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Being inspired by the post Planting Greens For Your Pigeons and Doves on The Rescue Report – and knowing how much Elmo loves lettuce and cabbage – I decided to grow some greens for Elmo to eat.

Elmo is very attracted to anything green – in fact, my green work uniform always puts him in a good mood towards me. As soon as I change into my normal clothes he reverts back to pecking me with gusto! It’s amazing. One minute I’ll be in my uniform and Elmo wants to feed me and hang out with me, the next minute I’ll change and Elmo will view me as the enemy. I don’t know what he sees when he looks at me in the uniform. Strange. :)

So when my husband and I were at the garden centre I had a look at different salad/vegetable seeds available to plant. Since I’m not very good at keeping plants alive I didn’t want to buy anything that would be too complicated to grow (my fern and two cacti are still alive but I think it’s pure dumb luck), so I chose a cress growing kit to start with.

Elmo watched me “plant” the seeds with interest and after a few days (after careful watering) some growth could be seen.



I was excited. Soon ideas of sprouting seeds and beans as well as growing a lush garden of salads and other greens sprang into my mind. I was to be the queen of the garden! I had visions of Elmo gorging himself on the fresh food with enthusiasm and appreciation. It was to be a magical new era for us.

Sadly, this was not the case. The cress grew beautifully and I was as proud as anything. I placed the cress in front of Elmo and he simply glanced at the cress and walked away. He wasn’t even intrigued. Not one bit.



As you can imagine I was heart-broken. After all my hard gardening work and fretting over the seeds – waiting, wishing, hoping for a strong crop – Elmo didn’t even want to try it. Is it because it was cress? Would Elmo prefer something else? I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to go through all that work a second time if he’s not going to appreciate it. :D

I have to say, though, the cress went beautifully with the cream cheese on the sesame seed bagel I had for lunch. :)

Maybe Elmo would have tried the cress if it was in a bagel?

I cannot believe I haven’t told you about Elmo and our new glass table!

Well, here goes: When we eat at the table Elmo wants to join us since he doesn’t like to be left alone the sofa. It is obviously nearly impossible to eat with a hungry pigeon trying to steal our food (which is what would always happen before we bought the table) and since we’re not about to let Elmo share the table with us when we’re eating he gets into a bit of a strop about being excluded.

Once we’re all done and the table is cleared we sometimes let Elmo join us at the table. We quickly noticed that he wouldn’t stand on the glass, only on the placemats. I’m a bit ashamed to admit we’ve had lots of fun with removing the placemats and seeing Elmo’s shocked reaction to standing on glass, which to him must seem like he’s hovering in mid-air!! :)

In this video I first place Elmo on the glass and Elmo, instead of walking to the placemat, jumps from where he’s standing. I then try push him off the placemat onto the glass and Elmo puts on the breaks!!

The other day I caught Elmo cooing to his reflection in the oven. Was he flirting with himself or did he think that there was another pigeon there to ward off? I may never know, however, there are indications that pigeons can recognise themselves: “So that’s what I look like!” – Pigeons and self-recognition

Like any creature on the planet Elmo has days when he’s not ‘feeling it’, if I may use an expression of mine. Sure, we’re all entitled to feeling a bit blue and moody, but when Elmo is in such a mood it worries us since it’s harder to find out why he’s in such a mood. But this mood may only last a day and the next morning he’ll be his usual clownish, attention-seeking self. So we often don’t know the reason behind the behaviour change.

When Elmo is moody he won’t coo to us, nor react to our head-bobbing (a behaviour that often elicits head-bobbing in return, as well as a pigeon strut). He’ll peck our fingers – yes, even Richard’s! – and basically keep to himself – yet, he’ll remain in our company (never going off into a corner).

Now, since birds are notoriously good at hiding illness, such behaviour change can cause alarm. I am aware of this so I am always on the look out for any other signs of illness (e.g. changes in droppings, appetite, feather condition, etc.). Thankfully, I haven’t seen any other signs to worry me that Elmo would be ill – if he was he’d be whisked away to the vet in a heartbeat!

Over the weekend Elmo had one of his mood swings. Since Georgie is incubating her fake egg we thought maybe her broodiness was rubbing off onto Elmo. So Richard placed the other fake egg into Elmo’s nest and that evening Elmo sat on the egg and accepted our offerings of straw to cosy up the nest. The next morning, however, Elmo had rejected the egg and wasn’t interested in it anymore so we took it away. Shame, we thought he’d enjoy being broody again, but we were wrong. (For the story of Elmo’s broodiness, please read the following posts: Elmo is broody!!, Moody Broody Elmo, Broody day three and Eggless Elmo.)

