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George had another trip to the vets because of the ulcer on her eye (read: August news – part 1). The white dot seemed to grow into a lump on her eye and I could see it bothered Georgie a lot. Poor girl!

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Thankfully, the white thing fell off her eye and she’s no longer got any irritation there. We had her checked by the vet, thinking that we’d get the all clear, however, the ulcer is still there and we were given some different eye drops to see if that would help clear it all up. Georgie was also prescribed antibiotics.

On top of the eye problem, poor Georgie seems to have injured her right leg somehow and it’s at an odd angle. She’s still weight bearing on it but she does have a more pronounced limp now. The vet said they could x-ray the leg to see what’s going on, but that’s something I’m not too keen on because of the risk of anaesthetic in birds. The vet we go to is an avian and exotic veterinary surgery and are very good at what they do, however, I’m still a bit hesitant about having Georgie x-rayed. So Georgie has some pain relief and anti-inflammatory medication to help with any nerve damage in the leg (from her egg laying. Georgie does get temporary paralysis sometimes when she lays eggs). My husband and I will have to weigh up the pros and cons of having Georgie x-rayed and come to a decision soon.

Georgie is her usual self, eating and drinking as normal, not depressed or acting in pain, so at least I know she’s not too upset about all her health issues. I know birds hide their pain and illness very well, and Georgie is cooing and sitting on my lap behaving as if she hasn’t got anything wrong with her. I don’t know if it’s all the medication she’s on or if she’s just a very good actress. I am certainly keeping a close eye on her to ensure she’s not getting any worst.

I took some photos of her right leg but I don’t think they came out very well. You may not see the problem. I know you will all wish Georgie a speedy recovery and good health, and I will certainly keep you updated on what’s happening.


The big news this month is that the Pigeons as Pets group are moving to Newcastle upon Tyne!!

As the old cliche goes, when opportunity comes knocking at your door, you answer! Which we did. So a new job and life up North is soon upon us, and I’m very busy preparing for the big move.

One of the first things I thought of was to find a pigeon-friendly rescue centre and vet. Our two disabled pigeons, Elmo and Georgie, are part of our family and I have to ensure that we have pro-pigeon contacts to help us if they become ill or if we need a pet sitter or help.

Some suggestions have come in from my facebook enquiry, so I will definitely be looking into them further:

Blyth Wildlife Rescue

firstvets in Heaton

I’ve also done an internet search and a few places came up that also look promising:

Robson & Prescott Veterinary Centre

The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre

So soon you’ll be reading about Elmo and Georgie’s new adventures in the north of England. Very exciting!! :D


Poor Georgie had to endure a trip to the vet because of an eye problem. We noticed that she was keeping her right eye closed and that it looked quite red and irritated. I at first thought she had a feather or something else stuck in it, but after a gentle look I couldn’t see anything. Then I noticed that there was a opaque white dot on her eye, which wasn’t there before. Now, Georgie’s eyes are normally cloudy due to the scarring, but the white mark was a new development.

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Georgie's right eye - with white dot in it.

The vet put some yellow drops in Georgie’s eye to determine if it was what she suspected, an ulcer – and it was. So some eye drops were prescribed for me to put in Georgie’s eye (which Georgie isn’t too happy about). I also asked the vet if there was anything I could give her for car sickness, and she’s given me some medication as a trial to see if it helps. I sure hope it does since Georgie will soon have a long car journey ahead of her (more on this later).

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Georgie's left eye

In other news, Elmo is still trying to go under the sofa. It’s his new favourite spot!

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He keeps “crawling” under and falling asleep. Maybe he feels safe under there? Or perhaps there’s some treats that have rolled under which he’s trying to get to? :) The other day he was almost completely under the sofa! I sadly didn’t get the opportunity to take a photo of it before he made his way out again. Elmo sure is a silly boy! He’s always doing something new to surprise me.


Georgie laid two eggs in March (on the 24th and 26th) and after the second egg she had post egg-laying paralysis in her legs which she’s had in the past. Usually, after a few days Georgie is better, however, this time I was worried that she was struggling with the condition so I decided to take her to the vets for a check up. Since Georgie gets terribly car sick I thought it best to take her to the vets in our town, Tunbridge Wells, instead of driving 40 minutes to the avian vet in Maidstone.

