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George had another trip to the vets because of the ulcer on her eye (read: August news – part 1). The white dot seemed to grow into a lump on her eye and I could see it bothered Georgie a lot. Poor girl!



Thankfully, the white thing fell off her eye and she’s no longer got any irritation there. We had her checked by the vet, thinking that we’d get the all clear, however, the ulcer is still there and we were given some different eye drops to see if that would help clear it all up. Georgie was also prescribed antibiotics.

On top of the eye problem, poor Georgie seems to have injured her right leg somehow and it’s at an odd angle. She’s still weight bearing on it but she does have a more pronounced limp now. The vet said they could x-ray the leg to see what’s going on, but that’s something I’m not too keen on because of the risk of anaesthetic in birds. The vet we go to is an avian and exotic veterinary surgery and are very good at what they do, however, I’m still a bit hesitant about having Georgie x-rayed. So Georgie has some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication to help with any nerve damage in the leg (from her egg laying. Georgie does get temporary paralysis sometimes when she lays eggs). My husband and I will have to weigh up the pros and cons of having Georgie x-rayed and come to a decision soon.

Georgie is her usual self, eating and drinking as normal, not depressed or acting in pain, so at least I know she’s not too upset about all her health issues. I know birds hide their pain and illness very well, and Georgie is cooing and sitting on my lap behaving as if she hasn’t got anything wrong with her. I don’t know if it’s all the medication she’s on or if she’s just a very good actress. I am certainly keeping a close eye on her to ensure she’s not getting any worst.

I took some photos of her right leg but I don’t think they came out very well. You may not see the problem. I know you will all wish Georgie a speedy recovery and good health, and I will certainly keep you updated on what’s happening.

Poor Georgie had to endure a trip to the vet because of an eye problem. We noticed that she was keeping her right eye closed and that it looked quite red and irritated. I at first thought she had a feather or something else stuck in it, but after a gentle look I couldn’t see anything. Then I noticed that there was a opaque white dot on her eye, which wasn’t there before. Now, Georgie’s eyes are normally cloudy due to the scarring, but the white mark was a new development.


Georgie's right eye - with white dot in it.

The vet put some yellow drops in Georgie’s eye to determine if it was what she suspected, an ulcer – and it was. So some eye drops were prescribed for me to put in Georgie’s eye (which Georgie isn’t too happy about). I also asked the vet if there was anything I could give her for car sickness, and she’s given me some medication as a trial to see if it helps. I sure hope it does since Georgie will soon have a long car journey ahead of her (more on this later).


Georgie's left eye

In other news, Elmo is still trying to go under the sofa. It’s his new favourite spot!




He keeps “crawling” under and falling asleep. Maybe he feels safe under there? Or perhaps there’s some treats that have rolled under which he’s trying to get to? :) The other day he was almost completely under the sofa! I sadly didn’t get the opportunity to take a photo of it before he made his way out again. Elmo sure is a silly boy! He’s always doing something new to surprise me.

When we first adopted Georgie and Elmo we lived in a flat with no garden. Since both pigeons are disabled we knew they would always be indoor pigeons, however, I felt uneasy about their lack of access to the green green world. A year or so later we moved to a flat with a garden attached and I was able to take Elmo and Georgie outside under supervision. We bought a large rabbit run as well as a bird harness so that our pigeons could be outside safely. (One of the reasons why: Fly, birdie, fly!)

One of the major disadvantages of keeping a pigeon predominantly indoors is the lack of ultraviolet light (UV light) they receive. This is not something to be taken lightly of. Direct sunshine is required for vitamin D production (which helps the absorption of calcium), which is essential for healthy bone growth and strength. It is not enough to simply put a caged bird near a window to receive sunlight since the UV part of sunshine that helps vitamin D production is filtered out when going through window glass and therefore the bird won’t receive the benefits. Since birds can see UV light (feathers reflect it) a lack of UV light can also affect a birds behaviour, particularly its breeding behaviour.

Experts recommend shining a specialised bird UV lamp on an indoor bird for a minimum of 4 hours per day. Never use a reptile or fish UV lamp (or a plant grow light!) as they don’t have the correct spectrum for birds. An avian UV lamp should have 12% UV-a (for behaviour) and 2.4% UV-b (for calcium). Arcadia sell avian UV lamps: Arcadia bird lamp

For more information: The Essential Nutrient Your Pet Bird is Likely Seriously Short On… and Ultraviolet Lighting and Birds

Please watch this video on the subject:

In our past veterinary visits with Georgie and Elmo the vet has always asked, “Do you provide UV light?” So I knew how important it was for our pigeons but I had my reservations about one aspect of it. And it’s this: Georgie hates bright lights. And I mean HATES. Here’s what happened when she met a lava lamp: Explosive behaviour (For those of you who don’t know this, Georgie has distorted pupils and scarring on her eyes so she has limited vision. She can, however, see bright lights and movement.)

