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Our pigeons love summer. The sunshine, the gentle breeze, the vibrant grass. They love to hang out in the garden doing practically nothing, just enjoying the day without a care in the world. A little bit of preening may be on the schedule, a bit of pottering about to peck at the ground, and then a spot of sunbathing to round things up.

I learn a lot from being with Georgie and Elmo. I slow down and relax, take in the glorious day and enjoy it. It’s a lesson I appreciate. :)


Elmo and Georgie pigeons have been enjoying the sunshine in February. As soon as the sun peeks through the clouds I dash out with my darling pigeons so they can benefit from some UV rays (see The importance of ultraviolet light for pigeons and doves). It can be hard, though, to juggle so many animals, since Hugo cat also likes to go out for a walk when I take the pigeons out. I’m reduced to taking each animal out one at a time for supervised fun in the sun, since Elmo doesn’t like Georgie or Hugo and will peck them if they come near and I cannot leave any of them alone outside since, A) predators may be about, B) Hugo will fight with the neighbourhood cats, C) Georgie or Elmo may flap about if it is windy and be lifted into the neighbours cat-filled garden, and D) I only possess two hands and cannot hold safely on to 3 animals at a time if I need to quickly take them back into the house.

So when the sun comes out I have to time things right to give each pet a fair share of time in the garden. I wonder what the neighbour’s think when they see me popping out with a cat on a harness and lead for a stroll and sniff around the garden, then back out with a pigeon for a peck at the grass and dirt, then out again with another pigeon for a bit of sunbathing. They must think I am mad! … I always suspected that I would become a crazy pigeon-cat-knitting lady. :D

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Georgie pigeon

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Elmo pigeon

 

 

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Georgie pigeon

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Elmo pigeon

 


Today we had a good chance to spend some quality time with Georgie and Elmo, our two disabled and tame pigeons, after the busy past few weeks. With the cold and rain giving us a break we took them out into the garden for a bit of sunshine and relaxation. Elmo went mad when he saw how long the grass had grown and tried to eat the grass seeds. He didn’t have much luck since his balance isn’t very good, but he looked like he was enjoying himself: flapping about, pecking at the tall grass.

After a few minutes in the sun both Elmo and Georgie were panting from the heat so we let them cool off in the shade and also gave them the option to have a bath. Georgie flatly refused but Elmo was beside himself with joy!

When Richard poured the water onto him, Elmo was in heaven! :)

I think the photos and video speak for themselves:

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Elmo

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Elmo

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Georgie

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Georgie

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Georgie

They say that having an animal such as a dog or cat as a companion relaxes you and can extend your lifespan. I think they should definitely add pigeons to the list!


Richard and I were on holiday recently and we sadly had to leave our two disabled pigeons at home, however, they were in the care of two lovely pigeon-sitters who ensured the Elmo and Georgie had everything they needed. This would usually mean human company as the top priority, however, this time both pigeons were broody and sitting on fake eggs the whole week. So it was an easy job for the sitters to come in and clean and give fresh food and water with Elmo and Georgie snuggled up in their nests (separate! Elmo sadly hates Georgie). I had to warn the sitters that Elmo WILL attack their feet since he gets very protective when he’s broody. I just hope he didn’t scare them away! :)

Upon returning home Georgie and Elmo decided to leave their eggs alone and snuggle up to us instead and so there was a happy home welcoming. And the weather stayed lovely so I was able to take them both out for some more adventures in the garden!

I think Georgie is the Sunbathing Queen!! :)

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I love taking my pigeons out into the sunshine. They really enjoy it and love to explore the garden. I particularly love looking at Georgie in the sunlight. All the little feathers on her head and face shine and are really distinct. They look amazing! And Georgie has such a delicate little face, she’s a real stunner even though she’s not very colourful.

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Since Elmo can see normally, watching him explore the garden is a joy. He peers into the grass to see if there are any clumps of earth he can peck at and eat, he’ll pick up different twigs and shake them about in his beak, and he’ll play with the long pieces of grass. Elmo often ‘tells’ me when he wants to go outside by standing near the front door. If I haven’t noticed him there he’ll fall alseep, and I’ll find him in that position later and take him out for a play in the garden.

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Here’s Elmo playing with a stick:

Georgie preening in the garden:

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This year we’ve been blessed with a wonderful sunny May Bank Holiday weekend (in the South East of England at least), and I’ve certainly been taking advantage of it and had a wonderful time out with Elmo and Georgie in the garden.

It’s such a pleasure to know that my disabled, indoor pigeons are gaining so much from being in the sun. And I know they enjoy it too because of their behaviour. Georgie wouldn’t stop sunbathing – stretching out her wing and tail feathers to maximise their exposure to the sunshine. She was loving it! … When she started panting I knew she was a bit too hot so I gave her a drink of water and put her in the shade to cool off.

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Elmo simply wanted to stand on the picnic blanket and preen by my side. He kept stepping closer and closer to me in between bouts of preening until he was right against my leg – which he then started tickling with his beak (as if he was preening it).

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I really do hope this summer will be a sunny one so Elmo and Georgie have more goodness in the sun!

Earlier last week I saw a lovely brown coloured feral pigeon in our garden:

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We’ve had one before (see: Brown pigeon) so it may be the parent of this one. Such a pretty colour!


No sooner had Elmo decided he had incubated the fake eggs for long enough (9 days) when Georgie thought it was her turn and laid an egg! So now she’s all moody and broody while Elmo is back to normal. Go figure! :D

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Georgie lays an egg.

