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No sooner had Elmo decided he had incubated the fake eggs for long enough (9 days) when Georgie thought it was her turn and laid an egg! So now she’s all moody and broody while Elmo is back to normal. Go figure! :D

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Georgie lays an egg.

We were blessed with the sun shining throughout the weekend and so we spent most of our time out in the garden with our two disabled pigeons. They love to sunbathe and enjoy pecking at the grass and eating bits of dirt. I hope we have more sunny days so I can take them out often during the spring and summer. We sure need it after the dreary winter!

Looking at the photos I took of Elmo I can see how much he loved last weekend:

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And Georgie certainly had fun:


Both Elmo and Georgie had a shower and bath this morning. We then took them out to dry in the sunshine and I must say it was such a lovely morning, so relaxed and peaceful. Our pigeons took the lead and showed us how to have a lazy Saturday out in the garden, preening and soaking up the suns rays. Pigeons know best! ;)

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Georgie (left) and Elmo (right) enjoying the sunshine

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Georgie girl

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Elmo boy

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Elmo has a bit of a flap

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Pigeons in the garden

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"For you."

After coming back into the flat Elmo wanted to spend some time on the windowsill preening and watching the other birds flit about in the garden:

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Aren’t the manuals appropriate for such a flight-challenged pigeon? :D


Georgie loves it when I sing or hum to her. She finds certain songs irresistible, such as ‘Mmm mmm mmm mmm’ by the Crash Test Dummies. She also likes the Dr Who theme tune.

I took a video of Georgie’s reaction to my off tune humming:

As you can see, Georgie gets aroused. … Silly girl. I often tell her off for being so rude. Georgie will present herself on odd occasions, sometimes without any obvious reason for her arousal. I guess she is just in love and likes to show it. :D

(As I’m watching the video Georgie is getting excited over hearing my voice through the computer!)

In other news, Elmo is still broody and sitting on his fake eggs:

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I’m not sure how long we’ll allow him to incubate but he seems content enough to perform his ‘daddy’ duties for now. When Elmo gets bored of it all we’ll take away the eggs and hopefully Elmo will revert back to his normal cuddly cute self.

I’d like to leave you with some photos we took of us in the garden with Elmo and Georgie on a sunny afternoon last month:

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I’m happy to announce that the problem of Elmo’s unhappiness has been solved!!

Elmo is broody!!!

I’d like to thank everyone for your comments on yesterdays blog post directing us towards this conclusion!!

Last night Richard placed two fake eggs in Elmo’s nest and Elmo IMMEDIATELY sat on them. It was like he has been waiting these past few weeks for Richard to lay them for him (I bet Elmo is thinking, “What took you so long?”). The only reason I originally dismissed the idea that Elmo was broody when we first started noticing his moodiness is because Elmo was attacking Richard as viciously as he was attacking me. In my mind that didn’t add up (why attack your mate?). But having now read back a few of my previous notes about Elmo being broody, this was what he did the last time he was broody. I just didn’t remember it.

I feel bad for Elmo that it took us this long to figure things out. We won’t be making that mistake again. Elmo is now sitting on his eggs and although he is still attacking me, he seems settled and content to be finally incubating. He’s no longer pecking Richard’s fingers and has been twitching happily to him. I am so relieved!!

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Here are Elmo’s past broody dates:


The past few weeks have been upsetting for all of us. Elmo has been in a foul mood and nothing Richard and I do seems to make him happy. We don’t know what has happened to upset Elmo so much but we’re trying our best to improve things so Elmo feels better.

Here’s what I do know:

  • Elmo’s bad mood started shortly after we went on holiday.
  • Elmo started moulting during the week of our holiday.

Now I could understand his bad mood if we had left him for a week, but no, we didn’t leave at all! We stayed at home for our holiday, so what’s Elmo so angry about? Was it my constant presence (since I’m the rival)? I know that my pigeons can feel vulnerable when moulting, but Elmo’s behaviour is a bit extreme.

Elmo has now stopped moulting and we have gone back to work, but he’s still not his usual cuddly-cute, happy self. :(

The day we went back to work Elmo did show a bit of his usual behaviour – he cooed to us and greeted us – but that was short lived. He’s a bit better with Richard, no longer pecking him like he was during our holiday, but he’s not showing him the love that he usually does. I’m finding this all a bit stressful since I hate to see Elmo so angry.

All Elmo does now is chase me about the flat to attack my feet. I know the difference from his playful attacking behaviour, and this is not it. He wants to hurt me and he attacks in anger. The last time he was like this was when he was broody and sitting on the fake eggs.

I really hope Elmo feels better soon because I feel he’s also getting stressed about the situation. I’ve been giving him treats and trying to be loving but Elmo does not want me to be around him, so I will try to keep out of his way.

Even the sight of the camera didn’t excite his usual amorous feelings towards it!

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Elmo giving me the evil eye

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Elmo staring me down


Georgie laid two eggs in March (on the 24th and 26th) and after the second egg she had post egg-laying paralysis in her legs which she’s had in the past. Usually, after a few days Georgie is better, however, this time I was worried that she was struggling with the condition so I decided to take her to the vets for a check up. Since Georgie gets terribly car sick I thought it best to take her to the vets in our town, Tunbridge Wells, instead of driving 40 minutes to the avian vet in Maidstone.

