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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.


Recently I looked through all the photos and videos we have of our Elmo and Georgie and I found some that I hadn’t yet shared with you, so I would like to do so now.

You may remember when I wrote about the tabby cat that visits us (back in November 2011: Elmo meets a cat!). Here’s photos of the cat relaxing on our sofa with an unimpressed Elmo on her back:

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The cat (which I believe is female) doesn’t care at all about our pigeons – she’s only interested in us – and we’ve had a lot of fun in seeing Elmo chase her away when he decides she’s taking too many liberties on the sofa with us! :)

Before Elmo came to live with us he used to live in a household with many cats, rabbits and other birds (for the first 8 years of his life). He used to sleep on the bed with an elderly cat and also had play fights with the rabbits. Elmo now only has to put up with Georgie’s presence (and the occasional visit from the cat) and I’m sure he feels like the king of the home. Elmo probably has lots of precious memories of his previous life. I wish I could have been there to see him as a baby and to watch him play with the cats and rabbits. Sadly, I haven’t been able to get hold of any photos of Elmo from his previous life.

Now that I start work in the afternoons I spend my mornings at home with Georgie and Elmo. Elmo used to always attack me and consider me a threat to his relationship with my husband, but now he’s getting used to my company and requests cuddles and attention.

Here’s Elmo when he discovered Georgie’s empty nest and decided to nest in it himself:

Sometimes, however, Elmo remembers that he’s doesn’t like me (in principle) and will attack my fingers:

In the video you can see Georgie in her nest being all moody and attacking the nest. She does this sometimes before she lays eggs. Silly girl.

Most of the time, though, Georgie is loving and likes to preen my arm. It tickles at first but then Georgie gets really excited and starts to pull at the hairs and skin, which can hurt. Elmo also likes to preen arms. It’s their way of telling us they love us. In the wild a pigeon will preen its mate around the face to strengthen their bond and as a sign of affection. It’s lovely to see and we are honoured that our pigeons preen us. :)

Georgie preening my arm:

Elmo preening my husband’s arm:

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I love living with pigeons!

:D


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.

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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. :)

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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:

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Georgie

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Georgie sunbathing

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Elmo

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Visiting pigeons

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Visiting pigeons


Elmo likes to sleep a lot. He’s at that age (coming up to 12 years old this year) that he nods off at any opportunity (in between chasing toes and attacking toys – tiring stuff that is!). So this week I’ve caught Elmo taking a nap in various locations. It seems he’s trying to find the perfect spot.

First I found him on the fluffy mat:

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Then next to the window:

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And today I caught Elmo taking a nap next to Georgie’s nest, the silly boy:

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Georgie is sitting on (infertile) eggs again (she laid a new pair this week) and for some reason Elmo decided to sleep near her. I have no idea why since he hates Georgie. And as you can imagine, Georgie was not impressed with the close proximity. She’s very protective over her eggs and doesn’t like to be disturbed. So she quickly told Elmo off:


After yesterday’s egg laying drama (please read: Valentine present) Georgie is happy sitting on the egg in her own nest. I guess we’ll get a second one tomorrow, although last time Georgie only layed one egg.

I do end up missing Georgie’s company and attention when she’s incubating but I know that it’s probably better for her psychologically to go through the motions than to interrupt her broodiness. She’s such a sweetheart (and sometimes a real pain!) and every day I’m in awe of my pigeons. They are amazing creatures and although their continuous pooping can be a real pain in the backside sometimes, their love and affection towards us is so inspiring.

So far we have captured on video Georgie laying an egg three times. Last year she had layed one in Elmo’s nest, but that time he was on the floor so he didn’t know it. :)

Here are the videos:


Georgie gave us a Valentine’s present: an egg! :)

We knew one was imminent from her behaviour (nesting and mating displays), dropping consistency (very loose) and body posture (arched lower body and tail feathers), however, her decision on where she wanted to lay the egg took us by surprise.

At around 8pm Georgie raced across the sofa from her end, climbed over Richard, and jumped onto Elmo’s nest with him still in it!! We quickly removed her before Elmo attacked her and placed her in her nest, however, she had made up her mind and wasn’t going to change it! Georgie raced across again to Elmo’s nest, so this time Richard covered Elmo so he couldn’t see her, and Georgie settled down next to Elmo and laid her egg.

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Georgie (right) with Elmo (left) in his nest.

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Georgie lays her egg! Elmo has a look to see what's happening.

After Georgie had laid her egg (which is infertile, by the way) we placed her and her egg in her nest but unfortunately Georgie doesn’t recognise it as her own and is trying to get back to Elmo’s nest. Oh dear. Elmo is keeping her at bay with threatening pecks but I think I will have to take the egg away to stop Georgie from being too broody and to stop her harassing Elmo.

We caught the egg laying on video. The egg appears towards the end (2:27).


One of the minor problems with keeping female pigeons is that they can lay eggs every month for the majority of their life. Since egg laying uses lot of energy and calcium it can cause a strain on the female’s body. It isn’t easy to stop a female pigeon from laying eggs every month. As far as I know, there is no hard and fast way to do so. Providing the pigeon with extra vitamin D and calcium, as well as proper housing and good quality food, will help with the stress of egg laying and incubating.

In 2009 my semi-blind pet pigeon, Georgie, laid a pair of eggs nearly every month. Then she decided to have a long break (she must have realised that her eggs are infertile and since I, her “mate”, was no help in incubating she decided it wasn’t worth the stress) and only laid eggs for a few months in a row before having another break. After another 6 month break, Georgie laid an egg on the 31st Dec 2011 and the second one on the 3rd Jan 2012.

