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20140125_101051

Elmo pigeon

My two pigeons live indoors since they are both disabled and bonded to humans. I have written a lot in the past about their special needs and their requirements for living indoors, especially stressing the importance of ensuring their emotional needs are met as well as their dietary ones. One of the latter requirments are minerals. Out in the wild pigeons will find and eat minerals to supplement their diet (as do many other animal species), but where in my household are Elmo and Georgie going to find these minerals?

When I bought the first red mineral pick-pot I was amazed at how quickly Elmo knew that it was for eating and at how much he enjoyed doing so. When out in the garden Elmo would always eat some dirt, so I knew he had the need for minerals, but how did he know that the pot contained them? Whatever the answer, Elmo started a love affair with the pick pot and I had to ensure that I had a steady supply of them (previous posts about the subject: Pet pigeons can be so silly sometimes… and Pigeon video introduction)

After a house move I had to think of where to put the pick-pot so Elmo could enjoy it. I had concerns about putting it in the kitchen – which is where it was in our previous home – because the spillage was great (Elmo is not a neat eater!) which left the floor stained pink. So this time I placed the pot in Elmo’s little corner near his food and water since the area is covered with a cloth that I can wash.

What did Elmo do? He ignored the pot completely. Instead, he’d walk into the kitchen and look about for the pot there, even though it is a completely different kitchen with a different layout. Elmo seemed to have it in his head that the pick-pot belonged in the kitchen. I kept showing Elmo where the pot was near his food but he would simply ignore it and walk into the kitchen. I watched him do this for a while before I gave in and put the pot in a corner in the kitchen. Elmo immediately went up to it and ate some minerals. Pigeon 1, human 0.

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Elmo is reunited with his beloved mineral pick-pot.

I left the pick-pot in the kitchen for a week then moved it back into Elmo’s area in the living room. I didn’t want the minerals to stain the floor and I also wanted Elmo to have access to them all the time (he’s not allowed in the kitchen when we’re out at work). Thankfully, Elmo realised that the pick-pot was now in his area and continued to use it there, so I am now happy with the knowledge that he isn’t going without at any point. :)

In other news, Elmo briefly perches on our door. He didn’t look impressed with being so high up – since Elmo cannot fly he’s always at a floor level – so we quickly took him down. :)

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I took Georgie to the vet today because she has been limping for some days after laying another pair of eggs (we use the lovely vets at Trinity Vet Centre). This has happened before – and the limp usually goes away after a day or so – so I initially wasn’t too worried, however, this time the limp has persisted so a vet trip was in order.

It seems that Georgie has been sitting on eggs for such a long time now, and I really miss her company. When incubating, she stays in her nest and doesn’t like to be bothered – and since Georgie has laid 3 pairs of eggs in the past two months, I haven’t seen much of her.

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Georgie in her nest

I have been giving Georgie extra calcium supplements to help her with the strain of egg production, but I think that it took its toll – hence the limping. The last egg must have hit a nerve, causing the weakness in her leg.

The vet checked Georgie over and was happy with her body condition. He wasn’t worried that there was permanent damage to Georgie’s leg and he prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce any swelling and deal with any pain she may have in her leg. I’m sure it’ll work quickly and Georgie will be able to use her right leg again soon.

I now need to convince Georgie to stop laying eggs. The vet suggested a few tactics which I knew about but really need to research more and choose the right method for her: e.g. reduce daylight hours, disrupting her environment so she doesn’t feel stable enough to lay eggs, or hormone injections.

Here’s some more information about it: Discouraging breeding behavior in pet birds and Reducing egg production in racing pigeons.

Georgie in better health:

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Georgie didn’t lay a second egg so obviously I didn’t get a video of her laying the egg. Oh well, maybe next time.

Georgie looks lovely (she’s feeling really chunky) and her health is good. I give her some vitamin D and calcium supplements in her water a few times a week, however, recently she’s decided she doesn’t like the taste of it. When there aren’t any supplements in the water Georgie will guzzle the water down. When there are Georgie will take little dainty sips. This is very annoying because no matter how many times I explain to her the benefits of vitamin D and calcium, Georgie still doesn’t want to drink the water and will only sip a little when she’s thirsty.

Elmo, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind the taste and he’ll dunk his head in the water, take big slurps and emerge with a (sticky) wet forehead. He cracks me up! :D


On the 29th Dec 2010 (in Egg free at last) I wrote: “George has in fact filled out very nicely in the past month. She feels really chunky and solid, which I’m very happy about since she has always been a bit too slight and thin. I hope she doesn’t loose her “pregnancy” weight!”

Boy do I regret saying that. Georgie stopped eating on that day and for days refused to eat her seed. So I tried popping some peanuts down her throat, however, she simply vomited them up later. :(

Not wanting to cause her to become even more ill, I decided not to force-feed her anymore. Sometimes, giving food can cause more problems. A vet visit was scheduled, and Georgie lost all that lovely weight she had gained.

Basically, Georgie stopped eating for about 4 days. On the fifth she wolfed down some granary bread and had a go at her seed – but not in her cage! She refused to eat from the seed bowl if it was in her cage – so we put it on the sofa and she had a field day – swishing seed left and right and making an awful mess.

An important message regarding ill birds: Since birds are very good at hiding any illness you often won’t notice anything until it has progressed quite far. So if you suspect anything is wrong with your bird, contact your avian vet immediately, otherwise it may be too late.

Sometimes I forget this. Georgie was acting normal and looking fine except for the simple fact that she wasn’t eating. And when she did start eating, she wouldn’t eat when in her cage. It got very frustrating.

However, after the visit to the avian vet we felt better about Georgie. In fact, on that day Georgie had eaten a lot of seed from her bowl in her cage, but vomited it all up on the journey to the vet due to car sickness. It was nice to see that Georgie had eaten, but upsetting that it had to come all out.

The vet said that Geogie most likely had an eye infection when she was a baby due to mycoplasma bacteria which scarred her eyes (the cloudiness) and distorted her pupils (it’s so nice to finally have an explanation for Georgie’s eye condition). This bacteria is laying dormant in her body until her immune system is compromised, such as when she’s using a lot of energy to produce and lay eggs. So the mycoplasma took the opportunity to attack Georgie’s system which made her lose her appetite. She’s on antibiotics and we also bought some vitamin and mineral supplements to give her on top of the calcium and vitamin D that she already receives (to boost her health).

At the moment Georgie is eating well but she’s still thinner than she should be and feels very light. We’re keeping a close eye if anything changes. I cannot bare to think of what would happen if the worst happened. Georgie has become such an integral part of my family and heart.

It’s always scary when your animal becomes ill. It can be hard to know what to do and when to act, however, a good vet that you can trust is really the best, as well as support and advice from good people in the pigeon rescue field!

Today Georgie was annoying Elmo and Richard so much because she kept walking over to Elmo’s side on the sofa to get some peanuts, however, she wasn’t swallowing any – just pecking at them and throwing them about. It seems they were all the wrong size for her liking! In the end, Richard popped a few into her mouth and she seemed grateful to be given a helping hand. She’d never have come to a decision on her own. (I guess this means I have to go search for smaller sized peanuts.)

Here’s the mess Georgie made on the sofa on the day she decided to eat again:

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