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Pigeons as Pets has recently teamed up with My Social Petwork, a new social networking site, which is running a survey as part of the site’s launch to find out all about the habits of British pet lovers and their animal friends.

We’ve created our own account after having a look at the site and concluding that it is a fun way to share photos and other info to other animal lovers, particularly to raise the profile of pigeons! The more cute photos of pigeons looking at home with humans the better! :)

I’ve completed the survey and I think it would be great if you did too! :)

My Social Petwork logo

My Social Petwork is a brand new social networking site which aims to bring together pet lovers, communities and businesses from across the UK to make friends and share a mutual love for pets.

Join the first UK-wide pet census by clicking on the link below and filling in the simple survey: http://dotsurvey.me/ec1p287a-53e193e

You can also take part in the ‘petworking’ fun by registering at www.mysocialpetwork.co.uk and creating a profile for your pets. Then all you need to do is start posting pictures of your furry (or not so furry!) friends. Every day the picture and video with the most ‘Loves’ will take pride of place on the ‘Pet of the Day’ homepage.

Check out My Social Petwork on their social media channels for the latest pet news, funny pictures and entertaining videos. 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MySocialPetworkUK

Twitter: @Petworking

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mysocialpetwork/


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First knitted pigeon

I started knitting in 2011 and have been looking for different pigeon patterns to knit model pigeons ever since. I have written about my search on this blog in the past: Knitted pigeons at Pigeons as Pets

Last year I discovered a pattern that filled me with joy and excitement because the pattern was very realistic, and I simply knew that I had to knit more of the pigeons.

After I had posted a photo of the knitted feral pigeon (photo on the right) a lot of people asked me if I could knit one for them, so I quickly contacted the designer to ask if it was all right with her if I sold the pigeons I knitted from her pattern. To my delight she sanctioned my request!! :D

With the amount of interest I received from my knitting we decided to set up a personal website: www.revati.co.uk

So now, here comes the exciting part:

There are some knitted pigeons ready for sale!!!

You can buy them on my website: www.revati.co.uk/store.html

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Knitted pigeons for sale!

Last year a few friends asked me if I could knit a pigeon that looked like a pigeon they cared for, and here are my attempts:

Jenny McCann - LizzieP1090450

Lizzie pigeon (left) and his lookalike knitted pigeon (right).

Hercules and HerculesIce and Ice

Hercules with his lookalike (left) and Ice with his lookalike (right).

While it doesn’t take me long to knit the various pieces, it does take time and effort for me to stitch them all together, stuff and to embroider the details on the pigeon. The feet are especially fiddly! Powers of concentration and dexterous fingers are required! :) But once I’m on a roll I’m happy to hunker down on the sofa and knit various pigeons to send around the world to delighted customers!

I hope you all enjoy my work! :D


There are many pigeon friendly organisations, sanctuaries, vets and rescue centres that will help you if you find an orphaned, ill or injured pigeon. There is also a lot of information on the internet on what to do as the first step, such as this post: Pigeon Rescue: what to do with injured, ill and orphaned pigeons

For a world-wide list please visit this forum: Matilda’s List

For a UK list: Pigeon Friendly Rescue Centres in the UK

Organisations that can help:

Websites and forums that have good information and advice:

There are also many Facebook groups of pigeon friendly people who can advise you on all things relating to the pigeon (you must have a Facebook account to see these groups):

All the above organisations, websites and centres can help you with your query if ever you come across an injured, ill or orphaned pigeon. The best thing to do is to rescue the pigeon, keep it safe and warm, and immediately contact your nearest pigeon-friendly rescue centre or organisation who can take the bird from you to give it the medical care it needs.

Editors note: I am also able to give advice, however, please don’t rely on me in an emergency as I may not be online every day. Thank you.


How to stop a pigeon from laying eggs

As a proud owner of a female pigeon there is one subject that crops up nearly every month, and that is the subject of egg laying. More specifically, how to stop a pigeon from continuous egg laying. As any person who owns a female pigeon will know, pigeons are prolific egg layers. They don’t need to be mated in order to lay eggs. They just need to feel it is the right time and that they have the right mate and nesting area (although the latter isn’t always the case – many of us have seen photos of pigeons who have laid an egg on the exposed floor!). The right mate can indeed be human. Many pigeons will bond with one human in the household and will court and try to start a family with that human. This behaviour may amuse us, but it is serious business for the pigeon. They want to have babies and will go through all the feelings, hormone changes, and behaviours associated with breeding and nesting. A lack of result, e.g. no babies, may be frustrating or even sorrowful for the pigeon.

