Wood roasted pigeon

Wildlife assistant Lorraine Gow giving Sooty his eye drops
Wildlife assistant Lorraine Gow giving Sooty his eye drops

By Cara Sulieman


A WOOD PIGEON got a roasting when a well-meaning rescuer tried to release it from a chimney – by smoking it out.

The bird was found stuck halfway up a chimney in a house in Crombie, Fife.

The hapless householder called a family member for help and was told to burn paper in the grate and “smoke the pigeon out.”

Painful injuries

But rather than freeing the pigeon, nicknamed Sooty, it caused him painful injuries including sooty eyes, swollen feet and a singed tail.

Sooty was still trapped up the chimney when the ambulance driver arrived from the Scottish SPCA.

Reaching up into the hole and releasing singed Sooty from behind a metal strut, Kieran Smart managed to get him out of the baking hot furnace.

Smouldering paper

The Scottish SPCA ambulance driver said: “When I arrived there was smouldering paper in the fire and it was very hot inside the chimney.

“The pigeon was obstructed by a metal strut, but I was able to reach up and pull him free.

“He was very hot to touch, his feet were swollen, his eyes were clogged with soot and his tail feathers were damaged.”

Wildlife rescue centre

The overheated bird was rushed to the charity’s Wildlife Rescue Centre at Middlebank Farm in Fife to get cleaned up and cooled down.

The soot was washed off of his crisp feathers and he received drops to clean the dirt out of his eyes and moisten them up again.

It took another two days for the swelling on his feet to go down but his tail feathers remain tattered from the ordeal.

Released back into the wild

It will be another few days before the wood pigeon is well enough to be released back into the wild near where he was found.

But despite the terrifying ordeal for Sooty, the charity are not blaming the would-be hero, instead using it as an example of when to call the experts in.

Centre Manager Colin Seddon said, “There was no malice intended by the person who did this, just a lack of common sense.

“The space was so small it was impossible for Sooty to spread his wings to fly up or down the chimney, so smoke was most definitely not the answer.

“Our advice to anyone who finds an animal or bird trapped and in distress is to contact our animal helpline immediately on 03000 999 999 and we will send one of our trained inspectors or ambulance drivers to come and release it.”