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Remember Dora’s skyscraper nest? Well, Dora laid a few eggs in it but unfortunately they fell out and cracked on the floor. :(

The nest was just too high and flat – the eggs didn’t stand a chance. After this incident, Dora and Pidge have modified the nest to make it more egg friendly (they reduced the amount of straw and made a dip in the nest to nestle the eggs). I check the aviary for eggs every day and replace any with fake ones, but so far no eggs in the nest. I’m sure Dora will be laying a pair again soon.

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And remember headless Elmo? Sometimes we look over and see Elmo in this position – his head tucked under his body, in-between his legs. He’s all quiet and waiting patiently for us to notice, and we don’t know for how long he’s been in that position waiting. Once we’ve noticed and placed our hands near him, Elmo will start cooing and wiggling his wings in happiness – still with his head tucked away.

I sometimes fear that Elmo will fall asleep on his head and suffocate himself, so I gently tease his head out from under him. Then, if he’s in a generous mood, he’ll let me stroke him without pecking me.

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I simply LOVE this photo of Mandee, a pet homing pigeon, by the sea:

Mandee by the seaside

It portrays a lovely seaside break – sea, sand and sunshine!! I love the parasol and little picnic basket!! :D (The pigeon nappy is very cute!)

Mandee has been adopted by Cheryl Dickinson, a volunteer of MickaCoo (a pigeon rescue in San Francisco). Here’s her website with stories about her adopted king pigeons: www.cheryldickinson.com/kings.htm

MickaCoo, a division of Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue, is dedicated to the rescue of doves and pigeons. They are in desperate need of more pigeon adopters – so please consider helping them by either adopting a few of the many pigeons and doves that need a forever home, or by helping them financially in their search for adopters! Thank you!

I would love to see some of your holiday photos with your pigeons, so please feel free to leave a comment so I can email you back (I don’t like leaving my email address in case of spam).

Thank you! :)

Here’s Elmo on holiday at a caravan park in Cornwall in 2009:

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Elmo drying off in the sun after a bath


Elmo is such a naughty boy! By now many of you will know that he loves to chase me about, peck at my feet, attack my hands and generally make my life a little bit more difficult than it needs to be. But I love him to bits n pieces and wouldn’t change him for the world! (Well, … maybe change him to like me a little bit.)

Most of the time I try not to annoy him. I really do. (My hubby doesn’t believe this though!) However, Elmo sometimes looks for trouble and will start the fight – so I’ve got to engage him in his enthusiastic attacks. Ignoring him doesn’t work because he’ll just end up jumping on me and go for my face.

Even when I try to do something nice for him, such as give him some shredded cabbage to eat, he’ll still peck me angrily, as if to say, “Drop it, it’s mine!” or “How dare you touch my food!”

I simply cannot win.

:)


Elmo’s second food love are pine nuts (peanuts are his first!). Because pine nuts are quite expensive I only give him some if I’m putting them in my dinner. I love to watch Elmo when he realises what it is that I’m holding in front of him. His eyes focus on the pine nuts and his head shakes ever so slightly. Then with utter determination he’ll peck at them – sometimes he misses (a handicap that often occurs from having had PMV when he was a baby) but sometimes he picks them up with precision. He would happily gobble them all up if I let him!!

Georgie, on the other hand, loves pancakes. This is also a rare treat but she loves to break pieces off and makes lovely sweet eager noises when she does. Her beak shines from the butter/oil on the pancakes! When I think she’s had enough I’ll remove her from my lap but Georgie always walks back to me and begs in a very babyish way – wings shrugging and little gentle pecks – “Please, mummy, can I have more?” It is hard to resist her!


A few articles about pigeons and their abilities.

Pigeons reveal map-reading secret

Homing pigeons are finding their way around Britain by following roads and railways, zoologists claim.

They say the birds’ natural magnetic and solar compasses are often less important than their knowledge of human transport routes.

A 10-year Oxford University study discovered some pigeons turn off at certain motorway junctions and use landmarks to remember where they are.

The scientists behind the study were “knocked sideways” by their findings.

‘Plain to see’

The pigeons’ routes were mapped to within four yards by tiny tracking devices and global positioning system technology.

Research team member Dr Tim Guilford said the results were “plain to see”.

“They don’t follow linear lines all the time and sometimes when they’re flying at 200 or 300ft above built-up areas it’s difficult to see exactly what they are following.

“But when they do follow a road, it’s so obvious.

“We followed some which flew up the Oxford bypass and even turned off at particular junctions. It’s very human-like.”