So what should we do about this? Do we find a pigeon mate for the pigeon and let them breed? (This won’t solve the problem of chronic egg laying but may help the pigeon psychologically.) But what will happen to the babies? Considering the breeding efficiency of pigeons, you may soon be overrun with their offspring.

In general, feral pigeons can breed throughout the year, as long as there is enough food and shelter for them to do so. Some pigeons take a break during the winter months, some don’t. Feral pigeons will lay two eggs at a time. They incubate for about 18 days, then the squabs will be fed by both parents until they are ready to leave the nest when they are 30 days old. By this time the parents may have already produced another clutch of eggs (at around day 20), and the cycle continues.

So after considering a pigeons breeding efficiency your pet pigeon could be laying 24 eggs a year! (at least!) All this takes a lot of time and energy, and the female pigeon will need to be well fed and have access to calcium and vitamin D for egg production and laying (calcium is taken from the body to create the egg shell). Too many eggs without enough calcium will cause egg-binding or deformed eggs (see photo below for a smaller sized egg my pigeon once laid).

P1100176Left: normal sized pigeon egg. Right: deformed smaller pigeon egg

Chronic egg-laying can cause a number of serious health problems for birds, and can ultimately lead to the death of the female if left untreated.

“Chronic egg-laying in the pet bird poses a significant threat to the health and behavioral well being of many pet birds. When a hen lays repeated clutches or larger than normal clutch size without regard to the presence of a normal mate or confined breeding season, a myriad of secondary problems can follow. Ultimately, functional exhaustion of the reproductive tract poses risk of metabolic and physiological drain on the bird, particularly on calcium and energy stores. All of these ultimately predispose the hen to egg binding, dystocia, yolk coelomitis, oviductal impaction, oviductal torsion, cloacal prolapse and osteoporosis.” Ask an Expert: Chronic egg laying by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM

“Chronic egg laying will deplete calcium, thus causing myriad health problems. One of which is the condition known as hypocalcaemia – With calcium at a low level, the uterine muscles are unable to contract and push the egg out resulting in egg binding. Hypocalcaemia can also cause seizure-like activity and brittle bones, which can be easily fractured. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prevent excessive egg laying. The first step in treating chronic egg laying is to put your bird on a complete diet. A bird that is on a balanced diet is in little danger of the health problems associated with chronic egg laying.” From: http://www.avianweb.com/egglaying.html

The following article has good advice about egg-binding:

“Calcium is used by the body to not only form the shell of the developing egg and maintain strong bones, but is also crucial in the proper functioning of the muscles. While it does take a large amount of calcium to form an egg shell, the hen also needs calcium for the muscle action needed to expel the egg.

“Vitamin d3 is crucial in the absorption of calcium. Without it, all that good calcium we offer our birds passes right through the body without being absorbed. In outdoor flights, our birds are able to produce d3 via a chemical reaction to sunlight. In indoor flights, they are unable to do this. Sunlight through a window is not sufficient. The ultraviolet light needed does not pass through window glass. Full spectrum lights can help but some studies have shown that the ultraviolet is only at sufficient levels at less than one foot from the light source. For inside birds, a d3 supplement is almost always helpful.” Egg Binding by Carol Heesen

The solution

In order to help reduce the strain egg development and laying causes the female pigeon, it is probably a good idea to discourage egg laying altogether. There are different thoughts on this and some methods may work for your pigeon, while for others it may not. It is up to you to ensure that your pigeon is healthy physically and mentally. Please read the following recommendations:

All about reducing the laying of eggs by the racing pigeon

Diet

Seed availability in the wild is generally only high during breeding season, so an abundance of seeds in the diet is a stimulus to breed.

• Providing a good quality, balanced diet with restricted seed will not only help to reduce laying, but provide better nutrition to keep her healthy and better prepared to lay eggs and fight disease.

Day Length

In the wild, birds generally breed in spring and summer, a time of increasing day length.

• By covering the loft or the windows in the evening at about 6pm, the hormones that stimulate laying will be reduced. As well as reducing mating/egg laying behavior, this will help to ensure a good night rest for your pigeons, which is very important.

Presence of a mate

Pigeons do not need to mate in order to lay eggs. They do usually need to think that they have a partner. A lot of the individual attention the pigeon fanciers will give to the pigeons can be interpreted by them as partner stimulation, and as such it needs to be minimized to the strict minimum.

• We recommend that you don’t cuddle or stroke your pigeons below the neck.

• Training basic obedience and trick training is a great way to interact with your pigeons in a healthier manner.

Nesting Site

Pigeons are more likely to lay eggs if they have a nest. This may be a nest or box, newspaper or material at the bottom of a cage.

