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I think yesterday’s food experiment went very well, and it seems a lot of people enjoyed it too! :)

I guess this means I need to do some more mini-experiments with Elmo and Georgie. Any ideas?

Seeing as Georgie cannot really see well I don’t think I can do any sight-based tests with her – unless it’s to see how she reacts to different things, e.g. light. We already know that she doesn’t like bright lights shining on her (e.g. torches, camera flash, the little red camera focus light that comes on or any strobe lighting that may be on TV). We also found out that she doesn’t like it when the monitor screen switches from dark to a light background (by opening and closing an application. She’ll flick her wing at the monitor if you do this). She’s such a fussy little thing!

Elmo by all accounts should be a better test subject, however, he’s a bit of a wimp and is easily scared of strange or new things. Even the food experiment was a bit strange for him: you can see how he shakes a bit and is avoiding the new dishes to go straight to something he’s familiar with (the peanuts).

Here’s two videos I tried previously to upload (and failed miserably). The first one should belong in the “My own personal guard” post. Elmo is standing guard at the territory line on the sofa and he’s tolerating my presence. However, he’s keeping an eye on my fingers and camera as I move it about near him. What a sweetheart!

The next one belongs in “Loving that water…“, where Georgie is busy having a bath and Elmo decides he wants one too, however, he doesn’t like it when Georgie moves her tail feathers in his face!

On another subject, the mineral pick-pot I got for Elmo seems to have done the trick. I put it on the kitchen floor between the bin and the fridge, which is the spot where Elmo likes to pick at the wall, and he seems to like it – making a mess by picking out bits off of the block. A very good purchase! Animals always seem to know when they need extra minerals and vitamins and will search for and eat them in the wild, however, indoor animals need your help in providing them with the option. Also important are grit (aids digestion) and oyster shell (provides calcium)!


When I wrote the post “Of pine nuts and pancakes” with the statement “Elmo’s second food love are pine nuts (peanuts are his first!)” Richard immediately said to me, “No, they are not. Elmo’s first food love are sunflower seeds!!” Well, needless to say we haven’t spoken to each other since. … Just kidding. But it got me thinking. Which seed does Elmo like more?

I devised a little experiment. I put down three small dishes that contained pine nuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts.


Left to right: pine nuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts

Then Richard put Elmo down for him to choose which one he prefers to eat first. Here’s what happened:

This is my interpretation of what happened: Elmo saw the three dishes and isn’t sure what they are for. He’s a bit wary (he’s shaking a bit). Then he sees the peanuts and heads towards them. Elmo eats peanuts every day and so he’s instantly attracted to his daily treat, however, he quickly notices the sunflower seeds in the next container and starts to eat them. Now that he’s in between the two other dishes he sees the pine nuts and quickly goes to them. Elmo continues to eat the pine nuts until I feel that he’s had enough and take the dishes away.

I think it is safe to say that Elmo prefers pine nuts over peanuts and sunflowers. That’s my interpretation. I’m sure Richard will disagree. :)


Yummy pine nuts!

Some videos from WysInfo Docuweb (more videos on their website: Life of a Baby Pigeon and A New Sibling Squab).

1 day old:

5 days old:

6 days old:

16 days old:

Whenever I see Georgie or Elmo doing something funny or unusual then I usually rush to capture it on camera for everyone to witness. Failing that, I’ll quickly scribble down what I’ve seen for future reference.

Here’s a few things that I’ve jotted down in my notepad:

  • Georgie slurps!! – She’s a very noisy drinker; slurping up the water in a very uncivilised manner. What will the neighbours think?! :)
  • Elmo loves trouser tie cords! – He’ll spot them if you’re sitting next to him. He’ll look at them intently. Then he’ll peck at them and hold them in his beak and either try to take them with him to his nest, which isn’t possible because the tie cords are attached to your trousers, or he’ll try to swallow them! No idea why.

Other things I’ve written:

101 pigeon uses (tried and tested):

  1. Handheld brush: Hold pigeon in hands, tilt them so they fan out their tail feathers for balance and use the feathers to sweep up any mess.
  2. Fan: Perch pigeon on hand, then move your hand up and down to make the pigeon flap its wings, and hey presto, you have your own personal fan!

… That’s about as far as I got with that list. Any other suggestions?

And finally, I found the following thought:

“I guess the difference between having a pigeon and having a cat or a dog is that rarely, if ever, does a dog or cat view you as their mate. Therefore, you won’t get the same kinds of interactions and behaviours from a dog or cat that you’ll get from a bonded pigeon. A pigeon will love you like a partner.”