I took Georgie to the vets I work for, Culverden Veterinary Group, and she made an impression. She didn’t peck anyone, even when a bright light was shone in her eyes! Amazing!! Here’s their Twitter tweet about Georgie girl:

https://twitter.com/CulverdenVets

“Georgie the pigeon visited TW with her owner recently. We hope her leg’s on the mend!”

https://twitter.com/CulverdenVets/status/319919270681264128/photo/1

Georgie is fine now, after the care from the vets, but she did throw up in the car even with only a 5 minute drive. Poor girl. I don’t think she’ll ever feel good in the car.


There are many pigeon friendly organisations, sanctuaries, vets and rescue centres that will help you if you find an orphaned, ill or injured pigeon. There is also a lot of information on the internet on what to do as the first step, such as this post: Pigeon Rescue: what to do with injured, ill and orphaned pigeons

For a world-wide list please visit this forum: Matilda’s List

For a UK list: Pigeon Friendly Rescue Centres in the UK

Organisations that can help:

Websites and forums that have good information and advice:

There are also many Facebook groups of pigeon friendly people who can advise you on all things relating to the pigeon (you must have a Facebook account to see these groups):

All the above organisations, websites and centres can help you with your query if ever you come across an injured, ill or orphaned pigeon. The best thing to do is to rescue the pigeon, keep it safe and warm, and immediately contact your nearest pigeon-friendly rescue centre or organisation who can take the bird from you to give it the medical care it needs.

Editors note: I am also able to give advice, however, please don’t rely on me in an emergency as I may not be online every day. Thank you.


How to stop a pigeon from laying eggs

As a proud owner of a female pigeon there is one subject that crops up nearly every month, and that is the subject of egg laying. More specifically, how to stop a pigeon from continuous egg laying. As any person who owns a female pigeon will know, pigeons are prolific egg layers. They don’t need to be mated in order to lay eggs. They just need to feel it is the right time and that they have the right mate and nesting area (although the latter isn’t always the case – many of us have seen photos of pigeons who have laid an egg on the exposed floor!). The right mate can indeed be human. Many pigeons will bond with one human in the household and will court and try to start a family with that human. This behaviour may amuse us, but it is serious business for the pigeon. They want to have babies and will go through all the feelings, hormone changes, and behaviours associated with breeding and nesting. A lack of result, e.g. no babies, may be frustrating or even sorrowful for the pigeon.

So what should we do about this? Do we find a pigeon mate for the pigeon and let them breed? (This won’t solve the problem of chronic egg laying but may help the pigeon psychologically.) But what will happen to the babies? Considering the breeding efficiency of pigeons, you may soon be overrun with their offspring.

In general, feral pigeons can breed throughout the year, as long as there is enough food and shelter for them to do so. Some pigeons take a break during the winter months, some don’t. Feral pigeons will lay two eggs at a time. They incubate for about 18 days, then the squabs will be fed by both parents until they are ready to leave the nest when they are 30 days old. By this time the parents may have already produced another clutch of eggs (at around day 20), and the cycle continues.

So after considering a pigeons breeding efficiency your pet pigeon could be laying 24 eggs a year! (at least!) All this takes a lot of time and energy, and the female pigeon will need to be well fed and have access to calcium and vitamin D for egg production and laying (calcium is taken from the body to create the egg shell). Too many eggs without enough calcium will cause egg-binding or deformed eggs (see photo below for a smaller sized egg my pigeon once laid).

P1100176Left: normal sized pigeon egg. Right: deformed smaller pigeon egg

Chronic egg-laying can cause a number of serious health problems for birds, and can ultimately lead to the death of the female if left untreated.

“Chronic egg-laying in the pet bird poses a significant threat to the health and behavioral well being of many pet birds. When a hen lays repeated clutches or larger than normal clutch size without regard to the presence of a normal mate or confined breeding season, a myriad of secondary problems can follow. Ultimately, functional exhaustion of the reproductive tract poses risk of metabolic and physiological drain on the bird, particularly on calcium and energy stores. All of these ultimately predispose the hen to egg binding, dystocia, yolk coelomitis, oviductal impaction, oviductal torsion, cloacal prolapse and osteoporosis.” Ask an Expert: Chronic egg laying by Dr. Brian Speer, DVM

“Chronic egg laying will deplete calcium, thus causing myriad health problems. One of which is the condition known as hypocalcaemia – With calcium at a low level, the uterine muscles are unable to contract and push the egg out resulting in egg binding. Hypocalcaemia can also cause seizure-like activity and brittle bones, which can be easily fractured. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to prevent excessive egg laying. The first step in treating chronic egg laying is to put your bird on a complete diet. A bird that is on a balanced diet is in little danger of the health problems associated with chronic egg laying.” From: http://www.avianweb.com/egglaying.html

The following article has good advice about egg-binding:

“Calcium is used by the body to not only form the shell of the developing egg and maintain strong bones, but is also crucial in the proper functioning of the muscles. While it does take a large amount of calcium to form an egg shell, the hen also needs calcium for the muscle action needed to expel the egg.

