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 Interacting with a pet pigeon.

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gorabbitgo

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PostSubject: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:43 pm

So now that Walter seems to be feeling right as rain, i'm making more of an effort to tame him. I'll admit, i have NO CLUE as to how to interact with birds. As a general rule, birds (parrots, 'keets, cockatiels, etc.) do not like me. Mammals, always. Mammals love me. Birds...
I guess i just don't know how to read them.

So far our daily routine is me taking the cover off of his carrier, which is next to my computer, and make sure he has fresh food and water and grit. Then and i sit about two feet away and chatter softly to him. I scoop him up in my hands gently. He'll growl at me and shy away but he won't slap with his wings or panic. If he needs a bath, we go into the bathroom and i trickle water on him while he stands in the tub and tries to get back into my hands. I pat him dry with a towel and let him have run of the house for a bit. He likes to stand in front of a floor fan (well enclosed and bird-safe) and flap his wings like he's flying. After walkabout, i clean his carrier and he sits on my lap for a while. He'll either lay down in my hand or stand on my wrist and let me pet him, then when he's had enough he'll fly back to his carrier and relax while i'm on the computer. He doesn't seem to like being out of his carrier. I can leave the top off and he'll sit there all day. He's hopped out and fluttered to the floor once, and then immediately was like "Okay, none of that. Put me back!" and came over to be picked up.

What do you do to spend time with your pigeons? Do they like being handled and held? Should i continue to pet him or are pigeons not very cuddly? What are some special treats, besides peas and corn, that i might offer him? He always seems pretty interested in whatever he sees me eating but i haven't given him anything off of my plate. If i'm eating something pigeon-friendly, can i offer him a bit or is it like dogs where he'll start begging for everything?

I'm starting from scratch and i have no idea what he'll understand and what he won't.
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:43 pm

From the reactions you described, I would say that Walter is very fond of you! Most ferals in captivity will remain suspicious and panic easily, and that's not happening at all. It seems to me that you are establishing a very good rapport with him.
Don't be fooled by happy photos of people with pigeons on their head... only two of mine ever did that (about 4%!), only one now, as the other has a regular mate now and doesn't love me any more! That's too funny

Pigeons like to have a safe nest, and most who live indoors will retire to their nest when the excitement is over, if they're a bit shy, or simply when they decide it's bed time. The fact he's going over to his nest after an activity means that he has accepted it as his territory and feels perfectly safe there.

Treats... good thinking! Those depend on their individual taste, so trying out a few is a good idea -- but in small amounts, as they can fatten sedentary birds! Laughing
Shelled sunflower seeds and chopped peanuts are the most popular. The first time(s) they try them, they may not even realise they are food and ignore them. But when they get a taste for them, you will almost be able to train them to dance the Macarena...
They may also like chopped walnuts, which are great for their health too! Fresh salads (defrosted peas, sweetcorn, shredded lettuce or spinach, and shreeded carrot) are generally very popular, and it's a good idea to provide them once a week for the vitamin and mineral content.

I don't think it's possible to spoil a pigeon too much by spending quality time with them and giving them treats. The most spoiled of mine was Piper, my first resident. Now she's busy nest-building with Hercules, but when she was single her cage was always open, and at dinner time she would stand on the edge of her perch, looking at me, looking at my food, opening and closing her beak as if she was eating. Now that's what I call a heavy hint! But at least she desn't get under my feet or give long forsaken looks like my dog does! That's too funny To this day Piper has always had a soft spot for cake, but don't tell anybody!!! Wink
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pigeonwriter
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Mon Jul 11, 2011 2:15 am

Oh my Teresa - your description just send me laughing my butt off - and sooooooo true

Rabbit - you are on the best way to become your pijjies best friend!!!!! Pigeons just show their love in very different ways and you will learn to read them - I am sure!!!!
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:43 am

How's it going on the friendship front, Rabbit?
Feel free to post more lovely Picture(s)/video Picture(s)/video Picture(s)/video (hint... Wink )
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gorabbitgo

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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:47 pm

This past weekend has been very productive!
My boyfriend and neighbor were putting up a mister system in our shared back yard and it was so pleasant outside that i wanted to take Walter out to enjoy it. My bunnies are pretty small and their harnesses look a lot like the flight harnesses i've seen online, so with a little adjusting and a little squirming i was able to get Walter into the bunny harness. He LOVED being outside. He didn't try to fly, other than getting from a chair to the ground and from me the chair again. I was very vigilant because we have neighbor cats around, but the outing was without incident. When he started picking at the harness with his beak, i took him back inside.

Today i went to let Walter out of his carrier and hold him for a bit, but he was jut not having it. He refused to be held, growled at me, flapped to the floor and ran into the kitchen. So i gave him some space and let him do his own thing for a bit before trying again. After a few tries he finally let me pick him up but instead of sitting in my hand like usual he wanted to be on my wrist. I stood very very still while he got comfortable, and then we walked slowly around the living room. When i moved, he'd lean back to brace against me. Eventually Walter started side-stepping up my arm until he got to my shoulder. Then he hung out there for a while. I got a handful of pigeon food and he scooted back down to my wrist and sat on one hand while eating out of the other. Then when i went to take him back to his carrier he decided he wasn't done roaming and flew back into the kitchen where the bunny pen is. One of my curious bunnies gave him a bit of a fright and he flew up to a counter where he sat until i came to rescue him. I think he's starting to assert his independence while looking at me as a protector and provider. He doesn't love me yet, but he seems to understand that i'm an ally.

