Three Little Pigs

DSC_0066It seems wrong to keep calling them squabs, I suppose technically they’re called squeakers now, which would make sense to anyone present during feeding time.

I have three little ones now, the most recent addition has a scar over his eye where I think he must have been injured as a young chick. It makes his eye look a little bit funny, like his eyelid is crooked. Hopefully it will grow out and be less noticeable with time.

Pigeons are very funny birds. I only had to bottle feed the first two for maybe a week, and they didn’t get the hang of it so I was basically force-feeding them every time just to make sure they had something in their crops. Even though I was providing food, they didn’t associate my hands with happy feelings and remained a bit skittish.

I decided to start exclusively hand-feeding them so they would think my hands were good things. To do that you need the emotional fortitude to leave baby birds in a cage with no food for at least 24 hours. Not easy! But once they were really hungry, after a lot of patient waiting, Fifty finally starting pecking from my hand. On seeing this, the other two immediately joined in. Pigeons really notice things like that.

DSC_0052Baby number three is a little happier with me since he never needed force-feeding. To him my hands are not quite as scary. However he would probably have not begun eating on his own so quickly without the other two to show him how.

I do allow them to come out of their cage sometimes now after feeding, which I think is a mistake. Since they are full, they don’t really care about going back in, they want to explore. Then I end up having to chase and catch them which just makes them scared of my hands again. I need to train them to come out of the cage when hungry, then go back in to be fed. I think this can be done by luring them out to a little bit of food in a consistent location, and then back to the cage for the rest of the meal. They need to be trained to go back in the cage by themselves on command.

There looks like there may be a fourth white squab in development in the loft. I expect it will be a piece of cake to continue to train new birds once I have them living with well-trained older ones. They will just copy exactly what the older birds do, like good little pigs.

Stay tuned for a post about an exotic new addition to the coop!

We Have Squabs!

DSC_0018 I was in the coop today passing out corn and wheat and noticed that my first nesting female homer, the blue check, was not on her nest for like the first time ever. Since she’s nesting in a rather hidden spot that’s tough to see, I put my hand up to check what was in there and felt something warm and soft that could only be chicks.

I kind of expected that she might have chicks by now since she’s been on that nest a long time. I’m not sure how old these guys are but they’re fairly huge already. It will be exciting to watch them grow up. Should I kidnap them in a few weeks and hand raise them as pets? Decisions, decisions…

My other nesting pigeon, the white homer, abandoned her first nest and eggs for some reason, then transferred all the nesting material to the box next door and is now sitting again. Here’s hoping for at least a couple of pure white chicks to go with my blue checks.

 

The Pigeons are Nesting

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I’ve had a lot of different baby animals born here: rabbits, ducks, quail, chickens and mice. But one thing I have never had, and am very excited to finally have, are baby pigeons.

I think few people ever see baby pigeons, or squabs. They are naked, fed on a regurgitated “pigeon milk” by their doting parents and stay hidden away until they look mostly like adults.

Anyone lucky enough to get the opportunity to raise a young pigeon by hand, as I have, will know how amazing these birds are. They are so intelligent and loyal. Not to mention beautiful. I’m actually surprised more people don’t keep them as pets.

I have 16 homing pigeons right now. Six of those are pure white while the rest are blue bar and blue check. The white pigeons were given to me for free by a long time breeder who had lost most of his flock to hawks in late fall and couldn’t take it anymore. I’ll likely keep these birds captive and only fly their offspring occasionally in the summer months when it’s safer.

I love the idea of releasing your pigeon/dove and having it fly right back home as fast as it can.

To keep the white birds white I’ll need a separated loft, otherwise in a few generations everyone will revert back to wild type. That will get built this summer, fingers crossed. I have everyone living together in the chicken coop right now but that is proving to be too messy. Once the separate pigeon loft is constructed I’ll also be able to train my pigeons properly, since I can’t really get them hungry enough in the coop with so much extra food lying around. The plan is to get them trained to load into a box in the coop so they can be easily transported to the release site with minimal handling.

Here’s the technique I plan to use. Prepare to be amazed by the video below, this man is the pigeon-whisperer:

So far I think I have one all white couple who are sitting on eggs, and one blue check couple on another nest. The eggs are white and the size of large quail eggs. Gestation period is 17-19 days. I’ll keep you posted!

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Keeping an eye on me