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Pets & Wild Predators: Safety First!

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Warning: blog post contains images of an injured pigeon below.

In November 2015, my pet pigeon was nearly killed after a cunning Cooper's Hawk figured out how to reach in through the cage and grab him with its talons. Miraculously, no vital structures were damaged, but the hawk came close to severing his trachea, esophagus, and major vessels. The pigeon recovered uneventfully after I administered appropriate analgesia, antimicrobial therapy, wound management, and nutritional support. He also had a crop puncture on the opposite side of his neck which, of course, made feeding time fun. That, too, healed nicely with care.

I documented his recovery in a series of photographs depicting his wound-healing progress through secondary intention. I placed a few (1-3) temporary interrupted non-absorbable sutures to help hold the skin flap in place; other than that, everything closed up on its own. And he's still feisty as ever; bites hard, too. You never would have known he had such a traumatic injury! I've named him Diapedesis, but I usually call him Diaper Pigeon (a nickname of sorts).

Rest assured, I relocated my pet cages to an area inaccessible to hawks. I love having these magnificent predators around and I never thought an incident like this would occur. It hadn't in the 20 or so years I've had pigeons, but it did. I made a mistake and I learned my lesson. I hold no animosity towards wild predators of any kind as they are only doing what they can to survive. In this case, the Cooper’s Hawk saw an easy meal and tried to obtain it.

Please make sure your pets are safe while outdoors! It doesn't matter if your loved one is a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, or a bird; predators are everywhere and it is YOUR responsibility to ensure your pets are safe! Just because your pet is in a cage does not mean it is entirely protected.

  • Predator-proof your enclosures or move cages to safety if you notice predators nearby.

  • Supervise, if you can, your pets outside.

  • Keep dogs on leashes and cats indoors.

  • Keep your pets' vaccinations current.

  • Do not feed wildlife or leave pet food outside- this may attract more wildlife than you intended to!

  • If you encounter wildlife, please respect their space!

I enjoy observing wildlife in their natural habitats, but it is important to remain safe while doing so! Especially when your pets are involved.

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Image by Sean Sinclair

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