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Elmo is still very angry about everything. Ever since we brought Minnie home with us he’s been acting like he should be the only pigeon in the flat. Well, Minnie is now living in an aviary with other pigeons and receiving lots of cuddles from her new mum, however, Elmo has transfered his angry emotions to Georgie and started attacking her, which annoys us to no end.

We are gently trying to teach Elmo that he isn’t allowed to attack Georgie. If he does, he is promptly removed from the sofa (where he likes to attack her) and put on the floor. After a while he seems to understand that he’s not allowed on the sofa if he’s going to go for Georgie. If he’s sitting there nicely and leaving her alone, then we leave him be.

It might take a long time but I think we’ll eventually get back to normal. Georgie doesn’t seem too upset about it, which is good. She’s just interested in cuddling up to me nowadays (methinks it’s egg laying time soon. Uh oh!).

I’ve been trying to take some video of Georgie when she dances for me but I always ruin it by speaking in ‘baby talk’. When will I learn that talking like that doesn’t sound right when others view it! :D


The windows facing our garden have strong reflections and we get a lot of birds hitting them. :(

P1010411So far we haven’t seen any dead birds in our garden due to window strikes, thank goodness. We can see that the usual victims are pigeons. They most likely hit the windows after taking off in a hurry after eating seed on our garden. On the right is a photo of a rather clear mark of one (the imprint is from the pigeon’s feather dust). Poor thing.

So, in order to stop the birds from hitting our windows we purchased some window stickers – decals in the shape of a maple leaf. I’m not sure how well they work though since we’ve had one window strike with the stickers on the window. :(   But we’ll wait a bit longer and if we get another strike we’ll have to think of something else.

Here’s a site that suggests other ways to prevent window strikes: http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/site/backyard_birds/top_ten/bill_top_10_strikes.aspx

Top 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Window Strikes

by Bill Thompson, III

Thump! It’s that sickening sound that can only mean another bird has flown into one of your windows. Birds cannot see glass, especially if it is reflecting the nearby habitat or sky. These reflections do not register as such to a bird. This is why millions of birds die or are injured each year in collisions with glass windows in homes and office buildings.

Here are 10 different suggestions for making your windows less deadly for birds.

10. Move your feeders. Many window-killed birds are familiar feeder birds that use our backyards every day. There are two parts to this suggestion. Move the feeders farther away from your windows or move them closer to your windows. The idea here is that you’ll disrupt the birds’ usual flight path to and from the feeders. Moving the feeders closer to the windows can sometimes help because birds startled off the feeders by a hawk don’t build up enough speed to hurt themselves, and being closer to the window, the birds might be able to see that it is not an effective escape route. Remember that moving the feeders will do nothing to prevent nonfeeder birds, such as migrant thrushes and warblers, from hitting the glass. So here are some more general suggestions.

9. Branches. Breaking up the reflective ability of a large expanse of glass is key to making it less deadly. A natural way to do this is to suspend tree branches in front of the most-struck windows. Try to do this in a way that will give good coverage to the pane of glass but will not eliminate your view entirely.

8. Plastic food wrap. Another method for breaking up the reflection of glass is to stick large sheets of food wrap across the middle of your windows. Saran wrap and its cousin products can serve this purpose. If you have trouble getting the wrap to stick, spray a light coating of vegetable oil or water on the window before laying down the wrap. The wrap’s surface does not reflect the surroundings as the glass does.

7. Spray-on fake snow/vegetable oil. If you can stand it, a light coating of either of these two products will “deaden” a window’s reflective ability. Just don’t overdo the fake snow or you’ll be dreaming of a white Christmas and not be able to see anything out your window.

6. Commercial stickers. There are a few products available commercially that are designed to reduce or prevent window strikes. One of these is a static-adhering sticker that looks like a spiderweb; others are various designs meant to scare birds away with predator faces or with bright metallic reflective surfaces.

5. Mylar balloon/Mylar tubes. If you are willing to shell out $6.99 for a balloon at your local grocery store, make sure you get one of the long-lasting metallic-looking Mylar balloons (often featuring innocuous messages such as “It’s A Boy!” or a well-known cartoon character). These shiny balloons will flap around in the breeze and spook birds from coming too close to your windows. A variation on the theme was published in Bird Watcher’s Digest’s November/December 1999 issue. The author suggested wrapping strips of bright Mylar around cardboard tubes (from paper towel rolls) and suspending these wrapped tubes from strings in front of your problem windows.

4. Hawk/owl/crow silhouettes. The black vinyl flying accipiter silhouettes were the conventional solution for window strikes in the 1970s and many are still in use today. I have also seen owl and crow silhouettes used for the same purpose. The idea is that these shapes of “dangerous” birds are scary enough to prevent small birds from flying toward them, but their effectiveness is debatable. In certain situations they seem to work, at least for a time. The question is, do the birds get used to them and ignore them? If you can’t find these at your local bird store, trace the outline of a hawk, crow, or owl from a picture, enlarge it on a copier, cut it out and trace it onto black paper or vinyl, and stick them onto your windows.

