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I finally went to visit Dora, the other pigeon who used to live with us. Too long a time had passed since I last saw her, so I’m so happy to have seen her the other day at the wildlife rescue centre where she lives (Folly Wildlife Rescue). Sadly, something happened to her mate and he is unable to stand up properly, so he’s being cared for in the intensive care unit. And Dora is there with him for company and support. Pigeons pair for life and if one becomes ill or injured you should always try to keep the pair together or within sight so that they don’t pine for each other.

Dora’s mate, Pidge, is 20 years old this year (hatched in 1993) but we don’t know how old Dora is. When I visited her she seemed to recognise me – giving me the usual pecks and coos – and she was very attentive to Pidge, with gentle preening around his head. I’m praying that Pidge pulls through and regains full mobility so they can go back out into their aviary. Otherwise I may have to convince my other half to let me bring them home for permanent care. I’m sure we can fit a large cage in the corner that the second sofa currently sits in (unused!).

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Beautiful Dora!

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Gorgeous Pidge

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Lovely couple


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!


Last night Georgie was very naughty. She kept attacking me while I was trying to watch a movie. … Maybe she was bored with the movie – didn’t like the actors or the story and was trying to get me to change channel? Maybe she was overtired and wanted to go to bed? Whatever the reason she was really getting me annoyed – and bruised since she insisted on standing on my shoulder – and then pecking at my face and neck!

I had to talk softly and sweetly to her – little coos and soft kisses to her head – but nothing could make her stop pecking me. I kept removing George from my shoulder and putting her on the sofa but she just kept climbing back onto me. She wanted to fall asleep on my shoulder, but was not happy when I made a movement. In the end I had to be put her in her cage to calm down and go to sleep – which she did.

Georgie has her bedtime and if she’s out past that time she gets very grumpy – a fact that I sometimes forget – hence the red marks on my neck!

Today Georgie spent a good hour snuggled on my lap – all memory of last nights events forgotten.

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I only got this photo because her eyes were closed when the camera light went on.

Elmo has also been snuggling up to his loved one today:

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I watched a wood pigeon land on the water dish in the garden – a big fat woody all intent on having a drink – when along came a little fiesty feral pigeon. The feral hopped onto the water dish and pushed the wood pigeon off! What a little cheeky sod! :) After the feral had his fill and had flown off, the woody came back for his drink.

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Now that we’ve stopped throwing copious amounts of food into the garden we don’t have 50 pigeons sitting on the neighbours roof all day anymore. We still have feral pigeons visiting our garden (we throw seed and peanuts out sporadically) – and we recognise many returning ones – so we know that the pigeons are doing alright without our steady supply of food. We believe it is better that pigeons (well, all wildlife really) don’t become reliant on humans as their sole food source. They need to be able to find food elsewhere, otherwise what would happen if we moved house?

A few weeks ago a small clump of white mushrooms appeared – which proceeded to grow and grow – until they eventually disappeared. We had Elmo out in the garden one day and he didn’t like the look of the mushrooms. Not to his taste at all and he quickly retreated back to the front door – the days adventure over! What a scaredy-cat!! :)

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And today I saw our little fox cub – now all grown up – appear for a sniff and a scavenge in our garden. What a handsome lad he is now (could be a girl – but I haven’t checked)!

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On January 17th I wrote about our new bird feeder and the animals that visited it (post called “My favourite weather is bird-chirping weather”). On that date we only had two feral pigeons visiting our garden; today we counted 10! So very slowly our visiting flock has grown, much to our delight.

This morning Richard took Elmo out for a morning walk in the garden and he filled up the bird feeder and put some seeds on the ground at the same time. Elmo happily pecked at the grass and the seed and was very content; little did he know that ten feral pigeons were watching him from the rooftop, wondering if it is safe to come down to join him with Richard there.

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Elmo's the one on his own on the right

After a while one brave fella decided he wasn’t going to let Elmo eat all the seed so he flew gently down and began to eat. A few moments later the rest of the flock landed and were happily pecking at the seed. Elmo at first wasn’t that bothered but then he noticed the flock and decided he wanted nothing to do with them. I was watching from the open window and Elmo walked over and tried to fly up to get into the flat. Poor boy was a bit scared!

When Elmo lived with his previous career he once was feeding in the garden with a flock of ferals near him. They took off suddenly and unexpectedly Elmo took off too, flying high into the sky before he realised he didn’t know how to come down again. He hovered for a while then plummeted to the ground with his carer running frantically to him. Fortunately Elmo was unhurt save for a limp, however, after hearing this story we are quite cautious when other pigeons are near Elmo. We wouldn’t want to have a repeat!

Back to our garden: We put a squirrel guard to stop our three visiting squirrels from eating all the seed from the hanging feeders in one sitting (they are welcome to the seed on the ground feeder!) and we thought the seed would last for a while in the feeders, however, I noticed that they were starting to get low again soon after being refilled.

One day I saw this pretty guy helping himself:

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:D So sweet!

The other ferals watch this guy helping himself to seed they haven’t figured out how to get to yet (even though there is usually plenty of food on the ground for them!) and I’m anticipating all 10 ferals to be hanging from our feeder any day now!

Here’s some of our visiting flock:

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