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 Pigeon introductions

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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Pigeon introductions   Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:26 am

Hi everyone,

I was after some advice regarding my 4 month old male pigeon, Des.

To give you some background, my boyfriend and I have raised Des from the age of about 2-3 weeks old - he was an orphaned wild pigeon bub.

Since Des reached 6 weeks of age, my boyfriend and I have made many failed attempts at getting an appropriate house and friend for Des during which time he has been living in our sun deck. It looks like finally we will have a proper house for him this weekend which is a large aviary shed we'll place in the backyard.

A friend has also lined up a lady friend for Des.

I'm wondering though how to go about introducing the two. I guess Des will be a bit socially awkward given that at this stage he is used to hanging out with humans and dogs. He also has a habit of pecking away at us, no area is sacred, he has a particular penchant for pecking our dog's bottoms! He also just gave me blood lip for no apparent reason which makes me worry about how he might behave with a young lady pigeon.

Any advice on how to integrate the two would be greatly appreciated.

P.S. Can anyone tell me what it means when pigeons spin around in circles cooing then change directions and do it all over again?
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:21 am

Hi there SquirrelTickler,

It's great to hear from you again! Feeling great

First of all, the little dance Des has been doing is a mating call. He's ready to find himself a little lady to share his life. They puff themselves up (like men showing off their muscles, lol) and dance around, bowing and saying something that probably translates as 'Look at me, look at me, I'm so gorgeous!' That's too funny

There is a technique for introducing two pigeons of opposite sexes:

1) First they must be placed so that they can hear, but not see, each other. This is usually done by putting them in cages, or other housing, next to each other but with a solid partition wall. This way they will hear each other's voices and become accustomed to that sound.

2) When they both spend a lot of the time next to the partition wall, like they want to walk through it, replace it by a pannel that allows them to see each other, made of metal bars or a wire mesh (but not chicken wire, that can cause nasty injuries to pigeons; the best is called in the US 'hardware cloth', and it's made up of plastic-covered wire forming small squares).

3) You will know the right time to remove the last obstacle and let them be together... Tickled Pink

Occasionally there can be cases of domestic violence, even when you've taken all the precautions. Some males are just quite aggressive. When that happens, I remove the male and put him in solitary for a couple of hours until he's cooled down. If he does it again, he gets solitary for a little longer. Eventually he'll repent (even if it's only that the mating instinct is stronger than his bad mood Laughing ) and you can actually see him dancing round the female in a more subdued way, looking for all the world like he's apologising. When she 'forgives' him by cooing softly, bowing back, or grooming his face, all's well again.

Give Des a kiss from me -- but don't get bitten!!!
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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Fri Jul 29, 2011 7:42 am

It's great to hear that Des may have a forever companion. Thrilled
Please keep us posted on how things are coming along. If at all possible we would love to see some pictures. We LOVE pictures. I love it/them

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If we become ill or injured in any way,
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pigeonwriter
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sat Jul 30, 2011 4:25 am

Looking forwardto pics also -there is nothing more cute than pijjies in love!!!!
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:49 am

Thanks for your great advice, Teresa. You're always so helpful!

That's funny about Des' mating call Laughing I notice he only does it when female humans are around but he's very subdued with human males Hmmm

I just tried to take a photo of him but he kept trying to attack my feet. I'll send pictures as soon as he has something to distract him from chasing my feet like a feathered female! Cute Dove

Are male pigeons fussy at all or do they generally settle for any female they are paired with; and are females usually content with whatever male is thrust upon them?

Do you have pigeons that dote on each other? I'd love to hear about and see some cute pigeon couples! Circle of Love
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:58 am

When male and female pigeons are part of a flock where they can freely choose a partner, they do that. If they only 'know' one pigeon of the opposite sex, given time, they will grow fond of that one.
Mind you, there have been some exceptions. Occasionally people have tried to pair up pigeons unsuccessfully, but in most cases I think they simply didn't give them enough time to get used to each other's company.

Pigeons mate for life, and have been known to pine for a dead companion, showing all the signs of mourning and depression we can recognise in humans. But after a while they try to find a new companion.
This doesn't mean they're 100% faithful, though. Some males court other females, even when they already have a mate. My Hercules does this, and he's very lucky Piper is such a lady and doesn't wingslap his roving eye!... And a female pigeon paired with a very aggressive male can decide, after a while, that 'enough is enough' and leave him. They're just so human it's scary!

