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I opened the front door to put out the recycling and Elmo stepped onto the doorstep. It was a very windy day so I was prepared to pick him up if he tried to walk out to the garden. Didn’t want him to become spooked by something blowing in the wind or the wind to excite him into flapping and lift him over the hedge and onto the railway track. Too much of a risk to let him out on a windy day. So I was prepared to stop Elmo from walking any further than the front door, but Elmo simply stood on the doorstep and looked out at the plants blowing in the wind.

He seemed to be enjoying the feel of the crisp wind blowing at him and he started to preen his feathers. I sat down next to Elmo and watched him. He didn’t want to go any further but he did want to feel the wind. As a predominantly non-flying pigeon Elmo hasn’t really had much experience with feeling the wind beneath his wings. Sure, he can flap about and get a bit of lift into the air, but he doesn’t have much stamina and cannot actually fly from point A to point B. When we first got Elmo he used to do somersaults in the air when he tried to fly, loosing control and flipping around, often hiting the floor hard. He soon stopped doing that (thankfully) and we’re no longer worried he’ll hurt himself when flapping about.

We like Elmo to experience the elements, even if it’s for a short period of time. If it snows, we take him out. If it rains we’ll stand in the rain with him for a while. Elmo will often choose when he wants to go back inside and we let him. Of course, sunshine is the favourite of all pigeons, so I try my best to be out in the sun with him when its sunny. But I feel it is important for Elmo to also feel the other elements, and Elmo appears to agree with me. He wanted to feel the wind that day, safe in the doorway of his home, so we did. It was a lovely quiet moment, and I felt really happy watching him enjoy the wind.

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Georgie‘s food and water is in her cage on the chest of drawers in the living room. When she’s hungry she usually tries to fly to her cage – and fails miserably since she’s not a very good flier; generally flying backwards. So I have to pick her up and place her in the cage so she can eat and drink.

If, however, I’m out of the room and Georgie decides she wants a snack, she’ll first try to get to her cage, end up on the floor, then swiftly walk over to Elmo‘s feeding station (that’s on the floor) and steal his food.

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Georgie stealing Elmo's food

You may ask why Georgie’s cage isn’t on the floor too so she can access it easily? Well, firstly, it can get a bit cold on the floor so her cage is higher up, and secondly, there is no space to put her cage on the floor (it fits perfectly on the chest of drawers). Georgie knows she’s not allowed to take Elmo’s food – he’ll attack her if he finds her in it – but she’s crafty and determined, and will try her luck! :)

I caught her in action yesterday:

To test her determination I once blocked the entrance of Elmo’s feeding station. Georgie, not to be outdone, jumped over the side!! :D


With the weather being a bit on the wet side (did someone say we’re experiencing a drought in Kent? LOL) we haven’t been able to take Elmo or Georgie out in the garden for a good old sunray-soak. But there was a break in the rain this weekend so Richard decided to try Elmo with the harness in the garden. (Georgie is sitting on eggs and left a note on her cage ordering us to leave her alone.)

And, predictably, Elmo tried to run away from the harness. A bit hard to do when it’s attached to you, but Elmo gave it a shot. With a little bit of love and reassuring, Elmo calmed down and we were able to have a little walk in the garden. A few feral pigeons even came down to see what all the fuss was about. :)

Of course, Elmo only tolerated the harness for about 5 minutes before he wanted to go back inside. But at least he got a few minutes outside before the rain started up again.

I love this first photo of Elmo. He’s looking down at the harness as if to say, “What in the world is that?!!”

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Despite not having the strength to fly properly (lack of flight muscles for sustained flight), Elmo likes to flap his wings to exercise:

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Pigeons are very curious. They see something out of place and after the inital “what in the world is that?” reaction, they have to go over to investigate the new object.

We were sorting out some old things in the house, packing them away to sell, and Elmo had to see what all the mess was about. Elmo’s getting really good with his flying, much better coordination and control than when he first came to us. He still cannot fly properly, but he’s able to launch himself onto objects at a greater height than before.

So here’s our boy in his “What you got going on over there?” curiosity:

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And Elmo’s not the only one who thinks boxes are fun! :D

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It snowed quite a bit last night and this morning we woke up to a white-washed world of coldness and peace.

