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Pigeon behaviour fascinates me. Elmo will peak round the door when I’m in the bathroom brushing my teeth. Sometimes he’ll just stand there and stare. If I look at him he’ll turn around, fan his tail feathers, drop his wings, and drag his feathers across the floor – prancing away fully expecting me to follow him. The swoosh of his feathers against the carpet is such a lovely sound. Sometimes I hear this sound in another room and wonder who and what he’s dancing to (usually some discarded socks or a bottle of water).

Other times Elmo will barge in – announcing his presence with loud “Here I am! Look at me! Aren’t I gorgeous?!” coos. He’ll dance and sing to my feet, sometimes trying to mount my heel (he loves my heels but hates my toes. Weird foot fetish!). If I ignore him, Elmo will stop, look up at me and wait until I look down at him. If I don’t, he might give me a slight peck on foot.

If I don’t immediately follow Elmo when he dances away, he’ll wedge himself behind a door or under a desk and wait there for me to find him. He’ll help me find him by his insistent cooing. Not the best hide-and-seek player. :)

It is hard to ignore a pigeon. Especially when they’re as adorable and loving as Elmo!

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I love the way Elmo sleeps. He sleeps so deeply and looks so comfortable that I try not to wake him up. … Oh, ok, I sometimes wake him up because I have to give him a kiss! I cannot help it! He looks so cute!!

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Elmo asleep on the floor

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Elmo fast asleep on the floor

Elmo has also mastered the “standing on one leg while falling asleep” stance. Please see: Sleeping beauty. :)

And when Elmo is dreaming and he nods his head and twitches in his sleep, it’s so adorable. Occasionally he’ll wake himself up with a “woof”. I don’t know how many of you have heard a pigeon “woof” before but it’s such a wonderful little sound. It just comes out suddenly and sounds so foreign that often I look at Elmo and wonder what he’s trying to say. I believe the “woof” sound is made when the pigeon sees something they are worried about and it may be a kind of alarm sound. Our previous pigeon, Dora, used to woof too (I mentioned it in Angry Dora, Sweet Dora).

I tried to take a photo of Elmo alseep on the floor from the other end of the coffee table but Elmo woke up and danced towards me in glee. :D

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Elmo is awake!

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"I'm so happy to see you!"


I find it almost unbearable to listen to a single male pigeon coo desperately for a mate. It tugs at my heart. I must find the pigeon a mate!

In the resident pigeon aviary at work there are two single males and one single female pigeon. The female, Birdie, is not interested in pigeons at all, only humans, so she pretty much ignores the single males who were desperate to mate with her when she first arrived.

Button, one of the single boys, has been quite patient in his wait for a mate, but Davey boy, the other single boy, has been cooing and dancing every day in his attempt to attract a mate – or rather, to steal a mate from the other males.

So when two racing pigeons arrived at work in need of a home my hopes were raised that they were female. One laid an egg shortly after arriving, so she is obviously female. But we’re still not sure about the other one. Only one way to find out: Mix them with the others and see what happens!! :)

But let me tell you first about the confirmed female racing pigeon, whom I’ve named Davina.

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Davina

She was brought to my work because of the “mess” she and her feral pigeon mate was making on a couple’s property. She hadn’t flown home after a race and had taken up residency in Kent with her new mate. The couple caught her and took her to Devon where they released her, hoping she would fly back to her original home. … She made it back to Kent before them. … For fear that something bad may happen to Davina if we released her, we made the decision to try her in Dora’s and Pidge’s aviary. Davina is a lovely blue bar and immediately paired up with Button, much to poor Davey’s annoyance. He tried so hard to woo her but she only had eyes for Button. Button is naturally extremely happy with his beautiful mate.

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Button (left) and his new mate, Davina (right).

The second racing pigeon arrived with a broken wing, which is actually locked down in position and the pigeon cannot lift it at all at the moment. I’ve given the pigeon a unisex name: Jules. :)

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Jules

When Jules was put into Dora’s aviary Davey was ecstatic. Have a look:

I’m praying that Jules is female and that she falls madly in love with Davey. He so deserves it!