There's nothing cuter than pigeons in love! These are my couples:

Hercules and Piper (she's on the right, and it's plain to see how devoted she is to her 'bad boy' husband!):




George and Abby (George is a lost pedigree racer):



Pippin and Sammy Sue (these are both girls, but they've always been inseparable):



Halo and Achilles (he's behind her) -- You're the first to see this pic, as it's the latest romance! Happy



Other members have posted some wonderful photos, I'll see if I can find some more.

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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:40 am

Just look at this, it's a heart melter!!!!

http://www.pigeonangels.com/t2522-togetherness
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 23, 2011 5:45 am

Thanks for sharing the lovely photos of your gorgeous pigeons Teresa! They all look like such sweet and charming couples :-)

Well, after 3 weeks of tinkering with our flat pack aviary we finally had it ready for Des and his new friend Rita to call home.

I did as you suggested and kept them separated by a solid partition for 4 days, then replaced this with a clear plastic sheet. Des being a pro at deconstruction brought the whole thing down over night though and my boyfriend found them together the next morning. That was 3 days ago and all seems well. Des isn't really interested in Rita at this stage - I think he identifies with humans and doesn't realize he's a pigeon

Here's some pics Smile





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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 23, 2011 6:50 am

Many thanks for sharing Des and Rita's new homestead. Thank You
It's wonderful. I love it/them Great job
Plenty of sunshine for their enjoyment. Feeling great

Rita is a little beauty. As time goes on and the more they are together Des' interest in Rita will most likely change.

Is that a nest to the right of Rita or the materials to make a nest?

Please keep us posted on how things are progressing. Smile

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Cindy

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Please watch over us while we fly,
Keeping us safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Please lead us to safety where we are welcome to stay.
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:54 pm

Thanks for the update, SquirrelTickler! Hi there/Bye Feeling great

The aviary looks fantastic! Way To Go And Des obviously loves it -- look at him acting king of the castle!!! Laughing

Rita is SO pretty! Who wouldn't fall in love with her? I couldn't stop laughing, the way you described them getting together... That's too funny We can make all the detailed plans in the world, but at the end of the day, they will often do their own thing!

I'll be looking forward to hearing how they get on together -- and it's always great to hear from you! Tickled Pink
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:30 am

Thanks for your feedback Cindy and Teresa :-)

Cindy, I made a nest for Rita out of a shoe box and pea straw and placed it on the pine ledge but Des keeps pushing it off. I've given up on the shoe box so am just now placing a few generous handfuls of pea straw on the ledge each morning...I don't know if I am doing the right thing so if you've got some suggestions on what might make a suitable nest for Rita and Des, please let me know.

Still no love signs in the aviary. Des is really bossy with poor Rita and pushes her out of the hanging basket and off the pine ledge occasionally. She seems really puzzled by his behavior. I hope they'll grow to love each other in time. Des is such a demanding and loud boy and Rita seems like a wall flower in comparison.

I'll post you some more pics soon :-)



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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:22 pm



If it is, that's why he's acting up -- The height of a pigeon's perch reflects his social status. If a newcomer tries to perch higher up or at the same height, the resident will react aggressively to assert his authority.

The best way to keep the peace and stop him from feeling threatened is to set up a perch for Rita that's lower down than both his ledge and his basket. Once the aviary hierarchy has been established, he'll very likely start taking an interest in her, and end up by inviting her to his ledge.
But there must be an invitation! Laughing Dove right Cute Dove
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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:43 am

Good eye, Teresa.
I hadn't noticed that the ledge was higher than Des's basket.
That very well could be the problem.

Is there any chance of installing another ledge lower than the current one and Des' basket, SquirrelTickler?

We look forward to seeing more pictures. Smile

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Cindy

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Keeping us safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Please lead us to safety where we are welcome to stay.
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:56 am

I am so glad I found the Pigeon Angels forum ( especially you ladies) to help me with a lot of much needed advice for a first timer like me!

Yes, the ledge is the one you pointed to Cindy. I'll get my boyfriend to make a lower one on the weekend.

When I came home from work today I noticed Des was being quite mean to poor Rita who was looking very care worn. I saw him pecking at her and chasing her away from the food and water bowls. I've taken him out of the aviary for an hour so she can get some time to eat and drink.
I guess I should keep them separated until the weekend when the man can put in the extra ledge?

