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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.


Humans don’t have the monopoly on motion sickness. Many species can become ill from travelling in a car, something that I never really thought about before – so when my semi-blind pet pigeon, Georgie, started to throw up during car journeys, I was a bit surprised. My poor girl – it must be worst for her since her vision is blurred already from her scarred eyes. (Read up on the causes of motion sickness: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Motion-sickness/Pages/Causes.aspx).

Elmo, on the other hand, is a trouper in the car. Nothing in the car fazed him. When we drove down to Cornwall (a 6 hour journey for us) Elmo was quite content in his travel cage – eating, sleeping and cooing happily. No motion sickness for him. (We didn’t take Georgie with us because we already knew she didn’t like travelling. She had to stay with a pet sitter.)

There doesn’t seem to be much online about motion sickness in birds – only the usual instructions on slowly introducing longer car journeys to help the bird get used to the motion (which I don’t think would work with Georgie because she vomits after 10 minutes of being in a moving car) – and some people suggest giving ginger or camomile tea to sooth the gut. I haven’t tried those on Georgie yet since we haven’t had the need to take her anywhere lately, but one day I’d like to take her on holiday with us so we need to have a plan in order.

I would really appreciate hearing your experiences with motion sickness in birds – particularly pigeons – and if you know more about the science behind it all, please let me know! :)

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Elmo in his travel cage

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Georgie hops into my case when I'm packing


The internet can be an amazing thing. One day you make contact with like-minded people and before you know it you’re packing the car with pigeons and bags to visit them! :)

Yes, Elmo and Georgie decided they weren’t going to miss out on visiting a Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven in Norfolk on the Haven’s Open Day (see also their facebook page: www.facebook.com/wingandaprayerhaven).

Getting to Norfolk wasn’t going to be a problem (only about a 3 hour drive) but would we find a pigeon-friendly hotel or bed & breakfast? Some hotels allow pets but after enquiring what species they allow we find out that “pets” really only means cat or dog, pigeons not allowed. :(

However, with the help of our new friend in Norfolk we make contact with a bed & breakfast that sounded perfect. Richard makes the call, asks about availability (yes, they have a room available), and then crunch time; the question we know may cost us the deal (conversation goes a bit like this):

Richard: “We have two pets. Would that be a problem?”

B&B lady: “What sort of pets?”

Richard: “Um, well, pigeons.”

B&B lady: “Pigeons?!” (she said with surprise in her voice) “We have all kinds of animals; hens, sheep,  goats. They’ll love it here!”

Richard: “Ok, great!” :)

The lady at Hengrave Farm was so nice, we couldn’t believe our luck in finding a pigeon-friendly bed & breakfast. So with a room booked, travel plans made, we couldn’t wait to be on our way.

My only concern was how Georgie would feel on such a long journey, since she gets motion sickness. Yep, you heard me right: motion sickness! You wouldn’t think birds could but they can, just like any other animal out there. (Does this mean that some birds are afraid of heights?) Since we want to take our pigeons with us on holidays to Cornwall and possibly a drive through Europe, we really need to sort out Georgie’s motion sickness. So the trip to Norfolk became a test to see how Georgie would handle a long drive.

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All pigeons ready in the car! (Georgie is hidden on the left)

Elmo doesn’t get motion sickness and was fine in his carry-cage as long as he could see us. We strapped the cages to the backseat and off we went (it always amazes me how some people let their dogs stand unrestricted in the car, sticking their heads out the window. Imagine what would happen if the car crashed into something). Sure enough, we soon heard Georgie vomiting. Poor girl. She seemed to have emptied her crop and then stood still for the journey. A few times Georgie had a little preen, which might indicate that she was feeling ok.

When we arrived at the Haven we took Elmo and Georgie with us in their carry-cages. A few people thought we were bringing them in to stay, so at one point I thought it would have been a good idea to put a sticker on the cages stating them as our beloved companions (next time I’ll have to remember to do this).

Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven is a wonderful place, full of welcoming, nice people and beautiful birds (both free-ranging and ones in the large aviaries). Being the pigeon fanatics that we are, we honed in on the pigeons at the Haven, but they also have different owl species, chickens, ducks, rheas, corvids and songbirds.

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Free-flying pigeons sitting quite happily on an owl aviary

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Disabled pigeon aviary

The people at the Haven were happy to meet us, especially Elmo and Georgie, however, I think our pigeons were a bit reserved because of all the new faces (there were lots of people visiting on the Open Day). So rather than skip and hop about in his usual charming self, Elmo stood still and simply looked about. Later on he emerged a bit and did a little dance but I think he held back most of the time. Georgie was quite quiet too, which isn’t unusual, but I think she was still recovering from her car sickness.

