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You may think that the outcome would be obvious when a cat and a pigeon meet: Surprise attack, feathers everywhere, one satisfied cat. However, in some instances it is the other way around: Surprise attack, fur everywhere and one satisfied pigeon! :)

These videos can testify to that: http://www.pigeonsaspets.co.uk/tag/cat/ (Scroll down the page on the link.)

I know I’ve already written about Elmo and our visiting friendly tabby cat (see above link), but this time I took video of them. Generally the cat will leg it as soon as she hears or sees Elmo but my husband somehow managed to lull the cat into a comfortable coma and she seemed oblivious to Elmo’s attentions. (Sorry about the poor lighting in the videos.)


We have a friendly tabby cat visiting us now. He turned up one day, meowing at the door and since we mistakenly fed him, he’s turning up every night for a meal and cuddles. (Ok, I admit it, it was deliberate. We knew if we fed him he’ll keep returning. We simply couldn’t help ourselves. The cat is so friendly and adorable!)

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Meet "our" cat.

I’ve been trying to get a good photo of the cat, but the flash is so harsh. I’ll keep trying.

I borrowed a microchip scanner from work to see if the cat has a microchip (since he hasn’t got a collar on), but the scanner didn’t pick up any. Since the cat is in such good condition and is of a good weight, I don’t think he’s homeless, however, his hunger worries us a bit. But then again, cats can be just as greedy as dogs! :)

We let the cat in a few times with the pigeons safely away just in case, but the cat doesn’t like it if I close the door. He needs the option to dash out if he wants. He’s a bit wary but loves his evening meal, and once we start stroking him he usually wants to cuddle up onto our lap. After a while he gets up, goes out, and disappears into the darkness.

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The cat comes into our flat

I want to call him “Sir Drools-a-lot” since he is a drooler. I’ve never known a cat to drool so much. Every time he lovingly head butts my hand (to scent mark it. I’m no fool; I know why cats rub), he leaves a little wet patch. Yuck. And when he sat on my lap the other night, he left a puddle on my leg.

Last night we let Elmo meet the cat. In a controlled manner and under strict observation, of course. We cannot risk the cat attacking our beloved pigeons. But the cat wasn’t interested in Elmo at all. In fact, when Elmo flapped, the cat ran away. Elmo, on the other hand, wasn’t impressed with the intruder. Richard was stroking the cat, who was lying down on the floor, and Elmo walked over and tried to peck the cat. Elmo has no predator awareness instincts; he thinks he’s the king of the house and no one tells him what to do.

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Elmo and the cat

In the above photo, the cat is having his dinner while Elmo checks him out. When he was finished and walked away, Elmo went over to inspect what the cat had left (first time he left anything):

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Elmo inspects the cat food

Even though I know that there are people who have pigeons and cats living together, I don’t think I could do that since you cannot trust the two together. You’d never be able to relax and would always have to keep an eye on them. I have enough trouble keeping an eye on Elmo and Georgie together since Elmo doesn’t like Georgie and will attack her if she gets too close to him. However, the cat is so lovely and I’m sure he’ll continue to visit us. I hope we find his owner just so we can sleep in peace, however, if the cat is homeless then we’ll have to find him a good home.


Birdie

Birdie girl

We want you to welcome “Birdie girl” into Dora’s extended family.

Birdie girl, as she’s named by her carers, was found as a baby last spring and was hand-reared. She seemed to be a slow developer or maybe she was simply so happy with her carers, but she only started eating for herself after 6 months of being hand-fed!! She then began making nests and laying eggs in the usual female way and seemed quite happy in her home, however, a month or so ago Birdie became stressed and started to pluck out her feathers. Her carers thought that it may be a lack of a mate that was stressing her so they contacted my work to see if we could find her one.

Birdie is too tame to be released, and since there are two single males in the resident fancy and disabled pigeon aviary at my work, we decided to give her a home with the hopes that she will pair up with one of the single boys.

