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Coocifer Coocifer is offline
Posted 21st July 2017, 01:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Country: Canada
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Bonding With Pigeon Advice (Very 1st pigeon)


Hi there,

I've posted a few times before on this subject, but I feel like I'm just not making as much progress as I would have liked to by now. I know these things take time and I'm willing to take as long as it requires, but I'd really appreciate if people could come forward with advice, or maybe talk to me one on one at some point so I can just rattle off as many questions as I need to. If anyone is available for direct messaging that would be great too.


I adopted a male lahore pigeon on June 24th, and things are progressing reasonably, but I suppose I was hoping he'd be more attached to me by now. Maybe he'll always be an aloof bird and that's okay. I'll accept and continue to love and nurture him.

But basically, I can't seem to break him out of a certain level of skiddishness. I understand a certain amount of nervousness is normal for these birds, but for a domestic breed like him I guess I am just surprised at how cautious he really is. But I know he's never been a house pet and I've never owned a pigeon so we are still learning about and from each other.

I've had him for just a few days shy of a month and I can get him to eat from my hand, and go on my lap to eat (with much reluctance), but I don't feel like it moves beyond that. He's at a point now where he'll sit on my desk but if I reach for him, he runs away. Sometimes he'll walk on my feet because he climbs up my leg to get food sometimes, but not after my last attempt at handling him. (Which was only 2 days ago and while I'm confident I can get that level of trust back within a few days, I hate that this has been a setback)

He's a year old, hand-raised, but as soon as he fledged he was put back with other birds. He's still learning to be a house pet.

I can't pick him up at all. Every time I try, it hurts his already tenuous trust in me and I have to take baby steps with him again. I've only tried about four times but I feel like at some point I'm going to have to take him to the vet and pick him up and put him in his carrier and he'll just be completely aloof for days. He's also a HUGE bird. Picking him up with one hand is completely out of the question. But when I try to pick him up with two hands, I'm wary of hurting him so I'm never fast enough to stop him from snapping his wings out and fluttering away. His wings were clipped (when they grow back in I'll leave him flighted) when I first got him and I understand on some level this probably heightens his insecurity. Maybe when his feathers grow back he'll feel more bold and confident with me?

Twice I've tried to pick him up in the dark, and even though he can't see, he'll still run. Once I simply tried the first night he came home because he needed to go back in his cage, but he was understandably terrified. Another time it was because he perched on his cage and wouldn't come down so I went to pick him up because I needed to go to bed and he was stubbornly just moving away from me. Ever since I've gotten him to start eating out of my hands, he gets super cautious and hesitates on being near or eating out of my hands if it's in my lap.

He used to visit me and sit pretty close on my desk, but after trying to pick him up two days ago, he keeps his distance again. I really want him to get used to being handled, picked up and held but I don't know how to begin doing this. I know all of this takes times and it can take a pigeon six weeks to completely adjust to their new humans and we're almost at 4 weeks, but man. I really want this to work for us. I love him

I try to keep things going slow, I talk softly, I don't force our interactions. Occasionally I try to pet him but if he gets too nervous or starts moving away I stop. He got much more tolerant of this before I tried to pick him up in the dark again 2 days ago(I tried to pick him up this way based on advice I got here). I know I can get him back to that point but I don't want to have incidents like that reverse the progress I make with him every time. I don't need to rush him adjusting to being handled like that, but I would like to be confident that at the times I have to do it, he won't be scarred by the experience. So I do want to get him used to being handled.

I trust train him with food in the evenings and before bed, and a little bit in the mornings. He mysteriously doesn't like peanuts so I'm going to experiment with peas and corn next as treats. Would appreciate other suggestions too.


So in short, I'd like advice on this, as well as other advice on body language cues and whatever I can do to put him more at ease as we bond. Eventually I do want him to have a mate or friend, but first I want to be secure in the owner-pet relationship I cultivate with him so when things are one-on-one with him I know he'll be interested and secure in me.

If anyone experienced is willing to PM me or let me PM them so I can field them questions I would really appreciate that too! But any and all advice is welcome.

Thanks again guys
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rpalmer rpalmer is offline
Posted 21st July 2017, 09:08 AM
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YaSin11 YaSin11 is offline
Posted 21st July 2017, 10:16 AM
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Hi Coocifer,

Just a few points regarding your post. Good Luck

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coocifer View Post
Hi there,

but I'd really appreciate if people could come forward with advice, or maybe talk to me one on one at some point so I can just rattle off as many questions as I need to. If anyone is available for direct messaging that would be great too.