Two years ago Elmo nested on the fake eggs and here’s a video of it:

After a day of Elmo ignoring us it was nice to have him showing some interest – which happened when Richard had his dinner of chicken and rice. Elmo went a bit mad with desire! He wanted some chicken and rice!!

Ok, maybe I should explain, Elmo isn’t a vegetarian. He likes to eat rice, but only if it is coated with some sort of meaty sauce. I kid you not. He’s special that way. :D

I’m a vegetarian so I find Elmo’s carnivorous/cannibilistic appetite a bit confusing. (Secretly, I think it might simply be the spicing, not the meat that Elmo likes.) The first time Elmo showed this interest we decided to take a video of it for proof:

Sadly, I didn’t take any video of Elmo’s recent meat cravings. I wish I had – his behaviour was hilarious! Elmo was staring at Richard’s plate with such an intensity that I had to warn Richard to move the plate before Elmo jumped onto it. Then Elmo watched Richard’s every move as he ate – begging with his eyes to join in. When he was allowed to peck at a few meaty grains of rice Elmo couldn’t believe his luck. You’ve gotta love him!!

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.


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

I’m being swamped at work. There are so many woodpigeon babies coming in – all squeaking for my attention, for me to feed them. I find it hard – oh so hard – to resist cuddling them. Thankfully I have a pair of white pigeon squablets that I can cuddle and kiss to my heart’s content!

Their mother was sadly killed by a sparrowhawk and the owners of the white pigeons didn’t know how to feed the babies. Since they come from an aviary, they’ll be returned when they are old enough, so I can talk and tame the white pigeon babies with unrestricted joy. (And we’ve told the owners how to protect the aviary from further sparrowhawk attacks.)


White pigeons, only 3-4 days old - 19th July


The two white pigeons tickle a baby woodpigeon - 26th July

Woodpigeons actually drive me a bit mad. Some babies can be very sweet and beg for food, others don’t want anything to do with you and huff and puff away like a little dragon, chest swelled out to look bigger (filled with air!) and wing slap you when you go to pick them up. Then they’ll jump about to get away from you, knocking the gavage tube from your hands and tipping over the food pot, spilling it all over the bench. After the fifth woody has done this I’m ready for a break. I’m only trying to feed them so they can grow to be big handsome woodpigeons!

I’m going to have to invent some sort of restraining vest while I hand-feed the baby woodies (cut a hole in a sock and pop their head through?). Most of the time the babies realise I’m not going to hurt them and calm down but some never do. The day they start eating seed for themselves is a joyous day for me. I can get them out into an aviary and let them feather up till release!

(Just realised I haven’t got many photos of woodpigeons. Gotta get my camera ready for tomorrow and have a woody-photoshoot! :) ).

I think yesterday’s food experiment went very well, and it seems a lot of people enjoyed it too! :)

I guess this means I need to do some more mini-experiments with Elmo and Georgie. Any ideas?

Seeing as Georgie cannot really see well I don’t think I can do any sight-based tests with her – unless it’s to see how she reacts to different things, e.g. light. We already know that she doesn’t like bright lights shining on her (e.g. torches, camera flash, the little red camera focus light that comes on or any strobe lighting that may be on TV). We also found out that she doesn’t like it when the monitor screen switches from dark to a light background (by opening and closing an application. She’ll flick her wing at the monitor if you do this). She’s such a fussy little thing!

Elmo by all accounts should be a better test subject, however, he’s a bit of a wimp and is easily scared of strange or new things. Even the food experiment was a bit strange for him: you can see how he shakes a bit and is avoiding the new dishes to go straight to something he’s familiar with (the peanuts).

Here’s two videos I tried previously to upload (and failed miserably). The first one should belong in the “My own personal guard” post. Elmo is standing guard at the territory line on the sofa and he’s tolerating my presence. However, he’s keeping an eye on my fingers and camera as I move it about near him. What a sweetheart!

The next one belongs in “Loving that water…“, where Georgie is busy having a bath and Elmo decides he wants one too, however, he doesn’t like it when Georgie moves her tail feathers in his face!

On another subject, the mineral pick-pot I got for Elmo seems to have done the trick. I put it on the kitchen floor between the bin and the fridge, which is the spot where Elmo likes to pick at the wall, and he seems to like it – making a mess by picking out bits off of the block. A very good purchase! Animals always seem to know when they need extra minerals and vitamins and will search for and eat them in the wild, however, indoor animals need your help in providing them with the option. Also important are grit (aids digestion) and oyster shell (provides calcium)!


When I wrote the post “Of pine nuts and pancakes” with the statement “Elmo’s second food love are pine nuts (peanuts are his first!)” Richard immediately said to me, “No, they are not. Elmo’s first food love are sunflower seeds!!” Well, needless to say we haven’t spoken to each other since. … Just kidding. But it got me thinking. Which seed does Elmo like more?

