A few people have asked us why we have pigeons as pets. I know it seems an unusual choice when you first hear it but actually there are many people out there who have pigeons as pets, be it because they found a baby pigeon and hand-reared it, they have pigeons in aviaries for show or simply for the love of having them, or, like me, they work at a rescue centre and end up taking some of their work home.
Having non-flighted pigeons living in your home is a bit different than having flighted pigeons. We had a flighted pigeon, Dora, living we us for a while and it was a completely different scene. You have to be extra careful about windows, you have more droppings to pick up at higher levels (e.g. bookshelves, cabinets, down door frames) and you may have more feathers and featherdust floating down at you.
Non-flighted pigeons are restricted in their movement and I find that they are easier to clean up after and to keep an eye on. I’m not advocating in any way that you wing-clip or harm your bird to make it unable to fly. Flying is a born right for all birds (except, of course, the non-flighted species) and it is cruel to take that away from them (I guess it may be the equivalent of a person being wheelchair bound).
The reality of keeping any animal is that you will need to care for them constantly. It is not something to take on lightly. My husband and I have previously cared for dogs, cats, mice, snakes, rabbits, chickens, tortoises, fish, pigs, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, budgerigars, cockatiels and hamsters in our childhood and teenage years. Each species have their own needs and requirements but the principle is there: daily fresh food and water, clean bedding, proper housing and temperature, exercise (where applicable. Fancy taking a fish for a swim!) and human company.
However, I have to say that tame and imprinted pigeons are one of the most demanding animals I’ve had. Since both Georgie and Elmo are imprinted on humans they think that we are the same species. That means they aren’t happy unless they are in our company. If we were to put both Elmo and George in an aviary with other pigeons they wouldn’t want to be there; they’d be scared, lonely and become depressed. This means that we have George and Elmo living in our flat, sharing our sofa, floorspace, laps and food. And we do this gladly!
Anyone who meets Elmo thinks he’s the coolest pigeon alive. How could they not when they see him prancing excitedly up to them, cooing, bowing and fanning his tail out in greeting? Who couldn’t fall in love with him?!
So when people give me a weird look when I tell them I have two disabled pigeons living with me I simply smile and invite them to come meet them. They’ll soon change their views.