I took Georgie to the vets I work for, Culverden Veterinary Group, and she made an impression. She didn’t peck anyone, even when a bright light was shone in her eyes! Amazing!! Here’s their Twitter tweet about Georgie girl:

https://twitter.com/CulverdenVets

“Georgie the pigeon visited TW with her owner recently. We hope her leg’s on the mend!”

https://twitter.com/CulverdenVets/status/319919270681264128/photo/1

Georgie is fine now, after the care from the vets, but she did throw up in the car even with only a 5 minute drive. Poor girl. I don’t think she’ll ever feel good in the car.


The subject of predators is always a touchy one. Many people don’t like to see animals being killed by others, especially when it isn’t a quick, clean kill. However, the fact of life is that there are species born to be predators and species born to be their prey. And pigeons and doves are definitely a prey species.

Witnessing the attack, or aftermath of an attack, of a predator on a pigeon is traumatic, especially if it is one of your own. No one wants to lose their pigeon in such a horrific manner. When I worked at a wildlife rescue centre I saw the results of such attacks, and thankfully we were sometimes able to mend and rehabilitate the victims. But each case was heartbreaking and people would often say to me how cruel predators are. I actually disagree. I don’t see animals as being cruel to one another when they are hunting for food. They do what they have to do. Doesn’t mean I like to see it happen (or the results of an attack), but I don’t hate predator species.

There are many species that predate on pigeons and doves. Birds of prey, such as peregrine falcons and sparrowhawks, are the main ones, however, domestic cats, foxes, rats, corvids, snakes and dogs can all do their fair share of harm. If you have an aviary that isn’t predator-proof, then you only have yourself to blame if a predator gets in. It is the responsibility of the animal carer to ensure the safety of their animals. So please don’t blame the fox when it breaks into a flimsy chicken wire cage and kills all your chickens or pigeons. By containing birds in a small enclosed space you’re essentially taunting the predators with what they must view as a box full of goodies. Of course they are going to attempt to eat those goodies. Predator proof your aviary!!

Of course, many will state that most domestic cats don’t kill to eat anymore and therefore are cruel, however, cats are still a predator species. They may not have the need to kill for food, but most cats definitely have the urge to hunt. It is in their DNA. Simply domesticating a species doesn’t necessarily change that. However, for some reason cats often get off lightly when they kill birds. Is it because so many people love cats and have them as pets? Sparrowhawks, on the other hand, are usually the target of hatred, particularly here in the UK and certainly amongst the pigeon racing clubs.

Last week I watched in horror as a sparrowhawk chased a feral pigeon in the air, catch it then drop to the ground right in front of me! I was in my car, driving slowly down my street, so when this happened I stopped. The sparrowhawk and I stared at each other for a second. Before I could get out of my car the sparrowhawk released the pigeon, who flew away quickly. He didn’t look injured but I knew he would have some painful puncture wounds on his body from the hawk’s claws (I’ve held sparrowhawks before and had one sink its claws into my hand so I know from experience how painful it is), and it upset me that I couldn’t help the pigeon further. I have to hope the wounds heal quickly. The sparrowhawk flew away too, most likely to hunt another bird.

Now, I’ve never actually seen the chase and capture before so it was a shock to witness it (both birds flew incredibly quickly). There was no way I was going to allow the hawk to rip open a pigeon right in front of me. I know that it has to eat but I don’t want to see it happen. I will always stop it from happening if I can – and I’ve interrupted a few sparrowhawks from killing pigeons and doves in the past (there was one that visited the rescue centre every now and then to have a go at the local birds) – but it doesn’t make me hate sparrowhawks. Even after everything I’ve seen from injured birds, I still don’t dislike birds of prey. They are beautiful, skillful and amazing birds. They are built for speed and agility. And do you know what? Pigeons are also built for speed. Pigeons are amazing flyers and can escape from the chase of a sparrowhawk. In fact, predators usually have to hunt many times a day in order to get just one kill. Most of their prey escape, therefore predators have to try harder.

Of course, certain domesticated pigeons, e.g. fancy pigeons, do not stand a chance against predators, what with their unusual feathers or body shape. Erecting a pretty white dovecote with pretty white fantail doves in the garden is simply asking for trouble. Fantails are not good flyers and will be easily killed by most predators.

Free flying pigeons are also going to be targets of predators. Hand-reared tame pigeons are more vulnerable because many lack an awareness of the threat of predators (especially if they have been hand-reared with dogs and cats). So if you let your pigeon fly freely then you have to accept the fact that a bird of prey may one day attack. It will be up to you to decide whether the risk is minimal compared to the gains and joys of freedom and make the choice that you feel comfortable with. My choice is easier to make since both my pigeons cannot fly properly anyway, so they stay indoors and any time outside is heavily supervised.

I have hand-reared, cared for and rehabilitated many bird and mammal species at the wildlife rescue centre, both predator and prey species. I have fallen in love with the warning clicks of a baby owl, the adorable look of a baby magpie, the insistent squeaks of a baby pigeon, as well as the stubborn, defensive glares of a sparrowhawk chick. Ultimately, all baby species are adorable so for me it was inevitable to fall in love with them. :)

A few photos of sparrowhawks cared for at the wildlife rescue centre I worked at. They have piercing stares, even the juvenile one!

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Juvenile sparrowhawk

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Adult sparrowhawk

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Adult sparrowhawk