And here’s the two boys, Davey (the white pigeon) and Button (the grey feral), cooing and dancing to Birdie on her first day in her new home (the boys stop when Birdie comes close to me):

I hope Birdie likes her new home and finds either Davey or Button a suitable match. I’m sure both the boys will prance about like little clowns to attract her attention. I’ll keep you posted if I see a romance blossoming. :)

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Pigeons eating


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Button

Yesterday I introduced you to Button, a disabled feral pigeon who is desperate for a mate. I thought he would be a good match for my disabled pigeon, Georgie (read: Pigeon matchmaking – part 1).

Last weekend I brought Button home and we sectioned off a part of the living room (with sections of a wire rabbit run) for him to get used to us and our pigeons. Button is a feral pigeon that was found as an adult unable to fly (from a dislocated/broken wing) and was cared for by his rescuers for 8 months. So although he is tolerant of people he doesn’t like to be approached or touched.

I thought that in order for a pigeon to fall in love with Georgie then they would have to be a friendly or tame pigeon that isn’t imprinted to humans. That way the pigeon wouldn’t be afraid of us but would also not be too interested in us to ignore Georgie.

I could hardly contain my excitment in the pigeon matchmaking. I watched Button’s every movement and curious glances. I let him walk about in his sectioned-off area and had to stop myself from putting Georgie in with him immediately. I knew that Button would be afraid and unsure about his new surroundings – espcially because of Elmo’s advances! Elmo came charging over, cooing and dancing on his side of the fence, basically letting Button know that Elmo is the king of the house and that Button better watch out! Elmo does not welcome pigeon intruders.

After about an hour of Button exploring and getting used to his surroundings I placed Georgie on the floor by the fence and watched with bated breath. Sadly, the “love at first sight” reaction I was hoping for didn’t happen.

Button was not attracted to Georgie. He didn’t respond to her presence for a long time. Only after I started to pet Georgie and she got excited did Button react a bit but not in the excited “Wow, you’re gorgeous and I want to marry you” type of behaviour I was hoping for. So you can imagine my utter disappointment.

However, I knew that I was being too hasty. Afterall, Button had only been with us for a few hours! So the next day I continued to watch what Button did and how he responded to seeing Georgie walking about the flat. I knew that soon he’d find his voice and start calling to her. And I was right. On the third day (Sunday) Button began to coo a lot. He was establishing his territory and calling for a mate.

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Georgie (foreground) and Button in the background.

Georgie, despite her sight problems, knew that there was another pigeon in the house the instant I had placed Button’s cage down. She was very curious and kept walking up to it and when we put the fence up she kept trying to get through it. She knew that there was a pigeon there and she wanted to say hello. So when Button started calling, Georgie came running!

She danced and pranced to his cooing and I was as excited as she was. Here’s the moment, it is now happening: Georgie will have a pigeon mate!

I placed Georgie on the other side of the fence and thought I would see a lovely pairing. I was sadly wrong.

Button attacked Georgie and so I quickly took her away. When Button started calling to her again I placed her back with him, however, all attempts ended up the same way. Button would coo and call to her and when Georgie got too close he’d attack her. I couldn’t let it happen anymore so I seperated them for good.

Button wants a mate but he doesn’t want Georgie. :(

Here’s their first meeting through the fence. As you can see, Georgie is responding to Button’s cooing but he’s not really giving her the proper “come hither” coo nor is he dragging his tail feathers when he prances about. All this shows me that he’s not really into Georgie, rather, he’s just being territorial.

In the end, Georgie also didn’t want anything to do with Button and she ignored him. I was very sad about it because I knew how much Georgie wanted to befriend Button. However, I wasn’t going to let him attack her every time she tried to come close, so I took Button to work on Monday and placed him in Dora and Pidge’s aviary to find a mate in there. There are a few un-mated female pigeons that I’m sure he’ll court and eventually pair up with. So although it didn’t work out for Georgie and Button, I know that Button will be happy and Georgie is still very happy with me as her mate.

Here’s the naughty boy in his new home:

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Button in the aviary

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Button with Davey and Teresa (the white pigeons behind Button)

So my search for a pigeon mate for Georgie continues. I know that one day I’ll find her a suitable mate, it will just take time. I’m not going to force anything though. I don’t want to stress Georgie out by parading numerous male pigeons in front of her. I know that one day a special male pigeon will come by who will be perfect for her.