Saving energy

Dr Guilford said pigeons’ used their ability to navigate by the Sun when they were over unfamiliar territory.

He said they did not always fly “as the crow” – making diversions to follow roads home when there were more straightforward routes.

“That’s the exciting thing, because we knew then there was something more important to them than just saving energy.”

The team believes the birds use the technique to keep their journeys as simple as possible.

(From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3460977.stm)

So it’s not just humans that like to take risks:

Pigeons’ high-risk strategies reveal why we all love a flutter

By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pigeons almost always opted for the chance of bigger rewards, a study found

A gambling experiment has shown that pigeons like a flutter as much as humans – and that taking big risks in the hope of high rewards may be a fundamental part of our biological nature.

Scientists have shown that when faced with a choice between a series of safe, small but guaranteed rewards or a single much larger reward that is less likely to happen, pigeons will almost always choose to gamble.

The findings were a surprise to researchers, because Darwinist theory would predict that the birds would be honed by natural selection to act in a way that optimises the way they behave, rather than allowing them to take unnecessary risks that are going to leave them worse off in the long term.

However, the scientists believe that if pigeons have an innate predisposition to gamble then this could be a widespread trait across the animal kingdom – and might even explain why so many people like to gamble, even though they know they are likely to be worse off over time.

The experiment on pigeons indicates that there may be a fundamental biological reason for gambling rather than explanations based on purely human-centred preferences, such as the idea that gambling is practised because it is enjoyable and entertaining, said Thomas Zentall, professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.

“The entertainment value of gambling shouldn’t really play a role with pigeons, yet we have found that most pigeons will choose to gamble if they are given a choice,” said Professor Zentall. “This seems to suggest that there is some fundamental behavioural system at work. If pigeons do it, it allows us to rule out other things that have been suggested to explain why people like to gamble so much, such as its entertainment value.”

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, involved giving pigeons a choice between pecking at a coloured light that always gave them access to three food pellets, or pecking at a different coloured light that gave them two pellets but the gambling opportunity of “winning” 10 pellets 20 per cent of the time, or zero pellets 80 per cent of the time.

Overall, the best strategy for optimal foraging would be to choose the three-pellet route. But eight out of 10 pigeons tested consistently chose to gamble – even though they were worse off at the end of the experiment than if they had played safe.

“The main message is that there is a behavioural, biological mechanism at work that encourages pigeons, and possibly many other organisms, to gamble even though this was a sub-optimal strategy,” said Professor Zentall.

(From: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/pigeons-highrisk-strategies-reveal-why-we-all-love-a-flutter-2104999.html)

And the perils of man-made objects:

Phone masts ‘confusing’ pigeons

Pigeons are known for their sense of direction

Which way now? Could the pigeon’s skills fall foul of new technology?

A growing number of homing pigeons are getting lost due to interference from the new “unseen enemy” of mobile phone masts, racing experts claim.

The birds’ natural instincts are being confused by radiation signals from an increasing number of transmitters, the Royal Pigeon Racing Association said.

Racers say anecdotal evidence shows poor returns over the last two years.

Pigeons are thought to find their way home using landmarks and the earth’s magnetic field.

Peter Bryant, of the RPRA, said its Stray Birds Committee had proposed attaching a GPS tracking device to pigeons to investigate the problem.

But currently the device – which would have to be strapped on like a rucksack – is too heavy for a pigeon to carry.

“It’s fine with eagles and albatross, but for the poor little pigeons it would hamper their return,” said Mr Bryant.

‘Stressed’

He said it was impossible to estimate how many pigeons were vanishing because of the transmitters.

“During the World War II, thousands of aircraft carried two pigeons in case they the plane was downed so they could send messages,” he said.

“The birds were also parachuted to the Resistance. Now they’re facing this unseen enemy in the form of mobile phone masts.”

Pigeon fancier Anne Pitkeathly, 50, from the Isle of Wight, said she was losing more and more birds.

“When I started I was told I would lose baby birds but never the big ones.

“A lot of people think it’s mobile phone masts.”

She claimed one of her pigeons had recently reacted badly after being near a mast, saying it was “stressed” and “trying to be sick”.

Previous research by German scientists in 1999 suggested that short wave radiation had an “undefined negative” impact on homing pigeons.

It was found that exposed birds took longer to get home, flew at lower levels and were reluctant to go near transmitters.

Between 50,000 to 60,000 pigeons are estimated to have gone missing last year due to problems such as bird of prey attacks and poor weather, the RPRA said.

