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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two hand raised feral pigeons living in my loft alongside my homers. It's been very interesting to observe the differences between them and the domestic bred birds.
When I first got my homers and started to acquire more (getting sucked in to pigeons) I was a little worried about the feral birds. I admit, I even thought at one point that I should find someone to take them so I didn't have the problem of interbreeding...not to mention that they are both very aggressive cock birds and dominant in their section of the loft. But since there would be no pigeons here at all if it weren't for them, I was hesitant to cast them out, deciding to wait and see how things played out. I'm glad that I did...they have proven themselves to be interesting birds, and even useful.

I honestly believe that they are superior to my homers in intelligence. They never required trap training...while my homers paced the trap for several hours at first, they just walked through the bobs like they had been doing it for years.
Even though they are without a doubt the wildest birds in my loft to handle, they always come to feed call instantly. If they are out and I blow the whistle, I better not be standing in front of the aviary door, because I'll catch two charging birds in the chest. The homers tend to lollygag for about 15 or 20 minutes before drifting in.
They are now paired with two hens that I'm not going to be breeding from, and I am going to use these two pairs as fosters.
Since I paired them they are die hard about sticking to the loft like glue, caring for their wooden eggs. So for about a month now I have been using the feral birds as drop birds to bring in the homers when I'm pressed for time. I put them out, they make about 3 passes around the yard, pick up the homers with them, and then trap with all the birds right behind them. This proved to be very useful yesterday morning when a passing hawk spooked my homers. I was able to bring every single bird into the loft before the hawk returned for a second pass...a cooper, the first I've seen this year, we mostly see red tails. Without their expertise I probably would have lost at least one bird, and possible more to fly offs.

It seems logical that while we breed for homing ability,speed, and colors, in the wild natural selection would ensure that only the most intelligent birds survive to procreate.

I was wondering if those of you who keep both had noticed the same?

A friend of ours who's father owned a large racing loft many years ago, recently came over to take a look at our birds. He immediately eyed the two feral birds with their green numbered snap on bands and started laughing at us. After he quit laughing he said
"You should get rid of those birds."
To which my boyfriend replied smiling: "Now why would we do that? Those are the best two birds we've got."
 

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I think your right! Especially if their anything like stray cats.
Stray cats have lived in the wild having to fend for themselves, and when taken in and given a home they are most sweet, loving and appreciative - as appose to the spoiled pampered house cat that's never been let outside. :rolleyes: LOL
I say your feral's are most definitely keepers ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Oh they are definitely keepers...I have a plan in mind to use them as mentors for next years young birds. Since they are so johnny on the spot about everything I am thinking that I can use them not only as fosters, but to trap train young birds. Just put them in with the birds, so the young ones can watch them go through the trap repeatedly. I'm pretty certain that since they don't range at all, that it will be safe to have them go out with young birds for their first few times, to keep them close and teach them to come in to the loft consistently when called. Use birds to train birds...we shall see how it works out!
 

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I have many ferals and adore them. They are very smart birds For example, 2 days ago I arrived home to find a little feral hen waiting by make back door. She didn't try to get away as I picked her up but seemed relieved. She has visable canker and I've started her on medication. This little bird roosts 8 blocks away on the roof of the house next door to my mother. This Pigeon has noticed me at my mother's and given me the look...what are you doing here?
Honestly, I think Pigeons in general are very smart.
 

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Ferals are definitely good parents. I have a nesting pair and when I found an abandoned egg I put it in the ferals nest. They sat that egg religiously, one or the other was always on it. About a month ago it hatched and is already larger than it's foster parents but they still feed it and within a week of it's hatching they had started another nest and now have two eggs of their own.
The cock bird is also very aggressive, or should I say assertive in protecting his territory. He has claimed a 16 foot perch board for his own and fiercely drives off any invaders, even the Kings which are more than twice his size won't tangle with him, only he, his mate and the adopted baby are allowed on that board.
 

