Often, one of the greatest needs for a rescued pigeon, including one which appears to be starved, is that it is dehydrated and needs liquids.
The ‘International Rehydration Solution’ may be used to provide an immediate source of rehydration and stimulate the metabolism. A small amount of the following mixture can be used:
1 litre of water (preferably filtered)
1 teaspoonful salt
1 tablespoonful sugar or (preferably) glucose or honey
Stir until additives are dissolved and administer lukewarm.
Liquids should initially be given ‘by hand’, slightly warm. Note that just squirting solution into the mouth is dangerous, as it can go down the windpipe and cause aspiration pneumonia. One effective method is to syringe solution directly into the bird’s throat cavity – a one ml syringe is best, and 4 – 5 mls is a good starting quantity, to be repeated periodically. One does, however, need to feel comfortable with this method, and the bird must be kept still, either by someone holding it or by wrapping in a towel to minimise movement. An alternative, albeit more time consuming, is to drop the solution a little at a time into the front end of the bird’s beak so it will (hopefully) swallow it instinctively. Only a drop at a time from a syringe or dropper-bottle should be given this way to avoid flooding the bird’s mouth, and patience will be needed to ensure it has sufficient to do any good.
A small pot of the mix can then be placed near the bird and one can guide the bird by gently dipping its beak (below the nostrils!) into it. It may drink, but (especially if very young) may not. Leave the solution nearby.