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It was a funny sort of day the other day. It started with heavy rain, so much rain that I thought I’d need to wear waders to get to my car. Then it stopped and the sun came out and all was glorious. But wait, here comes the rain again. I was home for lunch and when the rain stopped I decided to let the pigeons out for a wander on the wet ground.

As soon as Georgie felt her feet in the water she started swishing her beak in the water and I knew what she was wanting – a puddle bath!! :D

So there was Georgie having a whale of a time when I noticed Elmo shaking. He was looking at Georgie intently and shiving all over – he wanted a bath too!!

It was such a joy to watch the two of them bathing so close together without any fighting – they were simply concentrating on the water – water that I was scooping up to drip over them and swishing around their feet. I don’t think they’ve ever had a “wild” bath before – it’s always been tap water – so I’m glad they had a rainwater, puddle bath. It felt like they were going back to their roots as feral pigeons. :)


Returning home from a holiday can be very stressful. Especially when you have been away from your animals for a week. You dread to think in what mental and physical state they will be in. Thoughts that run through your mind: “Have they missed us? Did they like the pet sitters? Have they lost weight? Did they eat properly?”

The only way to have peace of mind is to find someone who you can trust and rely on to care for your animals as you would. We found two pet sitters to care for Elmo, Georgie and Hugo while we were away. I find that our animals fare better (e.g. less stressed and eat well) if they stay at home and have someone visit instead of putting them in a cattery and cage elsewhere. This way they are in familiar surroundings with only a “stranger” visiting, instead of being in an unfamiliar place where they may be worried all the time.

I still worry, though, which is natural, since I am far away from my dear animals. When we returned home yesterday Hugo cat was visibly glad to see us. He started drooling profusely, which he only does when he’s very happy. Elmo danced about and cooed his little head off, while Georgie girl was a bit more reserved. Only after I had sung to her did she realise it was me (her “mate”) and replied in kind (Georgie’s favourite song that I hum to her is Mmm mmm mmm by the Crash Test Dummies, I kid you not).

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Hugo gives us THAT look.

After the initial show of delight and excitement at our return, our animals settled back into their normal routine. Elmo headed to Hugo’s water bowl and promptly had a bath (much to Hugo’s disgust), Georgie plonked herself next to me on the sofa for a snooze, and Hugo meowed at the back door to be let out to eat some grass and sniff where the neighbour’s cats had been. It was as if we had never been away. :)

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Georgie pigeon relaxed by my side.

I’m delighted to say that despite our animals having missed us they were in good condition and spirits when we returned, so I know they had been cared for properly. Having such unusual pets as pigeons made looking for a pet sitter interesting – as some people are not comfortable with birds, what to speak about pigeons! But once they meet my pigeons, their misconceptions or misgivings are usually won over by our characterful birds. Elmo is such a clown that he makes most people smile with his greeting song and dance, and Georgie is so pretty and delicate that all can admire. … Not that I’m biased at all with this opinion. :D

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Elmo after a bath.

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Elmo having a bath.

When my husband and I were in Tampere, Finland, visiting my family we saw a newly wed pigeon couple at an underground car park. The lighting was bad so I wasn’t able to get a good photo, and I didn’t want to disturb them too much with my flashing lights (like a paparazzo!), but I watched the male pigeon call his mate up to where he thought was a suitable spot to nest: in the wiring that ran along the ceiling of the car park. He cooed and cooed with determination and I thought, “His mate will reject that spot for sure,” since the ceiling was low and the wiring not very solid. Later that day when we returned I saw the female sitting in the wiring and the male pigeon flew over to her with a stick in his beak. It seemed that the place had been approved and the nest building was in full swing.

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Feral pigeon settling into her new nest.

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The male pigeon flies away to gather more nesting material.

At another underground car park I heard the unmistakable squeaks of baby pigeons and found a nest with two little babies begging for food from one of their parents. The other parent was sitting a few meters away on a post (its chest a bit wet from a recent feeding). As soon as they noticed me looking they went quiet to show me their disapproval of my intrusion, so I left them in peace. Oh how I would have loved to have stayed to watch the family for that day!

