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This blog is called “Pigeons as Pets”. I just want to clarify what we mean by this.

We are not advising or advocating taking pigeons from the wild and keeping them as pets in an aviary or cage. Not at all! Healthy, flight-abled pigeons in the wild should be left to live their life naturally.

If, however, you find a baby pigeon that needs hand-rearing then of course this needs to be done (preferably by the experts) – with the aim that it can be released as a wild pigeon when it is ready. This is not always possible, as many of you know. Sometimes the baby is injured and cannot be released because of it; sometimes the baby becomes tame and bonded to humans and therefore unreleasable (especially if it has no predator avoidance instincts). In these cases the baby pigeon would need to be housed in a safe and suitable environment for the rest of its life. This also applies to adult pigeons that are disabled (e.g. blind or cannot fly).

  • Safe environment = safe from predators such as cats, dogs and sparrowhawks. Safe from the elements (e.g. severe weather).
  • Suitable environment = an area where the pigeon can fly (if it physically can), walk about, have suitable food and access to drinking and bathing water. Also, preferably, an area where it can have a mate. Pigeons are gregarious and require company.

Disabled adult pigeons may learn to tolerate your presence or they may become tame over time. Each pigeon is individual in its behaviour and character. The key is to understand what it needs and to not force anything.

  • Feral pigeons are one of the most common pigeons you’ll see and are perfectly capable of living in the wild in a variety of environments around the world. They can become very tame around humans if fed regularily.
  • Fancy pigeons are human bred pigeons and many would not know how to fend for themselves in the wild. Some have physical features that make them dependent on humans.
  • Racing pigeons are also human bred but if they become lost and hungry they usually find food in people’s gardens and may even join a feral pigeon flock instead of flying back home.
  • Wood pigeons are a completely wild species and adult woodies generally do not cope well in captivity (there are always exceptions). Hand-reared wood pigeons may remain tame and friendly.
  • Collared doves are also a completely wild species and are in many ways similar to woodies in their relationship with humans.

Since pigeons are largely monogamous, if a flight-abled pigeon bonds with a non-flighted one then it will stay with its mate despite its disability. Some people would be tempted to release the flight-abled pigeon, however, you would then be seperating two bonded pigeons, which I consider to be an unkind act. Most feral pigeons are happy as long as they have a mate, food, water, shelter, room to fly and a place to nest – whether this is in the wild or in captivity. This does not mean that you can justify taking pigeons from the wild – I stand by my belief that healthy, flighted pigeons should live in the wild in their natural state. What I am trying to say is that if you have nursed a flight-abled pigeon back to health but it has bonded with a disabled pigeon then you can keep the two together in a safe and suitable environment.

Then there is the question as to whether you should release a flighted tame pigeon. I think the answer to this is whether the tame pigeon knows enough about predators and has predator avoidance instincts. If it does not then it should not be released since it would be easy pickings. Some tame hand-reared pigeons have no predator awareness – some don’t even know what a predator is.

So what do we mean by “Pigeons as Pets”? We mean tame, imprinted or disabled pigeons that would not otherwise survive in the wild.

My husband came across a blog in which someone writes, in a rather humorous way, why pigeons make great pets. Despite the light-hearted and jokey way she (I’m pretty sure it’s a woman) writes about her ‘pet’ pigeons, I would like to comment on a few points she made as to why pigeons make excellent pets.

Her writing in plain, my comments in bold:

“And so, this brings me nicely to my inventory. Reasons why pigeons make great pets:

  • They’re part time pets. Kennels and catteries (or nice neighbours) not required at vacation time. I’m not sure what kind of pigeons she has but ours would definately not be impressed if we left them without care.
  • They don’t pee on your plants or crap in the bath tub. But they’ll poo everywhere else they can get to.
  • They’re not choosy about what they eat. Kibble/ bread crumbs … they’ll take whatever you’re offering. Whilst Elmo isn’t that picky over what seed he eats he definately won’t eat everything you offer. The same goes for Georgie.
  • They never sneak into your bed. Um, ours do. :)
  • Car. Thankfully not since they aren’t allowed outside without supervision.
  • Or shopping bags. Shopping bags are Georgie’s favourite!
  • They’re self grooming. True. But they still like a good scratch and clean around the face.
  • Make no attempt to assassinate anything smaller than they. Hmm, possibly. Haven’t yet put that to the test (watch out tiny spiders!). They do a good job at trying to assassinate anyone other than their favourite human though.
  • And don’t chew the table legs. However, they’ll definately poo down it.
  • They don’t need flea powder. Yes, they do. Especially if they go outside.
  • Wormers. Again, yes if they’re outside pigeons.
  • Or expensive trips to the vet. Sorry, that’s a yes again. Avian vets are more expensive than ‘normal’ ones.
  • They never hump your grannies leg. But may try her hand. (That’ll be Elmo’s doing!)
  • Sit under the table while you’re eating. More like on your plate.
  • Or drink from the toilet. Probably would if they could get to it.

“Come to think of it … pigeons have far higher standards/abilities than your average domestic pet.” This I definately agree with!

The blog is: http://hubpages.com/hub/Pigeons-And-Why-They-Make-Great-Pets

A few people have asked us why we have pigeons as pets. I know it seems an unusual choice when you first hear it but actually there are many people out there who have pigeons as pets, be it because they found a baby pigeon and hand-reared it, they have pigeons in aviaries for show or simply for the love of having them, or, like me, they work at a rescue centre and end up taking some of their work home. :)

Having non-flighted pigeons living in your home is a bit different than having flighted pigeons. We had a flighted pigeon, Dora, living we us for a while and it was a completely different scene. You have to be extra careful about windows, you have more droppings to pick up at higher levels (e.g. bookshelves, cabinets, down door frames) and you may have more feathers and featherdust floating down at you.

Non-flighted pigeons are restricted in their movement and I find that they are easier to clean up after and to keep an eye on. I’m not advocating in any way that you wing-clip or harm your bird to make it unable to fly. Flying is a born right for all birds (except, of course, the non-flighted species) and it is cruel to take that away from them (I guess it may be the equivalent of a person being wheelchair bound).

The reality of keeping any animal is that you will need to care for them constantly. It is not something to take on lightly. My husband and I have previously cared for dogs, cats, mice, snakes, rabbits, chickens, tortoises, fish, pigs, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, budgerigars, cockatiels and hamsters in our childhood and teenage years. Each species have their own needs and requirements but the principle is there: daily fresh food and water, clean bedding, proper housing and temperature, exercise (where applicable. Fancy taking a fish for a swim!) and human company.

However, I have to say that tame and imprinted pigeons are one of the most demanding animals I’ve had. Since both Georgie and Elmo are imprinted on humans they think that we are the same species. That means they aren’t happy unless they are in our company. If we were to put both Elmo and George in an aviary with other pigeons they wouldn’t want to be there; they’d be scared, lonely and become depressed. This means that we have George and Elmo living in our flat, sharing our sofa, floorspace, laps and food. And we do this gladly!

Anyone who meets Elmo thinks he’s the coolest pigeon alive. How could they not when they see him prancing excitedly up to them, cooing, bowing and fanning his tail out in greeting? Who couldn’t fall in love with him?! :)

So when people give me a weird look when I tell them I have two disabled pigeons living with me I simply smile and invite them to come meet them. They’ll soon change their views.