3. Plastic strips/pie pans/ Christmas decorations/ CDs. Another method of scaring birds away from windows is to use something unusual suspended in front of the glass. The item can be shiny and reflective such as the aforementioned Mylar balloon, an aluminum pie pan, tin foil, Christmas decorations, or old compact discs (CDs). Or it can be something that flutters in the wind, such as strips from a plastic garbage bag. The message to birds is “don’t fly toward this scary, moving stuff.”

2. Screens or netting on the outside. The old standby solution to window strikes is to stretch some mesh netting (also known as fruit netting or crop netting) across your problem windows. This can take a bit of work, and it doesn’t look great, but the benefit is that it is 100 percent effective in preventing birds from hitting your windows. Some bird watchers will tie short pieces of white flagging, rags, or yarn to the netting to alert birds to its presence. An alternative is to get some old window screens (old storm window screens or screen doors work well) and suspend them in front of the windows birds are hitting regularly.

1. Feather Guard. Perhaps my favorite reader tip of all time was featured as a “My Way” in the September/October 2001 issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. The idea is called FeatherGuard. BWD reader Stiles Thomas of New Jersey created FeatherGuard. His creation consists of bird feathers strung about 8 inches apart on fishing line. These lines of feathers are then strung vertically across regularly struck windows. Birds see the feathers and do not continue to fly into the windows. Do the birds see the feathers as evidence of predation? Do the moving feathers frighten the birds? Nobody knows for sure, but I know from experience that FeatherGuard works! Buy yourself a FeatherGuard and see how it works for you.


Here’s one of my favourite videos of Georgie girl. She still gives us a dental clean so we haven’t scarred her for life. :)


On Saturday I wrote about pigeons being painted multi-coloured in Spain as part of a competition/game.

George

What Georgie would look like pink!

It reminded me of something Richard and I were working on a while ago (and which was regrettably put on the back shelf for a long time).

We’ve been wanting some artwork of Elmo and George and I thought it would be nice to have a portrait of Georgie in a pseudo Andy Warhol pop art style painting. On the right is one of the portraits we designed. I think she looks rather pretty in pink! :D

We’re thinking of having the picture printed on canvas (with maybe four or six portraits of Georgie in different colours). At the moment though our little project is on the back burner as we’re kept preoccupied with other matters, though hopefully soon I’ll be able to post the completed picture.

Ps. We think this should be the only way to paint a pigeon! :)


On Tuesday Richard wrote that we decided not to take Minnie home with us since Elmo was getting very jealous and territorial and attacking everything and everyone in his jealous anger. It wasn’t an outcome we had hoped for.

Elmo was chasing and trying to attack Minnie, who would fly onto Richard, which enraged Elmo even more (since Richard is his!). Then Elmo would take it out on Georgie – even attacking her on the floor which is something he never used to do! Poor pigeons! I have to admit we seemed to have messed things up with this! :(

And it wasn’t fair on Georgie either to have another pigeon in the flat since she cannot see properly. Minnie seemed to be quite interested in Georgie’s unusual looking eyes and would try to peck at them gently. Obviously Georgie didn’t like this and since Minnie can fly, George couldn’t really escape from her advances.

So after only having Minnie living with us for two weekends and evenings in one of the weeks, we made the decision to find her a new home. We have to think of what is best for our current pigeons.

During the week when Minnie was in the aviary at my workplace she was getting a lot of attention from the temporary ferals in the aviary next to her. The males were all cooing and dancing to her and I could see that she was interested in them too. Minnie was also interested in Elmo when he made his courting noises to Richard; she would fan out her tail and run across the sofa to him, thinking that Elmo was cooing to her. After seeing all this I knew that although Minnie loves to be with people, she would also love to have a pigeon partner (just like Dora).

P1010763

The broken wing female

I knew of someone who is looking for female pigeons for her aviary to pair up with some of her mateless male pigeons, and so yesterday Richard and I collected Minnie and another female pigeon (that has a broken wing and therefore cannot be released) from my work and took them to their new home.

We put Minnie and the female into the aviary and the male pigeons there immediately took an interest in them. There was an initial uncertainty but both the broken wing female and Minnie didn’t seem distressed by the attentions of the male pigeons. We would have stayed longer to see who Minnie took a liking to but the heavens opened up and we had to run back to the car before we got soaking wet.

I’ll keep you updated on how Minnie is settling in and who she’s paired up with!

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Minnie hanging onto the bars, unsure about the big male next to her.


A while back I came across a photo of a flock of pigeons that were multi-coloured – painted vibrant reds, greens, pinks and purples. It was a beautiful photo. It struck me as something fanciful and playful. The photo didn’t have a caption so I didn’t know who or why the pigeons were dyed as they were and I soon forgot about it.

A few days ago I came across another photo of painted pigeons and my curiosity was awakened. I needed to find out the story behind the photos so I googled ‘painted pigeons’ and ‘coloured pigeons’ to see what would pop up.

To my disappointment only a few photos appeared with little to no information, however, after careful searching through the internet I managed to find a link to a website that explained the photos. Finally!