“Vitamin d3 is crucial in the absorption of calcium. Without it, all that good calcium we offer our birds passes right through the body without being absorbed. In outdoor flights, our birds are able to produce d3 via a chemical reaction to sunlight. In indoor flights, they are unable to do this. Sunlight through a window is not sufficient. The ultraviolet light needed does not pass through window glass. Full spectrum lights can help but some studies have shown that the ultraviolet is only at sufficient levels at less than one foot from the light source. For inside birds, a d3 supplement is almost always helpful.” Egg Binding by Carol Heesen

The solution

In order to help reduce the strain egg development and laying causes the female pigeon, it is probably a good idea to discourage egg laying altogether. There are different thoughts on this and some methods may work for your pigeon, while for others it may not. It is up to you to ensure that your pigeon is healthy physically and mentally. Please read the following recommendations:

All about reducing the laying of eggs by the racing pigeon

Diet

Seed availability in the wild is generally only high during breeding season, so an abundance of seeds in the diet is a stimulus to breed.

• Providing a good quality, balanced diet with restricted seed will not only help to reduce laying, but provide better nutrition to keep her healthy and better prepared to lay eggs and fight disease.

Day Length

In the wild, birds generally breed in spring and summer, a time of increasing day length.

• By covering the loft or the windows in the evening at about 6pm, the hormones that stimulate laying will be reduced. As well as reducing mating/egg laying behavior, this will help to ensure a good night rest for your pigeons, which is very important.

Presence of a mate

Pigeons do not need to mate in order to lay eggs. They do usually need to think that they have a partner. A lot of the individual attention the pigeon fanciers will give to the pigeons can be interpreted by them as partner stimulation, and as such it needs to be minimized to the strict minimum.

• We recommend that you don’t cuddle or stroke your pigeons below the neck.

• Training basic obedience and trick training is a great way to interact with your pigeons in a healthier manner.

Nesting Site

Pigeons are more likely to lay eggs if they have a nest. This may be a nest or box, newspaper or material at the bottom of a cage.

• Do NOT provide any nesting material for a pigeon if you don’t want her to lay.

Presence of eggs

• If your pigeons does lay eggs, leave them in the cage for the normal incubation period – approximately 3 weeks for most strain.

• The presence of eggs in a cage stimulates hormones in your bird which decreases the chances of more eggs.

(From: All about reducing the laying of eggs by the racing pigeon)

More information on discouraging egg laying in birds: Egg laying in birds

10 things you can do at home to stop your bird from laying eggs

1. Put your bird to bed early, by 5 or 6:00 p.m. A long day length is one of the most important environmental cues triggering egg laying in birds. By allowing your bird to stay up late, you are mimicking the long days of spring/summer, making your bird think it is time to breed. An early bedtime will help to turn off her breeding hormones. Note that she will need complete darkness and quiet for this to be effective (covering the cage while the radio or TV is on is not adequate!).

2. Keep your bird away from dark, enclosed spaces. Most parrots are cavity nesters, which means that instead of building a nest out in the open they look for dark, enclosed spaces in which to lay their eggs. In order to stop your bird from laying eggs it is essential that she is kept away from such areas. Nest boxes should be promptly removed. Birds can be ingenious when looking for a nesting site (under a couch, behind the microwave, even in the dryer!), so it is important that she is under close supervision when out of the cage.

3. Keep your bird away from other birds to which she is bonded. Having a mate is a strong stimulus for your bird to lay. This mate may be a member of the opposite sex, another female bird, or even a bird of a different species. Separating your bird from the other birds in your household will help turn off her hormones.

4. Discourage breeding behavior in your bird. Some birds will display breeding behaviors with their favorite person, such as vent-rubbing, tail lifting, or regurgitating food. Discourage these behaviors by putting your bird back in her cage for a “time out” whenever she displays them. Don’t pet your bird on her back or under her tail, as this can be sexually stimulating.

5. Remove your bird’s “love-toys”. Some single birds will display mating behaviors with objects in their environment, such as food cups, toys, perches, or mirrors. Mating behaviors include regurgitating food, vent rubbing, and tail lifting. If your bird engages in these behaviors with an inanimate object, that object should be permanently removed from her environment.

