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Pidge

1993 – 2014

pidge 1

Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Pidge on the 11th June, 2014, at the age of 21. In the past year Pidge’s health had deteriorated but he remained in good spirits and was cared for with love and devotion by his mate and the staff at Folly Wildlife Rescue. In the last months, as he was unable to walk very well, Pidge spent his days with his original carer, Annette.

Pidge was the first feral pigeon hand-reared and cared for by Annette (my former employer) at Folly Wildlife Rescue. He came to her as an orphaned baby in 1993 and she fell in love with him. Pidge lived as a free-flying pigeon for many years until he had a close-encounter with a sparrowhawk, after which it was decided that he would be safer in a large aviary with non-releasable pigeons.

All the staff and volunteers at the rescue centre fell in love with Pidge. He had charm and character and would entertain us with his behaviour all the time. Pidge would strut and coo to anyone who visited him. He LOVED people! He had such enthusiasm! Without fail, Pidge would fly over to me to greet me when I would enter his aviary to feed and clean. You couldn’t help but laugh and greet him back with joy. I believe he was the first pigeon that I met that opened my eyes to how wonderful pigeons are. It is possible to say that without meeting Pidge I may never have adopted my own pigeons.

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Pidge

Pidge wasn’t only interested in people, he also found love with a resident pigeon, Dora, and was very devoted to her. They were definitely the “celebrity couple” in the aviary, being so pretty and outgoing. Dora stayed by Pidge’s side when he fell ill, defending him from intruding hands (staff members who tried to clean the cage they were in) and giving him lots of cuddles and affection when he was unable to move about easily.

I can say for certain that Pidge will be greatly missed. He was a wonderful pigeon. Rest in peace, dear boy.

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If you would like to donate to Folly Wildlife Rescue in memory of Pidge, please visit their website: www.follywildliferescue.org.uk

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You can read more about Pidge on my previous posts: Pidge and the resident pigeons

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Pidge with his mate, Dora:

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We sadly lost Teresa, a disabled white pigeon, today. She passed away in the afternoon after living in the resident pigeon aviary at my work for over 6 years due to a broken wing. While we don’t know how old she was when she was first brought to the rescue centre, we could, however, see that she was an older girl.

A few months ago we noticed that Teresa found it hard to walk about, especially if the ground wasn’t even, so we housed her in a seperate pen with two young pigeons for company (the males in the resident aviary were harassing her too much and she couldn’t get away from them easily), and she was fine with them and living her life as comfortably as possible until the end. She had received pain relief and other medication to help her with her mobility but we noticed no improvement.

Teresa was a reserved pigeon but loved her side of a nesting hutch and defended it from all intruders. I was very sad when her mate, Hookbill, died suddenly last year and was hoping she would pair up with one of the single male pigeons, but she didn’t seem to like them at all. Teresa never remated.

I hope that the life we provided her was good enough and that she didn’t suffer in her last hour of life. I was sadly not there to see her pass away. I will miss her.

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Beautiful Teresa

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Teresa (top right)

Teresa in her half of the hutch, defending it from Stanley (bottom right), the late Big Bob (top left) and Peaches (bottom left) who tried to cohabit together in the other side of the hutch.


Big Bob

Big Bob

This year we sadly lost another resident pigeon at work. Big Bob was an older, disabled feral pigeon (he had a broken wing and couldn’t fly) and had been living in the resident aviary for many years. One day in February we noticed that he was hunched and shivering. He was brought into the heated unit for observation and care, as well as to receive medication. Sadly, a few days later he died. He will be sadly missed.

We kept an eye out for any signs of illness in the other pigeons in the aviary, and thankfully, none of them showed any signs of illness or have died. We believe that it was simply Big Bob’s time to go. He had a good life with a mate (who sadly died in August last year) and was a real sweet pigeon. He wasn’t tame but he tolerated my presence whenever I went into the aviary to talk to Dora and Pidge.

After such a sad depature we had some pigeons that were waiting to join the gang in the resident pigeon aviary, being unreleasable for one reason or another: One is fancy, others are disabled, and two are racing pigeons that needed a new home after their owner had passed away.