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I do not have ferals, but just homers, 28 of them, the last two young birds I trapped trained..the first time out in the settling cage it took them about 1 or 2 minuets to drop in the loft for some feed...so not all homers take that long...I do not think intelligence is more in ferals than say domestic breeds...I think it is in individual birds, as I do have some goofy homers too, but most are just as smart as what you are describing.
 

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Yeah, I have about a dozen of ferals and I've always liked them. They are the offsprings of the first ferals I ever had. And this is about 20 years ago. When I was 15, that was all that I could afford and no mentor to lead me to the more fancy pigeons. I just moved back home and turned into a pigeon fanatic. Just wanting to own every breed of pigeons. I have about 10 different breeds now and still looking for the more rare and uncommon breeds. I have to say that I've used my ferals to foster some of my Uzbeks and Helmets. They truly love their youngs and feed them nonstop. True about them not being tame, but they hardly ever get handled. I'm gonna keep my handful of ferals, they are like my own strain. They were just some pigeons under the freeway bridges when I got them. Last of all, Darwin's theory says it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Mine are the same way...very very fierce about their boxes and perches. One of the pairs raised two roller babies for me...and I learned very quickly that any and all activity around the nest must take place during mom's (homer) shift...it's just not worth the pops and pinches to deal with these cocks in the nest box.

Not to be trifled with....
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I do not have ferals, but just homers, 28 of them, the last two young birds I trapped trained..the first time out in the settling cage it took them about 1 or 2 minuets to drop in the loft for some feed...so not all homers take that long...I do not think intelligence is more in ferals than say domestic breeds...I think it is in individual birds, as I do have some goofy homers too, but most are just as smart as what you are describing.
Oh I'm not saying homers are dumb at all:)...I have some that I know the gears are turning pretty good up there. But I just thought it funny and perhaps not coincidental that my best training results have come out of the only two feral birds I have.
 

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No totally! I have noticed the same with my birds. I have one ferral cock in my loft.
he has always been dominate over all other pigeons of various breeds. And he is my most loyal bird I home him with homers. He has helped train my homers to trap and locate the loft from the air. they are VERY SMART birds indeed. my loft would be so dead with out Henry bird.
 

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Oh I'm not saying homers are dumb at all:)...I have some that I know the gears are turning pretty good up there. But I just thought it funny and perhaps not coincidental that my best training results have come out of the only two feral birds I have.
that is neat you got two easy to train ones, I would say abouty 90% of my homers are like that as well....but I can say my "goofy" or not as smart ones have a special place in my heart...lol... ferals have a good instinct for survivial, and that gets handed down as a good trait among the young, but if you watch what you are doing with domestics they can have the exact same traits, if one breeds the dumb you can get dumb......there is mighty fine great racing homers out there, that would put my birds to shame...so as a whole in pigeondom, there are the "not so smart acting" and the very trainable smart cookies amoung all of them.
 

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I have observed the same thing with a trapped cock feral and a hen homer they mated and sure enough the feral learned the trap from the first day I unloaded the trap to the loft and he walked in with bobbins up and with the bobbins down after he was let out of the small loft in my shop he figured how to get back in on his own. The hen homer took about two weeks and watching the feral drop in before she could do the bobbins.

I have a new strain started from their offspring and I may have lost some homing ability but maybe I put back some intelligence. LOL :D

MJM
 

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It is called survival of the fittest, honey. ;) "Dumb" birds usually die pretty quickly in nature, so they can't reproduce and pass on their "dumbness." But we humans help "dumb" birds survive inside our lofts.
but your not supposed to breed the "dumb" ones! :p esp. homers.....lol...
fancy breeds,,,ah they can't be pretty AND smart...lol...:D
just kidding of course..I have a frill that never had been trapped trained, he got out and trapped in with the homers...so he is pretty and smart IMO, I call him "fancy pants":p
 

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We were out of town and my daughter called and said,"Dad, did you get another pigeon"?
A ferel was in the loft. She said it looked thin and tired, so I told her to feed it with the others and don't worry till I get home. Well, two weeks now and it is more than at home now. It flies with my birds and traps right in with them. It now looks plump and healthy like the rest. Very pretty dark bird with hints of green and blue around the neck. Nice looker.
 
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