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Returning home from a holiday can be very stressful. Especially when you have been away from your animals for a week. You dread to think in what mental and physical state they will be in. Thoughts that run through your mind: “Have they missed us? Did they like the pet sitters? Have they lost weight? Did they eat properly?”

The only way to have peace of mind is to find someone who you can trust and rely on to care for your animals as you would. We found two pet sitters to care for Elmo, Georgie and Hugo while we were away. I find that our animals fare better (e.g. less stressed and eat well) if they stay at home and have someone visit instead of putting them in a cattery and cage elsewhere. This way they are in familiar surroundings with only a “stranger” visiting, instead of being in an unfamiliar place where they may be worried all the time.

I still worry, though, which is natural, since I am far away from my dear animals. When we returned home yesterday Hugo cat was visibly glad to see us. He started drooling profusely, which he only does when he’s very happy. Elmo danced about and cooed his little head off, while Georgie girl was a bit more reserved. Only after I had sung to her did she realise it was me (her “mate”) and replied in kind (Georgie’s favourite song that I hum to her is Mmm mmm mmm by the Crash Test Dummies, I kid you not).

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Hugo gives us THAT look.

After the initial show of delight and excitement at our return, our animals settled back into their normal routine. Elmo headed to Hugo’s water bowl and promptly had a bath (much to Hugo’s disgust), Georgie plonked herself next to me on the sofa for a snooze, and Hugo meowed at the back door to be let out to eat some grass and sniff where the neighbour’s cats had been. It was as if we had never been away. :)

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Georgie pigeon relaxed by my side.

I’m delighted to say that despite our animals having missed us they were in good condition and spirits when we returned, so I know they had been cared for properly. Having such unusual pets as pigeons made looking for a pet sitter interesting – as some people are not comfortable with birds, what to speak about pigeons! But once they meet my pigeons, their misconceptions or misgivings are usually won over by our characterful birds. Elmo is such a clown that he makes most people smile with his greeting song and dance, and Georgie is so pretty and delicate that all can admire. … Not that I’m biased at all with this opinion. :D

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Elmo after a bath.

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Elmo having a bath.

When my husband and I were in Tampere, Finland, visiting my family we saw a newly wed pigeon couple at an underground car park. The lighting was bad so I wasn’t able to get a good photo, and I didn’t want to disturb them too much with my flashing lights (like a paparazzo!), but I watched the male pigeon call his mate up to where he thought was a suitable spot to nest: in the wiring that ran along the ceiling of the car park. He cooed and cooed with determination and I thought, “His mate will reject that spot for sure,” since the ceiling was low and the wiring not very solid. Later that day when we returned I saw the female sitting in the wiring and the male pigeon flew over to her with a stick in his beak. It seemed that the place had been approved and the nest building was in full swing.

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Feral pigeon settling into her new nest.

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The male pigeon flies away to gather more nesting material.

At another underground car park I heard the unmistakable squeaks of baby pigeons and found a nest with two little babies begging for food from one of their parents. The other parent was sitting a few meters away on a post (its chest a bit wet from a recent feeding). As soon as they noticed me looking they went quiet to show me their disapproval of my intrusion, so I left them in peace. Oh how I would have loved to have stayed to watch the family for that day!

 


Here’s a couple of short videos of our darling pets: Elmo pigeon, Georgie pigeon, and Hugo cat. :)

Enjoy!

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It seems that our move up North has the full approval from our animals. They enjoy exploring our new home, especially visits out in the garden, which I ensure are regular occurences to give them a varied and interesting life. No animal should be stuck in a single place all the time.

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Georgie nibbles my hand.

The other evening, after returning home and letting Elmo out of his secure area, Elmo walked with purpose into the kitchen and waited by the patio doors. I usually spend the evening chilling out after a long day at work, but I simply couldn’t ignore Elmo’s obvious gesture that he wanted to go outside. As soon as I opened the door Elmo hopped out and proceeded to preen himself in the cool evening wind (with me sitting by his side). He was so adorable, it was a pleasure to relax with him.

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Elmo rock climbing!

Elmo also enjoys eating dirt. I believe he does it to receive minerals and little stones to aid digestion. Or he may simply like the taste! :D

Georgie and Elmo continue to tease our cat, Hugo, by insisting on having baths in his water bowls. :) But they otherwise co-exist fine, no real drama to talk about. I still (foolishly) hope that one day they will all fall in love with each other and be one big happy family! Wishful thinking, I know, but miracles can happen (right?). :)

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Georgie has a bath while Hugo watches.

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Wet Elmo!

 

 


I seem to find it difficult to write about only one of my lovely animals at a time. I have to include all three, especially when they spend their evenings snuggled up to us and keep us occupied with their shenanigans. The sofa subject is a cause of friction since both Hugo and Elmo think that Richard’s lap is their spot. This photo was taken on one of those rare occasions when Elmo tolerated Hugo’s close proximity (he usually launches an attack of pecks and wing slaps):

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Elmo (left) and Hugo (right).

Georgie doesn’t have this problem. She only has to share my lap with my knitting, which is more of a problem for me since she will grab the needles and give them a shake whilst I try to knit.

