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Four years ago today my husband and I adopted a very special little pigeon. Little did we realise the impact this pigeon would have on our lives. We had no idea and no warning, so when the little pigeon showed us how special he was, we weren’t prepared for how swiftly he’d become an integral part of our family. … I am, of course, talking about our darling Elmo. He came to us desperately needing a new home – a home living with people, not in an aviary with pigeons. Elmo has special requirements due to his less than pigeon-like upbringing. He requires a person to bond with, to love.

Four years ago Elmo was 8 years old, which obviously means that this year Elmo is 12!!! We have made today, the date we adopted him, his hatchday. So please, everyone who knows and loves Elmo, please wish him a very happy hatchday! :)

Happy Hatchday, darling Elmo!!!! xxxx

For those of you who have pigeons who are in their 20′s I know 12 years of age is still considered young. Sometimes Elmo looks like an old man to me, other times he looks like a baby. I cannot imagine all the things he’s seen in his 12 years. With us, Elmo has a sheltered life and is loved and is free to give his love without any restrictions. And boy, does he give his love!

Every day we are reminded of the love a pigeon is capable of. People may scoff at the idea of a pigeon in love, but when you observe them you can clearly see how deeply pigeons can feel. I don’t subscribe to the thought that animals only act out of instinct. I dare you to watch our videos of Elmo (and Georgie) and not be amazed: Pigeons as Pets YouTube channel

But I digress – today is about celebrating Elmo!

Thinking of what would be the best way to spoil Elmo today, I bought him his favourite treats: pine nuts and sunflower hearts. The only other present I know Elmo would love is lots of attention and love, which he gets every day anyway, so we’ll have to try harder today to give him extra! :D

Hatchday celebrations with little glasses filled with seed. The rest are in a jar for Elmo to raid when he wants:

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Elmo doesn’t look impressed with his party hat:

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Georgie definitely doesn’t appreciate her clown hat:

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Yesterday the clocks went back an hour to be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the winter (until 27th March 2011, when the UK switches to UK Daylight Saving Time for the summer). While some of us celebrate the extra hour we perceive to have gained that day, it does mess up your body clock for a while until you get used to the time shift.

I personally don’t like going back to GMT. It means the sun sets before I get home – and poor Elmo and Georgie are fooled into settling down to sleep for the night, when in fact we are on our way home and they have many hours still awake to be with us. Time to fish out the light switch timers!

Last winter we put the small lamp in the bedroom on a timer so it would turn on when it starts to get dark outside in order to allow Elmo to see and be free to move about the room to eat and drink, etc. Georgie is semi-blind and we don’t know exactly how or what she can see, therefore we don’t know how important it is for her to have light in order to eat and drink. But since we have established that she can detect light and dark differences we leave the corridor light on for her so she can “see”. Just in case. It wouldn’t be fair to assume she doesn’t need light to be active. I think her body clock is fairly normal to sighted pigeons so I will treat her in the same way. … She does get special treatment because of her disability (as does Elmo!), but there is no discrimination here! Rather, we spoil our two special needs pigeons! :)

We forgot to set everything up this morning so Elmo and Georgie were in darkness when we came home. Georgie was half asleep in her cage, however, Elmo was wide awake on the bed. We leave the curtains open so that they get as much natural light as possible and that the darkness approaches slowly and doesn’t take them by surprise. Elmo’s room is on the east side of the flat so he doesn’t see the sunset, and although Georgie is on the west side of the flat, I doubt that she can admire the sunset. I wonder if other animals stop every now and then to admire the beauty of nature – the spectacular show of sunrise and sunset? I like to think that they do.

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This video is light-hearted and spreads a good message. The song’s catchy too. :)


What makes a pigeon so special?

As I watch Elmo laying on my husband’s chest while he strokes Elmo to sleep I can’t help but think that we may be one of the luckiest pigeon people out there (uh oh, methinks objections are abound!). Here is a 10 year old pigeon who has grown up with a disability and has been cared for so lovingly by his previous carer that he thinks he’s a person. He craves attention and affection, he is curious as to what we do (if we make a lot of noise he’ll run up to us to see what is going on), and he talks to us, e.g. calling us to his nest. Elmo loves visitors and will coo and dance around them, a sight that always amazes them (unless they have a bird phobia). I don’t think there are many pigeons like Elmo out there, however, each pigeon is special in its own way and it just takes 5 minutes of observation to see this.

Take Georgie for instance. At the moment she is sitting on her two infertile eggs, incubating them with all her motherly attention. She will not want to interact with myself or my husband during this time. I have to admit I find it hard to read what Georgie wants when she’s in this state. Her hormones and moods affect her wildly and I find myself having to take a deep breath as I watch Georgie destroy her clean cage (ripping the newspaper and walking about in the seed and water bowl). She obviously wants something but I cannot pinpoint it and I feel distressed. Most people would not find Georgie endearing in this state.

On the other hand, when she’s not broody Georgie is very easy to be with and extremely loving, and I can usually tell what she wants from the slightest movement. Guests will ask me ‘is she alright?’ and ‘what’s she doing?’ as Georgie goes about doing what’s normal to her (e.g. pecking at the air). Maybe to an outsider it is strange behaviour, but I can tell. And I feel a certain pride in this. Georgie is my pigeon and I know what she wants and needs. It’s a great feeling!

But it’s not just tame pigeons that are special. Today at work I had to force feed a pigeon that has a head shake and cannot feed for itself. Its disease will run its course but in the meantime we support it to help it recover. At first the pigeon resisted us and was scared. After a few days of popping peanuts down and pouring seed down its throat (we have a small ‘scoop’ to achieve this) the pigeon reverted back to a child-like state and started begging for food. It seems that it knows it cannot feed itself and has accepted our help. A small squeak, a wing waggle and vigorous gentle pecking of my fingers are all squab-like behaviours exhibited by this special pigeon. It melts my heart and I cannot help but want to hug it, however, I desire it to get better so that it can fly free again in a wild state.

If you take a moment to observe pigeons you might notice something special in them. I know many people think my husband and I are a bit weird since we choose to live with two pigeons and not a dog or a cat, but nearly everyone who has met Elmo has seen what a special pigeon he is and I like to think that they go away looking at wild pigeons in a different light.