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Elmo pigeon

My two pigeons live indoors since they are both disabled and bonded to humans. I have written a lot in the past about their special needs and their requirements for living indoors, especially stressing the importance of ensuring their emotional needs are met as well as their dietary ones. One of the latter requirments are minerals. Out in the wild pigeons will find and eat minerals to supplement their diet (as do many other animal species), but where in my household are Elmo and Georgie going to find these minerals?

When I bought the first red mineral pick-pot I was amazed at how quickly Elmo knew that it was for eating and at how much he enjoyed doing so. When out in the garden Elmo would always eat some dirt, so I knew he had the need for minerals, but how did he know that the pot contained them? Whatever the answer, Elmo started a love affair with the pick pot and I had to ensure that I had a steady supply of them (previous posts about the subject: Pet pigeons can be so silly sometimes… and Pigeon video introduction)

After a house move I had to think of where to put the pick-pot so Elmo could enjoy it. I had concerns about putting it in the kitchen – which is where it was in our previous home – because the spillage was great (Elmo is not a neat eater!) which left the floor stained pink. So this time I placed the pot in Elmo’s little corner near his food and water since the area is covered with a cloth that I can wash.

What did Elmo do? He ignored the pot completely. Instead, he’d walk into the kitchen and look about for the pot there, even though it is a completely different kitchen with a different layout. Elmo seemed to have it in his head that the pick-pot belonged in the kitchen. I kept showing Elmo where the pot was near his food but he would simply ignore it and walk into the kitchen. I watched him do this for a while before I gave in and put the pot in a corner in the kitchen. Elmo immediately went up to it and ate some minerals. Pigeon 1, human 0.

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Elmo is reunited with his beloved mineral pick-pot.

I left the pick-pot in the kitchen for a week then moved it back into Elmo’s area in the living room. I didn’t want the minerals to stain the floor and I also wanted Elmo to have access to them all the time (he’s not allowed in the kitchen when we’re out at work). Thankfully, Elmo realised that the pick-pot was now in his area and continued to use it there, so I am now happy with the knowledge that he isn’t going without at any point. :)

In other news, Elmo briefly perches on our door. He didn’t look impressed with being so high up – since Elmo cannot fly he’s always at a floor level – so we quickly took him down. :)

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I’ve taken two short videos of my two disabled, extremely tame (imprinted, really) feral pigeons as a sort of introduction to them for those of you who’ve just discovered my blog. Welcome! :)

And for those of you who already know my pigeons, here’s a few little things about Elmo and I:

I find myself calling Elmo “Mr Pigeon Pie” more often now. Shameful, isn’t it?! :D This is now a term of endearment for him, not a threat – unlike what I wrote about in 2011: Pigeon pie

Sometimes when I get up from the sofa to leave the room Elmo quickly follows me. I obviously leave his side without his consent. Other times Elmo is content to wait for me to return and often falls asleep before I do, so when he wakes up to see me by his side after only a minute later, he acts as if I’ve been away all day and greets me accordingly (which is to say, ecstatically!!).

A while back my husband and I visited a feed store to see what pigeon products they had and came back with lovely pigeon conditioning seed and mineral pick-pots. As many of you know, Elmo loves his pick-pot (see: Pet pigeons can be so silly sometimes…), so we decided to get a few different types for Elmo the peck at. Sadly, Elmo hasn’t taken to the new pick-pots. I don’t know why, however, I’ll leave them there just in case he changes his mind.


Elmo's new pick-pots (the two on the left)

On the sofa enjoying a TV programme. When I turn my head to see what Georgie is up to I see that she’s on the backrest trying to feed the corner of a cushion. … What a silly girl! She has the cushion in her beak and she’s shaking her head about, trying to regurgitate a bit of food. Then she swings around and dances up and down the sofa backrest before presenting herself to be mated. I just turned back to the TV, totally incapable of commenting on her outrageous misplaced behaviour.

Later that evening I find Elmo picking bits from his mineral pick-pot. He LOVES his pick-pot, so much so that the white patch of feathers on his chest have now turned pink – from all the time he spends leaning against the red minerals!

I tried to take a photo of him with his head in the pot but Elmo became too excited over the camera and wasn’t cooperating. Sadly, this photo doesn’t show the delicate shade of pink his feathers are now. They may look white, but trust me, they are pink! :)


Elmo by his beloved pick-pot

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)!