We were blessed with the sun shining throughout the weekend and so we spent most of our time out in the garden with our two disabled pigeons. They love to sunbathe and enjoy pecking at the grass and eating bits of dirt. I hope we have more sunny days so I can take them out often during the spring and summer. We sure need it after the dreary winter!

Looking at the photos I took of Elmo I can see how much he loved last weekend:

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And Georgie certainly had fun:


Both Elmo and Georgie had a shower and bath this morning. We then took them out to dry in the sunshine and I must say it was such a lovely morning, so relaxed and peaceful. Our pigeons took the lead and showed us how to have a lazy Saturday out in the garden, preening and soaking up the suns rays. Pigeons know best! ;)

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Georgie (left) and Elmo (right) enjoying the sunshine

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Georgie girl

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Elmo boy

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Elmo has a bit of a flap

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Pigeons in the garden

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"For you."

After coming back into the flat Elmo wanted to spend some time on the windowsill preening and watching the other birds flit about in the garden:

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Aren’t the manuals appropriate for such a flight-challenged pigeon? :D


We’ve had some lovely sunny weather lately and, seeing how it can disappear so quickly, I’ve been taking Georgie and Elmo outside whenever the sun shines in the garden. They both love the sunshine and have been preening, pecking at the grass and dirt, and just enjoying themselves in the heat. Of course, the direct sunshine is good for their bones, feathers, and general health, but I think they just like the heat and the light after a dark winter.

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Georgie

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Georgie

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Georgie yawning

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Elmo

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Elmo

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Elmo


My last post was about the importance of ultraviolet light for indoor pigeons and how Georgie doesn’t like the bright light. Well, she’s still not 100% convinced about the light – preferring the warm rays of real sunshine, even if it is through window glass:

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Toasty George

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Loving those warm rays

Like a cat, Georgie knows how to make lounging in the sun look like the best thing in the world. :) When I take Georgie out into the garden she sometimes sunbathes on my hand, which is so adorable.

Elmo also decided to feel the warmth of sunshine and asked to be let out into the garden for a quick stroll:

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"It's nice out here"

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"Ooh, is that dirt?"

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"Look, I have a leaf!"


When we first adopted Georgie and Elmo we lived in a flat with no garden. Since both pigeons are disabled we knew they would always be indoor pigeons, however, I felt uneasy about their lack of access to the green green world. A year or so later we moved to a flat with a garden attached and I was able to take Elmo and Georgie outside under supervision. We bought a large rabbit run as well as a bird harness so that our pigeons could be outside safely. (One of the reasons why: Fly, birdie, fly!)

One of the major disadvantages of keeping a pigeon predominantly indoors is the lack of ultraviolet light (UV light) they receive. This is not something to be taken lightly of. Direct sunshine is required for vitamin D production (which helps the absorption of calcium), which is essential for healthy bone growth and strength. It is not enough to simply put a caged bird near a window to receive sunlight since the UV part of sunshine that helps vitamin D production is filtered out when going through window glass and therefore the bird won’t receive the benefits. Since birds can see UV light (feathers reflect it) a lack of UV light can also affect a birds behaviour, particularly its breeding behaviour.

Experts recommend shining a specialised bird UV lamp on an indoor bird for a minimum of 4 hours per day. Never use a reptile or fish UV lamp (or a plant grow light!) as they don’t have the correct spectrum for birds. An avian UV lamp should have 12% UV-a (for behaviour) and 2.4% UV-b (for calcium). Arcadia sell avian UV lamps: Arcadia bird lamp

For more information: The Essential Nutrient Your Pet Bird is Likely Seriously Short On… and Ultraviolet Lighting and Birds

Please watch this video on the subject:

In our past veterinary visits with Georgie and Elmo the vet has always asked, “Do you provide UV light?” So I knew how important it was for our pigeons but I had my reservations about one aspect of it. And it’s this: Georgie hates bright lights. And I mean HATES. Here’s what happened when she met a lava lamp: Explosive behaviour (For those of you who don’t know this, Georgie has distorted pupils and scarring on her eyes so she has limited vision. She can, however, see bright lights and movement.)

As I’ve written numerous times before, if my camera light goes on Georgie will back away. If the flash goes off then Georgie will wing slap me! So what is Georgie going to do with a super bright UV light shining on her?!!

But I had to bite the bullet and implement the light for her own well being. Summers being so wet here in the UK it’s not always possible for me to be outside with Georgie and Elmo – and never for many hours a day – so they’re missing out on essential ultraviolet light from the sun.

So I bought a light and turned it on and Georgie started a war campaign against it! And to be honest, I don’t blame her. The thing is BRIGHT!! Hurts my eyes when it’s on!

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Georgie doesn't like the new light

Elmo, on the other hand, doesn’t mind the light at all.

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Elmo fast asleep

To get Georgie used to the light I have to have her on my lap or shoulder while I sit next to the lamp. (I wonder what health benefits I will get from the bird light?) Sometimes she seems to tolerate it, but mostly she’ll become angry when I turn it on. A minimum of 4 hours is asking a lot for her to tolerate I’m afraid. :( I think I’ll have to build up to that slowly.

As I’m typing this I have looked over to the sofa and seen Georgie settled down for a nap next to the lamp. Success!! Maybe she’s realised that the lamp is doing her good. :)

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Georgie and Elmo and the UV light