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We are wishing Elmo a very happy hatchday!!

For those who aren’t familiar with his story please go to his bio page. Elmo is 10 years old, and he’s been with us for two years exactly today. Since we don’t know the month when he hatched, only the year, we have made today his hatchday.

It feels like we have had Elmo for longer – he’s such an integral part of our family. I can imagine how sweet and adorable he would have been as a baby, since he’s so sweet and adorable now. Can you imagine Elmo as a little squeaker, with yellow fluff on his head and body, begging for food from his adopted mum? It melts my heart. Sadly, though, we haven’t got any photos of him when we was a baby – nor do we know anything about his early years. All I can say though is that we are so happy to have Elmo in our lives and he’s certainly converted a lot of people who have met him into pigeon admirers!

In the two years we’ve had him he’s gone on holiday with us, become broody, almost flew away, had his portrait painted, fallen in love with a cup and has given us a very big scare.

Having determined that Elmo loves pine nuts we decided to decorate a cupcake with them for his hatch day party.




A documentary (in two parts) about Drs. BF Skinner and Robert Epstein and the behaviour experiments they did with pigeons. Interesting viewing although I don’t agree really in their behaviourist views.

Elmo was given a bit of wire from Richard’s arduino set and what did he do? He promptly took it to his nest. Uh oh. Does this mean that Elmo’s going broody again? Check out the video:

I’m not sure I can handle Elmo being broody again. The first time (in July) was an utter shock and we were transfixed in his nesting behaviour, but Elmo was very demanding and kept chasing me to remove me from the area where his precious (fake) eggs were, since I’m the competition and all.

I think we won’t encourage his nest building behaviour. … But he’s adorable when he does it. … I’ll let you know what we decide. :)


Off with the wire!


What an adorable couple! :)

Elmo’s broody saga: Elmo is broody!!, Moody Broody Elmo, Broody day three and Eggless Elmo.

George has been twitching and cooing to me, as well as nibbling and preening me, ever so intently. She feels heavier too – as if she’s got eggs in her. She’s being very sweet and is constantly seeking out my attention. Dora used to do this too. She’d fly from one room to another – following my every move. When I’d cook Dora would peer over the top of the kitchen cabinet at my attempts at brewing up something nice. I got very worried she’d poo in my food or throw feathers and feather dust into the pot. (Sometimes I’d threaten to throw her in the pot if she didn’t behave… but I think Dora knew I’m a vegetarian so she’d call my bluff!). I had to keep Dora in her cage whenever I cooked, something she was not happy about. So I’m very happy she’s so loved up with her pigeon mate. She hardly says hello to me nowadays – only to demand treats.


Dora on my leg


Coming over to say hello.

Of course Georgie has to contradict me. Last week I mentioned that Georgie isn’t a morning person and is very cranky with me – often not wanting any cuddles before I go to work. However, this morning she was as sweet and gracious as she can be. As I was eating my breakfast she softly cooed to me, twitching her wings, and sung her song of contentment on my lap. With one hand wrapped around her body she eased into my fingers, her soft feathers and warmth melting into the palm of my hand. It is moments like these that make going off to work even harder.




In my early naive pigeon keeping days I innocently thought that pigeons are quiet birds, that they only occassionally cooed when in a mating mood. Little did I realise just how noisy they actually are! Pigeons coo all the time! Dora was almost evicted for it (in the end she was evicted to find a mate in an aviary). Even though Richard would be sitting right beside Elmo, Elmo would decide to jump off the sofa, waltz into another room and then coo incessantly and loudly for Richard to come to him. How demanding!

Sometimes Elmo and Georgie will have a cooing contest. George snuggled under my chin, cooing with contentment and Elmo in his nest cooing excitedly to Richard. If we touched them they’d explode into a song of love, each harmonising with the other, totally ignoring the fact that we might be trying to watch a movie or read a book in peace.

Pigeons in aviaries are noisy creatures too – the male strutting his stuff and cooing to attract the females, pigeons fighting for space on perches and for better nesting sites, and the males cooing in the nests with eagerness when the females choose to be with them. I have found that female pigeons tend to be quieter if they have a pigeon mate, however, if they have a human mate then they change into attention seeking little things. I think it may be because naturally male pigeons are always trying to impress the females, however, us humans don’t spend all our time cooing and dancing to our pet pigeon – we interact differently – and I think the female pigeons realise this and therefore take on the role of males; trying to get our attention instead. … Just my theory.

So beware those of you who are thinking of having a pigeon as a pet because you’ve been told they are quiet! :) … Well, compared to the loud screeches and imitations that some parrot species can do, then yes, pigeons are quiet. But they aren’t silent. They have a voice and will be heard! :)

Just listen to all the cooing in these videos:

Occassionally we receive fancy breeds of pigeons at my work – some have been injured but some are unharmed, having either escaped or become lost. In general, fancy breeds of pigeons don’t do well in the wild because many have exaggerated features and reduced ‘street-wise’ instincts, and are therefore easy targets for sparrowhawks, cats and people with pellet guns.

Here are the ones we’ve had so far this year. Although I have searched the net and through my pigeon breed encyclopedia book, I found it difficult to find out what breed of pigeon they all are. So please look kindly upon me. And help me out if you know I’m wrong.

All of these pigeons are doing well in their new homes:


No idea what breed but maybe a Turkish Takla (tumbler)? I haven't seen it fly though.


Juvenile Indian Fantail that was caught by a cat.


Lahore pigeon


I'm guessing Antwerp breed?


Haven't identified this one. Mixed breed?


Garden Fantails


A type of highflier or tumbler? I'm leaning towards a Szegediner tumbler (Hungarian highflier), but truthfully, I have no idea.


Archangel breed


West of England Tumbler


Any ideas? She's pure white with feathered feet.


Apricot colouring but is she a specific breed?


He has a high forehead so I think he's a fancy breed. Which though?


Same with this one. High forehead and lovely colouring.


Garden white pigeon (a.k.a. white dove).

So yesterday I talked about how I am sometimes surprised to see Georgie so sleek and healthy after a full day of being around injured and ill pigeons. I thought I should show you a few rescued pigeons. The following 3 pigeons are all doing fine (so far), and we are working on getting them in tip top shape.


Popeye (as named by his finder), a feral pigeon with an eye infection.


Tiny-tot, a baby feral pigeon that is a bit underdeveloped and not growing as quickly as he should.


This white pigeon was caught by a cat and has extensive injuries to the face and chest, which are now healing well.

This last pigeon was shot with a BB gun and unfortunately died a few days later after she was admitted. Her wounds had been cleaned and she received the medication she needed but the infection and injuries were too much for her.


White pigeons/doves make easy targets for cruel people.

It is amazing how some people think shooting pigeons is alright. Many don’t die immediately from the shot, rather they fly away with a wound that quickly becomes infected, leading to a slow death. These shot pigeons are often caught by cats or sparrowhawks because of their injuries. The few lucky ones are picked up by concerned people, however, many don’t survive because their weakened state and infections are too far gone. I just hope that more people begin to see how unacceptable animal cruelty is. Lead by example and show compassion. Pigeons are amazing animals and deserve to be treated with kindness.

At work at a wildlife rescue centre I see a lot of injured, ill and often very scruffy looking pigeons – ones that have come in after having escaped the clutches of a sparrowhawk and have injuries and many missing feathers, or ones that are very thin and weak. So I am somewhat surprised to see my sleek and shiny girl when I return home. I forget how healthy Georgie is, and although she’s not as heavy as other pigeons, she’s still got a nice layer of muscle and fat on her.


"Don't point that camera at me!"

I have George on my lap at the moment – she’s kicking out her feet in attempts to mould my body into a nice comfy nest. Once she thinks she’s made her ‘nest’ suitable she’ll settle down for a snooze. We still have no eggs and I’m starting to think that Georgie has given up on the idea. … She’s only 3 years old and so still has many more years of egg laying if she wants to start up again.

When she’s all snuggled up like this I can have a closer look at her and admire the tiny feathers around her beak and eyes. She’s got a few white ones there, small delicate little feathers. Very pretty!


Earlier on Georgie modelled her take on the ‘feather hat’:


I think she pulls it off better that this lady:

Most of us have seen the experiment in the first video so I thought I’d find some more experiments that BF Skinner has done:

There is a lot of symbolism surrounding pigeons and doves. This blog post explains a lot: Doves and pigeons have inspired rich symbolism

Other sites also discuss symbolism: Dove symbolism, Birds and Pigeons and doves in religion, myths, mythology and folklores.

I find it fascinating that pigeons were first viewed as symbols of peace, innocence and purity in many cultures. People must have seen how devoted and loyal pigeons are to each other and their young and found that inspiring. It is funny that some consider the ‘white dove’ a different species to feral pigeons, and therefore cleaner and purer, when they are one and the same (see: Is there a difference between a dove and a pigeon?). We all know that views about animals change continuously, according to the current zeitgeist, and what is considered a pest in one country is a national treasure in another.

I guess it is nice though that at least the ‘white dove’ is still pure in people’s minds. We just have to slip the thought that “white dove = pigeon” and maybe they’ll view the feral pigeon more kindly.

There’s a book about birds in myths and I’m wondering if it has anything about pigeons in it. Has anyone read it? It’s called: Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend and Superstition by Peter Tate

I haven’t read the following book either but it looks interesting: The Bedside Book of Birds: An Avian Miscellany by Graeme Gibson. It is said to contain drawings, paintings and essays about how birds feature in mythology and religions, from early cave paintings through to works created in the twentieth century.