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I seem to remember a time when I only had to worry about keeping two animals on the sofa apart to avoid a fight (read: A complicated relationship), now I have a cat to think about too! Sometimes Hugo is hesitant to jump on the sofa when Elmo and Georgie are on it, and he’ll give me this thoroughly fed up look:

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But when he finds himself on a pigeon-free sofa (at last!), Hugo can relax!

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After looking at some wonderful photos and videos of multi-species households online, I thought about our own multi-species family. We never meant to adopt pigeons – it just kind of happened – and we certainly never thought we’d adopt a cat (pigeons + cats = chaos?). … Well, in this case, the cat adopted us first. (Click on ‘Hugo the cat‘ for his story.)

Can different species live in harmony? Certainly. Even predator and prey species can co-exist without the expected kill. It is, however, never ideal to deliberately put predator and prey species together. Often though, like in our case, the animals themselves reveal their nature and show that living without killing is possible, and a multi-species household is created.

We were very careful when Hugo the cat first came into our lives. It was a while before we introduced Elmo and Georgie to him. If Hugo had shown any sign of predatory interest in our pigeons he wouldn’t have been allowed back in. But Hugo in fact showed us the opposite. He was afraid!

What makes a cat afraid of a pigeon? I’ve seen Hugo stalk and kill a bug, but he wouldn’t dare try that with our pigeons. He’s curious and will come over to sniff them, and sometimes he wants to play with them, but he’s never stalked Georgie or Elmo. If Hugo is too interested in Elmo, Elmo will try to peck him to tell him to back off, and Hugo will run away.

Georgie tolerates Hugo more than Elmo does. Here she is standing on him for no apparent reason:

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And here’s Elmo coming back into the living room with Hugo waiting for him to pass so he can go into the kitchen. Such manners! :)

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As always, I tried to take video of my pigeons and Hugo together, but they were camera shy. I shall keep trying. :)


Here at Pigeons as Pets headquarters, we’re all getting into the Christmas spirit:

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Georgie playing with the tinsel:

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Hugo takes a nap after wrapping up some presents:

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Elmo thinks the Santa hat is very comfortable:

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I think Elmo’s bad behaviour has rubbed off onto Georgie. Look what she’s doing:

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Georgie bathing in the cat’s water bowl.

Poor Hugo cat doesn’t know where to go when the pigeons are having a bath in his water bowl!! :D

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Elmo bathing in the cat’s water bowl.

Richard and I went for a walk in Jesmond Dene park and had a look at the animals in Pet’s Corner. We were amused to see some Geordie woodpigeons stuffing their crops on the free food! The ducks were fast asleep nearby. They didn’t seem bothered by the theft. :)

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We’ve been living in Newcastle upon Tyne for a month now and all is going well. Here’s Elmo and Georgie’s new set up in the living room.

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Georgie’s cage.

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Elmo’s cornered off area.

As you can see, Elmo has a covered section with his igloo bed, food, water, and mineral pick pots. He loves to sleep half under the sofa, so we have to cover the floor under there too. At night, and when we’re not home, the little fence is closed so he cannot get into mischief. Since Georgie cannot see very well she feels secure in her cage at night, where she knows exactly where her food and water are.

As well as enjoying a bath in our cat’s, Hugo’s, water bowl, Elmo also likes to drink from it – ignoring the one in his area if he’s got the choice. He’ll walk into the kitchen from the living room with the sole purpose of drinking from the cat’s water dish. Every day Elmo surprises me with his behaviour and choices. :)

More photos of our family in their new home:

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Georgie impersonating a rock pigeon!

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Where’s her head?! :) Georgie preening.

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Elmo looking so handsome!

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Pretty Georgie.

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Hugo tentatively exploring the garden.

 


As many of you may already know, the Pigeons as Pets team have moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north of England. The move went smoothly and we’ve all settled in nicely in our new home. Both Elmo and Georgie are in good health and have explored the house and garden, and seem to give us their approval of the new spacious surroundings. Phew! :)

We have a new addition to our family now, Hugo the cat! He turned up as a stray two years ago and adopted us as his new family (we did try to find out if he had an owner, but with no luck). Before moving Hugo had a full check up at the vets and was microchipped, vaccinated, dewormed and given the all clear health wise. And yes, it is confirmed that he is a boy, albeit a neutered one (the condition in which he first showed up, which is why I wasn’t sure).

Hugo is a very placid, loving cat. He’s afraid of our pigeons and always gives them a wide berth when walking passed them. Naturally, we keep an eye out when they are all in the same room, and at night or when we’re not at home Elmo and Georgie are safely in their respective cages in the living room which Hugo hasn’t got access to.

It will be interesting living with a cat and two pigeons, but I know other pigeon people out there do the same! :)

Here are some photos of our beloved animals in their new home:

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Elmo enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

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Elmo having a bath in Hugo’s water bowl.

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Georgie napping on my lap.

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Georgie enjoying being in the garden.

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Hugo hugging his catnip carrot.

 


Elmo likes to keep the cat under a watchful eye!

As you can see the cat is a bit worried about the proximity of the scary pigeon. I’ve never seen a cat so nervous around birds before!

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