:D

Here’s a list of all the current resident pigeons (fancy or disabled) at my work:

  1. DORAfemale - fancy pigeon (paired with Pidge)
  2. PIDGEmale - feral pigeon (paired with Dora)
  3. GERTIEfemale - racing pigeon (paired with Marmaduke)
  4. MARMADUKEmale - Archangel breed (paired with Gertie)
  5. FLEURfemale - fancy pigeon (paired with Marmalade)
  6. MARMALADEmale - Archangel breed (paired with Fleur)
  7. MADDIEfemale - feral pigeon (paired with Lord Nelson)
  8. LORD NELSONmale - West of England Tumbler breed (paired with Maddie)
  9. PEACHESfemale - fancy pigeon (paired with Stanley)
  10. STANLEYmale - feral pigeon (paired with Peaches)
  11. SPECKLESfemale - feral pigeon (paired with Horatio)
  12. HORATIOmale - Highflyer/Tippler breed (paired with Speckles)
  13. LUMIfemale - feral pigeon (paired with Turk)
  14. TURKmale - Turkish Takla breed (paired with Lumi)
  15. MOUSIEfemale - racing pigeon (paired with Rudderford)
  16. RUDDERFORDmale - feral pigeon (paired with Mousie)
  17. TUXfemale - feral pigeon (paired with Burko)
  18. BURKOmale – feral pigeon (paried with Tux)
  19. DAVINAfemale – racing pigeon (paired with Button)
  20. BUTTONmale - feral pigeon (paired with Davina)
  21. JULES – racing pigeon (single)
  22. DAVEYmale - feral pigeon (single)
  23. BIRDIEfemale - feral pigeon (single)

Late last year two fancy pigeons were brought to my work because they had been found in the wild unable to cope with being out of captivity (they had either escaped or been stupidly released). They came in separately, but once they were put in an aviary together they promptly fell in love. :)

One is a male West of England Tumbler and the other a female of unknown breed (possibly a mix. Any ideas?).

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West of England Tumbler pigeon on the right

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Unknown fancy breed on the left

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They love each other!

We found them a forever home since the resident aviary at work is full, and the day I put them in their carrier to wait for their transporter was a loud one. As soon as the male Tumbler started cooing to his mate all the other pigeons in the Intensive Care Unit started cooing too. He also set off the baby pigeons we had in there. Just listen:

What darlings!! :)


I’ve been a bit preoccupied and haven’t been writing as much about my two disabled, tame pigeons, Georgie and Elmo - which I feel bad about – but when you discover a new interest, it can take up all your time and energy in the first few weeks of fresh discovery and excitement.

So what has been luring me away from blogging? Well, knitting actually. I won’t go into it in detail (you can read a bit about it here if you want: Elmo, wool and a pair of knitting needles and My pigeon flock – knitted of course!) but what I will say is that Georgie does not approve of my new hobby, whilst Elmo does.

Georgie truly believes that my lap is only there for her to sit on and that my hands are only in existence to pet and cuddle her. When I’m knitting my hands are in constant movement, thus disturbing her nap on my lap, and the needles may accidentally poke her, so as you can imagine, Georgie does not like me knitting in the evening when she is simply trying to have a snooze!! I get quite a few pecks and angry coos for my knitting endeavors.

Elmo, on the other hand, thinks the yarn and completed knitted toys are there for him to court. He’ll jump over, give his best “How you doing?” coo, and then attempt to mount the yarn ball. It can be quite distracting when I’m trying to knit.

I guess cats don’t have a monopoly on yarn balls. :)

Ps. As I’m writing this Elmo has hopped onto the coffee table to coo and prance around a yarn ball. He’s getting his feet tangled in the wool, silly boy. Gotta go rescue him!


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


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Button

Yesterday I introduced you to Button, a disabled feral pigeon who is desperate for a mate. I thought he would be a good match for my disabled pigeon, Georgie (read: Pigeon matchmaking – part 1).

Last weekend I brought Button home and we sectioned off a part of the living room (with sections of a wire rabbit run) for him to get used to us and our pigeons. Button is a feral pigeon that was found as an adult unable to fly (from a dislocated/broken wing) and was cared for by his rescuers for 8 months. So although he is tolerant of people he doesn’t like to be approached or touched.

I thought that in order for a pigeon to fall in love with Georgie then they would have to be a friendly or tame pigeon that isn’t imprinted to humans. That way the pigeon wouldn’t be afraid of us but would also not be too interested in us to ignore Georgie.

I could hardly contain my excitment in the pigeon matchmaking. I watched Button’s every movement and curious glances. I let him walk about in his sectioned-off area and had to stop myself from putting Georgie in with him immediately. I knew that Button would be afraid and unsure about his new surroundings – espcially because of Elmo’s advances! Elmo came charging over, cooing and dancing on his side of the fence, basically letting Button know that Elmo is the king of the house and that Button better watch out! Elmo does not welcome pigeon intruders.