We have got a wooden step ladder in the aviary too but Rita hasn't shown any interest in moving towards that side of the aviary.
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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:30 am

SquirrelTickler wrote:
I am so glad I found the Pigeon Angels forum ( especially you ladies) to help me with a lot of much needed advice for a first timer like me!

Yes, the ledge is the one you pointed to Cindy. I'll get my boyfriend to make a lower one on the weekend.

When I came home from work today I noticed Des was being quite mean to poor Rita who was looking very care worn.

I saw him pecking at her and chasing her away from the food and water bowls.

I've taken him out of the aviary for an hour so she can get some time to eat and drink.
I guess I should keep them separated until the weekend when the man can put in the extra ledge?

We have got a wooden step ladder in the aviary too but Rita hasn't shown any interest in moving towards that side of the aviary.

You're very welcome. Smile
We are just adding a few thoughts to the awesome job you and your boyfriend are doing to make a wonderful home for Des and Rita. Great job

This behavior could possibly be a sign of Des' trying to 'drive' Miss Rita home. Hmmm
Males will often do that when they want their mate to stay on the nest. Seeing red/mad
He knows there's a nest there, even if it is on a higher platform than his basket.
Our very long time feral, Frank, will do that to Miss Daisy and it drives me nuts. Heaven help me

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Cindy

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Please watch over us while we fly,
Keeping us safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Please lead us to safety where we are welcome to stay.
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:31 pm

Thanks, SquirrelTickler, I'm glad you like it here and that you feel we've been able to answer your questions. Happy

I agree with Cindy that you and your boyfriend are doing a fantastic job. I'm SO envious of your aviary!! But I'm stuck with sharing my living space with my pigeons, as I live in a second floor! I don't even have a flat roof that I could put an aviary on... And I flatly refuse to transform my bedroom so that I have to sleep in a wire basket, ouch!!! That's too funny

I think Des is feeling put upon by an intruder, one that he's not too happy to share his space with. I can see two possible explanations:

- If he's bonded to you it's going to take a lot of time and patience on Rita's part to win him over.
I remember a story like that where a young hen spent a year dancing to her beloved before he succumbed to her charms and gave up on his human as a potential mate.
So, for the time being, it's possible that Des is eyeing Rita will all the despondency of a young man in love who's forced into an arranged marriage...

- On the other hand, he may just be feeling insecure and threatened by the new arrival, perhaps even jealous, if you're giving her a lot of attention. Eating before a rival, just like perching higher, are ways of asserting authority and establishing a pecking order. And from what you say, he does peck!

Maybe the biggest problem here is that he scuppered your plans to introduce them gradually and now he wishes he hadn't. If I were in your shoes I would separate them a little longer, if at all possible. Would it be possible to try and partition a part of the aviary for her (lower than his quarters), with its own food and water dish? If Des is feeling insecure he will feel more so if he's removed from 'his' home, while this little stranger is free to roam around.
If he can see her but not be with her, he's more likely to want the forbidden fruit, and in giving them time to adjust to each other it might just be possible to avoid his aggressive behaviour before he starts making a habit of it.

(Oh man, I feel like a pigeon marriage counsellor...) nutter
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AZWhitefeather
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:08 pm

Teresa wrote:

(Oh man, I feel like a pigeon marriage counsellor...) nutter


pigeon 1

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Cindy

A Pigeon's Prayer
Please watch over us while we fly,
Keeping us safe from the predators that share the sky.

If we become ill or injured in any way,
Please lead us to safety where we are welcome to stay.
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:33 pm

LOL, or would it be more like this?

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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Des and Rita   Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:43 am

Hehe, you ladies are too funny

I have good news! Des and Rita seem to have been tolerating each other quite well over the last two weeks. I haven't caught Des pecking Rita and I've seen Rita eating more food without Des interfering.

Last week I noticed Rita was acting brooding, sitting in the one spot in a little nest creation she had pulled together. I didn't want to disturb her trying to check if there was an egg underneath so let her be. On Monday though, my boyfriend went out to check on the two and found an egg. He is flatly against them having a baby together so removed the egg Disappointed I don't know how pigeon reproduction works exactly but hopefully the egg hadn't been fertilised. Anyhoo, the following day I went to give them their breakfast and found Rita has laid another egg. I'm going to keep the egg there until I can find a good fake egg to use as a replacement. Is this the right thing to do though? I don't want to distress Rita, and Des is being really protective of her which makes me think he has something to be proud of.

