We'd love to hear what you think of our site. Please let us know by filling in the form below!

Social Network Links

The lab results on the death of the three resident pigeons at my work came back a bit inconclusive. To be honest, you need a degree in microbiology to understand the lab results the vet handed back to us. But this is what they found: possible respiratory problem due to mites going into the lungs, mites found on body of the dead pigeons, and yeast in throat (candida albicans) – which is the white substance we found. Treatment: antibiotic and mite treatment for all the other resident pigeons (which has been done already). Thankfully, there have been no other sudden deaths.

Although the vets didn’t find much for us to work with, we are very happy they didn’t find anything dangerous and untreatable (e.g. viruses). What still worries me, though, is that there were no signs of illness in the three pigeons that died, and all the other pigeons are looking very healthy – so does this mean that the pigeons are ok? Or is the silent killer still at large? :(

We are observing the behaviour of the pigeons daily, as well as giving them health checks and ensuring that their aviary is cleaned properly. I’ve been giving Dora extra cuddles, although she doesn’t always appreciate it – and Pidge, her mate, continuously interupts me by landing on me and trying to peck at Dora. Funny boy! What’s his game?

Here are a few photos I took today of the pigeons:


Feeding time!


Pidge and Dora tucking in!


Dora looking fit and healthy as usual.

Another dove/pigeon species threatened with extinction. I do hope they succeed in reintroducing them back into the wild, however, their habitat needs to be restored and protected in order for them to be successful. I wish them all the best with their efforts!

A very pretty dove species!

ZSL London Zoo successfully breeds ‘extinct’ Mexican dove

Monday 30 October 2006

Bird keepers at ZSL London Zoo are delighted to have bred a dove that died out in the wild three decades ago. It’s a first for the zoo and keepers hope it will mark a change in fortunes for the beleaguered bird.

Socorro DoveThe Socorro dove (Zenaida graysoni) has been extinct in the wild for more than 30 years, and was last sighted in its natural habitat in 1972. Endemic to Socorro in the Revillagigedo Islands, 600 miles off the western coast of Mexico, there are now thought to be less than 100 in captivity and successful breeding is vital to a plan to reintroduce them to the wild.

Zoo keepers have named the new dove Arnie, in reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous catchphrase “I’ll be back”, because they hope that that successful captive breeding will mean Socorro doves could soon be back in the wild. As part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) breeding programme working towards reintroduction, Arnie’s descendants could end up living back in the forests of Socorro.

Socorro doves died out after falling prey to a rising number of feral cats in the area, populations of which have now begun to be brought under control. Overgrazing sheep also destroyed much of their forest floor habitat and the birds were also hunted by humans for food. Work is already underway to eradicate both sheep and cats from the island completely before reintroduction.

The Zoological Society of London’s Curator of Birds, John Ellis, said: “This is an enormous success for ZSL London Zoo and a real tribute to the hard work and expertise of our keepers. I would like to think that this captive breeding success marks a change in the fortunes of the Socorro dove and we are delighted to be playing our part in the reintroduction programme.”

The Socorro Dove is officially listed as extinct in the wild on the IUCN red list of threatened species.

The dove is not the only species categorised as extinct in the wild held in the collection at ZSL London Zoo. Partula snails from the south Pacific islands are also held here as part of a captive breeding and reintroduction programme. ZSL released the first captive-bred partulas into an area protected from the carnivorous rosy wolf snail on the island of Moorea in August 1994. The rosy wolf snail was an introduced species that predated on partula snails.

From: http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo//news/london-zoo-successfully-breeds-extinct-mexican-dove,314,NS.html

And another article:

Plan to save bird extinct in wild

Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Socorro dove chick

Edinburgh Zoo has produced 11 Socorro chicks in its breeding programme

Edinburgh Zoo has joined forces with Paignton Zoo in Devon and zoos abroad in a bid to save a bird that has been extinct in the wild for 30 years.

The Socorro dove, which originates from Socorro Island off Mexico, died out in the wild in the 1970s as a result of human disturbance and habitat loss.

Several were held in private collections and breeding pairs were formed to sustain the population.

Edinburgh Zoo has produced 11 chicks to date.

Socorro dove

In the next stage of the reintroduction, five birds from Edinburgh Zoo and seven birds from Paignton Zoo were flown to California in October and have now been transferred to Albuquerque Zoo in New Mexico.

The birds will form a satellite population outside Europe and their offspring could be the first Socorro doves to be seen on their ancestral home.

Edinburgh Zoo’s head bird keeper Colin Oulton said: “The Socorro Dove Project demonstrates how the zoo world and conservation community can work closely with each other to bring species back from the brink of extinction.