As I’ve written numerous times before, if my camera light goes on Georgie will back away. If the flash goes off then Georgie will wing slap me! So what is Georgie going to do with a super bright UV light shining on her?!!

But I had to bite the bullet and implement the light for her own well being. Summers being so wet here in the UK it’s not always possible for me to be outside with Georgie and Elmo – and never for many hours a day – so they’re missing out on essential ultraviolet light from the sun.

So I bought a light and turned it on and Georgie started a war campaign against it! And to be honest, I don’t blame her. The thing is BRIGHT!! Hurts my eyes when it’s on!


Georgie doesn't like the new light

Elmo, on the other hand, doesn’t mind the light at all.


Elmo fast asleep

To get Georgie used to the light I have to have her on my lap or shoulder while I sit next to the lamp. (I wonder what health benefits I will get from the bird light?) Sometimes she seems to tolerate it, but mostly she’ll become angry when I turn it on. A minimum of 4 hours is asking a lot for her to tolerate I’m afraid. :( I think I’ll have to build up to that slowly.

As I’m typing this I have looked over to the sofa and seen Georgie settled down for a nap next to the lamp. Success!! Maybe she’s realised that the lamp is doing her good. :)


Georgie and Elmo and the UV light

Elmo was being so ridiculous yesterday. I’ve never seen him in such a state. He was utterly jealous of Georgie!

I let Georgie incubate the fake eggs for longer than usual to prevent her from laying another set of eggs too soon since she’s had some health problems with the previous pairs of eggs (see: Vet trip and Updates on Georgie and Elmo) so Elmo hasn’t had any real contact with her or seen her for about a month. Yesterday Georgie decided she’d had enough (and frankly, so had I! I wanted my cuddly pigeon back) and left the nest to join me and you should have seen the look on Elmo’s face!!! He was livid. He couldn’t handle all the attention I was giving Georgie.

Now Georgie is my ‘mate’, while my husband is Elmo’s, so it’s only natural for me to reestablish my bond with Georgie. But Elmo wasn’t impressed. Since I’ve been home more often during the daytime Elmo has decided he likes me and has been bonding with me as well. I think, with Georgie out of the picture for a month, Elmo thought he was top bird! :D

So when Georgie started to cuddle with me last night on the sofa Elmo raced over and was visibly shaking with jealousy and anger at the sight of me cuddling Georgie. It was hilarious!! As soon as I looked down at Elmo he’d twitch and coo to invite me to cuddle him, but if I ignored him to cuddle Georgie he’d peck my arm to get my attention.

I’ve never seen him this jealous before. Usually Georgie is jealous of Elmo when I give him attention, so it was funny to see Elmo jealous of her! (see: Jealous Georgie!)

I now have two needy pigeons vying for my attention.

I’m happy to report that Georgie’s health is back to normal now. She acquired a limp about a month ago after laying an egg, then she laid another set of infertile eggs shortly after, which caused her to become very weak and unable to stand up for long. Our avian vet gave me medication to give her every day to tackle her limp and we upped her calcium and vitamin D supplement intake to boost her strength. It’s taken her a while to recover from the strain of laying eggs so closely after the first set, but we’re so happy to have her back to normal.

I took a photo of Georgie’s chest feathers when she has been sitting on the fake eggs. The feathers are all out of place because she pushes them out to expose the brood patch so the eggs are against her skin.


Georgie's ruffled chest feathers

I realised I had forgotten to tell you about Elmo’s new sleeping arrangements. He used to sleep on the bedside table in our bedroom, however, when we bought a new bed we didn’t realise how much higher it was to the old one – so unfortunately Elmo hurt his foot one day when he lept down from the bed (which he recovered from). And since the bed is higher he no longer is able to jump up onto the bed like he used to do when staying home alone. So we decided that he would be better off if he stayed in the living room on the sofa. He now sleeps there and when we are out for the day, he has the run of the living room, which is bigger than the bedroom so he has more space to explore than he used to.

Yesterday I found Elmo in Georgie’s empty nest. I guess it is payback for all the times Georgie has snuck into his nest. :)


Elmo in Georgie's nest

Georgie is fast asleep on my lap and I can hear Elmo calling to me on the sofa. They are such wonderful birds but they are often quite demanding with their attention-seeking desires. :D

With the sun shining so gloriously, I took Elmo and Georgie out into the garden to enjoy it:




Georgie sunbathing




Visiting pigeons


Visiting pigeons

The following is a very good website with information and advice about pigeon fanciers lung: British Pigeon Fanciers Medical Research

Please read about a condition that may affect you if you work in close contact with pigeons. It is the only real threat to us pigeon lovers. The overall message is to wear a mask and protective clothing as a preventive measure when cleaning out your loft or aviary.


It is an allergic reaction which affects the air exchanging parts of the lung and causes shortness of breath, cough and feverish illness.

Sensitivity to Pigeon Protein. The commonest source is the bloom but droppings and other dust in the loft may be important.

It is more common than people think. World wide studies indicate that from 6% to 22% of fanciers have symptoms following exposure to pigeons. In British Pigeon Fanciers, 31% were found to be sensitised and 16% to have symptoms.

Breathlessness, dry cough, “flu like” feelings, headache and aching joints, sweating, exhaustion 2-6 hours after contact with pigeons. Weight loss. With high sensitivity, the reaction can occur more quickly and people can be very sick.

A blood check for reaction to pigeon protein would show raised levels.

a) The normal body defence systems have responded to contact with pigeon protein.
b) Everyone will tend to make antibody reaction to pigeon protein, but some people make much more than others.
c) People with high reaction levels are more likely to get chest trouble than those with low levels
d) If levels are raised, then there is a real risk of problems.

The answer in the main is NO, although for some people, unfortunately this is the only solution. It is entirely a personal decision and there are no hard and fast rules about it. WEAR MASK, CAP AND COAT at all times when you are in the loft to reduce the amount of bloom you breathe into the lungs.

YES – Those with severe symptoms have higher levels than those with minor problems.

NO – if untreated however, it can cause chronic ill health and lung damage and this can eventually be fatal if neglected.

NO – It is not an infectious disease. (It is NOT the same thing as “Psittacosis” which is infectious )

Go and see your Doctor. The British Pigeon Fanciers Research Fund covers the cost of a blood test. All that is needed is to send a 10ml sample of clotted blood in a plain container to us, the details for this are on the contact page.

Your Doctor can contact Kenneth Boyd who can put him/her in touch with Dr. Boyd directly, should he/she wish to discuss any matters with him.

YES -People react to the condition in different ways. Some have one or two attacks and then have no more trouble. Others have severe disease and must keep away from pigeons altogether. The acute illness can be treated by drugs.


The only true cure is to keep away from pigeons altogether. Only a few people have to do this because the condition varies very much in its severity and most people only experience problems from time to time, which if treated, does not progress.

The answer is not known for certain but studies, so far, indicate that the occurrence of disease is related to:

  • The age of the individual
  • The number of birds kept
  • The average weekly exposure to pigeons
  • The number of years in the Fancy
  • The individual’s own inborn reaction. (some are very sensitive and others are not).

YES -This is very important until the illness settles. Sometimes treatment is needed. Attacks can often be prevented by avoiding excessive contact with the bloom or dust e.g. by avoiding cleaning the loft personally or by wearing a mask, cap and coat.


  • With racing pigeons or with show pigeons - NO
  • In overcrowded lofts – YES
  • In poorly ventilated lofts – YES
  • With deep litter – NO
  • With more than normal contact with pigeons – YES


  • Study of eye signs.
  • Use of eyeglass to examine pigeons.
  • If many youngsters are hand reared.
  • Hand and mouth feeding of squeakers.


  • Separated cocks/Separated hens
  • Paired cocks/Paired hens
  • Pigeons on natural/Widowhood systems
  • Different strains – e.g. inbred, outcross
  • Short/Middle/Long Distance birds


N.B. Fanciers using the “Widowhood” system may be more at risk than those using the natural system because the loft is fully enclosed.

None found.


  • All Fanciers should use a mask when cleaning out.
  • Pigeon fanciers with symptoms of Pigeon Lung of any degree should use a mask, cap and coat every time they are with birds, even at Shows and Marking Stations.
  • Fanciers with pigeon Lung should be very careful after an absence from the birds (e.g. after being on holiday). An increased reaction may be experienced on their return to the birds. A mask is essential.

The pigeon bloom, which is the main source of inhaled pigeon protein, is an extremely small dust particle (<5 microns). It is, therefore, important that the correct filter mask is used. Any mask used must comply with the appropriate European standard (or equivalent – in other countries)

The standard is EN149:FFP1 (S) for disposable masks and EN143:1990 for the Replaceable Filter Mask.

Please see our dedicated mask page, for detail of specific masks.

(From: http://www.pigeon-lung.co.uk/faq.html)

There have been two articles about feral pigeons in my area. One about the problem of pigeons breeding under a railway bridge, and another about using a hawk to scare pigeons away from a certain area in town.