She’s been working double shifts since I’m no help. Poor girl, she must get cramped sitting all day and night on her infertile eggs. I let her out of her cage for a stretch and a poo, since she holds it in when nesting, but otherwise Georgie spends all her time being the mummy she thinks she’ll be. It is sad, however, I haven’t been successful with finding her a male pigeon that likes her and even when I do, I wouldn’t let them incubate fertile eggs since there are enough pigeons in the world without me adding to the population. (We don’t have an aviary either so we wouldn’t be able to keep any babies.)

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Georgie on her eggs

Georgie feels very safe in the new nest we got her (see Bedtime and new nest), however, I have to leave the whole thing in her cage when I leave for work otherwise she’d freak out since she doesn’t like her eggs and nest being moved about. It’s a bit cramped once the cage top goes on, but since she sits for most of the day it isn’t a problem (and it’s a temporary thing).

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Cramped quarters

I have been going through the previous posts about Georgie’s egg laying, and it’s interesting to read about her nesting behaviour (and how my views change every time).

Here’s Georgie a week before she laid her eggs, preening my arm in her loving way (it tickles!!!):


Last night Georgie stayed up late past her bedtime without any problems. Usually, if she’s on the sofa with us after 10pm, Georgie gets very moody and starts to peck us. She doesn’t like the TV on (the flickering light from it) and doesn’t like it if I move about. She basically wants us to go to sleep. So, at 10pm I put Georgie in her cage and cover half with a cloth to prevent the light from the TV disturbing her (her cage is in the living room). Georgie will then fall asleep without any problem and is quite content with this arrangement.

However, last night, Georgie was with us past midnight. She was asleep on me, snuggled up under my chin – her favourite spot! (And I have the scratches to prove it! Georgie likes to scratch about to make her “nest” more comfortable.) I had to stay still so as to not disturb her – and I have to say, a pigeon under the chin is a very warm and soft “neck-warmer”! :)

We’ve been thinking that Elmo also needs a bedtime because he gets restless if we stay up late. My husband is going to try putting Elmo away on the bedside table (where Elmo sleeps at night) after 10pm and see if that works. I’m not sure Elmo will approve of going to bed without his “mate” though.

Elmo often falls alseep on Richard’s chest anyway:

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Elmo, one content little pigeon

In other news, we bought Georgie a cat nest to hide in. We were going to get it for her hatchday, however, we weren’t able to get to the shops in time, so we gave it to her the day after. Georgie seems to like it, although she often uses it as platform to launch herself across the room in an attempt at flying (she still manages to fly backwards).

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Georgie, "King of the hill"

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Georgie checking out her new nest

Our sofa space is now reduced even more. Georgie taking up one end, Elmo the other. I think we need a bigger sofa!! :D


A few days ago I spent a bit of time in Dora’s aviary at work – to check up on the resident pigeons there (a mixture of fancy, tame, and disabled pigeons), as well as to spend some time with Dora who used to live with us at home.

One thing I noticed immediately was that all the nesting pigeons (on fake eggs) were male pigeons, except for Dora! She was the only female to be incubating eggs. I don’t know why her mate, Pidge, wasn’t on duty – maybe Dora is a pushy girl and didn’t trust his commitment? Maybe Pidge isn’t as broody as he should be? Whatever the reason, it was quite funny to see the girl in her nest bowl, cooing away to Pidge while he pranced about on the perch to me (Pidge likes people as well as pigeons).

And as soon as I put my hand over to stroke her, Dora gave me the usual greeting:

Here’s Horatio (paired with Speckles) on incubating duty:

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Horatio in his nest

And the new pigeon, Burko, (paired with Tux) is a very good mate – protecting his fake egg from my intruding fingers:

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Burko in his nest

Rudderford has been through a moult and his new tail feathers aren’t as tatty as the previous ones, although I suspect they will soon fray at the ends again since he has trouble standing up properly (due to an injury).

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Rudderford


Many people don’t know what a baby pigeon looks like. This is not surprising since pigeons usually nest in secluded spots away from human sight (read Invisible babies). What is surprising is how many people, when finding a baby pigeon, think that the squab is a… wait for it… duckling.

Now please excuse me if I offend anyone, but even if you are a city dweller and have never been on a farm before, you should surely know what a duckling looks like! Ducklings are everywhere: on TV, in childrens books and on toys and clothing. Usually ducklings are depicted as all yellow, however, wild ones are generally yellow and brown or black.

When queried as to why they thought the pigeon squab was a duckling, the usual reply is, “It has such a big beak.”

Ok, fair enough, the beak in a squab is large and out of proportion (especially in woodpigeons), however, people are overlooking a very important factor of the make-up of a duckling: webbed feet!

All ducklings are born with webbed feet. So if the bird you find hasn’t got webbed feet, then it isn’t a water-bird.

I will post a few photos so you can see for yourself how a pigeon squab looks nothing like a duckling. I apologise if I have offended anyone with this little rant, but I’ve been so amazed by people’s lack of knowledge. We had one man say to us, upon hearing that the “duckling” he brought us was in fact a 5 day old woodpigeon squab, “Oh, I’m glad I brought it to you then. We were thinking about putting it onto the lake to join its mother.”

And now I must apologise to all the pigeon lovers out there, but another important distinction between a duckling and a pigeon squab is people’s reaction to them: People react with “aaahs” and “how cute” when seeing a duckling, but more often than not, when seeing a pigeon squab, they say, “oh, how ugly”. (For the record, I think baby pigeons are adorable looking.)

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MALLARD DUCKLING - notice its webbed feet!

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COLLARED DOVE SQUAB - notice its feet: no webbing!

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MALLARD DUCKLING

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WOODPIGEON SQUABS

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MALLARD DUCKLING

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FERAL PIGEON HATCHLING

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SHELDUCK DUCKLING

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FERAL PIGEON SQUAB