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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings everyone,

I am completely new to pigeons, so am in the process of learning everything.

If you look at my thread on designing a new loft, you will see that I am looking at building a "Dovecote" style loft. I would like to have pigeons that are able to fly freely in and out. I do not wish to keep them confined. I will already be raising chickens and turkeys that will be partially confined. I would like the pigeons to be free.

I know very well that the issue would then be predators. We have hawks, eagles, and owls. Not to mention the land bound ones. My dogs are part of that group. I will give them food and shelter though. So I think the risk is worth it for them.

What I need to know is how to plan for the breeding of birds that will have as much chance of surviving as possible. What breeds should I look at? Can breeding with the local ferals be used to their advantage? I can trap ferals, or use the ones that may be loured by my birds. Is it possible to breed for the survival instincts that the ferals obviously have?

I saw a picture of a Horseman Thief pouter bred by Tom Donald, Canada, out flying a peregrine falcon. This is the kind of thing that I would want to encourage. These kinds of abilities.

What are peoples thoughts on this? I have contacted a few local breeders and will be getting a couple of pairs from them potentially, but I wanted to educate myself as much as possible first.
 

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Greetings everyone,

I am completely new to pigeons, so am in the process of learning everything.

If you look at my thread on designing a new loft, you will see that I am looking at building a "Dovecote" style loft. I would like to have pigeons that are able to fly freely in and out. I do not wish to keep them confined. I will already be raising chickens and turkeys that will be partially confined. I would like the pigeons to be free.

I know very well that the issue would then be predators. We have hawks, eagles, and owls. Not to mention the land bound ones. My dogs are part of that group. I will give them food and shelter though. So I think the risk is worth it for them.

What I need to know is how to plan for the breeding of birds that will have as much chance of surviving as possible. What breeds should I look at? Can breeding with the local ferals be used to their advantage? I can trap ferals, or use the ones that may be loured by my birds. Is it possible to breed for the survival instincts that the ferals obviously have?

I saw a picture of a Horseman Thief pouter bred by Tom Donald, Canada, out flying a peregrine falcon. This is the kind of thing that I would want to encourage. These kinds of abilities.

What are peoples thoughts on this? I have contacted a few local breeders and will be getting a couple of pairs from them potentially, but I wanted to educate myself as much as possible first.
the fancy breeds might not last long....but....there is a guy not far from me that had a fantail or fantailx that was out and he had been out for 4 years, untill he caught it at night and sold it...all his pigeons were free to fly and he had alot! so they can survive, I would stick to the flying breeds and you will lose some, but they do multiply. I suppose they get savy to preditors. ferals may come around if you are feeding freely, but I would get some kind of high flyer as they would stick around if you give them a few months and then they will build nest and have babies and then they will be added to the group. sometimes just mixed breeds will do well also. I would just stay away from the fancy or color type pigeons. you will still have to settle any new birds to the loft in the beginning....in Britian they have dovecotes and keep their pigeons this way...maybe someone from there can chime in and give you pointers on settleing them. oh about the dogs, if they are after the pigeons on a regular basis, the pigeons might not stick around and go to find safer quarters.
 

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Smart, healthy birds are what you need. You can get homers, Oriental rollers, Doneks, Escampadissa (and other diving breeds) if you have predator problems. Still hawk and falcons can get those. That pouter you are talking about probably just got lucky. Even some Birmingham rollers can get lucky, but usually hawks find them easy to catch. Falcon probably can find tumblers and other high flying breeds easy to catch as well. Ferals obviously have been surviving the many predator attacks. Stick with flying performance birds. In my opinion I will choose homers. I have them. They can out fly a hawk.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you.

That is exactly the kind of information I was hoping people would be able to give. I was wondering about Homers and Rollers. I don't know enough about the different breeds to tell which might have good skills.

I have watched the flock of ferals that lives around us, but have never had the chance to see them respond to the hawks, so I'm not sure of what kind of flying to look for. I assume that speed, endurance, and maneuverability are needed. But where can I get those kinds of abilities. Homers have the homing, speed, and endurance skills that I need. This is an obvious one even for a newbie like me. But how do you add acrobatics? Do Rollers actually do aerial rolling? Tumblers? I read something about rolling on the ground... I'm not sure.

