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Davey has a mate – finally!! :D

I’m so happy to announce the romance between Davey and Jules!

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The happy couple: Jules (left) and Davey (right)

If you don’t know about Davey’s plight please read: Once again, pigeon matchmaking

Last week I had to take Jules away from the aviary because one of the pigeons had pecked her and she was bleeding around her right eye. Thankfully, there was no damage done and after receiving pain relief medication and a few nights away to recover she was fine. While Jules recuperated I went into the resident aviary to see what could have been the problem and quickly identified that a lack of nesting sites was probably the main issue. A few of the flighted pigeons had taken up the hutches on the floor to nest in instead of using the nests on the shelves higher up, which left the flightless pigeons (from broken wings) no place to nest. So Jules had probably tried to go into one of the occupied hutches and was attacked.

I found some empty hutches and put them in the aviary and the nestless couples went to investigate the new properties.

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Property to rent!

Button, who has a broken wing, and his flighted mate, Davina, decided the top hutch was the perfect spot to nest in. Button manages to get to the top hutch by hopping from the log to the hutch. They seem very happy together and I heard Davina’s loving coos to Button when I went to take a photo.

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Davina (left) and Button (right) in their new home

Davey and Jules have taken up residency in the bottom hutch! Which means that every couple now has a place to nest in and peace should reign. … But pigeons can be such territorial little sods that I’m sure the males will be visiting each spot to see if it is better and if they can turf the occupiers out. C’est la vie!

I love this photo of Davey marching into his home to greet Jules:

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Davey entering the hutch

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Jules (left) and Davey (right)


Many of us will have seen the delightful performance of a male pigeon courting a female. It’s one of those beautiful things that happens all around us and we often hear the cooing of a male pigeon in his courtship if we cannot see the display.

Many people find the performance comical to watch. Usually the female is busy eating or minding her own business when a male comes over to her and starts fanning his tail and dancing around her. It can seem very pushy and desperate – especially when the female ignores him.

Pigeons are monogamous and pair for life, and when one of the partners dies or goes missing, the other will eventually search for a new mate. Pigeons are dedicated parents and therefore have a strong bond with one another. Amongst paired pigeons, the courtship display is performed to reaffirm and reinforce the bond between them.

The following shows the repertoire of their courtship:

Pigeon courtship behaviours

BOWING: a male puffs out his neck feathers, lowers his head, and turns around in circles.

TAIL-DRAGGING: a male spreads his tail and drags it while running after a female.

DRIVING: a male pigeon runs closely behind a female to move her away from other males.

BILLING: a female puts her beak inside the male's beak.

MATING: a male stands on top of a female and flaps his wings to keep his balance.

CLAPPING: after mating, a male pigeon may make a display flight. In this display, he "claps" his wings twice.

All the above illustrations are by Julie Zickefoose and can be found at: Bird Watchers’ Notebook: Pigeon Courtship and Pigeon Courtship.

One behaviour not illustrated is when billing both the male and female will briefly preen some feathers on their back or wing before returning to more billing. I don’t know why they do this, it’s just part of their courtship ritual. In already paired pigeons, a lot of mutual head preening will also occur before billing and mating.


I am sad to announce that Elmo and the plastic cup are breaking up. Elmo’s romance with the green plastic cup started in April of this year and he’s been courting it with great vigour, however, today something else caught Elmo’s eye and he couldn’t resist flirting with it. The green cup was not pleased when it discovered Elmo’s infidelity and quickly ended things with him.

So what could have possibly drawn Elmo away from his beloved cup? Only the round shape and brown tones of an onion!!

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I was preparing to peel an onion when I noticed Elmo looking intently at it. I placed the onion on the kitchen floor and immediatly Elmo pranced over to it and began his courtship dance. I could only shake my head in disbelief. It seems that Elmo will court anything except another pigeon! Silly boy!


In the beginning of April this year we received a young pigeon at work (I work at a wildlife rescue centre) that had been caught by a cat. The little pigeon had blood coming from her nose and a small wound on her chest, and at first we were worried she’d fade away, however, she made a full recovery!! We named her Peaches.

Here she is a week after treatment:

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At first we thought we’d release Peaches but on second thought we decided against it. In general, fancy pigeons don’t do well in the wild since many have reduced preditor avoidance instincts. Many have unusual feather growth that could hinder quick flight or shorter beaks that can make it difficult for them to feed in the normal way, so it is never a good idea to release unusual fancy pigeons.

We then thought we’d rehome her, however, after I pointed out that we needed a few more females in the aviary Dora lives in, we decided to put Peaches in with the resident pigeons, hoping that Peaches is female (otherwise we would have to find her another home). … After observing the behaviour of the male pigeons towards Peaches I can say with almost 100% certainty that Peaches is female. Yay!

Horatio, our speckled single male, has been pursuing Peaches and today I saw her following him, so I think we have a new romance blossoming! I really could watch the pigeons in the aviary all day. I am obsessed I admit. I’ll try to take photos soon of the two together.


More about Elmo and his romance with the lime green plastic cup. As some might have read (in More garden tales), one day when we were in the garden we captured Elmo courting a plastic cup that we use to fill up the bird feeders. Here’s the video again for your amusement:

Then I wrote that I thought maybe he has bad eyesight and has mistaken the cup for a brightly coloured pigeon (in About…).

Well, yesterday Richard brought the cup indoors and sure enough, Elmo started prancing and dancing to it, much to our amusement. Later that evening Richard put the cup in Elmo’s nest and when we had a look to see what Elmo was doing we saw this:

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Too funny! :D

I think I’ll be reporting a lot about Elmo and his cup romance since he continuously catches us by surprise with his silly antics.