviary is a considerable undertaking and cost for us. If you’re offering an aviary for releasable pigeons then we can provide one which is modular and can be set up and removed without too much trouble. But if you’re offering a foster home to permanent residents the aviaries are generally bespoke and we are ideally looking for sites willing and able to commit to housing pigeons for several years at least. In the case of releasable pigeons, you’ll need to be mindful that they are wild birds so you’ll be quite ‘hands-off’. Whereas our permanent residents can form relationships with their carers and will often be a mix of wild birds and domesticated. Pigeons will always be fostered out in pairs or small groups not on their own, though we sometimes have single domestic pigeons available for adoption to pair with an existing pigeon in the home. Permanent residents only go out on foster with their chosen partner and you’ll need to be vigilant in replacing their eggs with plastic dummy eggs to prevent breeding.

In all cases the pigeons remain the legal property and responsibility of the Starlight Trust and we’ll both sign an agreement acknowledging this.

If you think you can help or you have any questions please email sarah@starlighttrust.org.uk

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