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The internet can be an amazing thing. One day you make contact with like-minded people and before you know it you’re packing the car with pigeons and bags to visit them! :)

Yes, Elmo and Georgie decided they weren’t going to miss out on visiting a Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven in Norfolk on the Haven’s Open Day (see also their facebook page: www.facebook.com/wingandaprayerhaven).

Getting to Norfolk wasn’t going to be a problem (only about a 3 hour drive) but would we find a pigeon-friendly hotel or bed & breakfast? Some hotels allow pets but after enquiring what species they allow we find out that “pets” really only means cat or dog, pigeons not allowed. :(

However, with the help of our new friend in Norfolk we make contact with a bed & breakfast that sounded perfect. Richard makes the call, asks about availability (yes, they have a room available), and then crunch time; the question we know may cost us the deal (conversation goes a bit like this):

Richard: “We have two pets. Would that be a problem?”

B&B lady: “What sort of pets?”

Richard: “Um, well, pigeons.”

B&B lady: “Pigeons?!” (she said with surprise in her voice) “We have all kinds of animals; hens, sheep,  goats. They’ll love it here!”

Richard: “Ok, great!” :)

The lady at Hengrave Farm was so nice, we couldn’t believe our luck in finding a pigeon-friendly bed & breakfast. So with a room booked, travel plans made, we couldn’t wait to be on our way.

My only concern was how Georgie would feel on such a long journey, since she gets motion sickness. Yep, you heard me right: motion sickness! You wouldn’t think birds could but they can, just like any other animal out there. (Does this mean that some birds are afraid of heights?) Since we want to take our pigeons with us on holidays to Cornwall and possibly a drive through Europe, we really need to sort out Georgie’s motion sickness. So the trip to Norfolk became a test to see how Georgie would handle a long drive.

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All pigeons ready in the car! (Georgie is hidden on the left)

Elmo doesn’t get motion sickness and was fine in his carry-cage as long as he could see us. We strapped the cages to the backseat and off we went (it always amazes me how some people let their dogs stand unrestricted in the car, sticking their heads out the window. Imagine what would happen if the car crashed into something). Sure enough, we soon heard Georgie vomiting. Poor girl. She seemed to have emptied her crop and then stood still for the journey. A few times Georgie had a little preen, which might indicate that she was feeling ok.

When we arrived at the Haven we took Elmo and Georgie with us in their carry-cages. A few people thought we were bringing them in to stay, so at one point I thought it would have been a good idea to put a sticker on the cages stating them as our beloved companions (next time I’ll have to remember to do this).

Wing and a Prayer Wild Bird and Owl Haven is a wonderful place, full of welcoming, nice people and beautiful birds (both free-ranging and ones in the large aviaries). Being the pigeon fanatics that we are, we honed in on the pigeons at the Haven, but they also have different owl species, chickens, ducks, rheas, corvids and songbirds.

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Free-flying pigeons sitting quite happily on an owl aviary

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Disabled pigeon aviary

The people at the Haven were happy to meet us, especially Elmo and Georgie, however, I think our pigeons were a bit reserved because of all the new faces (there were lots of people visiting on the Open Day). So rather than skip and hop about in his usual charming self, Elmo stood still and simply looked about. Later on he emerged a bit and did a little dance but I think he held back most of the time. Georgie was quite quiet too, which isn’t unusual, but I think she was still recovering from her car sickness.

It was a good day and we were very impressed with the premises and the wonderful team at the Haven. They help all sorts of injured and orphaned birds, and need all the support you can give in continuing their essential work (they are funded entirely by donations).

We later drove to Hengrave Farm and met the lovely lady in charge, who showed such sincere enthusiasm towards Elmo and Georgie that we couldn’t help feel we had found the perfect place to stay. The buildings, rooms and surroundings were so beautiful too!

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Elmo looks about the room

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Elmo (left) and Georgie (right)

Elmo and Georgie wasted no time in exploring the room. The clickety-clack of their feet as they walked around (or ran about as in Elmo’s case) was a nice sound. I do prefer wood flooring to carpeting.

