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

 

Homing Pigeons – Lesson Two

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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.