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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All

A quick question about pigeon behaviour. Why do pigeon parents stay apart when they have a nest? I have two visiting ferals that were totally inseparable before and after having eggs and squabs. While there is a nest however they don't give each other a second glance. Not even when they change shifts. Can anyone explain why. I figure it's some kind of survival mechanism to ensure they don't both get attacked at once.
 

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Several reasons:
- Looking for food, while one parent sits on eggs, the other one is pumping food for the period during the shift.
- Predators – too much activity will relieve where nest is, in general birds are quiet around the nest until squeekers come and spoil the silence.
- Time for fooling around is over, eggs are serious business, they don’t court, flirt anymore, just preparing for youngsters to come when most of the food will go their direction.
 

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Well - I have observed different behaviour with our couple Emma and Pete. When they do the shift they greet each other and sometimes when Emma is sitting on the eggs and Pete is near her on the balustrade they obviously are talking to one another: Pete has a very soft voice then and Emma answers from the nest with a sound as if she would seduce him - very sweet.
Also - from time to time - when she leaves the nest for a few seconds - in order to make her poop - and Pete is near, they exchange a few "kisses" and then she returns to her eggs.

I find this very sweet :)
 

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It is hard to know what is in their heads, as they are birds and we humans we think animals and birds think like we do....but it is just not so. enjoy your bird watching!:)
 

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They are all different, and act in different ways. No two pairs are alike.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the replies. It's true that they managed to keep their nest a secret. The first bunch of squabs hatched on my balcony, but they obviously decided it wasn't the best place for the next. I know they have nest now as they visit on opposite shifts but I have no idea where it is. It's quite funny actually as when they had the nest I used to wonder what the other parent was up to all the time while they were gone. Now I'm on the other side I know. It's fattening itself up for the next shift. I've tried to see where they go when they leave to get an idea about the nest, but no clues so far.

I think I'm probably their main food source as they have taken to knocking on the window if I haven't left them anything. It's quite cute. I wonder if it is because I feed them that they built the nest else where. So it wouldn't be noticed by other hungry birds. Pity as I would have liked to watch some new squabs grow up. Fortunately the 6 month olds still come for food every day. So I still get to see the whole family a couple of times a day, including the male youngster's girlfriend.

She too has a strange new habit. She likes sit on top of the open balcony door and peck at the window frame. What's up with that? It's like she's trying to pick up seeds but there is only dust up there. She also tries to kiss him often, but he's not too interested, usually turning his head away.

Another question... The young girl. She is always on her own. At what age would she find herself a mate, or do the males not find her attractive? Her brother has had a girlfriend for months now.
 

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Another question... The young girl. She is always on her own. At what age would she find herself a mate, or do the males not find her attractive? Her brother has had a girlfriend for months now.
Maybe she's just picky who she spends time with. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
She spends time with the flock in the area. I have seen her on the roof tops with loads of other birds. She does seem to struggle a little with life in general. Her flying isn't too good as she's flown into my windows a couple of times. Also the other pigeons at my place always chase her away.

There is a definite hierarchy at my house. Dad is at the top of the food chain followed by the young couple, Bangers and Abby. Then there is Mom and Mash. They don't seem to mind each other but the rest will chase anyone else away to they can eat in peace. Mom seems to be the most peaceful of the bunch, and quiet too. The rest make quite a noise when they land but mom arrives with no noise at all. She has a different technique which may explain it. Most of the bunch land on the balcony above, check the coast is clear and then land on my balcony. With the young couple Bangers arrives first and lets Abby know the coast is clear. She then lands a few seconds later. Then they jump off the balcony and hover down to the floor. Mom on the other hand flies in and lands under the balcony railing from below so there is no hover landing noise.

They eat any seeds I leave for them and have even taken recently to exploring my house looking for other good things to eat. I accidentally trapped Mom in the kitchen the other day. She was so quiet and I started cleaning up the balcony only to discover that I was between her and her escape. She panicked a little but didn't stress too much, just waited till I left and made her way out quietly.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Another comment. When they take off and land they make this squawking type sound. It is difficult to describe. I think it's mainly caused by the wind through their wings, but it could be some sort of defense noise, to let other pigeons know there is danger. What do you think?

So I have 5 pigeons and from their behaviour their sexes are obvious. What I find interesting is that all the females have a speckled black, white and grey wing pattern and both males are completely dark on their wings. I wonder if this is just coincidence? I'll have to examine a few more pigeons in the area. They males are easy to pick out as they are always strutting their stuff
 

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Discussion Starter #10
They have an interesting schedule.

Around 8am Mom arrives for a quick breakfast. She is sitting on eggs somewhere and obviously gets quite hungry. She is usually pretty quick about it. I guess she doesn't want those eggs getting cold. I still haven't figured out where their nest is as it would be great to see some little ones grow up again. Judging by their behaviour the eggs are about 10 days old.

Around 8:30 Dad arrives. I'm not sure if he takes a quick stint on the eggs while Mom is here, but the timing is quite close. When their nest was on my balcony he didn't. Dad usually spends a good 40 minutes pecking around and eating. During this time his children arrive. Usually Bangers and Abby first. He's not too fond of them anymore. On Monday last week Bangers tried to chase him away and they had a full on wing slapping, chase each other around the balcony session. Dad seemed to win as they now move right away if he chases them. It's quite funny because he will get all full of himself and coo away when they land. If that doesn't work he'll run after them, but it usually works.

The other baby (6months), Mash obviously watches from a distance as she only ever seems to arrive after someone else has just left. Today for instance Bangers and Abby had just left and she arrived only to find Dad still here. She was quite brave though (or hungry) and still ate a little before Dad chased her away, into the flat unfortunately. This is always before 9:30 when Dad disappears for nest duty I assume.