(From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3423691.stm)


I don’t think I give Elmo and Georgie enough opportunities to have a bath, as was demonstrated when Georgie started shivering when she heard the shower go on – which is actually very strange since she doesn’t like to be under the shower. But it just goes to show that Georgie knows what the shower means: water = bath time!!

I first tried to get George to have a bath by putting her in the spray free end of the bath-tub, however, instead of enjoying some light rain on her Georgie proceeded to try to jump out of the bath. So after I had my shower (and got dressed and all that), I put a bowl of water on the floor for Georgie to have a bath. And she sure did! Splashing and swishing and spraying me with water!! She loved it! :)

Elmo saw what was happening and waltzed over, shivering and staring intently at the bowl of water. He really wanted to get in but Georgie was in the way. I splashed him with my fingers and he just shook even more with desire and anticipation. Georgie seemed oblivious to what was happening – she didn’t even register his existence, so intent and happy she was to have a bath!

A few times Elmo got really close to the bowl and when Georgie turned around her tail feathers moved into his face – I’ve never seen such a look of indignation and outrage on his face before!!

After George had her fill I let her flap about to dry off her feathers a bit and she then sat on the sofa for her ‘quiet time’, which she does after getting wet. I think she likes to be on her own to dry off. Elmo jumped into the bowl and had a wonderful time soaking himself (and me too!). Then he decided that the best place to dry off on was Richard’s keyboard. No matter how many times I tried to shoo him away Elmo just kept going back to the keyboard. So I let him. No point getting attacked over it.

I never get tired of watching pigeons having a bath. Which is why I’ll keep talking about it.

But I really don’t enjoy the smell of wet pigeon – it’s a bit much! :)

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A short documentary in praise of pigeons. The pigeon memory part towards the end (starting from 2:15) is good.


How is it that a little pigeon has the best seat in the house?

While my husband and I sometimes find it difficult to get comfortable on the sofa in the evenings for a little TV chill out time, we notice to the left of us a very content and smug pigeon. Yep, you’ve guessed it! Elmo boy has somehow managed to claim the best seat in the house!

This spot, where Elmo has his nest and a jar of peanuts, is next to Richard’s desk. This way he can have a nap next to his loved one and when he wakes up he hasn’t got far to go to have a bite to eat!

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Elmo in his nest on the sofa

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, however, the spot that Elmo has chosen as his territory is actually the best place on the sofa to lay down and be completely lazy on. As Elmo’s enemy (when Richard is around), I’m not allowed in this spot on the sofa (I’ll be viciously attacked if I dare go on his side!). Richard can stretch out on Elmo’s side, however, he still has to respect Elmo’s nest and lay next to it. If Richard removes Elmo’s nest and sits where it usually is then Elmo gets restless and will start to pace and even peck Richard to move. It’s like Elmo cannot sleep anywhere but on his nest in the right spot!

Why are we allowing this sort of behaviour? How has Elmo managed to manipulate us into doing everything he wants?

Sometimes I really cannot believe that we are at the beck and call of a little pigeon.

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King Elmo!


I won’t go into my love/hate relationship with a certain video website, so here’s the video of me feeding a little squeaker stock dove:

I just love the way baby pigeons beak your fingers when they want food. They are such sweet, endearing creatures and I just cannot get enough of them! :)

Although this week at work my love of pigeons is being tested. We have way too many babies and I have to feed them all in the morning and late afternoon. I love it but it really takes a long time to get through them all. … Who am I kidding? My love is not being tested, just my endurance! :)


I’ve only seen the lesser known or overlooked stock dove (Columba oenas) a few times – and the other day a squeaker was found out of its nest and brought to my work. I fell in love with it immediately!

I like to think of the stock dove as being a mixture of a feral and a woody. They are similar in shape and size to a feral pigeon but have more similar colouration to woodpigeons (this is just how I see them – for a more accurate description, please visit: http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/stockdove.htm). The most distinctive features are their black eyes!

Here’s the little squeaker stock dove. Isn’t he a beaut?! :)

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At first he was scared (the baby pigeons are almost always are), but after his second feeding of the day he emited a tentative squeak, then a slight hesitant wing shrug. Once he realised that our hands equaled food all his fears fell away and he begged sweetly for food. I have a video of him doing this but once again have failed to upload it (…deep breath, don’t freak out…).

Today I watched this little fella gobble seed down, so I won’t need to hand-feed him for long. He’s already starting to shy away from us again. I hope to take photos of his progress as he grows into an adult, and I’ll keep you posted.