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Richard has been away on holiday for 4 days, I was away for a day and a half. During the time we were both away my mum-in-law and a woman pet sitter were drafted in to check on our pigeons.

I returned home this morning to find Elmo almost tripping over himself in excitement and happiness in seeing me. Georgie had laid an egg and was a bit more subdued as she was still egg-heavy with the second egg.

Elmo did his mad pigeon dance and would not leave me alone as I wandered about the flat sorting out things. If this is how he greets me, his least favourite human, then how is he going to react when Richard, his favourite person, gets home tonight?!


I arrived in Sonderborg, Denmark on Thursday evening. Sight-seeing at that time of night is restricted to bars and clubs.

In the morning however we had a walk around town and the harbour. Hunting far and wide I’m unhappy to announce there are no pigeons in Sonderborg. Plenty of seagulls and a couple of swans, but not one pigeon to be found.

:(

Swan in Sønderborg Harbour


Last night I watched a movie and made some popcorn. I decided not to give any to Elmo and Georgie and thought I could keep them away while I enjoyed the popcorn.

That’s not quite what happened. I sat down on the sofa and immediately Georgie was up from her nest and walking towards me. I gently pushed her back to her nest, she cooed angrily and started walking back to me. I did it again but she again cooed angrily and walked towards me. We must have done this for about 5 mintues. Georgie was not going to give up!!

While this was happening Elmo was on the other side of me on the sofa arm-rest and had his neck extended as he stared intently at the bowl of popcorn. He was still for a while then jumped into the bowl. Great! I quickly put him back on the arm-rest and he continued to stare at the popcorn, willing it to leap into his beak. He looked like he wanted to jump back into the bowl so I gave him a firm ‘No Elmo’ and held the bowl away (as if that was going to stop him!). Meanwhile Georgie was still advancing with shear determination. She was single-minded in her goal.

I did manage to eat most of the popcorn before it got too ridiculous. Then I caved in and gave them a few pieces. They went mad for it!! Biting my fingers in their eagerness to break the popcorn into pieces. When I stopped holding it up to them Georgie started waggling her shoulders and twitching her wings. She looked like a little squeaker again! It was so adorable. It was as if she was saying at the same time, “Please mummy, can I have some more,” and “That was delicious mummy, thank you so much.”

Next time I will be forced to put them away in the bedroom when I want to have a quiet evening eating popcorn and watching a movie. Silly pigeons!


As mentioned in her bio Georgie pigeon was thought to be a boy. Before I took her into my care I knew next to nothing about pigeons (so I couldn’t tell that she wasn’t a boy). Sure, I had admired pigeons when I was young as they bobbed and cooed in the street of my home town. I thought them pretty and wondered why they walked like they do. I particularly enjoyed seeing the males trying to get the females attention (all that tail fanning, bobbing and cooing is fascinating). I have always loved animals and had kept many pets but I never had a special interest in pigeons until I began working at a wildlife rescue centre.

You see, pigeons are quite common (really? Could have fooled me. :) ) and many kind and caring people bring injured or orphaned ones to the rescue centre so I was (and still am) pretty surrounded by pigeons (hedgehogs being the next most common animal brought in). I saw my first baby pigeon there and didn’t have a clue what it was. But I quickly fell in love with them as my supervisor showed me how to feed them – the poor darlings squeaking away with such enthusiasm and earnest – “Please feed me, mummy!” and quickly, “Please cuddle me!” as they grew and wanted some love from their adopted carers.

Many people say that squeakers and squabs are ugly but I beg to differ. Maybe it is a case of “Having a face only a mother could love”? Do I care what other people think about them? … (Actually I do. I can get quite upset when people see the baby pigeons at the rescue centre and say “How ugly they are!” I can remember only two people saying how beautiful they looked and I almost hugged them).

Anyway, back to Georgie. So here was this almost 1 year old young male pigeon who Richard and I loved to bits. Then one day, shortly after her 1st birthday, Georgie laid an egg. And she hasn’t looked back since!! :)

Georgie and her first egg

The unexpected egg

We were shocked to bits, our whole view of George changed immediately. She was no longer this cool male pigeon, rather a moody female one. And by lord, can she get moody when she’s incubating her eggs! They aren’t fertile since Elmo boy doesn’t pay her any attention, so we let her incubate them till she’s bored of it. We have a couple of fake eggs to replace her ones just in case we accidently break the real ones (Georgie likes to nest on the sofa despite the dangers of us sitting on them).

