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I think Elmo’s bad behaviour has rubbed off onto Georgie. Look what she’s doing:

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Georgie bathing in the cat’s water bowl.

Poor Hugo cat doesn’t know where to go when the pigeons are having a bath in his water bowl!! :D

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Elmo bathing in the cat’s water bowl.

Richard and I went for a walk in Jesmond Dene park and had a look at the animals in Pet’s Corner. We were amused to see some Geordie woodpigeons stuffing their crops on the free food! The ducks were fast asleep nearby. They didn’t seem bothered by the theft. :)

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Elmo and Georgie have been enjoying the fact that I’ve been at home during the week. They think it’s the best! More time with mummy! :)

With all the snow out there we’ve been watching the feral and wood pigeons jumping about in the snow trying to stay on top – but they keep sinking into it. Poor birdies! Richard had to go out into the garden and flatten a spot for them to eat the seed from. Then the squirrels came round and chased the birds away!

Last year when it snowed I was able to enjoy it (since I didn’t have a cold). We had great fun and here’s what we did around this time last year:

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Our garden in Dec 09

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Georgie's first snow experience

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Elmo in the snow

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Stevie, our snowman!

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Georgie and I

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Elmo's not too sure about the snow

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"Get me out of here!"

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Curious Elmo

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Curious Georgie


As promised, here are a few photos of little Widget who has grown up and is almost ready for release:

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Handsome boy! :)

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Widget (second from left) with other collared doves

This is Dotty (mentioned in yesterdays post), another tiny collared dove, with her wood pigeon friend:

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Dotty (front) and friend

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The baby woody is bigger than older Dotty

She’s grown nicely but is still a tiny tot. This was Dotty on her arrival at my work on the 20th Sept:

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Ps. I was going to post a short video of Elmo welcoming us home, but the upload was too slow and messed things up so I’ll try again another time.


This blog is called “Pigeons as Pets”. I just want to clarify what we mean by this.

We are not advising or advocating taking pigeons from the wild and keeping them as pets in an aviary or cage. Not at all! Healthy, flight-abled pigeons in the wild should be left to live their life naturally.

If, however, you find a baby pigeon that needs hand-rearing then of course this needs to be done (preferably by the experts) – with the aim that it can be released as a wild pigeon when it is ready. This is not always possible, as many of you know. Sometimes the baby is injured and cannot be released because of it; sometimes the baby becomes tame and bonded to humans and therefore unreleasable (especially if it has no predator avoidance instincts). In these cases the baby pigeon would need to be housed in a safe and suitable environment for the rest of its life. This also applies to adult pigeons that are disabled (e.g. blind or cannot fly).

  • Safe environment = safe from predators such as cats, dogs and sparrowhawks. Safe from the elements (e.g. severe weather).
  • Suitable environment = an area where the pigeon can fly (if it physically can), walk about, have suitable food and access to drinking and bathing water. Also, preferably, an area where it can have a mate. Pigeons are gregarious and require company.

Disabled adult pigeons may learn to tolerate your presence or they may become tame over time. Each pigeon is individual in its behaviour and character. The key is to understand what it needs and to not force anything.

  • Feral pigeons are one of the most common pigeons you’ll see and are perfectly capable of living in the wild in a variety of environments around the world. They can become very tame around humans if fed regularily.
  • Fancy pigeons are human bred pigeons and many would not know how to fend for themselves in the wild. Some have physical features that make them dependent on humans.
  • Racing pigeons are also human bred but if they become lost and hungry they usually find food in people’s gardens and may even join a feral pigeon flock instead of flying back home.
  • Wood pigeons are a completely wild species and adult woodies generally do not cope well in captivity (there are always exceptions). Hand-reared wood pigeons may remain tame and friendly.
  • Collared doves are also a completely wild species and are in many ways similar to woodies in their relationship with humans.

Since pigeons are largely monogamous, if a flight-abled pigeon bonds with a non-flighted one then it will stay with its mate despite its disability. Some people would be tempted to release the flight-abled pigeon, however, you would then be seperating two bonded pigeons, which I consider to be an unkind act. Most feral pigeons are happy as long as they have a mate, food, water, shelter, room to fly and a place to nest – whether this is in the wild or in captivity. This does not mean that you can justify taking pigeons from the wild – I stand by my belief that healthy, flighted pigeons should live in the wild in their natural state. What I am trying to say is that if you have nursed a flight-abled pigeon back to health but it has bonded with a disabled pigeon then you can keep the two together in a safe and suitable environment.

Then there is the question as to whether you should release a flighted tame pigeon. I think the answer to this is whether the tame pigeon knows enough about predators and has predator avoidance instincts. If it does not then it should not be released since it would be easy pickings. Some tame hand-reared pigeons have no predator awareness – some don’t even know what a predator is.

So what do we mean by “Pigeons as Pets”? We mean tame, imprinted or disabled pigeons that would not otherwise survive in the wild.


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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