My criteria now is: a flight-abled pigeon (because he’ll have to be able to get away from angry Elmo) that is friendly to humans but not imprinted. Should I place a lonely hearts ad for Georgie? :)


I’d like to introduce you to a special little fella who I’ve named Mr Tippler.

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He’s a Highflyer Tippler breed and he was found in a garden, lost and ill, and was then brought to the wildlife rescue centre (where I work) for care. He’s been with us for over a month now and is still ill, however, he’s receiving his medication and is being support fed, and he’s gradually putting on weight.

At first Mr Tippler absolutely hated the sight of me and would attack me viciously. Even though he was so thin and weak he still had the energy to tell me off! But after Mr Tippler realised that I am the bearer of food and good will, he started to warm to me, and now he greets me enthusiastically when he sees me! Love it! :)

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Mr Tippler was found about 70 miles away from his home. I found the number of his owner stamped on his primary flight feathers and called the number to let the owner know we had his pigeon but that the pigeon is ill and not ready to be returned yet. The owner thanked me for letting him know but said we were too far away to arrange collection and that I could keep the pigeon. Fair enough, I guess.

So we’re caring for our special little guy and willing him to get better. He’ll be at my work for a long while I think before he’s ready for his new home. I must say the highlight of my job now is to be greeted and have my fingers nibbled by friendly Mr Tippler! :)


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.


The last couple of weeks at work have been manic – with the result that I was unable to test our newest tame boy, Sebastian (my first post on him: New Arrival: Sebastian), myself in the resident pigeon aviary – my lovely husband did it for me! Here’s the video he took of Sebastian’s reaction to the pigeons and theirs to him:

As you can see he’s not really interested in them at all. They, on the other hand, find him a threat I think – and are strutting their stuff to let him know that they’re boss.

We didn’t leave him in the aviary since I didn’t want to leave him unattended. We decided that Sebastian’s only hope of becoming a pigeon is to live amongst them – however, with human contact also. It wouldn’t be fair to cut him off completely – that could lead to depression and ill health. So we rehomed him to a lovely man who has disabled feral and fancy pigeons.

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Sebastian in his new home

We visited him last weekend to see how Sebastian was getting on in his new home and there has been some slight progress. Whilst Sebastian isn’t interested in the other pigeons at all – he doesn’t sleep in the sheltered indoor bit, rather in the flight part of the aviary (which now has some shelter on so that Sebastian doesn’t get rained on), and he has to be fed seperately otherwise he gets bullied away from the food – Sebastian does seem to tolerate the company of a fancy pigeon (not sure on the breed yet) who had been shot and has a damaged wing. Although there is no direct interaction between the two yet, I’m hoping that over time Sebastian will form a close friendship with the other pigeon. At the moment though, whenever Sebastian sees his new owner he cooes and dances to get his attention.

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The fancy pigeon Sebastian tolerates (one in the centre)

When we were visiting him Sebastian made a big fuss over my handbag – as imprinted pigeons often do! Silly boy. He then proceeded to court a rather plump chicken that lives in the aviary next door:

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The hen doesn't look too impressed with Sebastian

The other day I was informed that Sebastian spent his first night in the sheltered indoor part of the aviary with the other pigeons, which is very good news. Maybe now he’ll start interacting positively with the other pigeons. We can only hope!

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Still very interested in people!


P1030552The other day we received a very special boy at my work – a 1 year old feral pigeon that had been hand-reared and was very tame and human-oriented. The pigeon, called Sebastian or Coo-face (very sweet!), is a very healthy specimen and has a great character. The person who had raised him thought it was time to see if Sebastian would find a mate and to also give him a better quality of life – which we hope to provide.

First we need to see how Coo-face reacts to other pigeons, then, if the outcome is good we’ll rehome him to an aviary of tame and disabled pigeons with the hopes he’ll pair up with a lovely lady pigeon and start his journey to becoming a pigeon.