It was a good day and we were very impressed with the premises and the wonderful team at the Haven. They help all sorts of injured and orphaned birds, and need all the support you can give in continuing their essential work (they are funded entirely by donations).

We later drove to Hengrave Farm and met the lovely lady in charge, who showed such sincere enthusiasm towards Elmo and Georgie that we couldn’t help feel we had found the perfect place to stay. The buildings, rooms and surroundings were so beautiful too!

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Elmo looks about the room

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Elmo (left) and Georgie (right)

Elmo and Georgie wasted no time in exploring the room. The clickety-clack of their feet as they walked around (or ran about as in Elmo’s case) was a nice sound. I do prefer wood flooring to carpeting.

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Road to Hengrave Farm

I didn’t waste any time in going to see the lovely sheep, goats and hens at the B&B, although the ram wasn’t very welcoming so I kept my distance. :)

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Stand-off with Mr. Ram

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Swallows

We had a lovely dinner at a nearby pub (The Hainford Chequers, very large food portions!) with the founders and volunteers of the Haven, and the next day a drive to the coast and a quick lunch was in order (Elmo and Georgie stayed at the B&B). Then, sadly, it was time to make our way back home. Georgie seemed less bothered by the journey down and this could be due to the fact that she hadn’t eaten a lot that day (so less food to make her feel nauseous?) or maybe she didn’t feel as ill this time. I’ll be looking into motion sickness in birds to see if there is anything to give to help alleviate her nausea. If nothing helps then Georgie will have to stay behind when we go on holiday next time, however, I don’t like this idea since she does miss me a lot and doesn’t eat very well when I’m away (she loses quite a bit of weight).

All in all we had a wonderful mini-break and we are looking forward to visiting again next year when the Haven have another Open Day.

A big thank you to everyone who welcomed us and made our stay so enjoyable!!

(I don’t like naming people without their permission, but you know who you are! :) )

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The sea, the sea

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Pebble beach

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Mr. Pigeon tucked in for the night

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Elmo trying to feed Richard. Look at his tongue!

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Georgie is a friend of the Haven!

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Elmo shows his support too!


This morning we took Georgie and Elmo to see their new vet (since their previous one retired). It was just a quick ‘meet n greet’ to get a feel of the new exotic animal vet and let him meet our pigeons. Georgie threw up a few times on the 30 min journey – poor girl, but Elmo was fine. He doesn’t get car sick at all.

So there we are at the new vet centre and wondering what the vet will be like when out comes this huge, long-haired bear of a man – clad in what looked like a Hawaiian style shirt – with arms as thick as tree trunks! To say we were surprised is an understatement. Our first impression was that he looks like a beach bum.

However, as the well known idiom goes: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” we quickly realised that our impression was erroneous. The new vet is perceptive, knowledgeable and insightful – as well as being a very nice man. He handled Georgie with care (his hands nearly covered her completely when he held her!) and checked out her eyes. He asked us about her condition – whether she had had any discharge from her eyes (- None at all) and he applied some drops to see if there was any ulcers in her eyes (- None found! Phew!). After I said that her right eye had cleared up over the past 2 years, the vet said it may be worth a try if some eye drops would help clear them even more. This is something we are keen to try since it would be wonderful if Georgie could see better. When I mentioned that another vet had said she had glaucoma, he said that she didn’t have any of the signs or symptoms of glaucoma. This is something we had suspected a long time ago and were happy to hear it confirmed!

The vet seemed impressed with Georgie’s behaviour – she was very calm and stood tall, pecking at the air with content. He said she is in good body condition and was happy with her health in general.

So then it was Elmo’s turn. We were a bit worried how Elmo would act since he’s all broody – and on top of that – he’s moulting!! There were feathers EVERYWHERE this morning in the bedroom. We woke up to see the floor covered in them and were a bit surprised to see Elmo on the bedside table fully feathered – that’s how many feathers were on the floor!! So with Elmo being moody about his eggs and feeling sensitive about his moulting, we weren’t sure if he’d behave himself with the new vet.

Elmo was placed on the table and he took one look at the burly, loud-shirted man and didn’t seem very impressed. He didn’t coo or dance at him at all – just stood still (shaking slightly) as the vet examined him. Good body condition overall – which is good. The vet checked his ears after we said that we think he’s a bit hard of hearing – but initial examination came back clear – which is also good. Elmo behaved himself but did not show off like he would normally do – so the vet didn’t get the full Elmo show. Pity.

All in all, the trip was a success and we are very happy with the new vet. It’s always good to have a good exotic animal/avian vet on hand because they have extra training and more experience with birds, reptiles and amphibians. A regular cat and dog vet might not be able to help with bird enquiries and problems – and I certainly would not feel comfortable with taking Georgie and Elmo to a non avian vet.