My husband and I live with two feral pigeons, and both are very special. I’d like to share with you the story of Georgie, our first pigeon.
Georgie was found abandoned under a tree when she was about a month old. She was taken to a wildlife rescue centre for hand-rearing and the staff there soon discovered that she had funny cloudy eyes. It seemed that she couldn’t see properly through them. A vet diagnosed her with having glaucoma, however, we now think this is a misdiagnosis since Georgie isn’t completely blind and doesn’t exhibit any signs of having pain in her eyes (I don’t know much about glaucoma in birds so I could be wrong in my thoughts).
Now many people may think that the staff at the rescue centre should have put Georgie to sleep since she wouldn’t be a releasable bird, however, they decided not to since by that time they had become quite attached to Georgie. Her only disability is her sight and she was growing up as a healthy outgoing pigeon. Although Georgie was reared with a few other pigeon squabs she didn’t seem to interact or connect with them. She became attached to humans from the very beginning and it was soon very obvious that she wouldn’t do well in an aviary. Georgie needed to live in a home with people.
And so she was homed with me and my husband. Georgie lives indoors with us and she has the run of the flat. While we know she hasn’t got full vision we have noticed that she reacts to light and can see some movement. She is now about 2 years old and her eyes have become less cloudy.
Feeding Georgie was a problem from the beginning. Being semi-blind we had to gavage feed her for a year before she finally began to feed for herself. Whilst being gavage fed on a bird-rearing mix she also had some peanuts popped down her throat. Georgie was, and still is, a small slim pigeon and we wanted to make sure she got a source of fat in her. We also kept a bowl of seed in her cage (where she stays during the night and whenever we aren’t at home) just in case.
One day Georgie found the peanut jar and started popping them down herself!! We couldn’t believe it and it was a day of great joy for us.
After that we made greater efforts to get her to feed herself on seed and it took us a few more weeks before we were successful. Now Georgie knows where her seed bowl is in her cage and eats for herself. She really didn’t like to be gavage fed when she got older but we couldn’t stop it until we were sure she was eating enough seed for herself. You all know what messy eaters pigeons can be, swishing seed this was and that way out of the bowl!! Georgie is the same even though she cannot really see the seed she’s eating. Peanuts remain her favourite although she doesn’t gorge on them like she used to. I think that she was so happy to finally realise how to eat for herself that she overdid it in the beginning.
Georgie can fly, albeit not well. She takes off like a helicopter and will stay up in the air, hovering, until someone puts their hand out for her to land on, or she’ll eventually land back to the floor. We’ve tried to teach her to fly to the sound of our clapping but she doesn’t seem too interested in flying forward.
When we are at home Georgie is let out of her cage and spends her time doing whatever she feels like doing, e.g. sitting on the sofa, walking about the flat (which she does surprisingly well), falling asleep in weird places, following us around the flat (she’s a quick runner!), making nests on our laps. She lays eggs every month or so. We cannot get her to stop really so we make sure she’s got enough calcium in her (she was egg-bound once which scared us, and her, pretty badly).
Georgie’s sight disability doesn’t seem to bother her too much (she doesn’t know any better really). She’s a wonderful girl with loads of affection and love in her, and we love her to bits, even when she has her moody days (I think I love her more then!).
Georgie in all her glory!