I know the bridge mentioned in the first article, I’ve been under it and have seen the pigeon population that breeds there. Since the design of the bridge is perfect for pigeons – with ledges and nooks and crannies – pigeons naturally choose to roost and nest under them.

Since these types of bridges normally have a busy road under them I always fear for the baby pigeons that might accidentally fall from their nest. I would personally like to see the bridge netted off to prevent pigeons from nesting there (purely to stop baby pigeons from falling to their death), however, it would need to be done properly so that the pigeons could not get through and become stuck.

What I’m worried about is what will happen to the existing baby pigeons under the bridge. Will they be “rehomed” as the councillor is suggesting or will they simply be killed by the pest control company? I will be contacting the relevant people about this matter.

Councillor vows he will clip the wings of pigeon problem

Friday, March 11, 2011, 08:00

By Helen Kitchener (helen.kitchener@courier.co.uk)

It has been a slimy, unpleasant problem for more than 15 years – but now a Sherwood councillor has pledged to tackle the scourge of pigeon droppings from Sandhurst Road railway bridge once and for all.

For several years councillors and residents have lobbied Network Rail, which owns the bridge, to clean it up and move the pigeons which roost there but to no avail.

Recently elected councillor Bob Backhouse, who lives round the corner from the bridge, said it was high time the disgusting mess was tackled. But Mr Backhouse was quick to point out he was “not declaring war on pigeons”.

“This is one of those issues which sounds trivial but when you go out knocking on doors people want it sorted,” said Mr Backhouse. “Just the other day I heard from a woman who was pushing a double buggy and one of the pigeons dumped on her. It’s happened to me when I was walking into town and I had to turn round and go home to wash my hair.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council employs a contractor to spray the area around the bridge with antiseptic on a regular basis.

“I’ve been assured by the borough council there’s a file about four inches thick on it,” said Mr Backhouse. “The council has really tried but has come up against a brick wall with Network Rail. I understand they have much more important things to sort out but they seem to have quite a cavalier attitude.”

Mr Backhouse is pushing for the railway authority to rehouse the animals and put up netting after they had bred to stop them returning.

“It’s one of those things that if we get it done it will make a lot of folk happy,” he added.

Network Rail refused to comment.

(From: http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/news/Councillor-vows-clip-wings-pigeon-problem/article-3317091-detail/article.html)

Sandhurst Road railway bridge:


(Photo from: http://kevinlynes.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/sandhurst-road-railway-bridge-a-real-bird-puller/)

The second article is about the fact that some traders are fed up with the local feral pigeons and the mess they leave. They take the usual ignorant stance that pigeons are dirty and a health hazard and therefore need to go (please see my post: Feral pigeons and disease). I understand that their droppings can damage buildings, etc., however, without barring off the nesting sites and ridding the place of waste food, the pigeons will stay in the area. A few hours in the week of a hawk flying about won’t deter them.

While I applaud the traders efforts to find a humane solution to their so-called pigeon problem, it is flawed and will most likely be ineffective. My worry is that once they’ve realised that their hawk plan isn’t working they’ll turn to inhumane actions.

As far as I can tell from the original article, the hawk isn’t trained to catch the pigeons, only to fly about and scare them off by its presence.

Hawk hired to scare away Tunbridge Wells pigeons

Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The hawk in the Pantiles

The hawk’s profile while in flight scares away the pigeons
Kent traders have employed a bird of prey to scare away pigeons they said are damaging historic buildings.

Several businesses on the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells have joined forces to pay for the hire of the Harris hawk.

Richard Simm, chair of the Association of Pantiles Traders said the pigeons are destroying buildings, and putting off tourists.

Simm has tried playing sounds of the pigeons’ predators through speakers, but with no effect.

He said he is hoping that the landlords or the Traders Association will be able to help with funding for the bird.

“The hawk is quite an expensive way of dealing with the pigeons, but it is done in a humane way.”

(From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/kent/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_9425000/9425811.stm)

I’ve known for a while now that Georgie had eggs on the mind. All the usual symptoms were there: looking for a nest as well as excessive courting and mating behaviour. Anything could set her off. Usually just hearing my voice would get Georgie in the mood, but when she’s decided she’s going to lay eggs, well, even Richard’s voice would do! LOL!

I foolishly thought that if I didn’t give Georgie a nest then she wouldn’t lay any eggs. How naive of me!