I'm available for DM for Pigeons related Questions. Just send a mail thru here and I'll try My best to Ans your Qs. I'm not located in Ca, so due to time diff. the reply might not be Instant.

but I suppose I was hoping he'd be more attached to me by now. Maybe he'll always be an aloof bird and that's okay. I'll accept and continue to love and nurture him. This is very nice of you and Fundamental for having a good realtion with your Pigeons(s)

so we are still learning about and from each other. It's Always a learning Process with Pigeons, no matter how long you have been keeping them.

I can get him to eat from my hand, and go on my lap to eat (with much reluctance), but I don't feel like it moves beyond that.

Wow! Congrats, it takes many people to reach that level (eating from hand, etc.) months, even years! How much are you expecting?....

He's at a point now where he'll sit on my desk but if I reach for him, he runs away. Slow, soft movements always help. By Instinct, pigeons are wary of sudden movements. Its hard wired into them to react defensively for their Survival.



I can't pick him up at all. Every time I try, it hurts his already tenuous trust in me and I have to take baby steps with him again. I've only tried about four times but I feel like at some point I'm going to have to take him to the vet and pick him up and put him in his carrier and he'll just be completely aloof for days. He's also a HUGE bird. Picking him up with one hand is completely out of the question. But when I try to pick him up with two hands, I'm wary of hurting him See the proper way to hold a pigeons, so as not hurt him. The forum has some posts, theres always the net.

so I'm never fast enough to stop him from snapping his wings out and fluttering away. His wings were clipped (when they grow back in I'll leave him flighted) when I first got him and I understand on some level this probably heightens his insecurity. Maybe when his feathers grow back he'll feel more bold and confident with me?

The regrowth time is good for you to bond with him more.


Twice I've tried to pick him up in the dark, and even though he can't see, he'll still run. Once I simply tried the first night he came home because he needed to go back in his cage, but he was understandably terrified. Another time it was because he perched on his cage and wouldn't come down so I went to pick him up because I needed to go to bed and he was stubbornly just moving away from me. Ever since I've gotten him to start eating out of my hands, he gets super cautious and hesitates on being near or eating out of my hands if it's in my lap.

Talking/whistling to him while feeding him will help build a sense of familiarity and eventually security.

He used to visit me and sit pretty close on my desk, but after trying to pick him up two days ago, he keeps his distance again. I really want him to get used to being handled, picked up and held but I don't know how to begin doing this. I know all of this takes times and it can take a pigeon six weeks to completely adjust to their new humans and we're almost at 4 weeks, but man. I really want this to work for us. I love him

I try to keep things going slow, I talk softly, I don't force our interactions. Occasionally I try to pet him but if he gets too nervous or starts moving away I stop. He got much more tolerant of this before I tried to pick him up in the dark again 2 days ago(I tried to pick him up this way based on advice I got here). I know I can get him back to that point but I don't want to have incidents like that reverse the progress I make with him every time. I don't need to rush him adjusting to being handled like that, but I would like to be confident that at the times I have to do it, he won't be scarred by the experience. So I do want to get him used to being handled.

I trust train him with food in the evenings and before bed, and a little bit in the mornings. He mysteriously doesn't like peanuts so I'm going to experiment with peas and corn next as treats. Would appreciate other suggestions too.


So in short, I'd like advice on this, as well as other advice on body language cues and whatever I can do to put him more at ease as we bond. Eventually I do want him to have a mate or friend, but first I want to be secure in the owner-pet relationship I cultivate with him so when things are one-on-one with him I know he'll be interested and secure in me.

If anyone experienced is willing to PM me or let me PM them so I can field them questions I would really appreciate that too! But any and all advice is welcome.

As I said, you can PM me if you feel you need to talk more. To be honest, I think you have already reached a good level of trust with you pigeon; it eats from your hand. As I mentioned, softer, slower movements will help. You already know; it takes time, but I would say you are on the right track. Things are moving well, they will get better. Try to be relaxed around your pigeon, they can sense these things; including your desperation to have them comfortable with you.

Thanks again guys

Last edited by YaSin11; 21st July 2017 at 02:07 PM..
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cwebster cwebster is offline
Posted 21st July 2017, 10:44 AM
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It takes time with some birds. Our homer Lucy would not let me near her for at least six months but now she is a lover.

Last edited by cwebster; 22nd July 2017 at 08:15 PM..
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 21st July 2017, 06:39 PM
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All have different temperaments and what works with one bird may not work with another. I have three ferals and three tumblers all of which I hand reared from unwanted eggs. Now my three ferals as adults will let me pick them up and pet them and they'll choose to sit on my shoulder as I work in their room. The three tumblers will sit all over me, come close to me while I'm working but the two one year old tumblers will not let me pick them up and the youngest one, who is three months old, has just started to occasionally fly away when I go to touch her. They were all raised exactly the same and fed only by me but the ferals from wild stock are much tamer than the tumblers. Perhaps it's a breed thing but I initially expected the babies whose parents were loft birds to be the tamest, however I was totally wrong.
I wouldn't wait for the bird to move away if he lets you pet him, perhaps touch him once then you move away, so as he doesn't have to. As for catching him in the dark - I have a wild rehabbed feral female who doesn't allow any touch at all and on the occasion she has been out and not wanted to go back in her cage I've had to catch her in the dark. Catching her with my hands created extreme panic and she'd fly away even though she couldn't see so I used a large silk scarf to throw over her, thus avoiding any escape or panic in her because I found once covered with a cloth she simply submitted to being caught. Thankfully she now has learned what going back in her cage means, I think she's learned that by watching her mate and now all I have to do is send him in and she follows. I do handle her, I take her out of her cage to administer her vitamins, calcium and bio yogurt a few times a week and although she protests and pecks I think she's getting to know I don't hurt her, she'll now bath when I'm there, eat and sit around a yard away from me and I'm really happy about that. I've had her since last January and I don't expect her ever to be happy with me picking her up but just to gain a little trust is all I want. It takes time and patience - lots of both.
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Coocifer Coocifer is offline
Posted 22nd July 2017, 02:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2017
Country: Canada
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Thank you so much Freda! Knowing I've gotten him to tolerate many things with me already makes me feel good. He's bathed twice in my presence, and when a friend was over. He'll still get close to me or walk around my legs when I'm in sitting in my chair so I know he doesn't see me as a complete threat at all times.

I have read many stories about pigeons just being one way or the other no matter how much influencing or hand-rearing. That they just....come around on their own terms, and sometimes they're friendlier and get aloof for awhile as time goes on and then come back around. It's really amazing that their personalities shift with time and age like that. I suppose cats are similar that way. I had an aloof cat that grew into a lovebug at around age 3, but like many cats he never wants his stomach rubbed and barely tolerates being held (the cat lives with my Mom now though).

The silk scarf thing sounds like great advice. I hope if I try something similar in the dark with him he also submits - I have a few scarves I could try it with. Does the scarf also cover her head when you've put it over her? And do you turn off the lights when you do this as well?

He's never run into anything while bolting in the dark but I hate that it has the potential to happen. I'd like to give this a try.

Thank you all the same Freda! I really appreciate this advice. It's very encouraging.
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FredaH FredaH is offline
Posted 22nd July 2017, 06:40 PM
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You're welcome Coocifer. Yes the scarf needs to be large enough to cover him completely because if it doesn't he'll probably find an exit point and get panicked. It can be a pillow case or similar, I used a square silk scarf because it's what I had to hand and it worked well. The light has to be turned off otherwise he'll fly before you even manage to lift the scarf - my girl is white and pretty easy to see in the dark, I just made a note of where she was and presto. Doesn't have to be pitch black as they don't see well in half light, in fact I can stand right in front of Olive and she doesn't know I'm there but he'll hear you so try not to make a noise. Any cloth will do just make sure it's not heavy.
Using your hands is more difficult because they can wriggle free and could injure themselves in the dark and with the degree of panic it will cause they freak right out. Have a go and I wish you luck - remember we are humans and can outsmart them, or so I like to think, lol.
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Jay3 Jay3 is offline
Posted 22nd July 2017, 07:15 PM
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I think you have done well so far, but are a little impatient to have him bond with you. Pigeons are all different, and most really don't like being petted or picked up. They want to come to you when they want to. They really do better with other pigeons around which is what is natural, so he is probably missing his flock mates and the way things were. I wouldn't like it much if I were a pigeon living with other pigeons, and someone took me, got my wings cut so I can't fly, which is what makes me a bird, and is my only defense. He is going through a lot of adjustment here, and I think you are expecting too much from him too fast. With a bird, it is on their terms and in their time. Not ours.

If he doesn't like peanuts, it's because he doesn't even recognize them as food. They are foreign to him. You have to keep mixing some in with his feed so that he will eventually try them. It may take some time. When he does, he will love them.
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Feralfeeder88 Feralfeeder88 is offline
Posted 18th April 2018, 08:48 PM
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I have a thuringer swallow that just would not eat out of my hands. Then I got some homers taught them to eat out of my hands in like a week after they started liking peanuts. The swallow just came and ate what they dropped. He wasn't afraid as his typical response was a wing slap if I tried to touch him. I even taught him to hop up on a ledge next to me. But for months he wouldn't touch me like the others. Then all of a sudden one day he just did.
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