Thanks again for all your good advice! Star quality
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Fri Sep 23, 2011 12:06 pm

Please - do not take an egg away without replacing it with a fake one or rather two - pigeons normally lay always 2 eggs with a day in between. I always wait for the second egg until I replace them with plaster eggs. If you remove the eggs without giving them a replacement the mother pigeon will start the egg producing process too soon again and will finally end up in having problem as eggs are a big stress on the body.

When you have replaced the eggs carefully by just moving your hand carefully and slowly underneath the belly of the pigeon and doing the swap in one move - the couple will sit on the eggs as if they were breeding and the mother pigeon will get the time to recover from egg producing stress.

Please do not wait for more than 3 days after laying with replacement because of the development of the embryo.

You have built a lovely house for them
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:13 pm

Petra is quite right, SquirrelTickler.
But until you can get replacement eggs, here is an emergency idea: hard boil the egg that Rita is sitting on and replace it in the nest as soon as it is just above body temperature. That may just fool the pigeons into sitting on an egg that definitely won't hatch.
When they reject it, keepit for further swaps.
If you still don't have replacement eggs when Rita lays the next two, you can do the same again, but remember to do the swap as soon as the second egg is laid. My hens usually lay their eggs in the evening, two days apart.
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:27 am

Thanks Petra and Teresa for your advice.

My boyfriend and I tried to find fake eggs at the shops today to no avail. Would it be ok to use a chicken egg as a replacement?

As Rita must have been sitting on the egg for 5 days now, will I be causing any suffering to the embryo if I remove it tomorrow (day 6)? Not feeling well

I have a small painted paper mache Russian egg but being so brightly coloured I guess it wouldn't be a good swap for the real egg.
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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:28 am

Oh dear, when you said you were going to keep that egg, I thought you'd taken it away to keep. If she's been sitting it for 5-6 days, the embryo will have started to form. Usually by this time you can detect a heartbeat... Not feeling well

A chicken egg would be too big, even for them to sit on. Better use anything right about the size of a pigeon's egg, even a toy of sorts. Sometimes craft shops sell small wooden eggs as decoration, or to soak in aromatic oils to scent the room. One of those, providing it wasn't a scented one (pigeons are very sensitive to strong smells) could be painted white and used.

If the Russian egg is about the right size, maybe you could wrap it in white plastic...?
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SquirrelTickler



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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:57 am

I feel terrible...On Saturday my boyfriend and I found a pigeon sized dummy egg and took the egg off Rita Sorry

Is there a chance the egg wasn't fertilised? I hope it wasn't, I feel sick thinking we killed their little baby because we didn't know what we were doing.

Is there some kind of pigeons for dummies book you could recommend to me so I don't stuff up in such a horrible way again? Disappointed

Rita and Des are still taking turns at keeping the dummy egg warm. How long does it usually take for the mother to reject the egg?

I've noticed that the size of Rita's droppings over the last week have been extremely large - 4-5 times the size of the droppings she was doing before she laid the eggs. She seems to do two to 3 large poops a day. Do you know what might be the cause of this?

Sorry again for my horrible mistake

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Teresa
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PostSubject: Re: Pigeon introductions   Wed Sep 28, 2011 5:07 pm

Hi Squirreltickler,

Maybe the egg wasn't fertile anyway, considering the kind of relationship they have. A hen in love will lay eggs for her loved one, but if the male has shown no interest in her they will be infertile. You can check for yourself by candling the egg:
http://www.pigeonangels.com/t2959-candling-eggs-to-see-if-they-are-fertile#41065

There are a number of pigeon books out there, but one I found very useful is 'Pigeons (A Complete Pet Owner's Manual)' by Matthew M. Vriends and Tommy E. Erskine, and published by Barron's. It's a small book, 6.5x8x0.5", so very portable. It is written for the hobbyist, not the rescuer, but it has lots of basic information on pigeon development, diet, housing and health.

It usually takes about 18 days for an egg to hatch, but the parents may sit on a dummy egg longer, just to make double sure. Really persistent parents can stay on the nest for much longer.
When they give up on the egg, they either get up, move to a different part of the cage and ignore it, or else they push it out of the nest.

Don't worry about Rita's poops, they're quite normal for a sitting hen. What's happening is she's holding her bowel movements for hours to sit on the nest, and when she finally 'goes' the result is huge and smelly! crazy YUK
Hens often have a preferred place to deposit those poopzillas, so a strategically placed bit of newspaper below the right spot will allow you to remove the offending object as soon as it is presented...
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