Not entirely sure where that thought came from, but it was most likely after having witnessed Elmo trying to feed Richard and then try to mate with him (for videos of this: January 14th). Not quite the same as seeing a dog hump your leg.

Ps. Please don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and cats. I’m in no way saying that they are any lesser than pigeons, just different. Obviously.


Mr Puddy-cat, who lives with my dad and little sister


Osku, a cairn terrier, who lives with my Finnish grandparents

Richard likes to play a little game with Elmo: The Running Game. He’ll run away from Elmo and Elmo will run after him. When Elmo has caught up with Richard, he’ll turn around and chase Elmo, who quickly legs it across the living room away from Richard. Then Richard will run away with Elmo hot on his heels. It’s so funny!!

When Elmo runs he holds his wings out slightly (for balance). He has a slight limp and it is more visible when he runs. I find it all very adorable.

When Richard played the Running Game yesterday, Elmo was so eager to get to him that he started flapping as he ran and then actually flew after Richard!! Since Elmo doesn’t really fly very well – he can hover for a bit and do a somersault but cannot really fly forward intentionally – this was a very big surprise for us. We couldn’t stop laughing. Elmo had flown after Richard, did a bit of a “loop de loop”, then landed on Richard’s hand – cooing and bowing his head like mad as if to say, “Finally, I’ve caught you. Now will you stop running away from me and give me a cuddle!” We were in stitches.

Here is the cute boy all cuddled up and happy:


And as we all know, Elmo is such a curious thing and has to be in on the action and centre of attention (just see: Photo shoot and Elmo boy photos) that he hopped into Richard’s tool box while he was busy sorting it out:


Now, we mustn’t forget about Georgie! She’s been a very good girl and hasn’t been up to much lately, which is why I sometimes find it hard to write about her (see: Secret George). So I’m simply going to share with you a lovely photo of her out in the garden with her bright blue harness on:



Such a handsome pigeon!

Racing (or homing) pigeons are bred to fly home in a race against time. Some get lost and land in gardens, tired and hungry. Some get attacked by sparrow hawks and are found injured.

I love racing pigeons. They’re big, chunky birds with lovely faces. The ones that I have seen are mostly healthy and just tired and hungry from getting lost. I’ve also seen ones that have been attacked by sparrow hawks and have injuries and feather loss. A few I’ve seen are seriously ill and thin and require longer care.

The saddest case that I’ve come across was a racing pigeon that appeared with a feral pigeon to the garden at my work. At first glance it looked like it was a healthy lost racer that had paired up with a feral and come down for food and water. But after watching them a moment I realised that the racer had a horrific injury to its crop – a gaping hole from which all the seed the racer picked up fell out of. It was horrible to watch. We set up a humane cage trap to capture the racer, and after a day and a half we finally caught it. The crop injury was too big and the vet was unable to repair it so the poor racing pigeon was put to sleep. I was very upset about it because I kept thinking about how much the racer had suffered: it had been so hungry and kept trying to eat but the seed just fell out as soon as it was swallowed.

The guidelines for finding a racer is to check the numbers on the leg band and contact the owner. It is their pigeon and should be returned – if they want it back, that is. Some racing pigeon owners want their lost or injured pigeons back, but some don’t. If you find a racer and have contacted the owner, please let them know that you will find an alternative home if they don’t want the pigeon back (e.g. at a pigeon friendly rescue centre). Give them that option. Some people say that the owners will just kill the pigeon if it is returned because an injured racer or a racer that gets lost is not worth anything (since it did not or is not capable of winning the race). Other people say that the owners will give the racing pigeon a second chance (e.g. it may be a young pigeon that needs more training). Since I have only ever once personally spoken to a racing pigeon owner (who did want his bird back), I cannot state anything as a fact – only what I have heard from others who have had contact.

This post tells a positive tale: Pigeon Rescue

The following racing websites advise you what to do if you find a lost racer:




I am intruiged about racing pigeons – about the race and how they train them, etc. And I guess I would visit a racing pigeon loft and meet the people behind it all – just to see for myself what it’s all about. On the one hand I can understand the fascination, dedication and interest in the art of racing pigeons, on the other hand, however, I don’t like the exploitation of the birds. Are they racing them solely for money and prestige? Or do they really like pigeons and want to be with them? I guess, as with any hobby, activity or venture,  it can be either, neither or a little bit of both. It takes all sorts.

