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We nipped over to Aarhus, Denmark, for a long weekend to meet some friends and as usual my pigeon-seeking eyes were on alert. I saw lots of woodpigeons in the city but only a few feral pigeons. I didn’t have my camera with me so unfortunately I haven’t got any photos to show you.

I was surprised to see so many woodpigeons in the city centre since I never see them in those locations in the UK, only in parks and woodland. There are quite a few parks and trees on the streets in Aarhus so maybe that’s why the woodies were in the centre too. And I was very surprised not to see many feral pigeons. Where were they hiding? I have a little theory: Aarhus is very clean, not a lot of litter on the ground, so not many scraps for feral pigeons to eat.

We didn’t take our two pigeons with us. I’m afraid we had to leave Elmo and Georgie at home, however, they invited a few pigeon-sitters over to keep them company. :)

Since we returned late at night and darling Elmo was too tired to give us his full “happy-to-see-you” dance routine, he couldn’t contain his joy in seeing us in the morning and leaped onto the bed to wake us up! What a silly boy! :D


The people at the Wild Bird Fund, a non-profit organisation, in New York City do a lot to help feral pigeons and other wildlife in and around the area. It is wonderful to see vets and rehabbers work so skillfully with pigeons. It can be hard to find a vet that knows how to fix broken bones in a bird, and tragically, a lot of pigeons are euthanised because of a broken wing or leg simply because the skills and knowledge – and sometimes other resources (e.g. space and time) – are not there. (And pigeon sanctuaries are hard to come by.)

Please consider donating towards their cause to built a wildlife rehabilitation centre in New York City: Wild Bird Fund

Blog: Wild Bird Fund Blog

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wildbirdfund

These videos show what the Wild Bird Fund is all about:

(Note: at the end of the last video they state that they facilitated “soft release” for the two pigeons in the video. Both pigeons transferred any affections from humans to pigeons prior to release.)


It has been a fabulous week of sun and clear skies. After so many weeks of rain and mud it’s a welcome break.

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I took the pigeons out on Friday for their first real time out in the garden this year. They each had a turn in the pen in the sun. We cannot trust Elmo nor Georgie out in the garden without some form of protection. Georgie, being mostly blind and unable to fly properly (she usually ends up flying backwards), has a habit of taking off suddenly if spooked – which is what can happen in the garden with the strange environment and sounds. Elmo, being an ex-PMV sufferer, cannot fly properly either. He hasn’t got the flight muscles nor coordination, however, he can fly up quite high for short bursts if frightened and potentially end up in an undesirable place (e.g. over the hedge onto the railway track that’s on the other side of our garden). We therefore have two options when taking Elmo and Georgie outside: 1) put them in the enclosed wired pen, or 2) put a flight harness on them.

When we first got Elmo we used to take him out without a harness or putting him in a pen. We thought that since he could see and was unable to fly properly, he wouldn’t get himself into trouble. We soon learnt how stupid we were and how dangerous the situation really was (read: Fly, birdie, fly!).

What used to happen with Elmo is that he’d spend some time with us in the garden. He’d be pecking at the dirt and grass – as happy as Larry – then suddenly he’d decide he’d had enough and walk over the pebble path back to the front door round the corner of the building. He’d wait there until Richard let him into the flat (which would be fairly quickly since we didn’t like him being out of our view). On one occassion Richard and I were in the garden, lying on the grass, when all of a sudden a little Jack Russell terrier appeared by our heads. It was our uncle’s dog, Minnie. Luckily, we had already put the pigeons back in the flat so there was no danger, however, it really sunk into my mind that had Elmo been free in the garden at that moment, Minnie would have attacked him in a heartbeat. And what if Elmo had gone to the front door at that moment, out of our view when Minnie came over? It’s too horrible to think about. We immediately stopped letting Elmo roam free in the garden and got the pen and harness for our pigeons.

Yesterday Georgie had a refreshing bath after her time in the sun, however, Elmo wasn’t interested in the water.

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Georgie bathing!

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Georgie in the sun

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Georgie falling asleep

When I placed Elmo in the pen he shook like a leaf – he was very excited and I think a little scared of the new environment. I had to bob my head to divert his attention, which worked, because then Elmo calmed down and started pecking at the grass and enjoying the direct sunshine.

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Elmo in the pen

A single feral pigeon came down to look for seed on the ground and Elmo was quite curious. He stared intently at the pigeon until the pigeon noticed him, and then the feral stared back. Funny.

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Feral pigeon staring

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Elmo staring. Poor boy looks like he's in jail!