Mom arrives back quietly around 10am and has a proper feast. Should any of the others arrive while she is hear she'll just fly off without being asked. She is definitely the peacemaker in the family. Her and Bangers come through continually when no one else is around till about 11 for their food.

Then there is a break. They sun tan, hang out with friends, do pigeon stuff until about 2:30pm. Then the feeding cycle repeats without Dad. Bangers and Abby are dominant now and eat happily, chasing Mom and Mash away when needed.

Around 4:30 Mom comes through for her last meal and withing 5 minutes of her leaving Dad is back for a quick snack before bed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
And wouldn't you know it. As soon as I think I've got their behaviour down pat, it changes. Indeed Dad arrived within 5 minutes of Mom and he was frantic. He gobbled up seeds as fast as possible like he was in an awful hurry for something or other. He was also terribly skittish. I moved an inch and he disappeared, only to return 10 minutes later with the same behaviour.

He disappeared again after gobbling as much as he could and I thought that was that for the night. Restaurant closed... So I started cleaning up, watering the plants etc and next thing Mom arrives. Now she's supposed to be on the night shift so this is a little strange. Anyway she gobbles away for a few minutes and something gets her attention and she's hovers up to the balcony railing and Dad arrives. So no one is on the eggs. Maybe I've got my timing wrong and they've hatched already (I was away for a couple of weeks).

Anyway Dad again started eating like crazy so I figure the eggs must have hatched and he's trying to make as much pigeon milk as possible. He was in an awful panic, breathing heavily and very skittish.

So how old are the eggs or the squabs if they have hatched based on their behaviour?

How do pigeon communicate with each other? Is it by inaudible sounds? Like how did Mom know Dad was coming a few seconds before he arrived. And when they are here they often all spring off at one to follow the flock somewhere. How do they know when to go? It is not like they are looking at the flock?

Lastly on pigeon poops: Dad has some interesting ones. Very liquid, with a small amount of green solid in side. And a lot of these, usually one big one when he arrives. I assume this is because he's been sitting on the nest holding it in all day. He is actually very good as he's the only one of my pigeons that when I hold does not poop. He keeps it in till I put him down which is very considerate.
 

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Well, they sometimes start another nest when the babies are 10 days to 2 weeks old. At that point, Dad still feeds the babies, but leaves them alone for longer periods of time. This could be their courting time, between rounds of eggs. You will see them together more then.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Their behaviour is back on like clock work.
8:00am Mom briefly for a snack
8:20am Dad briefly
8:50am Bangers and Abby eating away until a flight with the flock beckons
9:00am and Dad is back for something more substantial. He still seems a little skittish, and sneezing. Do pigeons sneeze? I guess so.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Oh dear. Mom arrived just after Dad, so they were in the same place together again. But then Mom went exploring. She is so quiet I didn't notice and inadvertantly trapped her in my bed room. She was not too happy and remained pretty much shell shocked there after. I tried to chase her back out again but she wasn't budging. She is very brave. I eventually got her out, but now I'm left wondering. What is she looking for? It's the second time I've found her stalking around the house. Last time in the kitchen. Would she be looking for another place to lay eggs? Or is it maybe some special food she is after. I've had water laid down for them for quite a while, but they don't seem to touch it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
2pm and Mom and Mash arrived around the same time. These females aren't at all aggressive and they happily eat together. Mom is clearly not at all traumatised from this morning's encounter. She finally found the water. I dropped a seed in it and she spotted it and tried a couple of times to get it, but obviously decided getting the beak wet was not cool. She didn't try drinking at all, but it's winter in Cape Town so there is plenty of water around.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The babies have definitely hatched and are probably a week old by now or maybe even two. Mom and Dad are back together again. In fact Dad is being a real pain. I have no idea where their nest is, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it on a nearby balcony. Dad is always watching my balcony from where ever he is and any intruders are chased away immediately. He's started chasing away the kids too. Not so much Mash, but Bangers and Abby always have him to contend with when ever they decided to pop in for a snack.

The other day was quite funny. I'm not exactly sure how pigeon politics work, but Bangers decided to bring a young couple to my balcony. I think they were planning on moving in because the male had a couple of twigs in his mouth. Anyway Dad immediately arrived from where ever and chased all of them away. He's becoming quite a nuisance. Is there anyway of getting him to share. I like all my pigeons, but it would be rather unfortunate if one of them chased all the others away.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Pigeon Communication

I was just wondering how all these pigeon communicate with each other. My pigeons will all be happily eating away on the balcony when suddenly they all spring to attention and fly off in a flash to join the flock circling the neighbourhood for awhile. It's pretty cool.

I think they whistle to each other as I've heard a few whistles, but I guess their ears are more tuned to it that ours. So who makes the whistle? Who decides when is a good to to fly around?

On another note it was hailing today. It's the first time I've actually seen the flock take shelter from the rain. They usually just love to sit on the roof tops and get wet.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Some Pics

Perhaps some of you would like to see my ferals.

The first pic is them feeding on my balcony. From left to right, Bangers, Abby, Mom and Dad.

2nd is Bangers and his girlfriend Abby hanging out on the balcony.
3rd is Dad. Isn't he beautiful. He's a bit of a bully though
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Dad is still being a bully. Bangers and Abby didn't hang around on the balcony railing long enough for him to notice them today. They just came right down and started nibbling which meant they got a great feast. As soon as they were done they flew up and landed on the railing where Dad could obviously see them from where ever he rests. Dad was there in no time as usual and chased them away. Crazy birds...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
My babies have had babies. Well at least I think so. They are popping by individually like they do when on nest duty. Bangers is 7 months old, so I guess he is old enough to be a Dad. No eggs on my balcony yet.
 
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