To see all the pigeons in the aviary please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pigeonsaspets/sets/72157623805901094/

Please welcome the following pigeons to live with Dora and her mate, Pidge:

Lumi

Lumi is a white pigeon that had been caught by a cat when she was a baby. She had extensive injuries and her left eye is shrivelled. She became very tame due to her long-term care. Lumi means "snow" in Finnish.

Turk

Turk is a Turkish Takla breed. He does backflips when he flies.

Mousie

Mousie is a racing pigeon that had to be rehomed.

Gertie

Gertie is a racing pigeon that had to be rehomed.

Speckles

Speckles is a feral pigeon. She had a broken leg and broken wing, which have healed, however, she has limited flight.

Davey

Davey is a white feral pigeon. He has a broken wing and cannot fly.


Yesterday I wrote that we were expecting Georgie to lay an egg any minute now, and lo and behold, she did!

The whole day George was restless. She didn’t want to nest in her guinea-pig nest, nor even in the pink and white fleece! For some reason Georgie was rejecting them. I didn’t know what she wanted and nothing I did seemed to please her. Georgie kept moving about without settling.

In the end we found that she’d laid the egg on the floor. She didn’t seem interested in it at all. Poor dear.

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We left the egg in Georgie’s cage today when we left for work and returned to find her incubating it. Hooray! (By the way, Georgie’s eggs are never fertile.) We now await the appearance of the second egg, which should happen tomorrow.

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This is a video of Georgie laying an egg earlier this year:

Georgie has had an 8 month break since the last time she laid eggs, which I think is good because as you can imagine, egg production and laying takes a lot of energy and calcium. It can take its toll if birds lay eggs continuously, a condition called “chronic egg-laying”. I’m happy that George made the decision to not lay eggs for a while, thus giving herself a break. Now, however, an egg has appeared and who knows if she’ll continue to lay eggs every month from now on. I hope she doesn’t.

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.

This article – Chronic Egg Laying from AvianWeb – has some good advice on how to combat chronic egg-laying (mainly aimed at parrot species). Please go to the article to see the full explanation of the points below.

Things you can do to discourage / stop your bird from laying eggs:

  • Do not remove eggs which she has already laid.
  • Remove possible nesting sites and nest-making material.
  • Mimic “Shorter Days”.
  • Limit food access.
  • One vet recommended turning day into night.
  • Discourage breeding behavior in your bird.
  • Rearrange the cage interior and change the cage location.
  • Give your bird optimal nutrition.
  • Provide full spectrum light.
  • If necessary, separate from “mate”.
  • Ask your veterinarian about hormone injections.

The following article has good advice about egg-binding (one of the problems of chronic egg laying):

“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 lab results on the death of the three resident pigeons at my work came back a bit inconclusive. To be honest, you need a degree in microbiology to understand the lab results the vet handed back to us. But this is what they found: possible respiratory problem due to mites going into the lungs, mites found on body of the dead pigeons, and yeast in throat (candida albicans) – which is the white substance we found. Treatment: antibiotic and mite treatment for all the other resident pigeons (which has been done already). Thankfully, there have been no other sudden deaths.

Although the vets didn’t find much for us to work with, we are very happy they didn’t find anything dangerous and untreatable (e.g. viruses). What still worries me, though, is that there were no signs of illness in the three pigeons that died, and all the other pigeons are looking very healthy – so does this mean that the pigeons are ok? Or is the silent killer still at large? :(

We are observing the behaviour of the pigeons daily, as well as giving them health checks and ensuring that their aviary is cleaned properly. I’ve been giving Dora extra cuddles, although she doesn’t always appreciate it – and Pidge, her mate, continuously interupts me by landing on me and trying to peck at Dora. Funny boy! What’s his game?

Here are a few photos I took today of the pigeons:

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Feeding time!

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Pidge and Dora tucking in!

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Dora looking fit and healthy as usual.