We also had a sweet little robin visit:

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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.


Guess where I found Elmo this afternoon upon returning home from work? … On the window sill!! He hasn’t been on the window sill in months!!

And how do I know this, you ask? Well, I can tell by following the poop trail he leaves. If Elmo spends a lot of time in one area there’ll be a bunch of poops nearby. It’s as simple as that! :)

I had wondered why Elmo had stopped sitting on the window ledge this winter. Did something spook him? Maybe he got bored with the view, but now that spring is around the corner he’s taken an interest in the garden again? I wonder…

Since moving into our new flat we’ve had many different visitors to our garden. I’d like to post some of the photos I took of these very welcome visitors:

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Grey squirrel

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Badgers

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Bullfinch

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Long-tailed tit

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Fox cub

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Brown rat

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Woodpigeon

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Feral pigeons!

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Feral pigeons!

With all these visitors how could Elmo get bored with the views?! :)


Saw this photo on the BBC website and I think it’s brilliant! I love the way the woody looks so determined as he strolls down the path: He’s on a mission. He’s seen the peanuts. He’s going to eat them!! LOL!

Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)

And I’m sure you’ve all seen the following photos of a squirrel fending off a feral pigeon. Don’t worry, the pigeon flew away unharmed.

Last two photos from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1281971/Ill-teach-steal-nuts-Squirrel-goes-battle-pigeon-food.html


I’ve always wanted a locket. Maybe I’m just a romantic (or still a little girl), but I find lockets so special and beautiful. However, I never got around to buying one. I guess I’m waiting for that special someone to give me one for, say, on an anniversary or birthday (hint hint, hubby). Then I got to thinking (uh oh, that’s dangerous) and realised that I’d love to have a locket with a pigeon engraved/painted/embossed on it, because pigeons are so very dear to me. So I did a bit of research and I have to say I’m very disappointed. I put “pigeon locket” in a search engine and found that there are practically no lockets with feral pigeons on them. The only one I could find is this one, which I find quite quirky (but not romantic):

ROAR Like a Pigeon Recycled Magnetic Locket Set by Polarity

ROAR Like a Pigeon Recycled Magnetic Locket Set by Polarity

Typing “dove locket” into a search engine is a different story. There are a multitude of “the dove of peace” lockets out there, mainly because of the religious symbolism of the white dove (see Pigeon Symbolism).

I don’t want to be dismissive towards the beautiful white dove/pigeon but I connect more with the grey feral pigeon and would like that depicted in a locket. However, I do find this dove of peace locket very pretty: Harmony, dove of peace by cocoachuchu

Harmony, dove of peace by cocoachuchu

I think I will have to commission a feral pigeon locket – probably on etsy.com since I’ve seen a few artists there whose style I like, such as birds of oregon and verabel.

Hopefully, one day I’ll receive a beautiful pigeon locket from my gorgeous wonderful husband. (Am I trying to hard here, ladies? Do you think he’s got the hint? :) )


Elmo and Georgie have been enjoying the fact that I’ve been at home during the week. They think it’s the best! More time with mummy! :)

With all the snow out there we’ve been watching the feral and wood pigeons jumping about in the snow trying to stay on top – but they keep sinking into it. Poor birdies! Richard had to go out into the garden and flatten a spot for them to eat the seed from. Then the squirrels came round and chased the birds away!

Last year when it snowed I was able to enjoy it (since I didn’t have a cold). We had great fun and here’s what we did around this time last year:

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Our garden in Dec 09

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Georgie's first snow experience

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Elmo in the snow

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Stevie, our snowman!

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Georgie and I

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Elmo's not too sure about the snow

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"Get me out of here!"

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Curious Elmo

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Curious Georgie


This blog is called “Pigeons as Pets”. I just want to clarify what we mean by this.

We are not advising or advocating taking pigeons from the wild and keeping them as pets in an aviary or cage. Not at all! Healthy, flight-abled pigeons in the wild should be left to live their life naturally.

If, however, you find a baby pigeon that needs hand-rearing then of course this needs to be done (preferably by the experts) – with the aim that it can be released as a wild pigeon when it is ready. This is not always possible, as many of you know. Sometimes the baby is injured and cannot be released because of it; sometimes the baby becomes tame and bonded to humans and therefore unreleasable (especially if it has no predator avoidance instincts). In these cases the baby pigeon would need to be housed in a safe and suitable environment for the rest of its life. This also applies to adult pigeons that are disabled (e.g. blind or cannot fly).

  • Safe environment = safe from predators such as cats, dogs and sparrowhawks. Safe from the elements (e.g. severe weather).
  • Suitable environment = an area where the pigeon can fly (if it physically can), walk about, have suitable food and access to drinking and bathing water. Also, preferably, an area where it can have a mate. Pigeons are gregarious and require company.

Disabled adult pigeons may learn to tolerate your presence or they may become tame over time. Each pigeon is individual in its behaviour and character. The key is to understand what it needs and to not force anything.

  • Feral pigeons are one of the most common pigeons you’ll see and are perfectly capable of living in the wild in a variety of environments around the world. They can become very tame around humans if fed regularily.
  • Fancy pigeons are human bred pigeons and many would not know how to fend for themselves in the wild. Some have physical features that make them dependent on humans.
  • Racing pigeons are also human bred but if they become lost and hungry they usually find food in people’s gardens and may even join a feral pigeon flock instead of flying back home.
  • Wood pigeons are a completely wild species and adult woodies generally do not cope well in captivity (there are always exceptions). Hand-reared wood pigeons may remain tame and friendly.
  • Collared doves are also a completely wild species and are in many ways similar to woodies in their relationship with humans.

Since pigeons are largely monogamous, if a flight-abled pigeon bonds with a non-flighted one then it will stay with its mate despite its disability. Some people would be tempted to release the flight-abled pigeon, however, you would then be seperating two bonded pigeons, which I consider to be an unkind act. Most feral pigeons are happy as long as they have a mate, food, water, shelter, room to fly and a place to nest – whether this is in the wild or in captivity. This does not mean that you can justify taking pigeons from the wild – I stand by my belief that healthy, flighted pigeons should live in the wild in their natural state. What I am trying to say is that if you have nursed a flight-abled pigeon back to health but it has bonded with a disabled pigeon then you can keep the two together in a safe and suitable environment.

Then there is the question as to whether you should release a flighted tame pigeon. I think the answer to this is whether the tame pigeon knows enough about predators and has predator avoidance instincts. If it does not then it should not be released since it would be easy pickings. Some tame hand-reared pigeons have no predator awareness – some don’t even know what a predator is.

So what do we mean by “Pigeons as Pets”? We mean tame, imprinted or disabled pigeons that would not otherwise survive in the wild.


Last night Georgie was very naughty. She kept attacking me while I was trying to watch a movie. … Maybe she was bored with the movie – didn’t like the actors or the story and was trying to get me to change channel? Maybe she was overtired and wanted to go to bed? Whatever the reason she was really getting me annoyed – and bruised since she insisted on standing on my shoulder – and then pecking at my face and neck!

I had to talk softly and sweetly to her – little coos and soft kisses to her head – but nothing could make her stop pecking me. I kept removing George from my shoulder and putting her on the sofa but she just kept climbing back onto me. She wanted to fall asleep on my shoulder, but was not happy when I made a movement. In the end I had to be put her in her cage to calm down and go to sleep – which she did.

Georgie has her bedtime and if she’s out past that time she gets very grumpy – a fact that I sometimes forget – hence the red marks on my neck!

Today Georgie spent a good hour snuggled on my lap – all memory of last nights events forgotten.

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I only got this photo because her eyes were closed when the camera light went on.

Elmo has also been snuggling up to his loved one today:

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I watched a wood pigeon land on the water dish in the garden – a big fat woody all intent on having a drink – when along came a little fiesty feral pigeon. The feral hopped onto the water dish and pushed the wood pigeon off! What a little cheeky sod! :) After the feral had his fill and had flown off, the woody came back for his drink.

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Now that we’ve stopped throwing copious amounts of food into the garden we don’t have 50 pigeons sitting on the neighbours roof all day anymore. We still have feral pigeons visiting our garden (we throw seed and peanuts out sporadically) – and we recognise many returning ones – so we know that the pigeons are doing alright without our steady supply of food. We believe it is better that pigeons (well, all wildlife really) don’t become reliant on humans as their sole food source. They need to be able to find food elsewhere, otherwise what would happen if we moved house?

A few weeks ago a small clump of white mushrooms appeared – which proceeded to grow and grow – until they eventually disappeared. We had Elmo out in the garden one day and he didn’t like the look of the mushrooms. Not to his taste at all and he quickly retreated back to the front door – the days adventure over! What a scaredy-cat!! :)

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And today I saw our little fox cub – now all grown up – appear for a sniff and a scavenge in our garden. What a handsome lad he is now (could be a girl – but I haven’t checked)!

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