 


It seems that our move up North has the full approval from our animals. They enjoy exploring our new home, especially visits out in the garden, which I ensure are regular occurences to give them a varied and interesting life. No animal should be stuck in a single place all the time.

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Georgie nibbles my hand.

The other evening, after returning home and letting Elmo out of his secure area, Elmo walked with purpose into the kitchen and waited by the patio doors. I usually spend the evening chilling out after a long day at work, but I simply couldn’t ignore Elmo’s obvious gesture that he wanted to go outside. As soon as I opened the door Elmo hopped out and proceeded to preen himself in the cool evening wind (with me sitting by his side). He was so adorable, it was a pleasure to relax with him.

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Elmo rock climbing!

Elmo also enjoys eating dirt. I believe he does it to receive minerals and little stones to aid digestion. Or he may simply like the taste! :D

Georgie and Elmo continue to tease our cat, Hugo, by insisting on having baths in his water bowls. :) But they otherwise co-exist fine, no real drama to talk about. I still (foolishly) hope that one day they will all fall in love with each other and be one big happy family! Wishful thinking, I know, but miracles can happen (right?). :)

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Georgie has a bath while Hugo watches.

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Wet Elmo!

 

 


We wish our darling, funny boy a very happy hatchday! Elmo is now 13 years old! :)

HAPPY HATCHDAY, ELMO DEAR!

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Elmo enjoyed his birthday treats (with Georgie trying to join in) and had some exercise in the garden. He loves it out there! :)

For those of you who are not familiar with Elmo’s story, please read the following short bio:

Elmo is a feral pigeon and hatched in 2000. He was found as a baby with paramyxovirosis which he recovered from but was left with permanent damage (such as balance problems and inability to fly properly). He was living indoors with a lady and became imprinted on humans, craving their attention.

In 2008 Elmo was brought to a wildlife rescue centre for rehoming after his owner was unable to continue to look after him.

Due to his unique nature Elmo had to be rehomed to a household that could give him the attention and care he needed, since Elmo doesn’t like other pigeons at all and wouldn’t be happy in an aviary. The staff at the rescue centre knew that since we already had an indoor pigeon, we most likely wouldn’t mind having another one, so when they asked us if we could adopt Elmo it didn’t take us long to say yes!

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We’ve recently had a few people (racing pigeon people by the looks of it) contact us on our YouTube account who are critical of us and our two tame, disabled pigeons, Elmo and Georgie.

We have been told to get homer pigeons instead since they are smarter and better looking than Elmo and Georgie (who are feral pigeons).

How superficial!! As if we care what pigeon is the best looking or the smartest. We love our pigeons because of their loving nature and amazing character.

We have also been told that our pigeons are not as happy as we think they are because they are ill.

Let me first state that neither Georgie or Elmo are ill. They both were affected by disease when they were babies – 11 years ago in Elmo’s case and 4 years ago in Georgie’s case – but are now perfectly healthy. However, according to one man (who has 34 years of experience keeping racing pigeons), our pigeons are not happy, we are spreading disease and we should euthanise them.

Our pigeons are very happy. I may not have decades of experience, but I do know my two pigeons. Georgie I have known since she was a baby; I’ve cared for her and learnt to read her behaviour and needs. Elmo is an open book. We can see the contentment and love in his eyes when he’s snuggled up to us – there is absolutely no doubt in our minds.

I find it hard to understand how anyone who views our videos of Elmo and Georgie can possibly think that they are unhappy. For someone who has 34 years of experience keeping pigeons he’s not very perceptive.

I will not engage in further conversation with these people since I have found them unwilling to listen, so I won’t get upset and drawn into a protracted argument, however, it does upset me to a degree to know that there’s someone out there who thinks I should put my pigeons to sleep because, according to them, they are unhappy and diseased.

:(


I’ll be going away for a week and will be back in action on Tuesday 12th July (I’m going to Hungary to see family). Unfortunately I cannot take Georgie with me, nor Elmo or my hubby!