We have sadly lost three of our resident pigeons, Missy, Penelope and Hookbill, at my work. They all died suddenly, and without warning, in the last 3 weeks. All the other resident pigeons look, feel and sound healthy. Even the ones that died weren’t showing any signs of illness before they died.

At the moment we are in a state of anxiety, each day worrying if another pigeon will pass away suddenly. We are waiting for the lab results to return so that we know if a virus or other disease is the cause of death. It is hard to see what could have caused three pigeons to die suddenly and without any symptoms (besides a white substance found in the mouth). Especially when all the resident pigeons are looking so healthy. There are no coughs, discharge, laboured breathing, weight loss, listlessness or any other indicator of disease.

Could it be that it is just coincidence that three pigeons have died of old-age in the space of 3 weeks? Most of the resident pigeons at my work are mature pigeons – I recently found out that Pidge is actually 17 years old!! We don’t know the age of the other pigeons but most of them have been there for at least 10 years now. For photos of the resident pigeons (including Dora) at my work please visit: Resident pigeons

Here are the beautiful three pigeons we have lost. Rest in peace sweet pigeons. You will be sadly missed – by your mates and us – and we hope you had a good, happy life.

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Missy

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Penelope

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Hookbill - just before his beak trim. He found eating surprisingly easy even with his hooked beak.


Richard and I are of the opinion that children should grow up with animals in their lives.

We believe that a child’s life is enriched when it is spent with a loved animal. Yes, it is a fact that many animals have a shorter lifespan than humans and will die whilst the child is growing up. Although it will be painful to loose a beloved pet, the joy, love and beauty of sharing your life with an animal is too rewarding to miss out on.

Both my husband and I grew up with animals during our childhood and we have both experienced the joys of playing with and caring for wonderful animals and the heartache they caused us when they died. Sometimes the heartache is too painful to think about but death is something nobody can avoid. One day Elmo and Georgie will leave us, which will break our hearts.

I hope that both Elmo and George will still be with us when we have children. If they aren’t then we’ll have more pigeons and animals in our life for our future children to learn how to respect other living creatures, how to care for them, to learn about life and death, and to experience all the lovely things animals do.

I have begun to search for children books with pigeons as the main subject. Here are some I found (all of which I haven’t read… yet):

My favourite animals to care for (besides pigeons of course) are rats, gerbils, guinea-pigs and dogs. I also want to care for donkeys at some point (I’m a big donkey fan!!). But pigeons are number one! :)

Hopefully our future home will be filled with a variety of animals.

I have to say that one thing I really cannot stand is seeing children chasing pigeons. I didn’t even like to see it when I was a kid myself. I guess it is exciting and fun for some kids to chase a pigeon but all I can think about is the poor pigeon that is trying to find food and doesn’t want to be bothered and chased. I believe in respecting the life of animals. Children can have fun with pigeons in other ways such as feeding pigeons in a park or in a garden. I saw the following link on a pigeon forum and thought it was great that a website aimed at kids have written about not pestering pigeons (as well as other animals). Have a read: Don’t Pester the Pigeons!


Suri

Suri

At some point last night our remaining gerbil Suri passed away. We aren’t sure as to the cause of death, but she was getting old and has been pining away for her sister Petra whom we had to put to sleep last November (due to an inoperable tumor).

We got Suri & Petra from a animal rescue center (Kit Wilson Trust – www.kitwilsontrust.org.uk) on 11th Sept 2007. We’re unsure of how old they were at the time but we were told 1 year old. They had been kept in pretty standard conditions, a small enclosure, and well looked after in terms of food, water, bedding etc.

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Gerbiville

We managed to find a 4ft fish tank for them to run around in, with numerous tubes running out above the tank where their house and feeding ‘pod’ was kept. They loved the new space they had been given. They ignored the wheel provided and decided to set up house in the wheel pod with their ‘summer cottage’, a wooden house, in the tank below. We like to think that they had a content life, having plenty of toilet rolls to chew as well as feathers to chase.

Rest in peace dear Suri, we hope you’re snuggling up with your sister now.