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The inevitable happened.

I rescued a pigeon (first time since moving up North).

It happened at a local railway bridge that is home to a pigeon flock. I was walking under it and saw a fluttering of wings across the road. A pigeon was flapping up a fence but fell down to the ground with a squeak. I could see it was a young pigeon trying to go back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t strong enough to fly back up to his parents, and I knew that he’d either be squashed by a car or kicked by a kid (sorry, I have little faith in some of the children I see). I crossed the road but couldn’t reach the pigeon through the fence. Thankfully the builders nearby were kind enough to herd the pigeon towards me so I could pick him up.

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I felt a bit self-conscious walking home with a pigeon in my hands. I wanted to shout out, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to kill the pigeon. I used to work at a rescue centre. I know what I’m doing.” But I doubt anyone would have cared either way. No one was interested in the little pigeon.

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First thing I did when I got home was assess his condition (I say “he” but I don’t know if it was male or female). No injuries, no signs of illness, no broken feathers – he was in perfect condition. The only problem he had is that he didn’t have the muscle strength to fly his well-fed body up higher than a metre or so. Such a pity since I could see he was so close to fledging. I set up Elmo’s old carrier with a towel, food and water (with Critical Care powder mixed in), and dusted the pigeon with some anti-mite powder to kill any parasites. The pigeon was very well behaved but clearly a bit frightened of my presence and hid in the cage.

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I kept the little pigeon upstairs away from Elmo and Georgie since I didn’t want to risk anything just in case the pigeon was ill in any way. But Hugo came over to investigate the newcomer before I locked him out of the room. He was very interested in what was in the cage, as you can see:

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The next step was to find someone who could care for the pigeon while his feathers grew longer, ready for release. If I had an aviary, I would have gladly kept the pigeon for conditioning, but without the space to let the pigeon flap about, staying with me wasn’t the best option. So I contacted a local pro-pigeon wildlife rescue centre and thankfully they had the space to take the pigeon, so the next day the little fella went to his new temporary home to join other young pigeons being cared for till they are old enough for release.

Good luck little fella! :)


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Whenever my husband and I travel abroad or in the United Kingdom we always notice the pigeon and dove species – nothing terribly exotic, mind you – just the common feral pigeon, woodpigeon and collared dove. One day we’ll go to Seychelles and see some more exotic looking species (see: In search of pigeons – in Seychelles).

We recently went to Devon and Dorset (in the South West of England), and visited the pretty town of Lyme Regis. We were walking along the stone walkway by the beach and suddenly heard a distinct cooing noise. We stopped, searched and found the source of the cooing coming from a drain on the stone floor. Worried that there was a pigeon somehow trapped down the drain we tapped at the grill and the cooing immediately stopped. We then noticed a feral pigeon flying from the other side of the wall. Further investigation revealed that a pair of feral pigeons had taken up residence in the hole in the wall and we had rudely interrupted the male’s courtship coos. :D

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Lyme Regis

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Feral pigeon

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Spot the pigeon?

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Feral pigeon

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Feral pigeon

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Feral pigeons on a roof

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Feral pigeons enjoying the sunshine

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Feral pigeons


My pigeons feel very vulnerable when they go through their annual moult. Elmo in particular. He’s looking very disheveled and I’m sure he feels that way too. It must be uncomfortable also. They’re preening a lot and pulling out all the old feathers and unsheathing the new ones. To be honest, Elmo is acting in such a way that I can only describe as “I’m feeling ugly. Leave me alone”. He’s very moody towards me and doesn’t want me around him. :(

Georgie is being a bit nicer to me but she’s now in the later stages of her moult and possibly wanting reassurance from me. I don’t know if birds in the wild feel the same as my pigeons do but I imagine they must also feel vulnerable during a moult. It takes energy and time to grow new feathers, and when they don’t have a full compliment of feathers they may be more vulnerable to predators.

As I’m writing this Elmo is on the sofa falling asleep. I want to go over to give him a kiss to reassure him that he’s loved but I’m not sure he’d be happy about that. Usually when I nod my head to Elmo he’ll respond with a nod and then run to his nest to coo to me. But lately he’s not been responding to me and simply stares. … I guess I’ll just have to wait until he’s feeling pretty again before he’ll let me cuddle him.

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Elmo

The above photos shows the few feathers on Elm’s left wing that he tries to preen but only succeeds in fraying and breaking. This may be because of the angle that he’s not able to reach them properly (since Elmo has coordination and mobility problems).


Pigeons and doves have a long history with the Olympics. From 700 BC to 300 AD homing pigeons were used in the Olympic games. In fact, the quickest way to share the results were by homing pigeon.

Doves were released as a symbol of peace after the cauldron was lit at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games in 1986. This became a tradition from 1920. At the 1988 Seoul Games the order was reversed and many doves were inadvertently burnt alive, causing an outcry from animal welfare charities, resulting in the end of the tradition.

At the London 2012 Olympic Games the message of peace was symbolised by the ‘release’ of the Dove bikes: 75 riders who rode around the stadium ring wearing large dove wings:

For more information please visit: Opening Ceremony: The secrets behind the ‘dove bikes’


My knitting addiction has led me to knit another pigeon. :)

I have now knitted five different pigeons and here they all are:

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Back row:

Front row:

And a close up of the feral pigeon:

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I spent a week with my family at my grandmother’s home in Orosháza (Hungary) and the weather was unexpectedly hot, ranging from 32°C to 38°C! I’m not used to such heat and generally don’t like it but this time it was a pleasant experience. So I made the most of it and spent a lot of time sitting under the shade of the walnut trees in the garden watching the birds.