After about an hour of Button exploring and getting used to his surroundings I placed Georgie on the floor by the fence and watched with bated breath. Sadly, the “love at first sight” reaction I was hoping for didn’t happen.

Button was not attracted to Georgie. He didn’t respond to her presence for a long time. Only after I started to pet Georgie and she got excited did Button react a bit but not in the excited “Wow, you’re gorgeous and I want to marry you” type of behaviour I was hoping for. So you can imagine my utter disappointment.

However, I knew that I was being too hasty. Afterall, Button had only been with us for a few hours! So the next day I continued to watch what Button did and how he responded to seeing Georgie walking about the flat. I knew that soon he’d find his voice and start calling to her. And I was right. On the third day (Sunday) Button began to coo a lot. He was establishing his territory and calling for a mate.

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Georgie (foreground) and Button in the background.

Georgie, despite her sight problems, knew that there was another pigeon in the house the instant I had placed Button’s cage down. She was very curious and kept walking up to it and when we put the fence up she kept trying to get through it. She knew that there was a pigeon there and she wanted to say hello. So when Button started calling, Georgie came running!

She danced and pranced to his cooing and I was as excited as she was. Here’s the moment, it is now happening: Georgie will have a pigeon mate!

I placed Georgie on the other side of the fence and thought I would see a lovely pairing. I was sadly wrong.

Button attacked Georgie and so I quickly took her away. When Button started calling to her again I placed her back with him, however, all attempts ended up the same way. Button would coo and call to her and when Georgie got too close he’d attack her. I couldn’t let it happen anymore so I seperated them for good.

Button wants a mate but he doesn’t want Georgie. :(

Here’s their first meeting through the fence. As you can see, Georgie is responding to Button’s cooing but he’s not really giving her the proper “come hither” coo nor is he dragging his tail feathers when he prances about. All this shows me that he’s not really into Georgie, rather, he’s just being territorial.

In the end, Georgie also didn’t want anything to do with Button and she ignored him. I was very sad about it because I knew how much Georgie wanted to befriend Button. However, I wasn’t going to let him attack her every time she tried to come close, so I took Button to work on Monday and placed him in Dora and Pidge’s aviary to find a mate in there. There are a few un-mated female pigeons that I’m sure he’ll court and eventually pair up with. So although it didn’t work out for Georgie and Button, I know that Button will be happy and Georgie is still very happy with me as her mate.

Here’s the naughty boy in his new home:

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Button in the aviary

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Button with Davey and Teresa (the white pigeons behind Button)

So my search for a pigeon mate for Georgie continues. I know that one day I’ll find her a suitable mate, it will just take time. I’m not going to force anything though. I don’t want to stress Georgie out by parading numerous male pigeons in front of her. I know that one day a special male pigeon will come by who will be perfect for her.

My criteria now is: a flight-abled pigeon (because he’ll have to be able to get away from angry Elmo) that is friendly to humans but not imprinted. Should I place a lonely hearts ad for Georgie? :)


For quite a while now I’ve had the feeling that Georgie would like to have a pigeon mate.

As many of you know Georgie has distorted and limited vision because of the scarring on her eyes which is why she was hand-raised and is therefore very tame. Georgie is bonded to myself, however, she does react to Elmo’s cooing and often approaches him when he’s calling out lovingly to Richard (never to Georgie! Elmo cannot stand Georgie and is completely imprinted to humans and loves my husband, Richard).

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Georgie on my lap

Georgie responds to my voice and will dance and coo when I call her name or sing to her. She’ll also often present herself for mating when I talk to her. In this way, I know that Georgie thinks I’m her mate and hears what she wants when I talk to her (whatever I’m saying to her is lost in translation). When I see Georgie responding to Elmo’s pigeon talk, I know that she understands him and mistakingly thinks that Elmo is talking to her when he’s in fact cooing to Richard.

So I’ve been wanting to find Georgie a pigeon mate to give her the full pigeon interaction that I cannot give her (e.g. preening, proper pigeon cooing). However, previous experience has taught me that other pigeons don’t know quite how to react to seeing her eyes and her slightly non-pigeon behaviour (Georgie’s movements and reactions to other pigeons is different because of her limited vision). Both Dora and Minnie tried to peck Georgie’s eyes at first.

At one point I was worried that male pigeons wouldn’t be attracted to Georgie because of her eyes. I needed to know how other male pigeons besides Elmo (who doesn’t think he’s a pigeon at all anyway) would react to Georgie, so we took her once to Dora’s aviary to see what would happen. Most of the male pigeons came down to dance and coo to her. Whether it was to say they liked her or to show her who’s boss, I don’t really know. One male was quite insistent and pushy (he kept bumping his chest against her), and in the end Georgie told him to back off with a swift peck!