While I was packing, Georgie tried to smuggle her way into the bag:

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"Will mummy notice me?" thinks Georgie

I know she’ll miss me, however, Richard will give her lots of attention and affection (whether she wants it or not). Georgie can be a bit of a pain, though. She has mood swings: one moment she’s sitting happily by your side, the next she’s attacking you! So Richard will have to be careful with his interactions with her. I hope she doesn’t peck him too much!

Elmo, on the hand, will be happy to have Richard almost all to himself!! :) For one whole week he won’t have to share the sofa with me nor have to tolerate (or not! as is often the case) my vain attempts to cuddle him. I just hope Elmo’s not too disappointed to see me when I return.

Georgie made one last attempt to get into the bag, but I can only take one pigeon with me and I’ve chosen Mr. Pigeon as my travel companion.

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Mr. Pigeon and Georgie

I’ll try to check our facebook page and emails, however, I might not have the opportunity to be online every day. Richard will have to keep an eye on things for me.

I hope to see some pigeons in Hungary (I know there’s collared doves at my grandmother’s house because I’ve heard them cooing) and I’ll try to take photos of them. A sort of pigeon-spotting trip! :)


Last night Georgie snuck onto Elmo’s nest on the sofa and laid an egg. Yes, you heard me: She laid an egg on Elmo’s nest!! What a sneaky girl!! :D

Here’s the girl caught in the act:

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Luckily, Elmo was on the floor at the time so he didn’t know what was happening (otherwise he would have attacked her since he doesn’t like other pigeons). We removed the egg and Georgie walked away after taking a moment to recover. We’re happy that she isn’t moody about her eggs and she’s now sitting happily on my lap, cooing away.

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However, we did have a very moody pigeon today. Richard put the fake eggs under Elmo to see what would happen (big mistake!) and Elmo was a little git, running about attacking us both in his moodiness. So we removed the eggs and after Elmo had his fill attacking Templeton, the soft toy rat, he’s returned to his normal sweet self.


I found Elmo on the window sill again today! Yay!

I could hear him cooing through the closed door and when I opened it I saw him bowing up and down on the window sill, cooing to a woodpigeon that was in the garden. Silly boy!

As soon as Elmo saw me though, he flew onto the bed and danced over to me – obviously happy to see me!

Elmo’s flying has been getting better (who’s been giving him lessons?). When we first received Elmo he was understandably unsure about us and his new home, and he would do some nervous backflips when he tried to fly. Over time, as he realised how much we love him and how safe his home is, Elmo’s flying became more controlled and less erratic.

Although Elmo cannot fly properly, he does like to have a good flap every now and then. He’ll stretch his wings and lift off from the sofa and land on the floor – then take off from the floor for a few more short flights up.

Once Elmo actually flew at Richard when Richard was mock-running away from him! He’s never done that before and hasn’t done it since, but it was very impressive.

Here’s some old footage of Elmo home alone (taken from the webcam):

Elmo greeting us through the window:

And when we opened the door:


It’s been a very good weekend for us here with Georgie back to good health. She’s been snuggling up to me a lot and stealing food from my plate whenever she’s had the chance. She managed to run away with a piece of my tortilla yesterday, dragging cheese, corn, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa across the sofa. Lovely.

Elmo has been his usual wonderful self, cooing and twitching and loving. He loves shredded cabbage and lettuce so I’ve been dropping pieces on the kitchen floor whenever he’s in there keeping me company. He likes to keep an eye on things. And he loves his mineral pick-pot! The kitchen floor is covered with the pieces he’s been throwing about. He has very messy eating habits.

There are so many wonderful quirks of Elmo’s that I want to record. I think I need to hire a film crew to follow him about all day so they can capture his funny behaviours. A documentary about Elmo and Georgie would be a good idea.

Another project for me, I guess. :)


Finally! I’ve managed to upload the videos I’ve been wanting to share. Hope you like them!

Here’s Elmo boy welcoming us home when we return after a long day at work:

Here’s Georgie girl spinning around on my hand in excitement:

And here’s Elmo on his back: