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Remember when I wrote about Elmo stealing Georgie’s igloo nest? (see: Elmo takes revenge).

Well, Georgie reclaimed her nest and Elmo was left feeling bereft. He kept walking up to the place where the igloo nest used to be and he’d stand there looking lost and a bit sad. So I made him a little tent for him to sit under but he wasn’t very impressed with my efforts.


Elmo in his 'tent'

So you can guess what happened next. … We got Elmo his very own igloo nest and he LOVES it!!


Elmo in his new nest

When I first placed it down Elmo spread his tail feathers out and started cooing and dancing to the nest, as if he was courting it!! I could tell he was very impressed. :)

So now both pigeons have two nests to choose from each (the guinea pig bed as well as the cat igloo bed) and there shouldn’t be any disputes over property.

Many of us will have seen the delightful performance of a male pigeon courting a female. It’s one of those beautiful things that happens all around us and we often hear the cooing of a male pigeon in his courtship if we cannot see the display.

Many people find the performance comical to watch. Usually the female is busy eating or minding her own business when a male comes over to her and starts fanning his tail and dancing around her. It can seem very pushy and desperate – especially when the female ignores him.

Pigeons are monogamous and pair for life, and when one of the partners dies or goes missing, the other will eventually search for a new mate. Pigeons are dedicated parents and therefore have a strong bond with one another. Amongst paired pigeons, the courtship display is performed to reaffirm and reinforce the bond between them.

The following shows the repertoire of their courtship:

Pigeon courtship behaviours

BOWING: a male puffs out his neck feathers, lowers his head, and turns around in circles.

TAIL-DRAGGING: a male spreads his tail and drags it while running after a female.

DRIVING: a male pigeon runs closely behind a female to move her away from other males.

BILLING: a female puts her beak inside the male's beak.

MATING: a male stands on top of a female and flaps his wings to keep his balance.

CLAPPING: after mating, a male pigeon may make a display flight. In this display, he "claps" his wings twice.

All the above illustrations are by Julie Zickefoose and can be found at: Bird Watchers’ Notebook: Pigeon Courtship and Pigeon Courtship.

One behaviour not illustrated is when billing both the male and female will briefly preen some feathers on their back or wing before returning to more billing. I don’t know why they do this, it’s just part of their courtship ritual. In already paired pigeons, a lot of mutual head preening will also occur before billing and mating.

Today there was a cooing contest between Elmo and Georgie – both calling to me! I had a half day at work today so I returned home early to do some much needed housework, all due to the fact that Elmo and Georgie are routinely pulling out their feathers in another one of their contests: Who can shed the most feathers in one sitting?! The slightly bald, pin cushion look must be in fashion this season. (Don’t be alarmed – they aren’t feather picking in the sense of captive parrots, rather just removing loose feathers during their moult.)

Anyway, back to the housework and a freshly clean home – a task not liked but a sight and smell much loved. So there I was with a duster in one hand, vacuum cleaner in the other (don’t you just wish you could extract an extra pair of arms when needed?), the washing machine on with its second load, the tumble dryer on with its first – and above the noise of all this I could hear both Elmo and Georgie cooing loudly in their spots on the sofa, stubbornly ignoring the fact that I was preoccupied and not available to cuddle them.

Earlier, Elmo and Georgie were ecstatic to have me home early – both singing and dancing in their pleasure (Georgie twirling on the spot, Elmo prancing about). I gave them both individual attention – lots of kisses and cuddles – but had to break away to start the housework. They obviously didn’t approve of this and made it clear by their loud and insistent cooing.

How could I ignore them? How could I be so cruel as to not spend another hour cuddled up to them? … But being the non-domestic Goddess that I am, I knew that if I stopped for a moment in between the housework I’d never start up again. So, I put on my blinders and ploughed through the work until the house was spick and span, after which I treated myself to a drink and snacks whilst watching day-time TV with Georgie on my shoulder snuggled into my hair and Elmo by my side – asleep in his nest – all cooing subsided and fulfilled. Bliss.

I heard Elmo cooing and dancing in the kitchen so I went to investigate with my camera and Elmo promptly directed his energy to me:

I had a good day at work today with the wild, rescued and resident pigeons. Although it was a bit cold at times, today was sunny and clear and one of those days where you know you’ll get things done. One of the jobs I’ve been meaning to get done was to redo Pidge’s aviary, the aviary that houses tame and disabled pigeons (see Dora’s friends).

After the prolonged snow we had in December and again in January the roof of Pidge’s aviary caved in a bit and we had to relocate the pigeons into a smaller aviary. Unfortunately the original aviary had to be dismantled because it was old and worn down. We are planning on building a bigger aviary for the tame and disabled pigeons, however, we’ve had some setbacks so the pigeons are having to stay in the smaller one for a while still. They don’t seem to mind, they are so preoccupied in courting and nesting, but the hutches and perches needed redoing. And today was the day I was going to get it done!

So, first I had to locate another hutch and then needed to make some modifications to the existing ones, and then the aviary and hutches needed a total clean, and then I had to put in some logs and perches in the right places (to also allow the flightless pigeons to get up off the ground). And then fresh bedding material and fresh food and water was needed. Phew, hard work all this. … Ok, I’m making it sound as if I did all the work. In reality all the hard grafting was done by a strong volunteer, but I did all the brain work and organisation!!

And here’s the result:




I think it looks great. I had to make do with what was lying about my workplace and think a bit what would be best for the pigeons – by dividing the hutches up I’ve made more nesting places so all the pigeon pairs have a spot, and it will reduce any fighting. And now that the legs of the hutches have been removed Dora won’t be able to hide away to lay eggs – I can keep a better eye on what’s going on in the aviary and find eggs easily. When the new aviary is built I’ll get proper pigeon lofts built for them so it’ll look neater and be more appropriate for the pigeons.

Here’s a video of them in the new surroundings. At 1:15 you’ll see Stanley (white pigeon with grey patches on back) run into frame to woo Dora who flew down with Pidge hot on her heels. Stanley is very happy with the new hutches and logs because now he can get higher and follow Dora about more than he used to, although he still wants to get to the top perches but can’t because of his broken wing.

The other day a man brought in a friendly feral pigeon that had been hanging about a care home. The residents there were looking after the pigeon in their rooms, however, the warden had to remove it because of health and safety reasons (yeah, like the pigeon is going to kill all the people in the care home! Beware of the pigeons!).


The warden was very nice and obviously liked the pigeon. I think he was sad to have to remove it, but he was happy to hand it over to us for rehoming (we’ll later mix it with other ferals and have them released as a flock at a later date). There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s only very friendly, and funnily enough it looks exactly like one that comes to our garden. Today I put my hand in the cage and it started dancing and cooing at me and then running up to my fingers and pecking at them. Sweet!

And finally, I captured these ferals having a lazy moment at my work after a bath in the garden:



Last year Richard and I went on holiday to Cornwall (with Elmo, read more: “Oh we do like to be beside the seaside”) and we visited a wildlife park called Porfell Wildlife Park & Sanctuary in Trecangate. While we were walking about looking at the different animals they had there (a variety of wildlife, farm and domestic animals) we were stopped by a very familiar sound – a pigeon cooing.

We were at an enclosure that had different types of birds in it (mainly ground dwelling birds such as pheasants) and we searched for the pigeon that we could hear calling us but couldn’t see. Then suddenly a beautiful white and grey fancy pigeon hopped down from its hiding place and started cooing and dancing for us. We caught it on video (we had to take out the sound because we sounded like idiots as we fawned over the pigeon!).

What a beauty! And such a lovely character – very human-oriented. This year when we go to Cornwall we’ll go see if the pigeon is still there. I hope so!


Richard has been away on holiday for 4 days, I was away for a day and a half. During the time we were both away my mum-in-law and a woman pet sitter were drafted in to check on our pigeons.

I returned home this morning to find Elmo almost tripping over himself in excitement and happiness in seeing me. Georgie had laid an egg and was a bit more subdued as she was still egg-heavy with the second egg.

Elmo did his mad pigeon dance and would not leave me alone as I wandered about the flat sorting out things. If this is how he greets me, his least favourite human, then how is he going to react when Richard, his favourite person, gets home tonight?!

As mentioned in her bio Georgie pigeon was thought to be a boy. Before I took her into my care I knew next to nothing about pigeons (so I couldn’t tell that she wasn’t a boy). Sure, I had admired pigeons when I was young as they bobbed and cooed in the street of my home town. I thought them pretty and wondered why they walked like they do. I particularly enjoyed seeing the males trying to get the females attention (all that tail fanning, bobbing and cooing is fascinating). I have always loved animals and had kept many pets but I never had a special interest in pigeons until I began working at a wildlife rescue centre.

You see, pigeons are quite common (really? Could have fooled me. :) ) and many kind and caring people bring injured or orphaned ones to the rescue centre so I was (and still am) pretty surrounded by pigeons (hedgehogs being the next most common animal brought in). I saw my first baby pigeon there and didn’t have a clue what it was. But I quickly fell in love with them as my supervisor showed me how to feed them – the poor darlings squeaking away with such enthusiasm and earnest – “Please feed me, mummy!” and quickly, “Please cuddle me!” as they grew and wanted some love from their adopted carers.

Many people say that squeakers and squabs are ugly but I beg to differ. Maybe it is a case of “Having a face only a mother could love”? Do I care what other people think about them? … (Actually I do. I can get quite upset when people see the baby pigeons at the rescue centre and say “How ugly they are!” I can remember only two people saying how beautiful they looked and I almost hugged them).

Anyway, back to Georgie. So here was this almost 1 year old young male pigeon who Richard and I loved to bits. Then one day, shortly after her 1st birthday, Georgie laid an egg. And she hasn’t looked back since!! :)

Georgie and her first egg

The unexpected egg

We were shocked to bits, our whole view of George changed immediately. She was no longer this cool male pigeon, rather a moody female one. And by lord, can she get moody when she’s incubating her eggs! They aren’t fertile since Elmo boy doesn’t pay her any attention, so we let her incubate them till she’s bored of it. We have a couple of fake eggs to replace her ones just in case we accidently break the real ones (Georgie likes to nest on the sofa despite the dangers of us sitting on them).

So we have to deal with a very moody pigeon on her nest while we are trying to watch TV or relax on the sofa. Richard cannot sit next to her otherwise she’ll attack him. Only I can safely sit next to her, but sometimes, when she’s really into her protective mother role, I have to back off because she’s ‘protecting’ her eggs.

We cannot get Georgie to stop laying eggs. Her body and hormones and mind tell her to bond with me and have babies. That’s just the way it is. Pigeons like to breed. And they’ll do it all year round. That’s why there’s so many of them. Sure, I could stop petting her or letting her cuddle up to me, I could put her somewhere where she hasn’t the opportunity to bond with someone, but that would simply be cruel. Georgie needs affection. She’s semi-blind and craves contact.

So we’re stuck with a loving pigeon (who we still love dearly) who will lay a pair of eggs nearly every month. I keep a diary of when she lays them so I can monitor her health. Georgie was eggbound once and it was a scary ordeal. I now have calcium drops and special UV bird lamp to counteract the strain of her egg production.

At the moment we’re expecting Georgie to lay an egg. The last egg she laid was on the 18th Nov 09, so it’s been over two months, which is pretty good. It’s never good for a bird to lay eggs continuously. For those of you who have seen a pigeon lay an egg it’s quite fascinating. But if you’ve ever thought a pigeon was a boy and he laid an egg?? Well, that’s a different feeling!

Elmo can see me through the window. I haven’t noticed him yet as I check our bird feeder in the garden but when I glance over to our bedroom window I can see him already in full swing into his pigeon dance. He’s prancing about the bed, bobbing his head and cooing like mad (although I cannot hear a thing through our wonderfully double-glazed windows). He hasn’t realised yet that I’m wearing my warm woollen hat since there’s sleet raining down and the air is cold. In a minute though he’ll see it and stop dancing and start shaking like a leaf, as if I’ve just turned into a big dragon coming to eat him.

Elmo doesn’t like hats. No idea why, but he’s scared senseless of them, even if Richard is wearing one. And Elmo LOVES Richard. Why should a simple hat transform the love of his life? But it does and Elmo will run a mile if anyone is wearing a hat (I could understand it if the hats stick up and are funny shaped but he’s scared of simple beanie type hats too. Weird).

Anyway, I digress. So, I take off my hat and bob my head up and down, shaking my shoulders at Elmo. This gets him even more excited and he’s jumping on the bedside table and back onto the bed, fanning his tail out and cooing. I quickly top up the empty bird feeders with seed, then go open the door to our flat. I can now hear Elmo cooing. He’s probably on the bedside table now waiting for the bedroom door to open. I can also hear Georgie flapping about in her cage. She’s heard me coming in and is eager to come out.

After dumping my coat, shoes, bag, etc., I open the bedroom door and the cooing stops. I peer into the room and I see Elmo stretching his neck forward to see who it is from the bedside table. So sweet! He immediately begins his cooing and his excited dance, showing me how happy he is to have me there. This is the one time that Elmo will like me, when I come home from work. And it is hard not to love him even more when he’s strutting his stuff and telling you he’s so happy to see you.

Georgie is no different. I take her out of her cage and put her on the sofa and she starts twirling around, cooing madly. She’ll follow me around now and demand to sit on my lap, but I must prepare dinner and check my emails and write this blog. I can hear both Elmo and Georgie calling me now, wanting attention and cuddles. Richard isn’t home from work yet but they’ll both start their mad dance again when he gets here. Who could ask for more after a long hard day at work?