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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!!

The lab results on the death of the three resident pigeons at my work came back a bit inconclusive. To be honest, you need a degree in microbiology to understand the lab results the vet handed back to us. But this is what they found: possible respiratory problem due to mites going into the lungs, mites found on body of the dead pigeons, and yeast in throat (candida albicans) – which is the white substance we found. Treatment: antibiotic and mite treatment for all the other resident pigeons (which has been done already). Thankfully, there have been no other sudden deaths.

Although the vets didn’t find much for us to work with, we are very happy they didn’t find anything dangerous and untreatable (e.g. viruses). What still worries me, though, is that there were no signs of illness in the three pigeons that died, and all the other pigeons are looking very healthy – so does this mean that the pigeons are ok? Or is the silent killer still at large? :(

We are observing the behaviour of the pigeons daily, as well as giving them health checks and ensuring that their aviary is cleaned properly. I’ve been giving Dora extra cuddles, although she doesn’t always appreciate it – and Pidge, her mate, continuously interupts me by landing on me and trying to peck at Dora. Funny boy! What’s his game?

Here are a few photos I took today of the pigeons:


Feeding time!


Pidge and Dora tucking in!


Dora looking fit and healthy as usual.

We have sadly lost three of our resident pigeons, Missy, Penelope and Hookbill, at my work. They all died suddenly, and without warning, in the last 3 weeks. All the other resident pigeons look, feel and sound healthy. Even the ones that died weren’t showing any signs of illness before they died.

At the moment we are in a state of anxiety, each day worrying if another pigeon will pass away suddenly. We are waiting for the lab results to return so that we know if a virus or other disease is the cause of death. It is hard to see what could have caused three pigeons to die suddenly and without any symptoms (besides a white substance found in the mouth). Especially when all the resident pigeons are looking so healthy. There are no coughs, discharge, laboured breathing, weight loss, listlessness or any other indicator of disease.

Could it be that it is just coincidence that three pigeons have died of old-age in the space of 3 weeks? Most of the resident pigeons at my work are mature pigeons – I recently found out that Pidge is actually 17 years old!! We don’t know the age of the other pigeons but most of them have been there for at least 10 years now. For photos of the resident pigeons (including Dora) at my work please visit: Resident pigeons

Here are the beautiful three pigeons we have lost. Rest in peace sweet pigeons. You will be sadly missed – by your mates and us – and we hope you had a good, happy life.






Hookbill - just before his beak trim. He found eating surprisingly easy even with his hooked beak.