If, however, he doesn’t seem very interested in other pigeons we’ll have to rehome him to a home that can give him the personal attention he needs. I have to admit I want to smuggle him home with me (to see if he’ll like Georgie) – but we tried that before, with Minnie, and it didn’t work out at all (see: Minnie’s new home). But I’m still eager to find Georgie a mate, however, maybe a human-imprinted pigeon isn’t the best bet since Sebastian will probably only be interested in us not Georgie!

One day I hope to have a special aviary suited for Georgie and her mate if we ever get to find one for her. There’s bound to be a pigeon out there that finds her irrestistible! In the meantime I might introduce Georgie to Sebastian just to see if he’ll take to her, however, it’ll have to be at my work since I don’t want to upset Elmo in any way (what a spoilt boy he is!).

Sebastian loves to spend time on my shoulder at work, which can be very distracting because all I want to do is cuddle him, and when he’s in his cage he coos away at me to get my attention! I shall soon try him in the resident pigeon aviary to see how he reacts to other pigeons and I’ll post my findings.

Doesn’t Sebastian boy look like a bigger version of Minnie? :)

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Richard popped round to see the new aviary at my work place and see the new pigeons there, and Maddie girl became very interested in him and his attempt at talking pigeon:

A few photos of some of the loved up pairs:

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Dora and Pidge

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Lord Nelson and Maddie

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Fleur and Marmalade


Before I tell you about Maddie, I just want to say how much I LOVE our new website design!! It is amazing!!! I’m very proud of my husband who spent many evenings designing it. All the coding looked like gibberish to me but Richard understands what it means. It’s a bit like the Matrix and the coding they first see on the computer screen. :)

MaddieSo, about Maddie. She’s a lovely feral pigeon that had made friends with some people at a care home, however, due to health and safety regulations the warden had to remove the pigeon. Since he liked the pigeon he brought it to my work for rehoming (I’ve actually already introduced you to Maddie before in “If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals”, except back then we didn’t know if she was a girl or a boy).

It seems I’m always saying that we (at the rescue centre) are going to release pigeons but then end up keeping them (as was the case with Peaches). We strive to release the majority of the rescued pigeons we receive, however, if they are fancy pigeons, disabled or extremely tame, we rehome them to aviaries. After seeing how friendly Maddie was I decided to see if she would like to live in the tame/disabled pigeon aviary at work. I mixed her in and quickly established that she was female – which is a bonus since there are two bachelor pigeons that need a mate in the aviary – and hoped that she’d pair up with either Lord Nelson or Stanley.

A few weeks later and she doesn’t seem much interested in the male pigeons, except for Pidge, Dora’s mate. When I went in and sat down in the aviary Pidge flew down and started dancing to my hand. Maddie seemed extremely interested in what he was doing and wanted to fly down but Dora had beat her to it. I think Dora was jealous of Pidge’s attentions. I think I’ll need to let Maddie know that there is no way that Dora will let her steal Pidge from her, so she’d better turn her attentions to the single boys!

When I came to work on Monday my boss took me aside and informed me that a pigeon had escaped from the aviary in the weekend and wanted me to identify which one is missing. I was upset but when I went to the aviary I saw the escapee sitting on top of it. It was Maddie!! She was desperate to get back in, however, was a bit cautious of us and wouldn’t let us come near to catch her. We set up a big cage trap we have (humane of course) but all we caught was an ex-battery cage hen. Silly girl!

Later in the day I gave the pigeons some treats and Maddie was desperately trying to go through the bars at the top of the aviary to get to the treats. I knew that now was the moment to catch her. Shaking the bowl that contained peanuts I lured her down and managed to grab her. After a quick check up to make sure she wasn’t injured in any way, I put her back in and she ate to her hearts content. A few days out in the ‘wild’ made her realise that the aviary was the best place to be. Her new home. I only hope she pairs up with one of the single boys and I’m sure she’ll be happy as Larry. :D

More photos of her to come soon.

Ps. The new pigeon aviary at my work is nearly completed and I’m hoping to move the resident pigeons into it later this week. I cannot wait. It is such a great aviary – much bigger with proper nesting areas and proper perches. Photos to come soon!