Our next step is getting him to come to me while he's on the floor. So far he just runs until i corral him and pick him up. Once he's up, though, he's fine.

I seriously need to get some more pictures, especially when he's out in the sun. His feathers are soooo shiny!
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:14 pm

Lovely update, Rabbit! You've certainly earned Walter's trust, and that's the most important thing! He will certainly try to assert his independence, but that happens in every meaningful relationship That's too funny and it's no cause for alarm.

I couldn't stop laughing imagining him in the bunny harness! That may just be a first, and it was very creative thinking! We definitely need to see a photo of that!!! Laughing
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pigeonwriter
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:36 am


Rabbit - this is a priceless description. As Teresa already said - please let us see some photos!!!
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gorabbitgo

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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:29 pm

Sorry i've been absent lately! College has consumed my life this past week or so. Summer school is a beast!

I definitely need to get some pictures of Walter in his modified flight harness. We've gone outside with it one other time so far and he's been really great about wearing it. He flaps around a little but doesn't freak out when his progress is halted.

Sadly, i haven't been able to take him out this week because of my schedule. He's been too occupied with the new dance he's been practicing anyway. He walks in a figure eight while cooing a complicated song and then stops to make sure i'm paying attention. If i sing back, he'll hoot like an owl and crouch down. If i bow to him, he does a little hop and resumes his dance with renewed vigor. It's so cute!

We've also had a little tragedy involving the feral cat who lives in my yard and a presumably wild pigeon... It seems that Mr. Kitty has noticed that i like pigeons so he went and found another one for me. He didn't seem to grasp that i prefer them ALIVE, though. Very sad
He's only ever been friendly with me and i don't want him to lose his only human friend for what he thought was a nice gesture. Still, stupid cat...
I don't want to take Walter outside again unless i have someone else with me to distract the cat if he shows up.

There will be pictures soon, though. Promise!
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:17 pm

What a shame kitty thought of presenting you with something like that... It's terribly sad, but he's only following his instinct, and we can't blame him for that.
There are, however, a number of ways to gradually train a cat not to hunt -- providing he's not hungry.
- You can, for example, offer him treats while there are pigeons in sight. Eventually he will come to associate the sight of pigeons with getting a treat, and will look forward to the treat instead of the kill.
- Or you can say 'no' and turn away from him, showing displeasure, when he does something you don't approve of, whilst making a big fuss of him and rewarding him when he does something nice. (But this usually only works with pet cats.)
I've used both techniques with my cats, and it's worked wonders.

As for Walter's little dance... that's a proposal to you! That's too funny That's too funny That's too funny When you bow, you're accepting his advances -- don't be surprised if he gets the wrong idea! Cute Dove
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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:45 am

We're looking forward to seeing pictures of Walter.

It is sad when a cat gets a bird, but as Teresa said, that is their 'hunting' instinct and they shouldn't be punished for doing what comes naturally.

With that said, if a cat does get a pigeon, there's a good possibility that the pigeon was ill or unjured prior to capture, or a youngster who might have fallen from a nest and unable to fly properly, as pigeons are always on the alert for predators, and if healthy can ususally escape a capture.

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If we become ill or injured in any way,
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pijipie

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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:07 am

Sounds like you are off to a great start. I taught my feral to come when I whistle and hold out my arm. You can try the same takes awhile for them to understand you want them to come. I can also point at my head and he will land there too. If i am in the room he always wants to land on my shoulder. This behavior didn't come overnight took months of training made it ex since I got him as a squab. When he was little I always got karate chopped or squeeked at!
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Fri Nov 04, 2011 1:31 am

pijipie wrote:
Sounds like you are off to a great start. I taught my feral to come when I whistle and hold out my arm. You can try the same takes awhile for them to understand you want them to come. I can also point at my head and he will land there too. If i am in the room he always wants to land on my shoulder. This behavior didn't come overnight took months of training made it ex since I got him as a squab. When he was little I always got karate chopped or squeeked at!

ROTFL ROTFL ROTFL
You've done a fantastic job teaching a feisty squeaker to trust you and to understand what you would like him to do! But trust is the key, of course! Pigeons who are born feral are taught by their parents to be wary of humans, and can be set in their ways by three weeks of age.
Getting their trust can be made easier with treats, but it still takes a lot of love, patience and understanding to succeed! Way To Go
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pijipie

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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:37 am

Thanks, I bought a pigeon online and shes full grown so it proves challenging to train her to do anything. Shes still scared of me but allows me to pet her. Doesn't come on command always wants to fly away etc... We'll see in another 2 months
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Interacting with a pet pigeon.   Fri Nov 04, 2011 8:17 pm

A lot can happen in two months! Happy It will be interesting to follow her progress!
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