• Do NOT provide any nesting material for a pigeon if you don’t want her to lay.

Presence of eggs

• If your pigeons does lay eggs, leave them in the cage for the normal incubation period – approximately 3 weeks for most strain.

• The presence of eggs in a cage stimulates hormones in your bird which decreases the chances of more eggs.

(From: All about reducing the laying of eggs by the racing pigeon)

More information on discouraging egg laying in birds: Egg laying in birds

10 things you can do at home to stop your bird from laying eggs

1. Put your bird to bed early, by 5 or 6:00 p.m. A long day length is one of the most important environmental cues triggering egg laying in birds. By allowing your bird to stay up late, you are mimicking the long days of spring/summer, making your bird think it is time to breed. An early bedtime will help to turn off her breeding hormones. Note that she will need complete darkness and quiet for this to be effective (covering the cage while the radio or TV is on is not adequate!).

2. Keep your bird away from dark, enclosed spaces. Most parrots are cavity nesters, which means that instead of building a nest out in the open they look for dark, enclosed spaces in which to lay their eggs. In order to stop your bird from laying eggs it is essential that she is kept away from such areas. Nest boxes should be promptly removed. Birds can be ingenious when looking for a nesting site (under a couch, behind the microwave, even in the dryer!), so it is important that she is under close supervision when out of the cage.

3. Keep your bird away from other birds to which she is bonded. Having a mate is a strong stimulus for your bird to lay. This mate may be a member of the opposite sex, another female bird, or even a bird of a different species. Separating your bird from the other birds in your household will help turn off her hormones.

4. Discourage breeding behavior in your bird. Some birds will display breeding behaviors with their favorite person, such as vent-rubbing, tail lifting, or regurgitating food. Discourage these behaviors by putting your bird back in her cage for a “time out” whenever she displays them. Don’t pet your bird on her back or under her tail, as this can be sexually stimulating.

5. Remove your bird’s “love-toys”. Some single birds will display mating behaviors with objects in their environment, such as food cups, toys, perches, or mirrors. Mating behaviors include regurgitating food, vent rubbing, and tail lifting. If your bird engages in these behaviors with an inanimate object, that object should be permanently removed from her environment.

6. Rearrange the cage interior and change the cage location. Your bird is more likely to lay eggs in a cage that hasn’t changed in a while. Putting your bird in a different cage and/or changing the cage location can help discourage laying. Changing the arrangement or types of toys, dishes, and perches in the cage can also be very helpful.

7. Give your bird optimal nutrition and provide full spectrum light. Producing and laying eggs robs your bird of the vitamins, proteins, and calcium she needs to stay healthy. It is especially crucial during the breeding season that she is on a complete and balanced diet, which in most cases will be a pelleted diet. A seed diet supplemented with vitamins is not adequate. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a pelleted diet for your bird. Full spectrum sunlight is necessary for your bird’s calcium metabolism, and can be provided by unfiltered sunlight or by a full spectrum flourescent bulb.

8. Avoid removing the eggs which your bird has already laid. Sometimes the easiest way to turn off the egg-laying cycle is to allow your bird to sit on her eggs. If your bird lays a few eggs and then sits on them, leave the eggs in the cage for 21 days or until she loses interest. If however she does not stop at 3 – 4 eggs and continues laying, this strategy may not work, and you should call your avian veterinarian for further suggestions.

9. Ask your veterinarian about hormone injections. In certain cases of excessive egg-laying, your veterinarian may recommend hormone injections in addition to the above environmental and dietary changes. Hormone injections are relatively safe and can help reduce egg-laying in some birds. The effectiveness of hormone injections varies from bird to bird and can not be accurately predicted beforehand.

10. When in doubt, ask your avian veterinarian. If you have questions or concerns regarding your bird’s health, or if the above changes do not stop your bird from laying, please give your avian veterinarian a call.

Author: Hilary S. Stern, DVM

From: http://www.forthebirdsdvm.com/pages/discouraging-breeding-behavior-in-pet-birds


Continuing briefly on the book theme, I went into a bookstore today and as normal walked straight to the nature/pet section for a quick scan for any good books since I’m always on the lookout for new pigeon books.

One title caught my eye: Fifty Animals That Changed the Course of History – and I knew I had to have a peak inside to see whether they had included the humble pigeon. And I’m happy to report that they had!!

It is nice to see credit given to the pigeon for the services they have rendered to mankind. I sadly didn’t buy the book since I have absolutely no space left on the bookshelf (…or under the bed… or in the wardrobe) but I had a quick read at the pigeon section and they mentioned the fact that pigeons were used to send messages in ancient times as well as in WWI and WWII. Pretty much the stuff that us pigeon people all know about already, however, for those who don’t know anything about pigeons it’s a good thing to read.

