Syringe Method

Syringe method for feeding young/baby pigeons/doves

This is just a plastic syringe with the end cut off, filled to the desired level with a suitable formula (e.g., Kaytee Exact all baby birds rearing formula), and with a piece of stretchable material fitted over the cut end. With.a slit cut in the material, the beak can be guided into it. This simulates the natural method where a baby pigeon would put his beak, guided by the parent, into the parent's mouth to receive 'crop milk'.

This method only works for squeakers. Check that the crop has emptied. The crop is like a bag that hangs under the skin. The pigeon stores food in it before digestion. An empty crop will hang flat. The crop must be allowed to empty completely at least once every 24 hours.
1 Cut the tip off a feeding syringe. The syringe size varies with the age of the pigeon. Start with a 5ml syringe.

Feed 1cc of very thin formula (eg Kaytee Exact) using 1 part formula to 5 parts water.
  • Feed 1cc every 2 hours at days 1 - 2
  • 3cc every 3 hours for days 3-4
  • 10-11cc every 5 hours days 5-7
thickening the formula every time.

By day 20 they should be taking 30-40 ml 3 times a day from a 60ml syringe
Fill syringe with formula. Ensure that no air bubbles form. Small soaked seeds can be mixed in to the formula by day 14
Cover tip of tube with fabric. I use a self adhesive support bandage, some cut a piece out of a balloon and use that.
Secure material
Cut a small hole in the fabric
Serve at wrist temperature. It is much safer to put the syringe into a mug of hot water or under a hot tap than to use the microwave to warm it. Microwaving can leave pockets of very hot formula which will scald the baby's crop.Persuade pigeon to insert beak in hole. It will soon start slurping. Depress the end of the syringe gently to keep pumping food into its mouth as it opens. Crop sizes vary so feed carefully stopping to let the pigeon breathe and to check how full the crop is.
After feeding the crop should feel soft and cushiony. Do not overfeed or crop will stretch and sag forming a fold that traps food in it.
The baby will usually get a lot of formula on it. This should be wiped off with a damp towel. The feeding equipment should be sterilised before re-use.