Last night George jumped down from her usual spot on the sofa onto Elmo’s nest. She knows that he has a nest there and usually doesn’t try to go there because Elmo would of course attack her, but last night she was obviously desperate. I didn’t read her behaviour correctly and thought she was trying to get to the peanut jar so I popped her into her cage so that she could eat. After a minute or so I looked back to see what Georgie was doing and saw that she was about to lay an egg while standing on edge of her cage! OMG!

I quickly picked Georgie up and placed her on the pink fleece (that she loves so much) and watched her lay her egg. It’s actually quite painful to watch because of the size of the egg compaired to the cloaca (vent). I do feel for Georgie. Poor girl. At one point she got the egg out half way but then stopped for a second to regroup her energy and then she gave one last push and the egg came out. Phew!

Once the egg was laid though, Georgie ran away as if not interested. Fair enough. I hadn’t given her a chance to really bond to a nesting place so she disconnected her thoughts from the egg pretty quickly. Her eggs are of course infertile so there’s no problem with her not incubating them.


Georgie walks away from her freshly laid egg

I do feel a bit guilty for not having given her a nest but I just didn’t want her health to be compromised as it did the last time she laid an egg.

Today Georgie is no different than the last few days. She’s quite chunky in weight (hooray!) and she’s sitting comfortably on my lap. We’re expecting her to lay the second egg tomorrow and we’ll try to capture the moment on video. In the meantime, here’s a video of Georgie laying an egg a year ago:

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. :)

Yesterday I wrote that we were expecting Georgie to lay an egg any minute now, and lo and behold, she did!

The whole day George was restless. She didn’t want to nest in her guinea-pig nest, nor even in the pink and white fleece! For some reason Georgie was rejecting them. I didn’t know what she wanted and nothing I did seemed to please her. Georgie kept moving about without settling.

In the end we found that she’d laid the egg on the floor. She didn’t seem interested in it at all. Poor dear.


We left the egg in Georgie’s cage today when we left for work and returned to find her incubating it. Hooray! (By the way, Georgie’s eggs are never fertile.) We now await the appearance of the second egg, which should happen tomorrow.


This is a video of Georgie laying an egg earlier this year:

Georgie has had an 8 month break since the last time she laid eggs, which I think is good because as you can imagine, egg production and laying takes a lot of energy and calcium. It can take its toll if birds lay eggs continuously, a condition called “chronic egg-laying”. I’m happy that George made the decision to not lay eggs for a while, thus giving herself a break. Now, however, an egg has appeared and who knows if she’ll continue to lay eggs every month from now on. I hope she doesn’t.

Chronic egg-laying can cause a number of serious health problems for birds, and can ultimately lead to the death of the female if left untreated.

“Chronic egg-laying in the pet bird poses a significant threat to the health and behavioral well being of many pet birds. When a hen lays repeated clutches or larger than normal clutch size without regard to the presence of a normal mate or confined breeding season, a myriad of secondary problems can follow. Ultimately, functional exhaustion of the reproductive tract poses risk of metabolic and physiological drain on the bird, particularly on calcium and energy stores. All of these ultimately predispose the hen to egg binding, dystocia, yolk coelomitis, oviductal impaction, oviductal torsion, cloacal prolapse and osteoporosis.” Ask an Expert: Chronic egg laying by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM.

This article – Chronic Egg Laying from AvianWeb – has some good advice on how to combat chronic egg-laying (mainly aimed at parrot species). Please go to the article to see the full explanation of the points below.

Things you can do to discourage / stop your bird from laying eggs:

  • Do not remove eggs which she has already laid.
  • Remove possible nesting sites and nest-making material.
  • Mimic “Shorter Days”.
  • Limit food access.
  • One vet recommended turning day into night.
  • Discourage breeding behavior in your bird.
  • Rearrange the cage interior and change the cage location.
  • Give your bird optimal nutrition.
  • Provide full spectrum light.
  • If necessary, separate from “mate”.
  • Ask your veterinarian about hormone injections.

The following article has good advice about egg-binding (one of the problems of chronic egg laying):

“Calcium is used by the body to not only form the shell of the developing egg and maintain strong bones, but is also crucial in the proper functioning of the muscles. While it does take a large amount of calcium to form an egg shell, the hen also needs calcium for the muscle action needed to expel the egg.

“Vitamin d3 is crucial in the absorption of calcium. Without it, all that good calcium we offer our birds passes right through the body without being absorbed. In outdoor flights, our birds are able to produce d3 via a chemical reaction to sunlight. In indoor flights, they are unable to do this. Sunlight through a window is not sufficient. The ultraviolet light needed does not pass through window glass. Full spectrum lights can help but some studies have shown that the ultraviolet is only at sufficient levels at less than one foot from the light source. For inside birds, a d3 supplement is almost always helpful.” Egg Binding by Carol Heesen