I devised a little experiment. I put down three small dishes that contained pine nuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts.


Left to right: pine nuts, sunflower seeds and peanuts

Then Richard put Elmo down for him to choose which one he prefers to eat first. Here’s what happened:

This is my interpretation of what happened: Elmo saw the three dishes and isn’t sure what they are for. He’s a bit wary (he’s shaking a bit). Then he sees the peanuts and heads towards them. Elmo eats peanuts every day and so he’s instantly attracted to his daily treat, however, he quickly notices the sunflower seeds in the next container and starts to eat them. Now that he’s in between the two other dishes he sees the pine nuts and quickly goes to them. Elmo continues to eat the pine nuts until I feel that he’s had enough and take the dishes away.

I think it is safe to say that Elmo prefers pine nuts over peanuts and sunflowers. That’s my interpretation. I’m sure Richard will disagree. :)


Yummy pine nuts!

Elmo’s second food love are pine nuts (peanuts are his first!). Because pine nuts are quite expensive I only give him some if I’m putting them in my dinner. I love to watch Elmo when he realises what it is that I’m holding in front of him. His eyes focus on the pine nuts and his head shakes ever so slightly. Then with utter determination he’ll peck at them – sometimes he misses (a handicap that often occurs from having had PMV when he was a baby) but sometimes he picks them up with precision. He would happily gobble them all up if I let him!!

Georgie, on the other hand, loves pancakes. This is also a rare treat but she loves to break pieces off and makes lovely sweet eager noises when she does. Her beak shines from the butter/oil on the pancakes! When I think she’s had enough I’ll remove her from my lap but Georgie always walks back to me and begs in a very babyish way – wings shrugging and little gentle pecks – “Please, mummy, can I have more?” It is hard to resist her!

There’s not been much happening this weekend – just a few things about George. Yesterday, after a short shopping spree in town, we return to find Georgie’s cage all wet and her chest soaked – she had been trying to have a bath in her small water bowl. I immediately grabbed a wide shallow dish, filled it with warm water and placed it on the floor. Usually I have to swish my fingers in the water for a while to get Georgie to have a bath, however, this time, as soon as I placed her in the water she started swishing the water herself with her beak – the carpet got completely soaked (as did I!!)! I could see how happy she was to have a full soak and she obviously had lots of fun splashing me!

Today my husband saw some blood on Georgie’s beak and after investigating a bit he saw that one of her tail feathers is a bit weird looking and had blood dried to it. It looks like it is growing abnormally and Georgie has been trying to preen it out and caused the feather to bleed. We’re not worried too much because there hasn’t been a lot of blood but we will be keeping an eye on it and whether we’ll have to pluck it out (ouch! Not something I want to do). It must be sore. Poor girl!

As many of you know, Georgie stays during the day in her cage on the week-days while we’re at work and when we return home we find her cage a mess. It’s clear that she keeps herself busy with eating, ripping up the newspaper and playing with the water in her water bowl. I sometimes worry how she finds her food – being semi-blind – however, I have watched her gobble up the seed from her bowl so I know she is eating well.

Today though I watched something new in her feeding behaviour: Georgie stood in her food bowl and tried to find food on the floor!! What a character!! :)

Every time she moved she kicked seed out of the bowl and she then concentrated on trying to peck the seed off of the floor. I tried removing her and rattling the seed bowl to get her to realise that the seed is in the bowl, however, she just went back to her little game. So I left her to it and she spent a good half hour finding her food. At least it keeps her busy!

Ps. Maybe I should get her a wider bowl for her to sit in? That way she can swish and kick about to her hearts delight and the majority of the seed should stay in the bowl.

When we moved into our new home back in December 09 we had 2 feral pigeons come down and eat from our ground feeder. This number has grown exponentially (as you can imagine), and whilst we love having well over 42 pigeons coming down 2-3 times daily, we are a little worried about neighbours. The last thing we want is pest control companies coming round while we are away at work.

So we are going to gradually reduce their food in an effort to reduce their numbers. At its peak we would thrown out 4-5 cups of peanuts and 4-5 cups of seed a day (25kgs peanuts and 25kgs seed a month).

It’s heartbreaking, but we’re reducing down to a cup of each in the morning, and a cup of each in the evening too. Many of the pigeons that now visit us are this years young so they need to learn to find food elsewhere. They cannot be totally dependant on us. Hopefully, with the slow food reduction they’ll realise there isn’t enough food for the whole big flock and move on to forage further afield. We will miss them but we really don’t want to create a problem.