“It’s further evidence of the increasing role that zoos like Edinburgh and Paignton can play in saving species from disappearing off the face of the planet.

“The glimmer of hope held by all involved in the Socorro Dove Project is that this little brown dove will once again be found on its ancestral island, and that glimmer just got a bit brighter.

“Breeding Socorro doves can be tricky as the males are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of mates.”

Paignton Zoo curator of birds Jo Gregson said: “This project shows how conservationists around the world work together.

“It’s important that we try to save every single threatened species, not just the well-known charismatic ones. Every species has the right to survive.”

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7750390.stm

At work we have our fair share of baby pigeons that I have the responsibility of hand-feeding. And I must say that whilst some mornings I cannot see past the flapping wings and hear through the intense squeaks, I enjoy feeding them immensely. Baby pigeons – squabs or squeakers as they are called (depending on their age) – are irresistibly cute and crave your attention for food and comfort. It is hard not to fall in love with them.

Note: Just to be clear here – I work at a wildlife rescue centre so all hand-reared pigeons are released once they are old and healthy enough. We aim not to tame them because they need to be released as wild birds.

There are two little darlings that spring to mind now and I want to share the following video clips to demonstrate how adorable baby pigeons can be. Although they are still begging for food from me they are perfectly able to eat seed on their own, which you can see in the videos:

I love the way they put their wings over each other’s back and pat them on the back! Funny!

What darlings! :)

As for feeding baby pigeons, there are many different methods (see end of paragraph for links). At my work we use the ‘gavage’ or tube-feeding method – it is clean and easy once you know how to do it safely. Other methods lean towards a more natural way of feeding them (and I love that idea!) – I think these are good if you only have a few pigeons to rear, since these methods can be a bit messy and more time consuming. The trick is finding which method suits you best – all are good ways to hand-feed pigeons!

Tube feeding a pigeon

Syringe method

Caring for a baby pigeon

Bottle feeding a baby pigeon

I recently tried the latter method (bottle feeding) to help boost the food intake of the baby pigeons with seed instead of just formula and it works really well – as long as the pigeon isn’t afraid of you. If they are then they won’t start eating from the jar – a little encouragement and patience is needed.

How does Elmo know who is male and who is female? This is the question that plagues my mind. If we have a male visitor come round to see us, Elmo is very happy and shows off. If we have a female visitor come round, Elmo will attack her at some point to warn her not to come too close. But how in the world does he know who’s female and who’s male? I just cannot understand it. Do we give off different smells? Colours? Is he noticing the fact that human females have breasts and human males don’t? Is it the length of our hair? Is it the voice difference? … Maybe it is a certain aura we emit that pigeons can see? Or maybe Elmo is just that clever that he can tell the difference – just like humans can tell the difference – since Elmo thinks he’s a person. I wish I could ask him because it seems so amazing that Elmo can tell the difference. What a clever boy! :)

Ps. I did ponder this question a while back in Gay pigeon.

Must be one of the best pigeon dance videos out there. I love the pigeon at the end – he’s very excited and trying very hard to get her attention!

We have sadly lost three of our resident pigeons, Missy, Penelope and Hookbill, at my work. They all died suddenly, and without warning, in the last 3 weeks. All the other resident pigeons look, feel and sound healthy. Even the ones that died weren’t showing any signs of illness before they died.

At the moment we are in a state of anxiety, each day worrying if another pigeon will pass away suddenly. We are waiting for the lab results to return so that we know if a virus or other disease is the cause of death. It is hard to see what could have caused three pigeons to die suddenly and without any symptoms (besides a white substance found in the mouth). Especially when all the resident pigeons are looking so healthy. There are no coughs, discharge, laboured breathing, weight loss, listlessness or any other indicator of disease.

Could it be that it is just coincidence that three pigeons have died of old-age in the space of 3 weeks? Most of the resident pigeons at my work are mature pigeons – I recently found out that Pidge is actually 17 years old!! We don’t know the age of the other pigeons but most of them have been there for at least 10 years now. For photos of the resident pigeons (including Dora) at my work please visit: Resident pigeons

Here are the beautiful three pigeons we have lost. Rest in peace sweet pigeons. You will be sadly missed – by your mates and us – and we hope you had a good, happy life.






Hookbill - just before his beak trim. He found eating surprisingly easy even with his hooked beak.

The following article is from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080613145535.htm

It is a very interesting read on self-recognition in pigeons.

Pigeons Show Superior Self-Recognition Abilities To Three Year Old Humans

ScienceDaily (June 14, 2008) — Keio University scientists have shown that pigeons are able to discriminate video images of themselves even with a 5-7 second delay, thus having self-cognitive abilities higher than 3-year-old children who have difficulty recognizing their self-image with only a 2 second delay.

