Tank, so named because he's built big, solid, wide and low to the ground, came in to ACC alone on 2/29, as a stray. I brought him home to foster on 3/5, along with Titanium & Mardi Gras. Tank was huge and described as a football. To me, he felt like a bowling ball. Regardless, as a foster, he met and immediately began to court Country, to whom he is lovingly mated today.
Tank has a lot of character. He loves to eat and would waddle from one food dish to the other, grunting like an old pig. And he's full of surprises- when I him put outdoors as one of the off-the-nest birds for fresh air and sunshine while I cleaned the pij room, upon being returned, he would always bypass the freshly filled food dish to go straight back to the nest and relieve Country, even though he'd not had access to food while outdoors.
Then, when I started moving birds outside to the aviary, I didn't put him on any of the high perches like I did the other birds because, heavy as he was, I was afraid he would fall off and hurt himself. Surprise- Tank (!) was the first bird to fly to the highest perches on his own and did so repeatedly, teaching all the other pij how to do it.
Unfortunately, Tank developed an abscess on his lower mandible and, when I took him to the vet on 5/6, it was found to be very serious. Apparently, pigeons can be bitten by mosquitoes (skin near the beak is thin and so is a common site for bites) and contract pigeon pox. Tank was hospitalized for a week and has survived. His lower beak sustained a lot of tissue damage from the infection and we're hoping that he doesn't lose any more. His mate, Country, sat on their wooden eggs the whole time he was gone and welcomed him tenderly back to the aviary when I was able to bring him home on 5/15. He's lost over 100 grams and is staying on the ground rather than flying to perches for now. He is currently on ibuprofen for pain, he's eating, Country is by his side and he is recuperating. I'm looking into vaccinations against pigeon pox to protect the other birds. Tank has immunity now.
Tank did lose his lower beak and he did learn to eat again without it. I'll add the middle of his story one of these days. Below is the end.
On January 22nd, 2009, I went out to check on the pigeons in the loft and found my sweet friend Tank being hassled by young thugs Tony & Dill. I picked Tank up and could tell he'd lost weight. I brought him in and weighed him. He had weighed 860 grams on 12/4, 810 on 12/20 and 660 now. I set him up in a hospital crate on the kitchen counter and went outdoors to get his mate, Country. Once I had them settled I could see that Tank's breathing was labored. I made plans to take him to the vet in the morning.
Tank was an incredible pigeon who, last May got bit by a mosquito on his jaw (where there are few feathers) and ended up losing his lower beak to the pigeon pox. He had to learn to eat without his lower beak and it was heartbreaking to watch him trying & trying. I adopted him & Country and have kept a special eye on him ever since.
On Friday I took him and Country [for comfort & support] to UC Davis Small Animal Clinic. His breathing was still bad and so they went into an oxygen tank before getting examined. An ultrasound showed his liver was grossly enlarged. He had been eating but, by Saturday morning, he wasn't and his weight dropped to 590. When I got there, I could see he was very uncomfortable with labored breathing even in the oxygen and crouched down rather than in his normal stance. His diagnosis was untreatable cancer and we euthanized him that afternoon.
I wanted to take him home but he was suffering and so we did it there. Beforehand, I took them both outside [pij love leaving the vet just like a dog or cat] and I wanted to give that to Tank.
The vet let me inject the sedative, something I wanted to do because Tank was comfortable with me and trusted me. We sat outside for twenty minutes. I held him for awhile and then put him in the carrier with his mate. Country gave him a couple of quick beak-touches to his head, as if to welcome and check on him.