The fox had obviously visited (as you can see from the paw prints in the first photo) and throughout the morning I watched blue tits, great tits, coal tits, dunnocks and robins visit the feeder (I had to go out to clear the snow off of it first). I also left a tray of seed for the pigeons but they didn’t come down to eat. Even the squirrels seemed reluctant to approach the seed tray, so I then had to stamp out an area flat and spread the seed on the ground for them.

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Elmo was very restless this morning and he seemed excited about the change in the landscape. Richard held him up to the window so he could see out and Elmo was shivering a bit as he looked curiously at the snow. We could see that he wanted to go out to explore this weird stuff, so later Richard put the harness on Elmo and took him out. As you might already know, Elmo doesn’t particularly like the harness and so he wasn’t impressed with having to wear it – he tried to run away from it when he was indoors and kept pecking at it. Only once he had relaxed did Richard take Elmo out into the garden.

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Once out though, Elmo didn’t seem to understand that he’s too heavy to stand on the fresh snow so he freaked out a bit when he kept sinking into it and had to be quickly rescued (as you can see in the video).

When Richard took the harness off of him, Elmo quickly came over to me and sat next to me on the sofa. It was quite funny actually to see how quickly Elmo took refuge in me rather than Richard. I think Elmo was upset with Richard and so he came over to me for comfort. … Don’t worry, he forgave Richard a few minutes later – but only after Richard had thoroughly apologised with head bows, cuddles and peanuts.

The squirrels, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy burrowing in the snow and leaping about. It’s so lovely to watch. I also love watching dogs play in snow – they have so much enthusiasm and joy – and they really seem to appreciate the fun in rolling about in the wonderful stuff.

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I have to admit, I get very home sick when it snows this much in England. It takes me back to white Christmases, sauna, ice skating, skiing, sleighing and snow-ball fights! Although Finnish winters can be very brutal in its darkness and coldness, there is a special beauty and wonder in seeing the world blanketed and muffled on a crisp morning – especially if you’re by a lake and have the opportunity to walk across it. Ice swimming is an activity that everyone should try at least once in their life! I’ve only ever braved ice swimming twice, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is definitely something I want to do again. I just have to figure out how to entice my husband to join me. (A bit about ice swimming: Ice Swimming Safety)

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Lately I’ve been a bit lazy in videoing Elmo and Georgie (on top of my natural laziness I’ve also been having problems uploading the videos so I’ve been avoiding having to do so). There are some funny and interesting behaviours I want to capture for all to see, however, it seems that whenever these behaviours happen I haven’t got my camera near me, and by the time I have managed to get it out the behaviour has stopped. Georgie and Elmo don’t do repeats.

So what behavours do I want to capture? Well, every now and then Elmo has a bit of a freak out: he flaps about like crazy in the living room, hovers about then lands. It’s like he’s got all this energy in him that he needs to release – and the rapid flapping and fluttering helps him expel it all. Sometimes Elmo manages to fly quite high. He hasn’t done a somersault in a while, which is good since he used to land hard on his back. I was always afraid he’d break his neck, but now he has more control over his flapping so I don’t worry so much.

There’s a cute behaviour that I need to capture: Whenever Elmo or Georgie hang out with either Richard or myself in the kitchen they tend to stand on our feet. Is it because the floor in the kitchen isn’t carpeted and therefore a bit cold to stand on? Possibly. I have to say though that it makes cooking quite difficult when you’ve got a pigeon hanging onto your foot as you try to move without disturbing them. I almost get away with it before Georgie gets fed up with my moving about and tells me off with a few angry pecks and coos.

Another behaviour: Elmo rarely wing slaps. While Georgie is free and easy with the wing slapping, Elmo isn’t. He’ll take you by surprise. Something you’ve put near him will scare him and he’ll lash out in defence. I think I will struggle to capture this on video because it is too unpredictable. I believe I already have video of Georgie slapping since she’s easier to predict. If I want additional footage all I would need to do is flash a torch at her and she’d go berserk. But that’s not a nice thing to do so I won’t provoke her just for the footage.

And lastly, Elmo chases me in the morning. I can hear his pitter patter as he races after my uncovered feet – eager to peck them. I really don’t know why he’s so angry in the morning. I try not to aggrevate him, but he likes to give me a hard time before I go to work. Maybe I should have a little camera at floor level to capture this? In the winter, when it’s darker in the mornings, Georgie is very cranky. I let her out for the hour before I go to work but sometimes she simply sits on the sofa and doesn’t want me to disturb her. I guess she’s not a morning person.