Prof. Shigeru Watanabe of the Graduate School of Human Relations of Keio University and Tsukuba University graduate student Kohji Toda trained pigeons to discriminate real-time self-image using mirrors as well as videotaped self-image, and proved that pigeons can recognize video images that reflect their movements as self-image.

Self-recognition is found in large primates such as chimpanzees, and recent findings show that dolphins and elephants also have such intelligence. Proving that pigeons also have this ability show that such high intelligence as self-recognition can be seen in various animals, and are not limited to primates and dolphins that have large brains.

Experimental method and results

The pigeon was trained to discriminate two types of video images in the following method. First, live video images of the present self (A) and recorded video images of the pigeon that moves differently from the present self (B) are shown. When the pigeon learns to discriminate these two images, the video image of (A) is shown with a temporal delay, so that the monitor shows the image of the pigeon a few seconds before. If the pigeon remembers its own movements, it can recognize it as self-image even with the delay.

The pigeon could discriminate (A) with a few seconds delay as something different from (B). This shows that the pigeon can differentiate the present self-image and the recorded self-image of the past, which means that the pigeon has self-cognitive abilities. Video image (A) matches with the movement of itself, whereas (B) does not. Being able to discriminate the two means that the pigeon understands the difference between movements of itself and movements of the taped image. In this experiment, movements of the pigeon itself are in question instead of the mark of Gallup’s mark test (see 2-(1) below for explanation). When there is a temporal delay in the image of the present self, the longer the delay, the more pigeon’s discrimination was disrupted, and this also shows that the pigeon discriminates the video images using its own movements. The important thing is whether it understands the difference between movements in the video image that match with itself and movements in the video image that don’t.

Method of testing self recognition on animals

(1) Gallup’s mirror test (self-recognition test)

The self-recognition test on animals using mirrors was developed by psychology Prof. Gordon Gallup Jr. at the State University of New York, Albany. His papers released in 1970 in the “Science” magazine explaining that chimpanzees have abilities for self-recognition attracted attention. This test is known as the first to test self-recognition on animals. He anesthetized chimpanzees and then marked their faces. When the chimpanzees were awakened, they were confronted with a mirror and they touched the corresponding marked region of their own faces. Most tests of self-recognition are a variation of the Gallup test, and are used to assess self-recognition in a wide variety of species. It is also called the mark test, or the rouge test.

(2) Assessment of self-recognition on pigeons

Self-recognition can be assessed with cross-modality matching. A typical example of cross-modality matching is waving your hand when you see yourself in a video image. With a mirror image or video image of oneself, when information of the propriocepter (how the arms and legs of oneself are moving) and visual information of oneself correlate, this can be considered self-recognition. The Gallup’s mark test is based on the precondition that the subject can touch itself. Unless the subject touches itself, it cannot be proved that it has abilities for self-recognition. However, the test conducted on pigeons is more advanced, as it is based on how the pigeons move, and by memorizing the shown images, pigeons proved that they have self-cognitive abilities.

Self-cognitive abilities tested in pigeons are higher than that of 3-year olds

Through various experiments, it is known that pigeons have great visual cognitive abilities. For example, a research at Harvard University proved that pigeons could discriminate people photographs from others. At Prof. Shigeru Watanabe’s laboratory, pigeons could discriminate paintings of a certain painter (such as Van Gogh) from another painter (such as Chagall).

Furthermore, pigeons could discriminate other pigeons individually, and also discriminate stimulated pigeons that were given stimulant drugs from none. In this experiment, pigeons could discriminate video images that reflect their movements even with a 5-7 second delay from video images that don’t reflect their movements. This ability is higher than an average 3-year-olds of humans. According to a research by Prof. Hiraki of the University of Tokyo, 3-year-olds have difficulty recognizing their self-image with only a 2 second delay.

Journal Reference:

  • Toda et al. Discrimination of moving video images of self by pigeons (Columba livia). Animal Cognition, 2008 DOI: 10.1007/s10071-008-0161-4

  • As usual we manage to find some pigeons wherever we are on holiday – be it in the UK or abroad. At one point in my childhood I lived near a park called “Sorsapuisto”, which means “duck park”, where there is a small lake filled with ducks, geese and gulls. This park is attached to Tampere Talo (Tampere Hall), a congress and concert centre. I used to play at this park (there were some really good swings there!), and I particularly enjoyed feeding the ducks and pigeons there.

    Although we didn’t have time to walk around the lake on our visit, we went to see the aviaries at Sorsapuisto that house various species and breeds of birds, such as peacocks, chickens and geese, during the summer. Much to our delight, we also found they had some beautiful looking pigeons. During the winter these birds are relocated to an indoor heated facility at another location. They wouldn’t stand a chance out in those aviaries in the snow!