Spirit Wings,

I would like to hear from Britain. Anyone that has had a Dovecote type loft? If it is possible to settle an adult bird in enough to allow it to fly free eventually, I would really like to know how.

I was thinking the same thing about the fancy breeds. They would not last. The same thing for the really big breeds like the Runts. Are any of the other utility breeds possible? Or are they too slow?

RodSD,

I will need to look up some of those diving breeds. I don't know anything about them. Thanks.

Thank you both far the help.
 

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......Are any of the other utility breeds possible? Or are they too slow?...
I do not think the utility breeds would be able to avoid a predator attack for long. They've been bred to be heavy meat birds (no offense, Walter), not agile fliers.
 
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my opinion on this is that you are just waiting for the losses to happen with an open loft .. there are day preditors and night ones as well and with an open loft you are bound to be wiped out sooner or later be it a hawk or raccoon ,weasle or other thing that goes bump in the night ... you sound like you are worried about lossing birds in the air when its when they are landing at the loft ,thats where you will lose most of your birds to hawks and dont think the hawks wont go right into your loft for what they want so it doesnt matter how fast they can fly or how well theytwist and turn in flight ...even a hawk savy bird can only do so much when there is no protection once it reaches home :(:(
 

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try and get a well built loft,secured so as predators cannot enter(eg rats)i like the wall mounted dovecotes but dont feel they are safe,they are more ornamental,here in scotland a lot of people build their own lofts or improvise from a basic garden shed,adding bits and peices,it also depends on how much ground you have available,over here gardens tend to quite small and space is quite hard to define
 

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Thank you.

That is exactly the kind of information I was hoping people would be able to give. I was wondering about Homers and Rollers. I don't know enough about the different breeds to tell which might have good skills.

I have watched the flock of ferals that lives around us, but have never had the chance to see them respond to the hawks, so I'm not sure of what kind of flying to look for. I assume that speed, endurance, and maneuverability are needed. But where can I get those kinds of abilities. Homers have the homing, speed, and endurance skills that I need. This is an obvious one even for a newbie like me. But how do you add acrobatics? Do Rollers actually do aerial rolling? Tumblers? I read something about rolling on the ground... I'm not sure.

Spirit Wings,

I would like to hear from Britain. Anyone that has had a Dovecote type loft? If it is possible to settle an adult bird in enough to allow it to fly free eventually, I would really like to know how.

I was thinking the same thing about the fancy breeds. They would not last. The same thing for the really big breeds like the Runts. Are any of the other utility breeds possible? Or are they too slow?

RodSD,

I will need to look up some of those diving breeds. I don't know anything about them. Thanks.

Thank you both far the help.
well, I think it will be survival of the fittist not the type flying breed. If you do have a pred problem then it will be hard to keep birds, but if you do not, then it may work out....like I said before, a man not far from me has about 50 or 60 pigeons free flying and he feeds them well and they have been there for years, so it can be done, but there will be adult birds and babies eaten just as if they were feral or wild so be prepaired for that. in england they have birds of prey and other bird eating critters, and they keep their pigeons in this way..hope someone who has a dovecote or doocote will chime in and give some information.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I posted this on my other thread...

Lokotaloft,

Four legged predators should not be a problem in the loft. It is on the ground that I am concerned. If you look at the pics above. The sun porch for the chickens will be wall with vertically oriented clear polycarbonate roofing panels. These create a completely smooth wall from the ground all the way to the roof. The roof will also overhang the walls. The panels and the overhang mean that there is no way to climb up to the landing board, nor jump from the roof onto it. The landing board would be 8' off the ground on the cross beam that you see in the front.

It is the flying predators that will be the issue. That is why I have been focusing on them in my thinking and questions. I need help with the design of the landing board, and the smaller entrance into the loft. I need advice on how to limit the chance of a hawk or owl entering these.

As I have mentioned we have large hawks, eagles, and owls. Predominantly large ones. The hawks are the ones that pick up rabbits on the run and fly away with them. These are not the small varieties. There are a few once in a while, but not often. This is why I am interested in the natural flying skills of different breeds. A fast and agile pigeon can out fly these raptors.

I should also add that the yard is about 5 acres in size. There are no trees anywhere near the loft site. No chance for ambushes. The dogs also patrol the entire area. They will chase and kill anything stupid enough to enter. This includes the foxes, feral cats, and coyotes. None of which have tried to enter since the dogs took over. I watch the tracks. Only rabbits and Prairie Chickens have entered at night.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Spirit Wings,

The survival of the fittest brings us back to my original question of X'ing with ferals.

I asked this because they are of course the most successful of all pigeons. They live in the world day by day without the need for our direct intervention. Unlike those that people keep. That is the reason for my interest. There is a good reason for people calling them the rats of the sky. They live all over the place.

Am I wrong?
 

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Spirit Wings,

The survival of the fittest brings us back to my original question of X'ing with ferals.

I asked this because they are of course the most successful of all pigeons. They live in the world day by day without the need for our direct intervention. Unlike those that people keep. That is the reason for my interest. There is a good reason for people calling them the rats of the sky. They live all over the place.

Am I wrong?
well ferals have all different genes in them, they were domestic at one time, a long time ago....you can start with any kind of hearty breed and from them the best will survive and they will breed and so on..so you will end up with a savy flock of birds at some point and this would happen naturally....if they mix with ferals it may help add a hardiness to what ever you get or buy to put out there....I think you can start with adopting a loft flying breed that you can rehome to the loft as older homers would not stick around, or you can get young homers and train them to your loft or just put out food and hope the ferals come to live in your loft/cote....it depends on how much money you want to put in it. Iam not sure how you can capture and rehome a feral without disrupting their flock, unless a pest control company caught some and where willing to give them to you instead of killing them, but they just may fly back to the oringinal place they were caught, so that is why I would suggest high flyer type pigeons that can be rehomed.and hopefully out fly the preds of the sky.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So, as RodSD said, start with smart and healthy birds from a local breeder. High Flyers, Homers, Rollers(Orientals are interesting), etc. Settle them into the loft. Breed once or twice. Then start to let them fly free. Closing them in between flights. Slowly progressing to true free flight.

Once this has been reached then I would need to wait and see what happens with the local ferals. Not to mention the survival of my own flock.

The local ferals are out flying today. They seem to be using the farm just down the road as their wintering loft. He has a couple of cattle barns that are warm. Not to mention the feed that would be available. This proximity to our place does make me think that it would be impossible to make any of these birds home to us, and not return to the flock. Too close. You are also right that it would mean braking up the feral flock.

I think I might stick with flying my own style of Thief Pouter, and steal the odd bird.
 

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Get pigeons with a white rump on the back, those help them escape falcons. Having a flock of pigeons help too, more eyes to see and warn the others. I used hanging CD's and multiple owls all around the house and never had any hawk attacks. The hawks are there but they never actually attack.

As for breed, I say either ferals or homers. They will fly back eventually if a hawk scares them away.

You probably want to start with baby pigeons if you want an open loft. That way they will be homed to your loft. I had a feral hen at my loft for 1 year and one day my brother pretended to be a hawk and scared her away. I didn't see her fly back that day, but the next day I got a phone call that she flew back to her birth home 80 miles away (similar thing has happened when I started tossing my ferals, since all my original birds were from the same place). So that's why I say start with babies.

I don't think ferals are hardier than other breeds though, all pigeons seem pretty hardy. Their bodies are a little rounder than homers but I don't know if that means anything. My homers and show pigeons are great at seeing hawks too, and warning the rest of the flock. My racing homers and show pigeons don't wing slap but my ferals give a nice hard punch even as babies.
 

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Hi klorinth,



Were you to scatter Seed on the ground now, where you are...what sort of Birds would show up to graze? And, would there be wild/feral Pigeons showing up?


If so, if the latter...and, you were to provide amenity for Nesting...you would soon enough have your Flock, adapted now and for the future, to your area.
 

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Hi klorinth,



Were you to scatter Seed on the ground now, where you are...what sort of Birds would show up to graze? And, would there be wild/feral Pigeons showing up?


If so, if the latter...and, you were to provide amenity for Nesting...you would soon enough have your Flock, adapted now and for the future, to your area.
That was exactly what I was thinking. Klorinth, you did mention that there is a feral flock near by. If you start feeding them and provide free access to water, they should start using your open dove cote for nesting. It might not work if the ground is shared by your dogs.
 
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