But, as I said in the beginning, I love racing pigeons because they are big and chunky with lovely faces. And they usually have a great personality to match. Some are feisty and tell you off, and others I’ve held just sit calmly in your hand with not a care in the world. Wonderful creatures!

I just love to read about children becoming interested in pigeons. I believe all children should grow up with nature and animals in their life – either in observing wildlife or having a pet animal (for more on my views on the subject please go to: Pigeons for children).

The following website, about a young girl who does a project on pigeons, is a joy to read: Independent Research Project – Pigeons

And her beautiful project: Pigeon Lapbook

The other day, when Richard was away for the evening, Elmo finally gave in to his insistent daily demands: his need for human contact and affection overrides his “hatred” of me. So after Richard was gone for an hour and a half Elmo started cooing and shrugging his shoulders, bowing his head repeatedly. So I cannot resist – I must go to him and smother him with kisses and strokes. How often do I get invited over for a cuddle from Elmo? :)

So there I am snuggling up to him, my nose in his head feathers, my fingers stroking his ears (he loves that!!) and Elmo is absolutely loving it. Then all of a sudden Georgie is beside us. She’s got a look of concentration and slight hesitation as she inches herself closer and closer to Elmo and my fingers. Then she pecks – grabs a few of Elmo’s head feathers and pulls. She knows he’s there and is taking advantage of his relaxed and vulnerable position to exact revenge on him for all the times he has chased her away. I have to put George on the floor to stop her from attacking both of us in her jealous rage. Yep, Georgie was jealous of me giving Elmo affection. Funny girl.

Every time that day when I gave Elmo any attention Georgie came over to “see” what was going on. She’d climb onto me and peck me – whether to get my attention or to punish me, I don’t know. Maybe both.


Watch out for that beak!!


Georgie sneaks up on Elmo

We’ve all heard about white doves being released at weddings, anniversaries, funerals, memorials and other events and celebrations, however, what many of us don’t realise (myself included until I did some research) is that the white doves are in fact white racing/homing pigeons (Columba livia) that have been trained and have the instinct to fly home.

In fact, some people release white ringneck doves (Streptopelia risoria), which are completely unsuitable for releasing since they have no homing instinct and will in fact hang around to either die of starvation or be eaten by birds of prey. They do not fly home and therefore should never be released! (If you do in the UK then you could be prosecuted by the RSPCA for animal cruelty.) The ringneck dove is a domesticated species and the white colour is a common colour mutation of the species: Species Information – Ringneck Dove – White Mutation

The following professional dove release websites state how important it is to book professionals who train the correct species for release: White Dove Release Professionals, Lovey Dovey UK and Wings of Love.

The Professional Standards of members of the International White Dove Society state:

Rules of Release

  1. We release only well trained, well cared for WHITE DOVES from white racing pigeon stock. These are also known as Rock Doves or Columba livia. Under no circumstance are other types of doves ever released, although other types may be used for display.
  2. We only release doves out-of-doors during daylight hours.
  3. We never release birds if the conditions become unsafe due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.
  4. We will not release birds beyond a range that they are able to safely fly.
  5. We use only well trained birds for releases.
  6. While birds are being held for display, we assure that they are in baskets that are large enough to be comfortable and safe.  The baskets or cages will be kept in safe areas, not too hot or too cold.
  7. We never ship birds for self release.

For the rest please visit: http://whitedovesociety.org/standards-to-link.htm

The following is from Pigeon Angels:

As part of “White Dove Releases”, domestic ringneck doves are sometimes mistakenly or cruelly released instead of trained white homing pigeons.

The link below shows photos comparing a domestic white dove (Ringneck Dove) with a white homing pigeon (Rock Dove). http://www.white-dove-releases.com/faq.htm

Please note !
Eye color is not a reliable way to tell the difference between a white dove and a white pigeon. Some white ringneck doves have very dark eyes – such as the Bulleyed White (genetically, a white pied). http://www.dovepage.com/species/domestic/Ringneck/ringneckcolorlist.html

The easiest way to tell the difference between doves and (adult) pigeons is that ringneck doves have no flesh on their bills at all.

If you want to have doves released on a special occassion, then please ensure you book from a professional business that use white racing pigeons not white ringneck doves. There is really no point in marring a special day with animal cruelty (not that animal cruelty is acceptable on any occassion).

A few random pigeon videos of some beautiful pigeons:

I love these two: