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What seems to be day 11 with the common cold (but more realistically: day 4) was spent on the sofa with everything I could possibly need around me so I wouldn’t have to get up too often. As you have guessed, I didn’t make it to work today either.

So, what did I have? Tissues, check. Cold medicine, check. Glass of water, check. Book, check. Mobile phone, check. Warm fleecy blanket, check. TV remote controls, check. Camera, check. Lip balm, check. Pigeons, check. All set for a day of complete rest and recuperation, however, it was no picnic I can tell you.

At least I could observe the animals in the snow in the garden. Here’s what I captured:

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I did throw seed onto the ground for the birds, but as you can see in the above photos, one chose to eat from the dispenser. Silly woody!

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Been at home with the common cold to keep me company. Oh, and of course Georgie and Elmo have been trying their best to keep my spirits up. Georgie insisted on snuggling up to me, cooing in her content loving way, and Elmo even dared to sit on my knee at one point.

There was a smattering of snow outside so I had to drag myself out into the garden to empty the frozen water bowl and fill it with some fresh water, as well as fill the seed dispenser so the little birds could have their lunch. The feral pigeons and the squirrels also came to snack on the seed I threw out for them.

Now I must go continue to recover if I’m ever going to make it to work this week!


Last night I realised something – I’ve never seen a nature programme about pigeons. You know, a National Geographic or BBC nature documentary that shows the life of a woodpigeon, feral pigeon or collared dove. Sure, we’ve all seen the peregrine falcon chasing a pigeon to eat it – but usually the programme is about the predator not the prey.

I’ve seen numerous documentaries about the busy period of spring, with blackbirds, robins and blue tits feeding their young – but where are the shots of pigeons feeding their young? Why don’t they deserve any screen time?

So I did some searching on the net and found loads of videos about racing pigeons or about predators and pigeons, and some documentaries on feral pigeons in the city (e.g. are they pests?) – but what I’m really looking for is a full length nature programme about the life of pigeons: their beauty, their dedication as partners and parents, their adaptability and life in the wild.

Maybe my internet searching skills aren’t up to scratch, because the only proper programme I found is this, Brilliant Beasts: Pigeon Genius, courtesy of The Pigeon Nest (thank you!). Each video runs for about 10-14 minutes.

Although I didn’t like the voice of the narrator, nor his style (I prefer Sir David Attenborough! I grew up watching his programmes), it is an excellent documentary about feral pigeons – truly championing the pigeon! It shows how pigeons are one of the most adaptable, productive, loving and intelligent species in the world! Who’s with me in thinking that they will one day rule the world?!

In the second video – at 08:39 – they state that “Pigeons are perfect parents! … And it starts with a kiss!” – Love it!! :)

If you do not feel like watching all 4 videos then please watch the second video starting from around 08:14 about pigeons being parents. It will make your heart melt!

Now I really want to see a nature programme about woodpigeons, collared doves and other pigeons of the world!


There are currently around 318 species of pigeons and doves in the world. Many are threatened with extinction and already many species are extinct. 

There are two websites I would like to highlight.

The first is called The Sixth Extinction, a website about the current biodiversity crisis, which is an educational site highlighting the plight of many species and aiming to bring this to the attention of the public. With more people aware of the problem then maybe more people will help (in ways explained in: Stop Extinction! How Can You Help?). The site also contains lists of globally extinct animals (and the list of birds: Globally Extinct: Birds).

It is so scary and very sad how quickly animals are disappearing – many without anyone even knowning anything about them – they are gone before discovery! Awareness of the problem is the first step, with Action a quick second.

The second website is called Columbidae Conservation, a UK based charity working towards the conservation of pigeons and doves, as well as their habitat, around the world.

The site contains news about conservation efforts, as well as publications on scientific studies (e.g. ecological, behavioural) about different pigeon species.

The following map from the website shows the distribution of pigeons and doves (click on the maps to make them bigger):

And the distribution of extinct and vulnerable species:

More about the above maps at: http://www.columbidae.org.uk/Columbidae%20Conservation%20index.html

I found various sites that have lists of extinct pigeons, however, none seemed to have the same amount of species, so please don’t treat the following list as gospel – it’s just what I’ve put together from the various sites:

Extinct pigeon and dove species

  1. Bonin Wood Pigeon Columba versicolor
  2. Dodo Raphus cucullatus
  3. Huahine Cuckoo-dove Macropygia arevarevauupa
  4. Liverpool Pigeon Caloenas maculata
  5. Mauritius Blue Pigeon Alectroenas nitidissima
  6. Norfolk Island Ground-dove Gallicolumba norfolciensis
  7. Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius
  8. Red-moustached Fruit-dove Ptilinopus mercierii
  9. Réunion Pigeon Columba duboisi
  10. Rodrigues Pigeon Alectroenas rodericana
  11. Rodrigues Solitaire Pezophaps solitaria
  12. Ryukyu Pigeon Columba jouyi
  13. Solomon Island Crowned Pigeon Microgoura meeki
  14. St. Helena Dove Dysmoropelia dekarchiskos
  15. Tanna Ground-dove Gallicolumba ferruginea
  16. Thick-billed Ground Dove Gallicolumba salamonis

Subspecies

  1. Lord Howe White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis godmanae
  2. Madeiran Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus maderensis
  3. Norfolk Island Pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae spadicea

A few videos of rollers and tumblers:

The following videos are of Parlor rollers, bred to roll on the ground. I think this is very unnatural and people shouldn’t breed pigeons to do this:


I have a soft spot for Australia since I spent the first 7 years of my life there. I don’t remember ever really noticing the pigeons there (pigeons came into my consciousness after we had moved to Finland – I loved watching them bobbing up and down the street), and I cannot say that I would have realised (at that age) that the Australian species are indeed pigeons – they are so different looking. Here are a few examples:

Spinifex pigeon. Photo from: Lee's Birdwatching Adventures Plus (click on photo to go to website)

Crested pigeon

Common bronzewing

Pied Imperial pigeon

Amazingly beautiful!! More Australian pigeons can be found at:

Australian Pigeons, Doves and Photos of Australian Pigeons & Doves

I’m not one for bird watching in the true hobby sense – I’m just an occassional observer – but I think I would be up for a round-the-world trip of pigeon watching! There are just so many beautiful pigeon species in the world – just have a look through this website: Pigeons and Doves of the World. Sadly, many are threatened with extinction – and tragically many are already extinct. (More on extinction later.)


I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but no matter, here it is again: Sometimes Elmo will race after Richard if he leaves the room suddenly. I’ve been thinking that I should time him to see how quickly Elmo does it. Sometimes he surprises us both by being in the room so quickly. George has a knack of doing this too. You’ll walk into the bedroom, grab your jumper, for example, turn around and Georgie would be standing in the doorway. Gives you a shock!

I’ve also been trying to video Elmo when he has his “freak out” moments – usually when Richard has left the room and has accidentally closed the door so Elmo cannot follow him. Elmo does not like that at all and will run about flapping and going around in circles. The problem is that as soon as Elmo notices me filming him, he’ll turn his attentions to me and start cooing and dancing to the camera. Here’s my few attempts at secretly videoing Elmo (notice how I fail miserably!):


I hear a noise, a soft tapping in the corner of the room. I peer round the corner and see Elmo pecking softly at the closed door. He wants to go through, to search for Richard who has gone out. I open the door and Elmo eagerly searches the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, cooing in anticipation the whole time.

Disappointment. Richard is nowhere to be found. Elmo walks up to me and dances around my feet, “Where’s daddy gone? Where’s daddy gone?”

“What have you done to him?” Elmo accuses me. I try explaining that Richard has gone out for a while but that he’ll be back soon. Elmo doesn’t believe me. He thinks I’ve hidden Richard away so he continues to search the rooms and then dance around my feet – insisting that I go reveal where I’ve hidden Richard.

Eventually Elmo give up and goes back to his nest on the sofa to coo and call, waiting. He doesn’t accept my offerings of affection and attention. Not yet. He’s thinking of Richard and waiting for his return. He wants nothing to do with me so soon.

Elation! Richard has appeared and all is right with the world. Elmo runs about the room, cooing and bowing his head. His joy is contagious.


The following website has some amazing photos of fancy pigeons: Fancy Pigeons by Richard Bailey

I’m sorry to have missed the exhibition:

‘Darwin’s Pigeons’

17 March – 11 April 2010

An Exhibition of Photographs by Richard Bailey

Fancy Pigeons played an important part in helping Darwin prove his theories and as last year, 2009, was the 150th anniversary since the publication of the ‘Origin of Species’ and also the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, Richard decided to photograph some of these exotic breeds and at the same time see if he could come to love the pigeon. After all, we are all used to the ‘London Pigeon’, which some would call the ‘flying rat’.

Charles Darwin set out to prove that all fancy pigeons are descended from the
common pigeon known as Columba Livia or Rock Dove and this particular research, would in turn help him with his theories towards the ‘Origin of Species’.
In 1855 Charles Darwin became a pigeon fancier and set up a breeding loft at his home in the village of Downe, Kent.

The images were intended to celebrate the pigeons which played such an important part in Darwin’s work, but then the project became more than that. The photographs became ‘portraits’ of the birds and they took on an anthropomorphization. Some pigeons looked into the camera with an unflinching gaze testing the viewer in a malevolent manner, whilst others looked on benignly, almost compassionately. The different breeds took on unusual characteristics, some looked a little bit naive, others have a conceit about them, an air of self-importance as they puff up their chests and present themselves to the camera.

Photographed in such a way that the abundance of colours on the different pigeons are brought out and emphasised, this series of weird and wonderful pigeons that Darwin worked with carries on the great tradition of classical animal iconography.

artisan
80 Harlesden Road London NW10 2BE

Gallery opening times during exhibitions:

Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm
Admission: Free

www.artisan80.com
www.richardbaileyphotography.com

For more information call Richard Bailey on 07956 971 520
Or Naomi Harrison on 020 8451 6315

(Info and photos from: http://www.artisan80.com/page10.htm)


For awhile now I’ve been wondering if our Elmo would be able to be trained, much like the pigeons in B.F. Skinners videos. So when my darling wife Rev bought me an electronics kit for my birthday I immediatly started planning a device would put this theory to the test.

We’re calling it “Pigeon Treat Dispenser”… ok, I know, we might end up changing the name when we’re feeling a little more creative.

Basically the green LED light will indicate the device is ready to dispense. Once the button is pressed the LED goes out and the dispense process starts. After a programmable period of time the light will go on again ready to dispense.

At first we will have to train Elmo to associate the green LED with a treat, then train him that pecking the button will give him a treat, then we’ll combine the two.

See the video below of the early stages of Pigeon Treat Dispenser! Watch for Elmo’s reaction at the end of the video:

The external stuff you see like the button, LED, and LCD display will all become integrated into the device. The LCD display will become a numeric display.

I was a little worried Elmo would take one look at this great big green box spitting out peanuts and run a mile, but he is quite intruged! :)

More on this when I’ve developed it further.