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Mr. Pigeon enjoying the ride!

At times the heat was stifling (which after a while would drive me to retire to the cool interior of the house), other times there was a refreshing breeze. I felt sorry for the male blackbird who lived in the garden. He looked very hot! He was quite tame – not even bothered by the presence of the neighbour’s dogs (he must have sussed out that they weren’t interested in him) – and would walk near me on his daily forage. Poor bird. He had his beak open most times but luckily he had a tray of water to bathe in to cool down.

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Blackbird bathing

The one vivid memory I have of my grandmother’s home in Hungary is the sound of cooing. As a child I didn’t know what type of bird was cooing (despite knowing what a feral pigeon is). It may be surprising for you to learn that I had never seen a woodpigeon nor a collared dove until I went to the UK. While there are woodpigeons and collared doves in Finland (where I lived before moving to England) I had never noticed them. When I started working at a wildlife rescue centre in the UK I saw lots of pigeon and dove species and soon became acqainted with all the different cooings. So when I went back to Hungary and heard the cooing in the garden I immediately knew what bird species was making the sound: collared doves!! And this time I noticed them. They are everywhere! And they coo continuously – talking to each other.

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Collared dove

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Mr. Pigeon enjoying the garden views

As I sat in the garden reading a book (during this recent visit) I started to notice how often the collared doves visited the garden to drink. There is a big tub of collected rainwater that they drink from. All sorts visit: sparrows, greenfinches, woodpeckers, blackbirds and even the neighbour’s dogs!

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Collared dove at the local "watering hole"

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Taking a long sip in the heat

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Mr. Pigeon wants a drink too

I did see a few woodpigeons (at the local water park) and a few flocks of feral pigeons in the towns, however, collared doves seem to dominate the area where my grandma lives.

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Collared dove relaxing in the shade

I had a lovely time with my family and with the birds there but I missed my Georgie and Elmo a lot! Mr. Pigeon was a comfort though. :)

The neighbour’s very friendly dogs, Pöti and Daisy:

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Pöti

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Daisy


I’ve received and read the three pigeon books I ordered a while back (see: Pigeon books on order). I now have eight books solely about pigeons and although a few of them have the same things written in them, they are all good books for information and references. The following books are the ones I have:

For information about fancy and racing pigeon housing and care:

  • Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds by Wendell M. Levi (1965)
  • Fancy Pigeons by Aad Rijs (2006)
  • Pigeons: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual by Matthew M. Vriends and Tommy E. Erskine (2005)
  • Understanding Pigeon Paramyxovirosis by H. Vindevogel and J.P. Duchatel (1985)

For information on the history and current situation between people and pigeons:

  • Pigeon by Barbara Allen (2009)
  • Pigeons by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (1997)
  • Pigeons: The fascinating saga of the world’s most revered and reviled bird by Andrew D. Blechman (2006)
  • Superdove: How the Pigeon took Manhattan… and the World by Courtney Humphries (2008)

I’ve ordered a few pigeon books second-hand, however, I’ve got a long wait since they’re being shipped from America. Here’s what I’m waiting for:

Pigeon (Animal) by Barbara Allen

Pigeon (Animal)

Pigeons by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, William Muanoz
Pigeons

Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan ... and the World

I hope they’re good but you never know when it comes to pigeon books. Some people write lovely things, others aren’t so nice.

There are two other books I found that would be amazing to have but they’re a bit too expensive for me at the moment. Does anyone have them for sale for dirt cheap? :)

(Image from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pigeons-Doves-Guide-World/dp/1873403607/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306694817&sr=1-1)

(Image from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Feral-Pigeons-Richard-F-Johnston/dp/0195084098/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306695111&sr=1-1)


The following information is from a fantastic book about hand-rearing birds. It includes rearing guides for a variety of different species.

Hand-Rearing Birds

by Laurie J. Gage and Rebecca S. Duerr

2007, Blackwell Publishing

Chapter 20: Pigeons and Doves by Martha Kudlacik and Nancy Eilertsen

The number and variety of hand-feeding diets being used in rehabilitation and captive breeding are such that they cannot all be covered in a short chapter. The underlying principle is to mimic the natural diet as much as possible.

The first 2-3 days of life, columbids are fed crop milk, which is high in protein and fat. About day 3 or 4, small amounts of regurgitated seed are added to the milk; crop milk production ceases about day 7-9 and regurgitated seed is fed throughout the fledging period.

Table 20.1. Mourning Dove tube-feeding schedule (weights based on California population). Feed hatchling diet to chicks of weights in bold. Birds on the hatchling diet may not require as frequent feeding as is listed. Check the crop at the interval and feed when crop empties.

Weight (grams) Quantity (ml) Hours between Feeds
10 1 1
15 1.5-2 1-1.5
20 1.5-2.5 2
25 2-3 2
30 2.5-3.5 2
35 4 2
40 5 3
45 5 3
50 6 3
55 6 3
60 6-7 3

Above 65 grams, skip meal if any seed in crop

65 6-7 3-1/2

Newly admitted juvenile mourning doves over 70 grams will usually self-feed unless debilitated, emaciated, or otherwise compromised.

70 8 4
80 8 4

Above 90 grams, do not tube-feed unless bird is debilitated. Healthy juveniles will almost always self-feed at 90 grams.

90 9 3x/day
95 9-10 3x/day

Expected weight gains of hand-reared Mourning Doves and Rock Pigeons.