Homing Pigeon Nest Box

DSC_0007Here’s the nesting box I made for my five, now four, homing pigeons. It’s made from 1/2″ plywood, wood glue and 1″ common nails. The dimensions are 2 feet by 4 feet with a depth of 11 inches. The spaces on top can also be used as nesting spots. I finished with two coats of glossy, clear exterior Varathane. No front lip was added for ease of cleaning.

I realize now that the holes may be pitifully small, but I assume they can just take over an additional space if they want.

It has poop in it so I know they go in there, but it will be a few months yet before anyone is ready to breed. I’ve read they need to be about 8 months old and I think my birds are only 2-3 months.

Fairy Garden

I love my mom. I’ve met a lot of moms and I like a lot of them, but none of them compare to mine. She has recently retired after many years with the same company and has now started her own blog. I am very excited to share her first post with you!

Time To Do Everything

I fell in love with Fairy Gardens the first time I saw one and have wanted to create one of my own for a very long time. So, first opportunity I got, that’s exactly what I did. The beauty of Fairy Gardens is that they are miniature plantscapes that can exist in just a single container but, if you examine one carefully, you will see that they are really whimsical little worlds that take on a life of their own. Most all Fairy Gardens will contain at least one fairy but mine does not. I have two birds, one birdhouse, one bumble bee and one lady bug.

It was easier to create a Fairy Garden than I thought. To start you need to choose a container that you like. You will need drainage so if the container does not already have one you can use a drill with a small…

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Homing Pigeons – Lesson Three

How do we get in?

Don’t get discouraged.

It’s now seven hours since I let my homers out for their very first flight and they are all at this moment safely back in the coop except for the one older male who has seemingly left for good.

What a day. After kicking myself for letting my birds out prematurely and expecting never to see them again, they began to filter back. First they lined up on my roof, then my back porch railing, then they started landing on the windowsill right next to me. I could tell they wanted back in but they couldn’t remember how.

I knew from research that they needed a landing pad and not just a doorway, and I made sure to install one before letting them free. You can see it to the far left of the photo under their little pigeon door. They still didn’t seem interested in using it despite mounds of food piled there that the sparrows were all too happy to sample for them.

I saw them eyeing their food dish through the window that I had on my kitchen table. Knowing they have excellent eyesight, I decided to place the bowl half sticking out on the landing pad. Success! Ten minutes later two birds were inside. Well one was half inside. I went in the coop to shoo him completely in and he was only too happy to go. The two birds ate their fill and settled in on a perch for a nice nap. Meanwhile the other two birds were still trying to figure out how to get in. At this point it began to gently rain.

Well, that did it. The two remaining pigeons were not happy about being caught in the rain and began to try everything they could to gain access to the coop. They were climbing the walls, pacing the ground, skidding off the metal nest box roof and even flying up to me as if asking for help. I opened the coop door at one point and they landed on it, knowing it was an access point. The chickens started escaping immediately though and I had to close it again. Then one bird finally flew to the pad. Overjoyed, he began stuffing his face and getting settled inside. The last pigeon, my favorite one who has a little white stripe next to her eye, was still stuck outside. You could tell she was starting to freak out. I opened the coop door again, blocked the chickens with a piece of fencing and called the pigeon over. Gratefully, she flew in and landed on the ground in a pile of chickens. Then up into the rafters for a well-deserved meal and rest.

WHEW! So what have I learned? Well, I’ve learned that pigeons really do know where home is and they want to get back there, but maybe not right away. I learned that I need to teach the pigeons where their door is and have them reliably using it before I set them loose again. I will accomplish this by making a cage that will hang in front of the open door. They can exit the door into the cage and look around, then they can go right back in, using the pad. I will also be installing a wire “trap” to the door that will only swing one way, allowing pigeons to go in but not out. I will keep the trap lifted while they explore the cage, and when they are all checking out the cage I will lower the trap door and call them to eat. This will hopefully teach them how to push on the wire to re-enter the coop. The trap will also ensure that any pigeons I release will stay home after returning to the coop without the need for supervision.