I know the article about the friendship between an orphaned monkey and a dove made its rounds on the net a while ago, however, their story has also been published in a book (which I have, and love!): Unlikely Friendship: 47 True Stories of Animal Frienships

If you have any good books with pigeons or doves in it, I’d love to hear from you!


I’ve acquired a few more pigeon books to my little collection. The first was given to me by a friend, the second I found in a charity store, and the third, a little booklet, I ordered online. The three books are: Pigeons by Carl Naether (1984), Doves by Michael Gos (1989) and Feral Pigeons by Richard F. Johnston (1998).

Although these publications are old, they all favour the pigeon and dove, and therefore are worth a read.

An excerpt from “Pigeons”:

“Pigeon keeping is a delightful, educational activity for young and old alike. In this hobby, you deal with lovely, live birds which you can easily tame, and whose life cycle, from the eggs to the full-grown birds, you can observe at close range day in and day out. This affords you an excellent opporutinity to learn at firsthand how one of the most popular domesticated creatures propagates and maintains its kind.” (page 8 )

A little excerpt from the “Doves” book:

“Doves may be one of the most misunderstoon creatures in the animal kingdom. Throughout history, man has never allowed the dove to be himself. Instead, doves have always been a symbol of something else. … Perhaps it is this symbolism that makes a dove an attractive house pet to so many people.” (page 8 )

The first two books are more manuals on how to house, feed and care for pigeons and doves. The feral pigeon booklet is a more scientific read about the life of these birds in the wild, touching on the origins of feral pigeons, plumage variation and selection, breeding and reproductive data, as well as their relationship to people. I found these two quotes honest and important to note:

“Humans are responsible for creating domestic pigeons, and by extension also for the existence of feral populations. Humans have an obligation to treat all these pigeons in a humane manner.” (page 13)

“Pigeons are also elegant creatures of style and grace aloft, and are otherwise beautiful to watch. Our world is brightened by them.” (page 14)

Booklet

If you would like the booklet you can either read it on their website: http://www.emporia.edu/ksn/v45n2-december1998/index.html, request to have one posted to you (email them with your request) or click on this link for an downloadable copy: Feral pigeons PDF.

* * * *

Previous posts about my pigeon book collection: My pigeon books, Pigeon books on order and Pigeon breeds – book


Some of you here in the United Kingdom might have seen the fourth episode of Winterwatch on BBC Two last week where Adam Rogers, the creator of The Feral Pigeon Project, spoke to Chris Packham about feral pigeons and their colour diversity. This episode was greatly anticipated by many pigeon people (word spread on the net) and it was wonderful to hear a positive message about feral pigeons – since there are so few programmes on TV that concentrate on these amazing birds.

As mentioned, the message on this episode of Winterwatch was positive, concentrating on the intelligence and uniqueness of pigeons, and I hope many people feel inspired to help Adam Rogers with his research into pigeon colour diversity. Please visit his website for further information: The Feral Pigeon Project

A little side note here: many of us watching the programme immediately noticed the feet of the ferals and wanted to help. A common question appeared online as to why the ferals feet were deformed, which Adam quickly replied (on his blog): Deformed feet – what is the cause?

Here’s the link to the episode: Winterwatch, Series 1, Episode 4. The feral pigeon part starts at 08:43 (ending at 17:01). I also found the clip on YouTube:

I really hope more positive messages of pigeons get on TV and we can start to dispel the myths spread about pigeons. Maybe Elmo and Georgie should go on “Britain’s Strangest Pets” or something similar? (Although I don’t like the way those types of programmes portray the owners, so maybe something more scientific would be better.)

Online article about the Winterwatch episode:

Cornwall student appears on BBC Winterwatch to promote pigeon project

Friday, January 18, 2013

A zoology student from Cornwall has appeared on BBC Winterwatch to talk about his project to record the national pigeon population.

Adam Rogers, who studies at the University of Exeter’s Tremough Campus in Penryn, appeared on the programme leading a project to investigate plumage trends found in the once-domesticated birds.

When domestic animals return to the wild and breed, future generations usually take on their natural dull colour, yet urban pigeons have retained their brightness and variety of plumage.

The 29-year-old undergraduate wants as many people as possible to spend a few minutes counting the number of pigeons with different plumage patterns in their local high street.

Participants can then report their sightings on the Feral Pigeon Project website, which also contains a handy guide to pigeon colours.

