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For those who doubt the awesomeness of pigeons here’s some interesting facts for you: 17 ways that pigeons are cooler than humans by Megan McCormick

And some funny photos: 23 pictures that prove pigeons are actually the best by Tanner Ringerud

This website puts it nicely too: 21 reasons you should appreciate pigeons by Stephen Messenger

So, after reading all that, do you agree with me? Pigeons are amazing! :D

This Friday, the 13th of June, is Pigeon Appreciation Day and people around the world will be spreading the word and celebrating all that is wonderful about pigeons! Join us!!

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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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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! :)


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!

 

 


At the beginning of last year I wrote about how many eggs Georgie has laid (click here to read the post) and I feel I should update the list.

Here are the numbers:

  • 2008 – 2 eggs
  • 2009 – 16 eggs
  • 2010 – 7 eggs
  • 2011 – 8 eggs
  • 2012 – 20 eggs
  • 2013 – 14 eggs
  • 2014 – 3 eggs to date

That makes 70 eggs in total.

I captured the moment when Georgie laid an egg this month:

Poor darling, it always looks a bit painful and stressful, but Georgie takes a moment to recover and is fine. It is interesting when you see the egg laying behaviour because now I can recognise it for what it is. The first time I saw her all puffed up and moving her tail in that manner I was quite alarmed, especially since we thought Georgie was a boy! Certainly wasn’t expecting an egg to appear! :D

Moments before she started to lay the egg (in the video) Georgie was in her nest on the sofa and Hugo boy (our pigeon-fearing cat) was very intrigued in what was going on. Georgie was all puffed up and looking different and I think Hugo thought she was something other than a pigeon. I moved her to her cage so she could lay her egg in there. If I were to move her after she had laid the egg then there would be a big chance she’d reject the relocation and insist on going back to the sofa. This has happened in the past so now I know to quickly move Georgie and her nest to her cage for the egg laying to ensure she incubates them happily in her cage. Thankfully, her eggs are infertile so I don’t have to worry about Georgie rejecting them, although I prefer her to incubate instead of laying another pair of eggs so soon after the first pair.

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Georgie girl all puffed up

 


Elmo and Georgie pigeons have been enjoying the sunshine in February. As soon as the sun peeks through the clouds I dash out with my darling pigeons so they can benefit from some UV rays (see The importance of ultraviolet light for pigeons and doves). It can be hard, though, to juggle so many animals, since Hugo cat also likes to go out for a walk when I take the pigeons out. I’m reduced to taking each animal out one at a time for supervised fun in the sun, since Elmo doesn’t like Georgie or Hugo and will peck them if they come near and I cannot leave any of them alone outside since, A) predators may be about, B) Hugo will fight with the neighbourhood cats, C) Georgie or Elmo may flap about if it is windy and be lifted into the neighbours cat-filled garden, and D) I only possess two hands and cannot hold safely on to 3 animals at a time if I need to quickly take them back into the house.

So when the sun comes out I have to time things right to give each pet a fair share of time in the garden. I wonder what the neighbour’s think when they see me popping out with a cat on a harness and lead for a stroll and sniff around the garden, then back out with a pigeon for a peck at the grass and dirt, then out again with another pigeon for a bit of sunbathing. They must think I am mad! … I always suspected that I would become a crazy pigeon-cat-knitting lady. :D

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Georgie pigeon

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Elmo pigeon

 

 

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Georgie pigeon

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Elmo pigeon

 


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Elmo pigeon

My two pigeons live indoors since they are both disabled and bonded to humans. I have written a lot in the past about their special needs and their requirements for living indoors, especially stressing the importance of ensuring their emotional needs are met as well as their dietary ones. One of the latter requirments are minerals. Out in the wild pigeons will find and eat minerals to supplement their diet (as do many other animal species), but where in my household are Elmo and Georgie going to find these minerals?

When I bought the first red mineral pick-pot I was amazed at how quickly Elmo knew that it was for eating and at how much he enjoyed doing so. When out in the garden Elmo would always eat some dirt, so I knew he had the need for minerals, but how did he know that the pot contained them? Whatever the answer, Elmo started a love affair with the pick pot and I had to ensure that I had a steady supply of them (previous posts about the subject: Pet pigeons can be so silly sometimes… and Pigeon video introduction)

After a house move I had to think of where to put the pick-pot so Elmo could enjoy it. I had concerns about putting it in the kitchen – which is where it was in our previous home – because the spillage was great (Elmo is not a neat eater!) which left the floor stained pink. So this time I placed the pot in Elmo’s little corner near his food and water since the area is covered with a cloth that I can wash.

What did Elmo do? He ignored the pot completely. Instead, he’d walk into the kitchen and look about for the pot there, even though it is a completely different kitchen with a different layout. Elmo seemed to have it in his head that the pick-pot belonged in the kitchen. I kept showing Elmo where the pot was near his food but he would simply ignore it and walk into the kitchen. I watched him do this for a while before I gave in and put the pot in a corner in the kitchen. Elmo immediately went up to it and ate some minerals. Pigeon 1, human 0.

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Elmo is reunited with his beloved mineral pick-pot.

I left the pick-pot in the kitchen for a week then moved it back into Elmo’s area in the living room. I didn’t want the minerals to stain the floor and I also wanted Elmo to have access to them all the time (he’s not allowed in the kitchen when we’re out at work). Thankfully, Elmo realised that the pick-pot was now in his area and continued to use it there, so I am now happy with the knowledge that he isn’t going without at any point. :)

In other news, Elmo briefly perches on our door. He didn’t look impressed with being so high up – since Elmo cannot fly he’s always at a floor level – so we quickly took him down. :)

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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. :)