    Here are some photos of the aviaries at Sorsapuisto, including a short video clip of the birds:








    I think these pigeons wanted to get into the aviary for free food:


    Remember the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2? The movie at first depicts her as this scary lady (almost witch-like) that attracts hundreds of pigeons to her. We later find out that she’s a nice lady who’s life had fallen apart and who is homeless. She feeds and cares for the pigeons in the park in a way to help deal with her life situation.

    I think many of us can agree that taking care of pigeons is a very loving activity – the friendship and affection received from the pigeons that choose to befriend you is a huge blessing. It is addictive. Pigeons are soft and plump – great for cuddling! They have a wonderful voice – cooing in all tones and tunes – and they come in such pretty colours and patterns. Having twenty odd pigeons at your feet and on your lap and shoulders, eating seed, is a lovely experience. Once they trust you and choose to become your friend, they’ll recognise you from afar and welcome you home for a treat!

    And this is why so many men and women around the world take the time to feed feral pigeons. They have discovered this simple pleasure. They have recognised the loyalty and friendship that pigeons can have for a human being – all because they have extended a helping hand in giving them some food. Many of these pigeon feeders get into trouble because of the laws of the city/town that prohibits the feeding of pigeons. Many get hassle from other people who call the pigeons “dirty”, “disgusting” and “diseased” and demand that the person stop feeding them. But none of this will stop a pigeon feeder because they love their pigeons and realise what a rotten deal pigeons get from the public and officials who hate or dislike them.

    People like to call these pigeon men and woman “crazy” – but why? Just because they feed pigeons? Because they love pigeons? Insane.

    I remember when I first saw the pigeon lady in Home Alone 2 when I was a child. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, all those pigeons around her! I wanted to experience that! I remember running to the local park with bread in my hand, trying to attract the pigeons to me. Sadly, none flew onto me but I did get a good group of pigeons, ducks and some gulls around me – eagerly gobbling up the meager bread I provided.

    Anyway, back to pigeon people: Many months ago I read a few articles and saw some photos of two pigeon men that stuck in my mind.

    The first is about Pierre Pradeau, a retired man, who fed the pigeons at Notre Dame. He sadly passed away on the 13th December in 2009. Many people have photographed him and his pigeons and here are some of those wonderful photos: Pigeon Man of Notre Dame and L’homme aux pigeons.

    Another man, less photographed, is Joseph Zeman, who sadly died on the 18th December in 2007. He was a known figure in Chicago – called “the pigeon man of Lincoln Square” – who quietly went about his business of feeding the pigeons. Here are some articles about him:

    Reflections of an accidental pigeon fancier on the death of `Pigeon Man’

    Joseph Zeman killed by negligent driver

    Goodbye, Pigeon Man

    Sad news today: Joseph Zeman, the “pigeon man of Lincoln Square,” was killed yesterday when he was struck by a car on the Far North Side. The driver was a 68-year-old who didn’t see Zeman as he made a right leaving a parking lot.

    The 77-year-old was easy to spot at the corner of Lawrence and Western, where he would sit for hours on a fire hydrant, feeding a large group of pigeons that would crowd around him and perch all over his body. Zeman was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston at 3:21 p.m, and he was found with a laminated copy of the article the Trib did on him in 2004.

    An epileptic who was treated poorly as a child by his family, Zeman learned early on “not to say nothing, keep to myself, just so I can’t be wrong anymore.” He first formed a relationship with the pigeons during the 47 years he ran a newsstand at the corner of LaSalle and Division. He would feed them, and over time, the pigeons came to trust him. He moved up to the hydrant in 1997 when he sold the newsstand.

    However you feel about pigeons, it’s hard not to be moved by Zeman’s philosophy, which he shared in his Trib profile: “I’m really advertising to the public how easy it is to be good without an attitude; it’s just as easy to show decency as it is to hate today.”

    “Pigeon Man” via jdlinkvision.

    By Jocelyn Geboy in on December 19, 2007 3:16 PM


    It has been a record hot summer in Finland this year – the hottest recorded temperature was 37.2 degrees Celsius (on July 29th). I’m hoping that not too many animals suffered from the excess heat – since they’d normally be used to colder temperatures. (For wintertime, check out: Pigeons in Finland and Finnish pigeons).

    Here are some photos of the pigeons we saw this summer:


    At the arboretum in Tampere


    At the arboretum in Tampere


    Chilling out in the sun!


    Must be the warmest spot to sunbathe on.


    Looking good!


    Feral pigeons foraging with the crows and ducks.

    We had a coffee in the town centre of Tampere and we were joined by some lovely pigeons, who helped themselves to the left-overs: