Pigeons – 2: Making Whoopee

Posted: August 10, 2013 in Chat

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Eventually it becomes clear that all these waifs and strays were waifs and strays for a reason. They are all a little incapable; in a safe environment they’re fine – but outside, in the big bad world?

Coupled with the hand-reared aspect the possibility of them ever going free becomes ever more remote.

Stuck with them. Ok.

They are very endearing. Those ragamuffins on the city streets, some with deformed feet, some with no feet – they’re all capable of this. It is now known that a high percentage of urban pigeons were bred from racers who didn’t make it back home. That is, nearly all of them have a hand-reared aspect about them. People tend to despise them because they hang around people – some kind of ‘that’s not how a wild bird should act, they’re just camp-followers, parasites!’

I’m afraid it looks like a heritage of human contact more than anything else, guys.

So, aren’t they, like… really messy? Don’t bears crap in the woods? Don’t we have huge sewage plants? Everything is messy! Well fed pigeons are, for want of a better, better-messy: easier-to-clean messy. Ok?

Fine with their food now, though. The first one, the littlest, can still only eat Junior pigeon grain, when the rest are nearly all on the big stuff. And another peculiarity, how they relish anything with aniseed in! Mostly anise used now, I am informed. No matter, the hunger for it is the same. We also hear it is this the racers were lured back into their coops with – starved a little beforehand then released in some godforsaken place: home for tea, and delicious anise, boys!

We’ve met hawked ones. The hawk drops on them to try and break their backs. When it doesn’t work the pigoens tend to lose the skin and feathers on their backs, like a burn. If they survive, a worthy breeder will have them back, thanks: phone number under a wing. Some don’t care less, though. Some birds can be expensive; but don’t think of holding them for ransom – not that kind of expensive!

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So, we spend time with them – we are now a part of their colony. There are four of them and they have split into two groups. Each partnering another, oblivious of gender. They have divided the room clearly down the centre, each couple having a half each. They watch out for each other but strictly guard their territory. Everday day there are territory scraps and fights, tussles, sometimes fierce and relentless. It is mostly ground space they fight over, if one from the other area flies in and rests high up there is eventual ousting, but on the ground it is immediate. They are very ground-based for such good and agile fliers – a lot of time is spent toddling around on floor space.

There are times during the year the borders are relaxed a little, a little incursion is allowed. Especially at night. But then there are nesting times. Every little scrap if foraged: that written note you were looking high and low for? That screw you meant for the whatsit? Anything and everything is filched. Given the means they can end up with a big sprawling and deep mass of papers tucked into a space.

Don’t tell anyone, but… sat with them – they tend to land on you and climb all over you, sit on you for ages when they’re tired – one day, a pigeon was climbing over my hand whilst I was doing something else. All of a sudden I heard a loud Hu! from the other end of the room. Turning I saw the other pigeon’s partner tearing down the room towards us, looking furious. It was then I noticed the pigeon on me was… ahem, on my hand. The other pigeon fluttered up, and walloped the pigeon off me!

Monogamy, fidelity, in pigeons! Surprising. Jealousy, outrage and anger too! It was the look, his whole demeanor, as he came tearing down the room – never seen him move so fast!

And then we noticed that one pair were being more than usually intent on guarding their nest. We managed a peek – eggs. Two of them! That was a dark moment. That was the last thing we needed.

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What to do? Those two were bonded as a pair. They were both incapable of going free. What to do? We could not be having more!

After a tense two weeks still no sound. Three weeks nothing – no cheeping. The birds themselves were getting restless. The spent more time away from the nest. We knew then that nothing was going to come from it. We managed to take the eggs with no repercussions. We’ve got artificial eggs now in case any get broody – they are supposed to confuse their body systems into thinking they have already laid… or something like that. Will it work? It had better!

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