So watch this space. One day you may be seeing more short videos of the silly and wonderful things Elmo and Georgie do every day! :)


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Georgie flying away

Wow and OMG!!!!  Just heard the lovely high pitched whiring sound of a pigeon flying and realised it was Georgie!!! Wow!!! Amazing!

Ok, so this might sound a bit sarcastic to some people, but I’m truthfully amazed – the reason being is that when Georgie flies she doesn’t make that lovely whiring sound you hear when you hear pigeons flying about. I don’t know why, but she doesn’t. However, today she made that sound!!! What has changed? I don’t know, since she still isn’t flying any better (sometimes she can fly across the room but often she just hovers with her landing gear out – waiting for me to put my hand out for her to land on).

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Massive looking wings! :)

I’m not saying that you cannot hear a thing when she flies – Georgie’s wings make a lot of noise when she flaps about – but it has always missed that delicate high pitched whiring sound that us pigeon people love to hear.

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to hear the sound I’m talking about but I uploaded two short “before” and “after” clips of Georgie flying.

Before:

After:


Today, as I was flicking through some photos I saw one of a pigeon in a pigeon nappy and it reminded me of the bird harness we had bought for Georgie and Elmo a while ago. As I wrote in Pigeon nappies?, it wasn’t a success – Georgie wouldn’t co-operate and Elmo was scared of it – however I was thinking about when we finally take the road trip through Europe and Scandinavia to Finland we will need Georgie and Elmo to be in a harness when we take them out for a stretch when we make pit stops. We cannot risk them flying away accidentally! So I thought we’d give it another go in putting first George in the harness.

And here’s the pretty girl all kitted out:

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At first George was not happy with it on, which is understandable since she’s not used to wearing things (what bird is?!), but after the initial walking about like a drunkard Georgie found her harness-legs and didn’t seem too bothered by it. You can imagine our delight!

Here’s her first steps with the harness on:

We were overjoyed with her acceptance and quickly took Georgie outside into the garden. I placed her on the grass and she walked about a bit then decided she wanted to be on me so she flew up into the air and hovered a bit until I placed my hand under her outstretched feet for her to land on. We did this a few more times just to test how safe the harness and lead is and it is now a big success!

Of course we cannot take her out for ‘walkies’ like a dog – and that’s not why we bought the harness – it’s just a safety measure to keep George safe in case she flies up and the wind catches her. Now George and I will be able to sunbathe together in the garden! :)

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We now need to try Elmo in the harness, however, since he’s a bit scared of it we’ll need to get him first used to the sight of the harness before we put it on him. After a week or so of the harness near his nest he should realise it is nothing to be afraid of and then we’ll see if he’ll accept the harness on him. Somehow I think he won’t be as accepting! (especially since the harness is blue!)

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It’s amazing how birds fly, utterly beautiful in slow-motion.


Elmo gave us – and himself as well – such a fright yesterday. As usual, Richard took him out into the garden for his late afternoon stroll around the garden. However, for some reason Elmo started shaking and shivering like he was scared of something and didn’t want to be in the garden. Then, unexpectedly, Elmo shot up into the air and hovered a bit before landing. Richard quickly went to grab him but Elmo shot up again into the air and spun about before hitting the ground. This happened a couple of more times before Richard managed to catch him. It was a heart-stopping moment.

We were so scared he’d fly over the hedge and into someone’s garden, or worst, onto the railway track opposite our garden. Elmo has never flown before in the garden and it is not an experience we want to live through again. Being an ex-PMV pigeon Elmo has permanent balance and flight damage that makes his flying a bit erratic and unstable. That’s why we don’t encourage him to fly outside. Indoors he’s more than welcome to fly about, but Elmo doesn’t fly much – he prefers to walk about instead. … Sometimes he will flap his wings and hover a bit for exercise though.

After taking Elmo indoors and giving him lots of hugs and kisses (as well as a good telling off for scaring us so!) we went out to see what could have scared him in such a way. The culprit was obvious: a bright blue tray that was being used as a bird bath! The tray had been put there recently for the feral pigeons, but it was obviously not Elmo’s cup of tea. We’ll have to replace the blue tray with something more discreet.