How about the pigeon I lost? Well, I emailed the gentleman I bought them from and told him to be on the lookout for him as he was probably flying home. He very kindly wrote that he hadn’t returned yet, but he had a new batch of young pigeons almost ready to go and I could pick up a replacement bird at the next Poultry Swap. I think that’s the best possible outcome I could have hoped for!

Homing Pigeons – Lesson Two


My homers looking at me from my roof

Don’t let them go yet.

It’s been two weeks, otherwise known as a couple of weeks, which is when the seller said I could probably safely let my birds fly. Of course, I’ve been looking forward to this day.

My pigeons had all been doing very well. I had progressed to a couple of them landing on my feed bowl to eat while I was still holding it, and coming to the food when I called. I was feeding them once a day in the mornings and they were sticking to the upper levels of the coop, away from the ducks and chickens on the ground. I’d been researching how to coop train them and today was the day.

I did a few things wrong today. I noticed when I came out this morning that a few pigeons were on the coop floor with the chickens. This likely meant that they had overcome their fears and had come down for some chicken pellets. First mistake: they might not be very hungry. I hadn’t fed them yet and assumed it would still be fine, since I noticed they don’t much care for the pellets and much prefer corn and wheat.

Secondly, even though I’d read to only set them loose on a nice sunny day, I ignored this advice and let them out on a greyish, cloudy day. Not a rainy day by any stretch, but not as nice and sunny as we’ve been having lately.

I opened the pigeon door and they timidly made their way out. Things looked good, they flew around the coop in ever widening circles and finally landed on the roof of my house. My one older bird stayed there and looked at me for awhile. A few minutes later I could only spot four birds, the younger four. The older bird was gone and I’m assuming he flew right back home. Darn it.

I’d also read not to let them out while there were predators around. Well, there weren’t any hawks but I forgot about my cats. They were VERY interested in these birds on the roof and got as close to them as they could. The pigeons weren’t too happy about this despite my efforts to rein the cats in.

After calling them, shaking the food dish, putting food on the landing pad to their doorway and then doing it all over again many times, they still haven’t returned.

They hung out on my roof for a few hours looking a bit perplexed. They flew around and showed me some beautiful aeronautics. Right now they’re on the neighbor’s roof two doors down and it’s been over four hours since they were first released.

Will they come back by nightfall? Will they come back at all? How will I get the door closed behind them without constant vigilance and no trap yet installed?

I suppose I’ll find out.

Incubation Woes

DSC_0001Well, it’s that time again. I’ve had so many requests for fertile quail eggs that it took a couple of months to get enough together for a hatch. I wanted to do a dual hatch with some chicken eggs in there, since I’ve never hatched out any chickens before.

I have a Hovabator with an automatic egg turner and both quail and chicken-sized egg holders. I naturally assumed I could have both holders in the turner at once and set it and forget it (sort of). Well, after many agonizing attempts to fit both sizes in I concluded that it is impossible to use the egg turner with both chicken and quail eggs. You can have chicken, you can have quail, but you can’t have both. The egg holder attachments are different sizes and the very flimsy plastic arms that actually effect movement will not work with both. Whose idea was that? Not that the rest of the turner is much better. I see these things selling for $89.99 and they are a huge piece of junk. The plastic is cheap and breaks easily. The only thing holding a tray of eggs are two thin plastic spokes that you could snap like a dry twig. The whole unit consists of a small motor and some poorly-formed plastic parts and shouldn’t cost any more than $20. I doubt it will last for very many more hatches.

Anyway. So this means, in addition to keeping the temperature and humidity monitored I have to turn my Ameraucana chicken eggs at least three times a day. To me that seems like a lot of work and a lot of opportunities to break eggs. Luckily it’s day 11 and I haven’t broken any yet. I’m starting to feel a lot like a mother chicken though. How long has it been since they were turned last?