So what am I getting at here? Well, a few weeks ago a feral pigeon came to my work who I thought might just fit the bill for Georgie. He is disabled (dislocated/broken wing), tolerant of people (he had been living with the couple who found him for about 8 months), and is desperate for a mate. When I heard that this pigeon, called Button by his carers, needed a mate and a new home I thought he would be a perfect match!!

I brought Button home last weekend and couldn’t wait to introduce him to Georgie, however, I knew that I had to take things slowly and not force the situation. Richard and I put up a small room divider to keep Elmo from attacking Button (which is Elmo’s first reaction to any pigeon intruder) and we let Button get used to his surroundings.

Here’s the handsome boy stepping out of the travel cage to explore:

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Button takes his first steps

And here’s Button on top of his travel cage cooing his head off:

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Button cooing

A lot happened that weekend, however, it’s getting late now so I will write about it another day.


Now, many of you have seen the silly things Elmo has taken to his nest. There was a bit of wire, a minicard, feathers (which he’s usually afraid of), and he’s also tucked rings and coins under him if Richard hands them to him (I’ve not been able to capture that on video yet). The other day Richard gave Elmo a thin plastic rod which Elmo thought would be great to take to his nest. It was a bit long and I was afraid Elmo would stumble over it, however, he managed to take it to his nest and place it down before twitching and cooing to Richard with glee. What a sweetheart!

I’ve discovered that Georgie loves Templeton, the soft toy rat. Of course she would love him! What’s not to love? However, a part of me thinks, “Does she love Templeton because Elmo hates him?” Hmmmm. I wonder.

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Georgie and Templeton

Georgie is being very loving:

And here’s Elmo showing his true feelings towards Templeton:


Elmo is now officially friends again with the bedroom window sill (Elmo has free reign in the bedroom when we’re at work). Last year, during the summer, he spent a few hours every day on the window sill watching the live drama show that occurs in our garden (click on the Categories tab above and select “Garden” for posts about the garden). During the winter, however, he stopped standing on the window sill and I had no idea why. But I think I’ve now figured it out! The window sill is cold during the winter!! There are some ventilation strips above the window and there must be a bit of a draft which was too cold for Elmo. Now that summer is well on the way and the air is a warmer, Elmo has decided that it’s no longer too cold by the window. I’m almost 100% about this. (I have so many theories.)

I’ve caught Elmo out a few times – he’s been flirting with the woodies and feral pigeons! Which is so funny because he cannot stand Georgie so why flirt with other pigeons? Sometimes when I return home I can hear him cooing and when I open the door he’s dancing and cooing on the window sill to visiting pigeons. I don’t know if they notice him but it must be a funny sight for them. They probably think we’re horrible people because we’re keeping a pigeon indoors. If only they knew the life of luxury that Elmo and Georgie have! They’d all be queuing to get inside!! LOL.

I had a half day at work today so I’ve been spending a bit of quality time with Georgie and Elmo. They’re ecstatic to have me home early: they were dancing and prancing about with excitement for the first hour or so. :)

Now Georgie is on my lap and she’s fidgeting about. I think she wants to nest and is finding my lap unsuitable, which is bizarre because usually my lap is the best spot! Earlier I found her in different places that she was exploring for their suitability as a nest site.

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"Is this a good spot?" Georgie in the bedroom.

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"Maybe here?" Georgie on my bag in the corridor.

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"How about here?" Georgie in the coffee table shelf.

Also earlier Elmo jumped up onto the “pigeon-free” sofa, and after a quick photo I removed him from it. Our pigeons have full access to the whole flat except for our smaller sofa which is in my reading corner. We want to have at least one surface (besides the kitchen counter tops) that doesn’t get bombed with pigeon poop. :)

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Elmo on the forbidden sofa!

Elmo wasn’t impressed though. He quickly ran away in a strop. But as soon as I pointed the camera at him he came running back with his tail fanned out and he made some impressive flirting moves to the camera.

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"Here I come!"

I also managed to take a video of Georgie and Elmo mucking about. In this video Elmo is playfully preening a plastic bag. I’m lying on my stomach taking the video and Georgie climbs onto my back and takes offense to the camera. You’ll hear her coo angrily and wing slap as I turn the camera towards her!

Elmo is moulting around his face and he’s got lots of flecks of white there which are in fact new feather growth still in their follicles. He looks quite different but soon he’ll be back to his normal grey self (he does have a few white feathers on his head).

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New feather growth on Elmo's head.