But first I had found a site with photos of coloured racing pigeons from the Murcia region of Spain: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-15248305/stock-photo-coloured-racing-pigeons-from-the-murcia-region-of-spain.html

As well as these photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/staffy/3345022740/in/set-72157604833950737/

After more googling I found this one:

Image from: http://oreneta.com/kalebeul/

Two people had commented on the photo explaining everything, with a link to the following website: http://www.cichlidlovers.com/birds_pica.htm

So basically the Picas (Spanish Modern Thief Pouters, Palomas Deportiva) are flown in a competition – the cock pigeons chasing a hen. The cock pigeons are painted so that the judges can identify which pigeon is whose and score them according to how close a cock pigeon gets to the hen and impresses it with its courting abilities. The one that gets the most points wins. (To read more on this go to: http://www.cichlidlovers.com/birds_pica2.htm)

While I find the painted pigeons very beautiful it was quickly pointed out to me (by my lovely husband) that it must not be a nice experience for the pigeons. Most pigeons don’t like to be held and have their wings and feathers manipulated for any length of time (even Georgie, who’s extremely tame, doesn’t like it) so I can imagine that the painted pigeons must experience discomfort and distress from being painted.

And then to tease the cock pigeons by depriving them of hens and finally release them to chase a single hen pigeon for hours (even days in some cases)! I have to admit that I feel very sorry for both the cock pigeons and the hen. It’s not really fair for them. Why should they be treated in such a way just to satisfy human beings desire to ‘compete’ and win money?

Some people might think that I’m being overly judgemental and idealistic, however, I don’t like animals being used for human gain unnecessarily – especially for so called ‘sport’. I believe that animals should be admired and respected and seen for what they truly are – incredible beings that can feel and experience life in ways we do not.


Here’s a few funny pigeon clips found on YouTube:


A little squeaker came to my workplace at the wildlife rescue centre after having fallen from its nest at a railway station. I named her Matilda. (I decided to try it the other way round for once after all the pigeons we had given male names to turned out to be female.)

Matilda has the sweetest face (big eyes!) and a lovely little hookbill! Ok, so the latter isn’t exactly a good thing but it certainly gives this sweet baby lots of character.

Here she is:

P1010706

Matilda on 25th March

At first Matilda was scared of us and didn’t want to feed, but after a few days of love and care she now squeaks her little head off and flaps her wings in excitement whenever we are near. She feeds wonderfully despite her hookbill and we will be trying to get her to eat seed soon.

Here’s Matilda begging for food:

So the deal with hookbills is that they often need trimming down to allow the bird to feed properly. We have an adult pigeon living in the disabled pigeon aviary with an overgrown beak that we trim every now and then. However, as long as the beak doesn’t grow too long and doesn’t impede beak function, a little bit of a hookbill doesn’t hurt.

Today I saw a feral pigeon on the garden with a hookbill. It looked healthy enough and didn’t have any problems eating the seed and peanuts I gave it, which is good. Maybe Matilda’s overgrown beak won’t be a problem. Only time can tell.

P1010704

Waving hello!


There’s a few things I think humans could learn from feral pigeons.

Lesson number 1: Till death do us part. Now I know a lot of people find this an unrealistic or even an unnatural state to be in but if other animals such as pigeons can do it, so can we. I find the prospect of sharing my life with someone exciting, romantic, challenging, yet ultimately rewarding. Of course it’s not for everyone but monogamy has numerous benefits that in my eyes outweighs any negatives.

If you observe how lovingly pigeons pair up and raise their young your heart will melt. Pigeons are so affectionate to each other. They kiss and feed one another, as well as preen each other gently around the head (where a pigeon cannot preen itself – only scratch). In my eyes this shows that a pigeon understands how pleasant it feels to have their head preened and that they want to give their partner the same kind of pleasure. How lovely of them!

Lesson number 2: If at you first don’t succeed, try again. Ever seen a single male pigeon dance and coo to a female pigeon? Of course you have! It’s one of the most common pigeon sight you can see. This is generally how the scene goes: female pigeon is busy looking for food or eating whilst lonely (and horny) male pigeon struts his stuff around her. Female pigeon ignores male and male continues to dance to her. Female pigeon flies away and male pigeon follows.

The male pigeon doesn’t give up. He knows he’s worth it! He’s a big, handsome, healthy pigeon ready to share his life with a lovely female and nothing is going to stop him from attaining his goal. The cold shoulder the female gives him only spurs him on to dance and coo even more. Eventually she’ll see how wonderful he is and let him court her some more until she finally admits that she’s always fancied him.

Us humans should be the same – have a goal and don’t stop till you attain it. I applaud those who follow their dream.

Lesson number 3: Enjoy the simple things in life. When I see Georgie or Elmo enjoying the sun, a bath or a cuddle from us, I think that life would be so much simpler if people just stopped and appreciated the natural world around them and the little things it gives us. Spend an afternoon or the weekend sitting in the sun with a loved one, relaxing and simply living in the moment. Both George and Elmo are so content with just being near Richard and I. They want nothing more than our company.

Today I saw about 7 feral pigeons in and around the rim of a water bowl, all sharing and relishing the water. They looked so happy in their little group. It made me want to swim in a lake again. … Aah, the simple joys in life! :D


I added this one to YouTube a while ago, but hadn’t posted it here: