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There’s another pigeon besides Noah that has fallen in love with baby bunnies! Do pigeons have a natural inclination towards rabbits?

Pigeon adopts baby rabbits

11/11/2004 08:45 – (South Africa)

A pigeon takes care of her “babies”, seven baby rabbits. (Rusana Philander, Die Burger)

Cape Town – A pigeon at the Karmanel party farm at Joostenberg Vlakte near Kraaifontein is the proud “mother” of seven rabbits.

The pigeon recently took the rabbits under her wing when the two rabbit mothers neglected their babies.

Amanda Nel, owner of Karmanel, said the pigeon has been keeping the rabbits warm for the past three weeks.

“The pigeon ‘moved in’ with them after the rabbits were born. The rabbits and pigeon live in the same cage. Rabbits do not make good mothers and the pigeon took over this task from the rabbits. I think she believes the baby rabbits are her own.” (Editor’s note: rabbits do make
wonderful mothers when left alone to raise their young)

Nel said it was quite possible because the rabbits and pigeon have been living together “in harmony” for the past few years.

“It is incredible to see how these two species have formed a tight family unit. Because of the pigeon mother, the rabbits will grow up because she looks after them all the time. The strong bond between the rabbits and pigeon cannot be broken.

“The pigeon has become a mother to the seven rabbits and protects them as if they are her own. She never lets them out of her sight.”

Two bird experts said it was the first time they heard of a bird adopting rabbits.

Hilton Pillay, a bird expert of Strandfontein, attributed this behaviour to the mothering instinct of the pigeon.

“Because it is breeding season for birds, they are reacting to this instinct.”

Doug Harebottle of the unit for bird demographics at the University of Cape Town said some rabbits neglected their young, but this particular situation was exceptional particularly because rabbits are mammals.

(From: http://www.boingonline.com/news_headlines.html)


Somehow Elmo got jam on his head. One morning I looked over at Elmo and saw a shiny patch on his head and thought, “What’s that?” Richard had a feel and said, “I think it’s jam!” Ok then. Jam. WTF!

While Richard cleaned Elmo’s head I thought about it. Yes, I had made myself some jam on toast. Yes, I was sitting next to Elmo on the sofa. Even though I admit to sometimes being a messy eater, I don’t think I somehow flung the jam from my toast onto Elmo. Maybe Elmo came over when I wasn’t looking and dunked his head in the jam. What’s the likelihood of that?

In the end, after all this deliberation (it was a lazy morning that day – I had nothing else to do), I decided that the jam must have fallen on Elmo’s head when I had been spreading it on the toast in the kitchen. Elmo had been standing near me at the time so that’s the only realistic scenario I can think of.

In other news, Georgie had a fly about and landed in the bin. When I approached her she went bananas – spinning about and cooing excitingly. I think she believed she had found a lovely nest!

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Georgie in the bin

I love this photo of Elmo. He wasn’t impressed with his temporary necklace so we had to quickly take it off!

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Love Elmo


It’s great that young children are learning about pigeons. Hopefully they won’t grow up to fear or dislike feral pigeons. (Thank you Dawn for this link!)

Kindergarteners learn about pigeons

The Brooklyn New School kindergarten has been studying pigeons!  Teacher Kori Goldberg writes,” We have been  studying pigeons this fall by observing them in our Brooklyn neighborhoods, reading about pigeons, comparing them to other birds through a focus on bird’s feet and beaks and by creating pigeons out of found materials.  We also sing a song about pigeons!  We are having a great time and will conclude this part of our studies by inviting families to our ‘Pigeon Museum’.

A few years ago  I asked a child why he thought pigeons bob their head when they walk.  At first he said, “Kori, I don’t know.”  But then he thought and added, “Maybe the wind is their music and they are keeping the beat with their heads.”

Our children always have more questions about pigeons…”

So the kindergarteners wrote to Celebrate Urban Birds and Project PigeonWatch staff and sent their drawings and asked the following questions:

Olivia, Brooklyn New School

Olivia’s pigeon drawing.

Notice the sky and sidewalk, two really important parts of a Rock Pigeon’s environment!

Question from kids: Do pigeons migrate to warmer climates?

Answer:  No, although even the common feral pigeons that we see in our cities have the same amazing ability find their way home over hundreds of miles that homing or racing pigeons do, they seldom fly away from their home territory.    They like to be near their nest and the birds that they know.

Anselm, Brooklyn New School

Anselm’s pigeon drawing

This is an imaginative version of what a ‘blue-bar’ morph or color of pigeon looks like.  Fun!

Question: Why do we see so few Red pigeons in our neighborhood?

Answer:  Scientists don’t understand why different colors of pigeons still exist among feral pigeons.  The word ‘feral’ means that these pigeons were once domesticated, and raised by man, and then escaped and now live on their own.  Men bred pigeons to look different; different colors, feather shapes, sizes-there are many kinds of fancy domestic pigeons.  We would expect that when pigeons are on their own, making their own decisions about who to mate with, that the wild type of coloring, the Blue-bar, would be most common, but specially colored pigeons still exist, and that is puzzling.  If you are seeing fewer Reds in your neighborhood it could be because if a  Red parent matches up with a Blue-bar parent, the babies will be Blue-bar, probably.  Or it could be that hawks can see the Reds better and hunt them more successfully, so there are fewer Reds!  Keep watching and maybe you will find out some answers.

Julian, Brooklyn New School

Julian’s pigeon drawing

Question: Why do birds fly?

Answer:  It’s hard to say why…to get away from predators, or to find food, or move about more easily?  But it is interesting that birds have been around for millions of years longer than humans.  Birds are really like living dinosaurs, they’ve been on earth for so long!  Humans like us have been around for maybe 125,000 years but birds have been around for 136 million years!

Kiara, Brooklyn New School

Kiara’s pigeon drawing

Question: What do pigeons eat?

Answer: Rock pigeons eat seeds, fruit, bread, popcorn, peanuts, acorns, grain, and lots of leftovers that humans leave lying around.  They help clean up after us! (We like how Kiara’s drawing shows some of the things in the habitat around her school…a tree with a hole in it, swings, sun, a slide…all things important for kids AND pigeons!

Kim, Brooklyn New School

Kimani’s pigeon drawing

We like how Kimani is noticing the beak, feet, toes and overall body shape of the pigeon.  Learning these things will help you recognize different birds!  The beak is good for picking up seeds off the ground.  The body shows that the pigeon has a lot of flying muscles in their breast…they can fly 60 miles per hour, and fly fast for several hours at a time if they have to!  They have short legs with three toes forward and one toe backwards, which makes it easy for them to walk and perch.

Paloma, Brooklyn New School

Paloma’s Pigeon drawing

Look how Paloma has noticed the shiny color on the neck of the pigeon, usually pink and green!  If you look carefully you will see that the pigeon is not plain grey, usually, but has black, purple, green, white, and maybe red colors in its feathers, too.

Simone, Brooklyn New School

Simone’s pigeon drawing

Simone says she always sees checkers, and has drawn the little pattern of light and dark that the Checker colored pigeons have on their wings.  Beautiful!  And she has noticed other features of the habitat…trees, plants, and bushes, that might provide seeds and fruits that pigeons could eat, as well as protection if a hawk flies overhead looking for pigeon-dinner.  If you see pigeons running away they might be watching the sky and they might see something we humans might not notice.  Pigeons can be used to search for people lost at sea…they can see tiny things far away.  Pigeons usually nest on a flat surface like the ledge of a building,  terrace,  porch, in an attic, or under a bridge.

Sam, Brooklyn New School

Sam’s pigeon drawing

Sam has noticed the bars on the wings of the Blue-bar pigeon, the most common color morph.  He shows the pigeon walking on the ground.  Pigeons are part of a whole family of birds that bob their head back and forth when they walk.  Scientists wonder why this is, but think that they keep their head still while their body moves forward, so they can see details like seeds, bugs, and predators more clearly.  If you watch them walk you will see that their head is still, in one position, while their body moves underneath them, then the head moves forward and is held still again while they take another step.

Other questions:

Do pigeons speak?

Yes, pigeons make all sorts of cooing sounds, to communicate with each other.  Babies squeak to tell their parents that they want food, and grown-up pigeons sing a complicated series of coos when they are pairing up and trying to impress each other.  They make a worried, louder coo when there is danger nearby, and males generally coo louder than females.

Why do birds eat seeds?

Seeds contain protein and carbohydrate that help the birds build strong bones, healthy feathers, and have the energy to fly and walk around.  Also the females have to produce eggs, so they have to eat a lot to be able to create eggs inside their bodies with all the food the babies need while they are growing inside the eggs.  But baby birds don’t eat seeds!  They eat this amazing substance that both the mother and father pigeon make in their throat, called ‘crop milk’.

Do pigeons fly in a flock?

Yes, sometimes pigeons gather together in a big group and fly together.  It’s hard for a hawk to pick out just one bird to eat when there are hundreds all flying together!  Also many birds being on the look-out help the others know when danger is near, or when they should get out of the way of a person or car.

Why do pigeons run away when they see people?

