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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!

 


At the beginning of last year I wrote about how many eggs Georgie has laid (click here to read the post) and I feel I should update the list.

Here are the numbers:

  • 2008 – 2 eggs
  • 2009 – 16 eggs
  • 2010 – 7 eggs
  • 2011 – 8 eggs
  • 2012 – 20 eggs
  • 2013 – 14 eggs
  • 2014 – 3 eggs to date

That makes 70 eggs in total.

I captured the moment when Georgie laid an egg this month:

Poor darling, it always looks a bit painful and stressful, but Georgie takes a moment to recover and is fine. It is interesting when you see the egg laying behaviour because now I can recognise it for what it is. The first time I saw her all puffed up and moving her tail in that manner I was quite alarmed, especially since we thought Georgie was a boy! Certainly wasn’t expecting an egg to appear! :D

Moments before she started to lay the egg (in the video) Georgie was in her nest on the sofa and Hugo boy (our pigeon-fearing cat) was very intrigued in what was going on. Georgie was all puffed up and looking different and I think Hugo thought she was something other than a pigeon. I moved her to her cage so she could lay her egg in there. If I were to move her after she had laid the egg then there would be a big chance she’d reject the relocation and insist on going back to the sofa. This has happened in the past so now I know to quickly move Georgie and her nest to her cage for the egg laying to ensure she incubates them happily in her cage. Thankfully, her eggs are infertile so I don’t have to worry about Georgie rejecting them, although I prefer her to incubate instead of laying another pair of eggs so soon after the first pair.

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Georgie girl all puffed up

 


We knew something was up when Elmo started to do this:

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Where's Elmo?

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Elmo trying to go under the sofa

He was being broody but for some reason wasn’t nesting in his beloved cat igloo bed. When I showed him a fake egg Elmo immediately tried to sit on it (still in my hand!!). After placing the egg into his igloo bed Elmo was happy to nest in there. What a silly little boy! :)

I’m sure he’s super jealous of Georgie’s ability to lay eggs. If only he realised that if he didn’t attack Georgie she might let him incubate her infertile eggs. If Elmo ever did decide that he fancied Georgie I would be besides myself with joy! Imagine the two having babies?!! :D

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Georgie and her egg


Georgie wasn’t impressed that Elmo is stealing all her broody glory so she laid some eggs to compete. We now have two moody, broody little pigeons.

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Ps. We moved Georgie’s nest out of the cat igloo bed so she can have easier access to food and water in her cage.


Elmo is happily (and moodily) sitting on his fake eggs.

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I’m happy to announce that the problem of Elmo’s unhappiness has been solved!!

Elmo is broody!!!

I’d like to thank everyone for your comments on yesterdays blog post directing us towards this conclusion!!

Last night Richard placed two fake eggs in Elmo’s nest and Elmo IMMEDIATELY sat on them. It was like he has been waiting these past few weeks for Richard to lay them for him (I bet Elmo is thinking, “What took you so long?”). The only reason I originally dismissed the idea that Elmo was broody when we first started noticing his moodiness is because Elmo was attacking Richard as viciously as he was attacking me. In my mind that didn’t add up (why attack your mate?). But having now read back a few of my previous notes about Elmo being broody, this was what he did the last time he was broody. I just didn’t remember it.

I feel bad for Elmo that it took us this long to figure things out. We won’t be making that mistake again. Elmo is now sitting on his eggs and although he is still attacking me, he seems settled and content to be finally incubating. He’s no longer pecking Richard’s fingers and has been twitching happily to him. I am so relieved!!

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Here are Elmo’s past broody dates:


Remember when I wrote about Elmo stealing Georgie’s igloo nest? (see: Elmo takes revenge).

Well, Georgie reclaimed her nest and Elmo was left feeling bereft. He kept walking up to the place where the igloo nest used to be and he’d stand there looking lost and a bit sad. So I made him a little tent for him to sit under but he wasn’t very impressed with my efforts.

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Elmo in his 'tent'

So you can guess what happened next. … We got Elmo his very own igloo nest and he LOVES it!!

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Elmo in his new nest

When I first placed it down Elmo spread his tail feathers out and started cooing and dancing to the nest, as if he was courting it!! I could tell he was very impressed. :)

So now both pigeons have two nests to choose from each (the guinea pig bed as well as the cat igloo bed) and there shouldn’t be any disputes over property.


Elmo has finally had enough of Georgie stealing his nest and food. When she wants to lay an egg Georgie prefers to do so in Elmo’s nest, even though he doesn’t like her and will attack her if she gets too close. But Georgie doesn’t stop trying and has succeeded many times (please see: Valentine present, Sneaky George, Sneaky George part 2).

So Elmo is taking revenge. He’s now stealing her nest!! I caught him in the act:

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Elmo asleep in Georgie's nest

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Elmo lets me know that he likes it in there!

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Elmo in Georgie's other nest on the sofa!


Sometimes I feel that the only thing I write about Georgie is about her laying eggs. Since it is such a common occurance I decided to count how many eggs Georgie has laid in her life so far. I keep a record of her egg laying in my little pigeon notebook (see: Pet Pigeon Book).

The first egg Georgie ever laid – back in the day when we thought she was a boy! – was on the 17th October 2008 (when she was 1 year old).

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Georgie with her first egg!

Here are the numbers:

  • 2008 – 2 eggs
  • 2009 – 16 eggs
  • 2010 – 7 eggs
  • 2011 – 8 eggs
  • 2012 – 20 eggs
  • 2013 – 2 eggs so far

All together that makes 55 eggs.

Last year Georgie laid 10 pairs of eggs, almost a pair a month, which is definitely not what I want for her since egg laying is so energy and calcium draining (please read my previous post: The problem of chronic egg laying). I hope 2013 is the year she takes it easy (although we’re not off to a good start with 2 eggs already). I’ll have to try harder not to encourage the behaviour, but it is hard since Georgie is the one that comes to me for affection. How can I deny her a cuddle when I’m all she has?

I just have to ensure that Georgie is healthy enough to handle the egg laying. I have already taken away her nest to discourage nest building, but with the absence of her nest she goes looking for another:

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Georgie sneaking up on Elmo in his nest


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!!