So we have to deal with a very moody pigeon on her nest while we are trying to watch TV or relax on the sofa. Richard cannot sit next to her otherwise she’ll attack him. Only I can safely sit next to her, but sometimes, when she’s really into her protective mother role, I have to back off because she’s ‘protecting’ her eggs.

We cannot get Georgie to stop laying eggs. Her body and hormones and mind tell her to bond with me and have babies. That’s just the way it is. Pigeons like to breed. And they’ll do it all year round. That’s why there’s so many of them. Sure, I could stop petting her or letting her cuddle up to me, I could put her somewhere where she hasn’t the opportunity to bond with someone, but that would simply be cruel. Georgie needs affection. She’s semi-blind and craves contact.

So we’re stuck with a loving pigeon (who we still love dearly) who will lay a pair of eggs nearly every month. I keep a diary of when she lays them so I can monitor her health. Georgie was eggbound once and it was a scary ordeal. I now have calcium drops and special UV bird lamp to counteract the strain of her egg production.

At the moment we’re expecting Georgie to lay an egg. The last egg she laid was on the 18th Nov 09, so it’s been over two months, which is pretty good. It’s never good for a bird to lay eggs continuously. For those of you who have seen a pigeon lay an egg it’s quite fascinating. But if you’ve ever thought a pigeon was a boy and he laid an egg?? Well, that’s a different feeling!


Richard bought a wireless remote pan/tilt network camera (a.k.a. a webcam) today. We’ve decided to get one to be able to observe Elmo’s behaviour during the day while we are at work. I’m not expecting to see anything spectacular (let me guess? He’ll be sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping some more, then eating, grooming, and maybe a bit of dancing around my woolly socks), but it’ll make interesting viewing since we can never be certain what Elmo’ll be doing on his own. Does he miss us a lot? Is he bored? Or is he enjoying a bit of solitude and reserving his energy for when we get back (when he can perform his mad pigeon welcome dance!).

I could be completely wrong here though. Maybe Elmo gets up to all sorts of adventures while we are away. Are the wild pigeons outside talking to him through the window? Does Elmo have a secret hiding place under the bed?

The best bit about the webcam is that when we’re away on holiday we can make sure Elmo is ok.

Georgie’s webcam will have to wait till after payday though.


Rest in Peace gerbils Petra and Suri

P1050019

Suri

Small and furry, thumping feet
Twitching noses as they meet

Sisters two,
black and white
Sleeping soundly
out of sight

P1110988

Petra

Rodents they are as quick and as bright,
dumpling Petra, Suri slight.
Time spent digging, chewing and grooming,
neither sand-bathing, simply removing.
A cocoon, a haven, that soft warm nest,
nothing more needed – simply the best!


Suri

Suri

At some point last night our remaining gerbil Suri passed away. We aren’t sure as to the cause of death, but she was getting old and has been pining away for her sister Petra whom we had to put to sleep last November (due to an inoperable tumor).

We got Suri & Petra from a animal rescue center (Kit Wilson Trust – www.kitwilsontrust.org.uk) on 11th Sept 2007. We’re unsure of how old they were at the time but we were told 1 year old. They had been kept in pretty standard conditions, a small enclosure, and well looked after in terms of food, water, bedding etc.

P1010066

Gerbiville

We managed to find a 4ft fish tank for them to run around in, with numerous tubes running out above the tank where their house and feeding ‘pod’ was kept. They loved the new space they had been given. They ignored the wheel provided and decided to set up house in the wheel pod with their ‘summer cottage’, a wooden house, in the tank below. We like to think that they had a content life, having plenty of toilet rolls to chew as well as feathers to chase.

Rest in peace dear Suri, we hope you’re snuggling up with your sister now.


My wife and I like to snuggle up with the pigeons and watch a good movie, and there’s nothing better than a nice bowl of popcorn to tuck into while we watch.

Our pigeons however go absolutely nutty for popcorn! At the smell of the stuff Georgie starts running around franticly pecking the air, and Elmo charges the bowl! To wash it all down Georgie loves nothing more than a nice cup of hot chocolate :)

P.S. As pointed out by commenter Charis, chocolate is indeed toxic to all animals due to the compound ‘Theobromine’. Humans are able to metabolise this compound whereas birds, dogs, cats, etc. can’t. Birds are more susceptible due to their smaller size and faster metabolism.

Georgie is the only one of our birds who likes hot chocolate, as it’s primarily milk and a small amount of cocoa we felt this would be ok in very small doses (a couple of sips once every 2 or so months). Really not such a good idea though.

P.P.S. We are happy to announce that Georgie is no longer having any hot chocolate as we don’t want to take any risks concerning her health.


Suri and Petra

Suri (black) and Petra (black and white)

As mentioned in the previous post we had 2 gerbils by the time we got our pigeons. We’d let Suri and Petra run about on the sofa or in the bathroom for a little playtime outside of their tank and everything was hunky-dory.

One day when Suri and Petra were running about on the sofa Georgie happened to be there too. Before we knew what was happening Petra walked up to Georgie and bit her on her foot. In her shock and pain Georgie took off to escape Petra but she held on and was dangling from Georgie’s foot as she frantically flapped to fly away. Petra let go and fell to the sofa before we managed to grab Georgie. There was blood spurting from her foot. I put the gerbils back into their tank while Richard held our poor pigeon and tried to stop the bleeding.

As you can imagine, our hearts were racing (as I’m sure Georgie’s was too) and we were in a bit of a panic. Guilt quickly showed its face and we felt very bad for what had happened. Thankfully the bleeding stopped and Georgie pigeon was fine, but I’m sure her foot throbbed with pain.

:(

That episode quickly put the end of any sort of contact between our pigeons and gerbils. We couldn’t trust the gerbils to not attack again. … We thought that would be that but it happened again, despite all our vigilance.

We had put Suri and Petra in a small wire cage while we cleaned their big tank and Dora, our only fully flighted pigeon, thought it would be a good idea to land on the top of the wire cage. No sooner had she done this than Petra nipped one of her toes. Dora took off, a bit of blood dropped, and our hearts raced again.

The moral of this short story is that when it comes to rodents and their ‘cousins’ the ‘flying rodents’ you cannot mix the two together. Pigeon feet are apparently quite delicious.

:)

P.s. Looking back at these incidents we cannot help but laugh. The image of a gerbil hanging from a flying pigeons foot is quite funny.

P.p.s. Not that we advocate pitting a gerbil against a pigeon! We are completely against any such act!!


As many pet owners know vacation time can bring up a number of problems. What to do with the pets? Do we leave them or bring them with us? Who will look after them? Will we be able to afford pet sitting? How will we enjoy our holiday knowing our pets are probably missing us? Instead of a nice week or more of relaxation and fun one can get stuck worrying how your pets are faring.

Richard and I have come across these problems. Last year we prepared for our annual trip to Cornwall. In previous years it had been care-free and a simple ‘lets pack and drive over to Cornwall’. Now it isn’t so easy. This time we had 2 pigeons and 2 gerbils living with us.

So… Thinking caps on… Maybe we should take our pigeons with us? Mum can pop in to feed the gerbils and give them fresh water. Their care is fairly hands-off.

Note: Our gerbils live in a long fishtank and have many tubes and containers to run around in. Suri and Petra came from a rescue centre so we don’t really know how old they are, and they aren’t very tame (they don’t really like being handled). Unfortunately we lost Petra late last year to a tumor.

Ok, the gerbils care was settled, now what about the pigeons? Taking them with us didn’t seem like a bad idea. We’d be staying in a static caravan so they’d be protected from the elements and from predators. We bought a wire cage run so that they could be out on the grass in it. The only problem was that I had discovered that Georgie gets car sick. Yep, you heard me, car sick! For some reason I never really thought birds could get motion sickness but I had clear proof of it when I took Georgie to the vet and on the way back she had had enough and vomited up her breakfast. Nice.

This happen a few more times whenever I had to take Georgie somewhere in the car. The thought of subjecting her to a 5-6 hour drive to Cornwall was too inhumane to us so we asked a friend if she could look after her while we were away. With that settled we turned our attention to Elmo. I asked his previous carer if he ever got motion sickness and the answer was ‘no’. Great!

Elmo in travel cage

Elmo in the car

So with a little bit of an anxious mind – we didn”t really know how Elmo would take to being in the car for 5-6 hours – we put him in the voyageur carrier (with a towel for him to grip onto and a bowl of seed at the back), secured the carrier with a seatbelt, and set off to Cornwall. We made regular stops to give Elmo the opportunity to drink and to make sure he was alright, and eventually we made it to Cornwall with our pigeon. The holiday went brilliantly and Elmo enjoyed it too. He didn’t seem to mind the car journey at all.

We think that we might take both pigeons this time since I have now noticed that Georgie has stopped vomiting after a car journey. Hooray!