Actually, pigeons are quite relaxed around people compared to some birds.  If you feed them they learn to recognize you and will come when they see you walking down the street.  They will often let you pick them up without struggling, or will come sit on your shoulder.  But some people don’t like pigeons and might try to step on them or push them away, so the pigeons have learned to stay away until they can trust and recognize a person who treats them well and feeds them without hurting them.

From: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/celebration/birds/brooklyn-new-school-kindergarten


In the last few weeks at work we’ve had in our first batch of baby feral pigeons of the year. Baby pigeons are found for different reasons, for example, they fall or get pushed out of their nest, cats catch them or building work disturb them. The lucky ones are taken to a pigeon friendly rescue centre where they will receive care and attention, and hopefully they are healthy enough to be released when they are older.

Our first baby was Hooper. He was found on the ground at a Hoopers Department Store by one of the staff. Hooper is now old enough to be out in an aviary with other feral pigeons. He’s flying about strengthening his flight muscles and eating greedily.

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Hooper

The second baby pigeon was Valentine, brought to us on Valentine’s Day. Valentine was found on the ground and taken to a vets who then contacted us. Valentine is growing steadily.

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Valentine

The third baby was Monday, thus named because it was on a Monday when he came to us. He’s another pigeon that was found on the ground. As soon as we’ve determined that he’s healthy he’ll be paired up with Valentine for company.

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Monday

And today another special little squab was brought to us. I’ve named her Maggie, after the volunteer driver who brought her to us from the vets. Little Maggie is a bit traumatised and scared, and has some small wounds around her beak and face. Hopefully, she’ll soon relax and start squeaking eagerly for the food I give her. Maggie has some interesting colouration and I look forward to seeing her grow up into a beautiful pigeon.

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Maggie


We received a wonderful Valentines present at work this year: a little pigeon squab!! So of course I had to name him “Valentine”. It was love at first sight. Actually, it was love at first squeak! I could hear him through the box he was transported in. A little “squeeaak, squeeaak”. The volunteer driver said that the baby had been talking to him throughout the journey.

I peered into the box and there sat a fat little dumpling, yellow fluff on his head, light grey feather quills sticking out like a pin cushion:

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Valentine pigeon. 14th Feb 2011

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14th Feb 2011

Valentine received lots of love and attention, was fed and put in a cosy nest in an incubator and he’s been steadily growing into a fine looking feral pigeon:

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Valentine on the 18th Feb

We’ve kept talking and cuddling to a minimum because we want him to remain as wild as possible so we can release him when he’s ready. Valentine has a teddy bear to cuddle up to though, so he’s got some soft comfort when he’s not being fed.

Today another baby pigeon (a bit older) arrived so once we’ve established that he’s healthy, he’ll be put with Valentine for company. That way they will both retain their pigeon identity and be releasable. :)

I’ve been feeding Valentine a bird rearing formula in liquid form, however, I wanted to provide him some solid food to aid his growth, so I gave him some seed from a jar:

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I got the idea when I saw the following website: Bottle Feeding A Baby Pigeon and I have to say it works a charm! :)

Valentine new immediatly what to do when he felt the seed against his beak and started gobbling it all down. He became very excited and flapped about in joy:

We all love this little fella and are eager to see him grow up into an adult pigeon. I’m particularly interested to see his colouring because at the moment he’s very light grey with only a bit of black on the wing tips and a bit of white near his rump. He’s very beautiful. I’ll keep you updated on his progress! :)


The other day when we were walking about in town we saw a lady feeding the feral pigeons on the high street. We walked past with a smile on our faces – someone else was being kind to the pigeons.

Then we heard another lady walk past saying, “Ew, she’s feeding the pigeons,” in a tone that suggested her distinct disapproval of the activity and of the species.

That left us thinking about the situation. The lady who’s feeding the pigeons is possibly doing it out of kindness and love. Feral pigeons that live in towns and cities will eat whatever edible thing they can find. It can be a tough life. As a species, us humans that is, we tend to litter and somehow miss the trash bins provided in towns. Sometimes it’s an accident – the sandwich or crisps fall out of your hand, however, sometimes it’s simply laziness and carelessness and the food item is dropped so that the pigeons or the human street cleaners can sort it out – whoever gets to it first. So people really shouldn’t complain about pigeons. They clean up after us.

So the lady is helping the pigeons in their quest for food, giving them an easy meal. But does this help the negative perception some people have of pigeons? They see the lady feeding the pigeons as something wrong. “Don’t encourage the pigeons, they carry disease, etc. etc.” All that nonsense.

Would it be better for the lady to feed the pigeons in a less busy place, away from negative eyes? Out of sight, out of mind. With less pigeons on the streets maybe people would stop thinking badly of them. Wishful thinking? I think so.

However, there is some truth in the above thought. The more times the pigeons are fed in a town centre or by busy shops, the likelihood of them sticking around and breeding more often is there – thus the population increases and you get hundreds hanging about. That’s when people start calling pest control and the ban on pigeon feeding is enforced.

Then again, a lot of people are attracted to the activity of pigeon feeding. With hundreds of friendly pigeons about and landing on you with that unmistakable “Where’s the food?” look in their eyes, people seem to enjoy the experience and tourists appear simply to see the spectacle and to participate. This is when people may start to view pigeons in a more positive way. They get up, close and personal and see for themselves that pigeons are magnificent.

So the question remains: Do you feed them in towns or not? Do you encourage them to breed more in the cities and potentially ignite the hatred of those ignorant pigeon hating people? Or would it be better to invite the pigeons to feed in your garden, away from the eyes of the general public (and hoping that your neighbours are pigeon friendly)?


Georgie did something she’s never done before: She had a shower!

Ok, you may be a bit confused now because you’ve seen photos of Georgie all wet. But that was because she loves having a bath, but she’s never liked having a shower. Until now, that is.

On the weekend (maybe it was the Saturday but I cannot remember) Georgie decided to fly into the shower whilst I was in it. Failing to gain the height she needed to get over the rim of the bathtub (yes, England loves the old “bath n shower combo”) I helped her into the tub and she walked straight under the shower and enjoyed a couple of minutes of direct shower rain. Then she walked out of range and tried to fly out of the tub. Again I had to help her and she walked away shaking her head and flapping her wings to dry them.

Here’s the wet little punk (she’s going for an Archangel feather-do!):

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Naturally, after a shower one has to dry off and the best way to do this is to sunbathe:

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And after you’re all warm and dry, a little snooze tucked away in the corner of the sofa:

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My darling little sister drew a portrait of Elmo and Georgie as a Christmas present for us. She did the drawing first by hand then copied it onto the computer with one of those pen thingamajigs (drawing tools).

I will print it out and have it framed at some point, however, here’s the beautiful picture for your viewing pleasure. :)

Georgie & Elmo portrait by Rangi Csiszar


A friend posted a link on facebook about a man who rescued a feral pigeon in distress 16 years ago and who still has the pigeon living with him. Whilst reading it I was so surprised to see the similarities of Bernie the pigeon to our Elmo. The emotions and interactions are the same. It’s uncanny.

Please read the delightful story, The Charm of a Pigeon, by Raymond P. Buchhol. Those of us who are blessed to share their lives with disabled pigeons will recognise the similarities and identify with many aspects of the story. For those who haven’t any dealings with pigeons or who might be sceptical of what sort of relationship you can have with one, the story will show how wonderful they are and how deep a connection you can have with a pigeon.

I would like to comment on a paragraph from the story:

“Picture yourself, say, on a Sunday afternoon after a good meal, resting on the sofa with this pigeon on your chest, rising and falling with every breath you take. His ash colored eyelids signal all is well. And together you doze. For a moment in space and time, you fold your wings and rest. You gently scratch his head and he grunts that everything is okay. And it is.”

http://www.urbanwildlifesociety.org/pigeons/BerniePijStory.html

I have watched Elmo and my husband in the very same mood and moment many a time. The trust and love is evident. The moment is simply too satisfying that you cannot move. Disturbing Elmo would be a crime. I find it so wonderful that other people have the same sentiments and experiences with pigeons.

Do you think Elmo would love to have a “Passion Cube” like the one that Raymond and his wife bought for Bernie? I do!

Bernie in his Passion Cube

And this photo of Bernie asleep is so like Elmo that they could be long lost brothers:

Bernie asleep


A wonderful little pigeon has been named!

(I forgot to post about the vote but hey-ho, next time I’ll be more vigilant!)

I hope to hear more about little Galamb as he grows up! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Meet Galamb!

Everybody meet Galamb. Galamb was a name suggestion received from Revati Poole, writer of Pigeons As Pets! Coincidentally, the name Galamb also transfers over from Hungarian into Pigeon in English and with a name so unique, I did not find it hard to believe it as the most voted for name. I’m a little stuck as to how to pronounce the name but my Google resources pronounces it as “Ga-Lung” almost, not the literal “Ga-Lamb” as I first thought. Finally with a name, I’m going to try and get him/her used to the name as soon as possible and can’t wait for the fun to begin. Thank you to everyone who suggested a name and to everyone who voted. I appreciate it very much. Pigeon Madness, Get Some!