“Pigeons can easily be overlooked as we go about our daily lives,” said Mr Rogers.  ”Yet these seemingly familiar birds have many secrets still to reveal.  The fact that they have been successful is clear, yet the means behind their success is less understood.

“No other creature causes such contention as the wild pigeon – some people call pigeons ‘rats with wings’, others are simply indifferent, but I call them the Super Dove.

“They may not be as glamorous as many of the exotic animals a person could choose to study but take the time to look beneath the feathers and they’re just as superbly adapted as any of the African big five.”

He added that people don’t need to be pigeon experts to get involved in the project, as the various types are easy to tell apart.

Adam is hoping that his research will reveal how pigeons are adapting to human influences, as well as sparking people’s interest in wildlife and nature.  He will examine aspects such as whether breeding habits are changing in towns where feeding bans have been imposed.

The Feral Pigeon Project appeared on BBC Two’s Winterwatch yesterday with a focus on the pigeons’ ability to breed in the middle of winter.  Adam described working with the BBC production team as “eye-opening”.

“Filming with Chris Packham was a fantastic experience, he’s clearly a very knowledgeable naturalist and is truly passionate about opening people’s eyes to the wildlife around them,” he said.

Adam Rogers is leading a project on pigeons

(Article from: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Cornwall-student-appears-BBC-Winterwatch-promote/story-17894221-detail/story.html)


This blog is mainly about the adventures of our two pigeons, Elmo and Georgie, however we also like to spread the word about other pigeon people, especially charities and organisations that help pigeons around the world.

So, if you are able to be a bit generous this Christmas, why not help out a pigeon-friendly rescue centre/sanctuary or organisation such as the following:

(Where our Dora pigeon lives.)

(We visited them last year: Trip to Norfolk with pigeons)

You can also find the above organisations on Facebook.

I received an early Christmas present from a dear friend that I’d like to share with you:

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I’ve taken it to work so that everyone can enjoy seeing such beautiful birds. :)


Some might say that now is the time to be saving up your pennies and thinking about that very special occasion that is creeping up. :)

Here are some pigeon presents I found on Etsy you may want to buy a pigeon-loving family member or friend, or ask someone to get for you for, say, Christmas:

Artwork:

The Rain Dancer – Fine art print by VyalaArts

I love New York Pigeon fine art print by DarlingRomea

“If the Facts don’t fit…” pigeon print by mightypigeon

Crown Victoria pigeon photograph by jessicaelysephotos

Jewellery:

Hand drawn Pendant illustration of pigeons by mightypigeon

Pigeon Art Pendant by backbonestudio2

Dove Locket Necklace by saylorrose

Clothing:

Keep Calm and Pigeon On T-Shirt by keepcalmstore

Pigeon T-Shirt with Dots by smallgunns

Pigeon hat inspired by Mo Willems best selling children’s books by georgiabeckman

Other:

Pigeon Beads by TheCraftyBead

Pigeon cushion cover by Mirthquake


Carrying on from my last post about the feral pigeons in my garden, I noticed a larger and suspiciously “noble” looking pigeon amongst the flock. Upon closer inspection I saw that the pigeon has a white ring around its leg. This threw me a bit since I’ve never seen a checkered racing pigeon before, only blue bars, although I know racing pigeons can come in a variety of colours.

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Checkered racing pigeon

The racing pigeon looks healthy and strong (and very beautiful!), with no signs of any problems with his flight and I can only speculate that he became lost during a race and decided to team up with the feral pigeons for safety, companionship and intel on the good food locations. I don’t know how long he’ll stay with the feral pigeons before deciding to return to his home. He may never return if he falls in love with a feral. :)

Racing pigeons generally do well in the wild if they join a feral pigeon flock, unlike fancy pigeons that may have some unusual feather shapes that make it hard for them to fly away from predators quickly (please read my post about the welfare of fancy pigeons). This is one reason why you should never release a fancy pigeon into the wild. Racing pigeons, however, are bred to fly fast and strong, and I’ve seen racing pigeons stick with feral pigeons so I believe that they are capable of surviving in the wild. Maybe their genetic contribution to the feral population helps with the overall genetic health of wild pigeons? I have seen feral pigeons that look like they have racing blood in them (it’s often the shape of the head and beak that gives them away: very “Roman nose”).

I wonder: If I go out into the garden and hold some food in my hand, would the racer fly down to me?

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Can you spot the racer?

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology were conducting research into feral pigeon behaviour and colour distinctions/morphs, however, they have now discontinued it. I don’t know what the results of their research is, but I’d be very interested to know. However, this website has taken up the challenge of finding more about pigeon colour variation: Feral Pigeon Project

Pigeon colour morphs:

pigeon color morphs