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Road to Hengrave Farm

I didn’t waste any time in going to see the lovely sheep, goats and hens at the B&B, although the ram wasn’t very welcoming so I kept my distance. :)

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Stand-off with Mr. Ram

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Swallows

We had a lovely dinner at a nearby pub (The Hainford Chequers, very large food portions!) with the founders and volunteers of the Haven, and the next day a drive to the coast and a quick lunch was in order (Elmo and Georgie stayed at the B&B). Then, sadly, it was time to make our way back home. Georgie seemed less bothered by the journey down and this could be due to the fact that she hadn’t eaten a lot that day (so less food to make her feel nauseous?) or maybe she didn’t feel as ill this time. I’ll be looking into motion sickness in birds to see if there is anything to give to help alleviate her nausea. If nothing helps then Georgie will have to stay behind when we go on holiday next time, however, I don’t like this idea since she does miss me a lot and doesn’t eat very well when I’m away (she loses quite a bit of weight).

All in all we had a wonderful mini-break and we are looking forward to visiting again next year when the Haven have another Open Day.

A big thank you to everyone who welcomed us and made our stay so enjoyable!!

(I don’t like naming people without their permission, but you know who you are! :) )

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The sea, the sea

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Pebble beach

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Mr. Pigeon tucked in for the night

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Elmo trying to feed Richard. Look at his tongue!

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Georgie is a friend of the Haven!

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Elmo shows his support too!


As many pet owners know vacation time can bring up a number of problems. What to do with the pets? Do we leave them or bring them with us? Who will look after them? Will we be able to afford pet sitting? How will we enjoy our holiday knowing our pets are probably missing us? Instead of a nice week or more of relaxation and fun one can get stuck worrying how your pets are faring.

Richard and I have come across these problems. Last year we prepared for our annual trip to Cornwall. In previous years it had been care-free and a simple ‘lets pack and drive over to Cornwall’. Now it isn’t so easy. This time we had 2 pigeons and 2 gerbils living with us.

So… Thinking caps on… Maybe we should take our pigeons with us? Mum can pop in to feed the gerbils and give them fresh water. Their care is fairly hands-off.

Note: Our gerbils live in a long fishtank and have many tubes and containers to run around in. Suri and Petra came from a rescue centre so we don’t really know how old they are, and they aren’t very tame (they don’t really like being handled). Unfortunately we lost Petra late last year to a tumor.

Ok, the gerbils care was settled, now what about the pigeons? Taking them with us didn’t seem like a bad idea. We’d be staying in a static caravan so they’d be protected from the elements and from predators. We bought a wire cage run so that they could be out on the grass in it. The only problem was that I had discovered that Georgie gets car sick. Yep, you heard me, car sick! For some reason I never really thought birds could get motion sickness but I had clear proof of it when I took Georgie to the vet and on the way back she had had enough and vomited up her breakfast. Nice.

This happen a few more times whenever I had to take Georgie somewhere in the car. The thought of subjecting her to a 5-6 hour drive to Cornwall was too inhumane to us so we asked a friend if she could look after her while we were away. With that settled we turned our attention to Elmo. I asked his previous carer if he ever got motion sickness and the answer was ‘no’. Great!

Elmo in travel cage

Elmo in the car

So with a little bit of an anxious mind – we didn”t really know how Elmo would take to being in the car for 5-6 hours – we put him in the voyageur carrier (with a towel for him to grip onto and a bowl of seed at the back), secured the carrier with a seatbelt, and set off to Cornwall. We made regular stops to give Elmo the opportunity to drink and to make sure he was alright, and eventually we made it to Cornwall with our pigeon. The holiday went brilliantly and Elmo enjoyed it too. He didn’t seem to mind the car journey at all.

We think that we might take both pigeons this time since I have now noticed that Georgie has stopped vomiting after a car journey. Hooray!