6. Rearrange the cage interior and change the cage location. Your bird is more likely to lay eggs in a cage that hasn’t changed in a while. Putting your bird in a different cage and/or changing the cage location can help discourage laying. Changing the arrangement or types of toys, dishes, and perches in the cage can also be very helpful.

7. Give your bird optimal nutrition and provide full spectrum light. Producing and laying eggs robs your bird of the vitamins, proteins, and calcium she needs to stay healthy. It is especially crucial during the breeding season that she is on a complete and balanced diet, which in most cases will be a pelleted diet. A seed diet supplemented with vitamins is not adequate. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a pelleted diet for your bird. Full spectrum sunlight is necessary for your bird’s calcium metabolism, and can be provided by unfiltered sunlight or by a full spectrum flourescent bulb.

8. Avoid removing the eggs which your bird has already laid. Sometimes the easiest way to turn off the egg-laying cycle is to allow your bird to sit on her eggs. If your bird lays a few eggs and then sits on them, leave the eggs in the cage for 21 days or until she loses interest. If however she does not stop at 3 – 4 eggs and continues laying, this strategy may not work, and you should call your avian veterinarian for further suggestions.

9. Ask your veterinarian about hormone injections. In certain cases of excessive egg-laying, your veterinarian may recommend hormone injections in addition to the above environmental and dietary changes. Hormone injections are relatively safe and can help reduce egg-laying in some birds. The effectiveness of hormone injections varies from bird to bird and can not be accurately predicted beforehand.

10. When in doubt, ask your avian veterinarian. If you have questions or concerns regarding your bird’s health, or if the above changes do not stop your bird from laying, please give your avian veterinarian a call.

Author: Hilary S. Stern, DVM

From: http://www.forthebirdsdvm.com/pages/discouraging-breeding-behavior-in-pet-birds


I’m happy to report that Georgie’s health is back to normal now. She acquired a limp about a month ago after laying an egg, then she laid another set of infertile eggs shortly after, which caused her to become very weak and unable to stand up for long. Our avian vet gave me medication to give her every day to tackle her limp and we upped her calcium and vitamin D supplement intake to boost her strength. It’s taken her a while to recover from the strain of laying eggs so closely after the first set, but we’re so happy to have her back to normal.

I took a photo of Georgie’s chest feathers when she has been sitting on the fake eggs. The feathers are all out of place because she pushes them out to expose the brood patch so the eggs are against her skin.

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Georgie's ruffled chest feathers

I realised I had forgotten to tell you about Elmo’s new sleeping arrangements. He used to sleep on the bedside table in our bedroom, however, when we bought a new bed we didn’t realise how much higher it was to the old one – so unfortunately Elmo hurt his foot one day when he lept down from the bed (which he recovered from). And since the bed is higher he no longer is able to jump up onto the bed like he used to do when staying home alone. So we decided that he would be better off if he stayed in the living room on the sofa. He now sleeps there and when we are out for the day, he has the run of the living room, which is bigger than the bedroom so he has more space to explore than he used to.

Yesterday I found Elmo in Georgie’s empty nest. I guess it is payback for all the times Georgie has snuck into his nest. :)

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Elmo in Georgie's nest

Georgie is fast asleep on my lap and I can hear Elmo calling to me on the sofa. They are such wonderful birds but they are often quite demanding with their attention-seeking desires. :D

With the sun shining so gloriously, I took Elmo and Georgie out into the garden to enjoy it:

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Georgie

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Georgie sunbathing

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Elmo

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Visiting pigeons

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Visiting pigeons


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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The people at the Wild Bird Fund, a non-profit organisation, in New York City do a lot to help feral pigeons and other wildlife in and around the area. It is wonderful to see vets and rehabbers work so skillfully with pigeons. It can be hard to find a vet that knows how to fix broken bones in a bird, and tragically, a lot of pigeons are euthanised because of a broken wing or leg simply because the skills and knowledge – and sometimes other resources (e.g. space and time) – are not there. (And pigeon sanctuaries are hard to come by.)

Please consider donating towards their cause to built a wildlife rehabilitation centre in New York City: Wild Bird Fund

Blog: Wild Bird Fund Blog

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wildbirdfund

These videos show what the Wild Bird Fund is all about:

(Note: at the end of the last video they state that they facilitated “soft release” for the two pigeons in the video. Both pigeons transferred any affections from humans to pigeons prior to release.)


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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