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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, everybody! I'm brand-new to the board and had a few (okay, a lot of) questions about pigeon keeping. I've never kept pigeons before, although I have kept various parrots and parakeets for many years. Obviously, one cannot let a pet parrot fly freely--you'd never see it again--and little Gandalf The Grey, my cockatiel, refuses to wear a harness (I don't blame him).

I purchased and read the book "Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's most Revered and Reviled Bird" by Blechman, and I am forming a tentative idea that I would like to have a pigeon, possibly a Homer, that I can keep as an indoor pet but take outside to fly regularly, and train it to come to me when I call or whistle. Is this idea completely irrational, or can it be done?

The rest of my questions hinge on the above answer being 'yes.' My local libraries don't really have a lot of up-to-date information on pigeon keeping, and what they do have is mostly information on building large lofts and breeding, neither of which I am interested in, at least for starters. So...

1) What books can you all recommend for me, regarding indoor housing, training, diet and health, etc? I am also joining the NPA, so I will be getting their quarterly soon.

2) I would like whatever pigeon I end up getting to be imprinted on me, ie. hand-raised, and preferably hand-raised by myself. Is this too difficult for a novice to do? My cockatiel is hand-raised and very affectionate--he thinks he's a human.

3) As far as bird harnesses go, I think the only way to get a bird used to the idea is to get the bird used to wearing it when it's not yet flighted--Gandalf would have none of the harness when I bought him at 6 weeks old. Is my reasoning here solid?

4) It wouldn't be harmful to keep a pigeon and a cockatiel in the same room (separate cages), would it? My 'bird room' is already set up with full-spectrum lights, air filtration, etc.

5) Do pigeons play? This is more of a speculative question. I worry about keeping a bird relatively alone, and wonder if a pigeon would enjoy bird toys as my cockatiel does.

Thanks to everyone, I am thrilled to be here! :D Sorry for the exhaustively long post!

Whams :)
 

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Hi and welcome to p.t. I do not know much about having pigeons in the house but a lot of the members on this site do have them as house pets. There is also a member here that makes pigeon pants so it is not messy, I forgot who it is but somebody will remember. There is a that trains his pigeons to come when he calls them and he has a thread here about it as well as some utube videos. Sorry I am not much help but you can find a lot of information and support on this forum. I suggest reading a lot of the older threads, that is what I did and learned a lot that way. Good luck.
 

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I don't know of any folks that hand raise pigeons only for the reason they want it as a pet, mostly it is due to the squab being abandond. so finding one to take away from the parent birds is not going to happen. some folks though take the squabs in after weaning and keep them in the house to get them used to humans and interact with them to tame them a bit, and there are some who have found an orphanded pigeon and hand raised it and they become imprinted on the human. perhaps you can find one of those that needs to be adopted. they do like to "play" with some things like twigs and maybe even little cat toys, just depends on the pigeon. letting just one pigeon out to fly CAN be dangerouse as if you live with birds of prey around they may see your pigeon and try to attack it. I let my pigeons fly out, but I have 25 of them, so they have relative saftey in numbers and have learned as a flock to out fly in a tight group from the hawk. they are very social so you would have to spend alot of time with him/her if you are unable to have a partner or mate for it. some pigeons are really social with humans some are not so, it just depends. A new bird should be kept away from your other birds until you know he is healthy and does not have something that he can transmit to the others. The pigeon should not be kept in the same cage as other species of birds esp with hook billed birds, they can injure a pigeon. Ring neck doves make great indoor pets too. I have three hens and they are really nice and not as messy as a pigeon can be...(smaller birds). If you did end up getting a hen she may pick you as her mate and if you hold and pet her she will want to lay eggs, so you will need dummy eggs to let her sit them so she is not laying eggs so often.
 

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Welcome and that was a lot of questions!

It is possible to train homers to think his home is inside the house and fly outside. You have to train that bird. If this is a pet, then be prepared if a hawk gets it.

For loft, feed, training, just do search here. It has been covered. Search the internet as well. Then if the knowledge you acquired are not enough, then get some books. Some people also had asked those questions before--what books to get.

Hand raised bird is possible. People have done it here when they tried to rescue baby pigeons. Search for baby pigeon rescue threads.

A forum member has this pigeon diapers available. I am not familiar with harness.

They will do fine in the same room with different cages. My friend had it.

I don't know whether pigeon play. These birds are easily contented. Your presence alone amuses them. By just interacting with them, they probably get mental stimulation. And if this a lone pigeon, it might make you his/her mate.
 

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I believe the site for indoor pij wear is here, harness and leashes too: http://www.birdwearonline.com/

As far as hand raising pigeons, I really think it depends on the bird.
I have two hand raised birds that live with my homers right now, and they are the wildest birds in my my loft. They would like nothing more than for me to drop the feed and walk away.
But I had a hand raised pigeon as a kid that lived in the house and was very affectionate. Was particularly fond of my feet and followed me everywhere in the house.
As far as pigeons playing...again I think you'd have to chalk that up to an individual birds behavior. The two I have....never...not even a chance.
But this guy has one that does:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elPtOboW9PM
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hmmm...they sound like such interesting birds! Thanks everybody for the help--I just hear so many different and sometimes conflicting opinions on what is best to feed a pigeon, and which breeds make the best pets, etc, I didn't know if perhaps there was a resource better than the rest for a definitive opinion. As far as harnesses are considered, 'Fether Tether' and 'FlightSuit' make bird harnesses or harness/diaper combos for parrots, though I'm not sure about pigeon sizes--thanks, Bella for the link, those are too cute!

I do understand that letting a pigeon fly free encompasses a very real risk for the bird to be caught by a predator, and that hand-raising a bird is a lot of work to do if you're going to expose it to that sort of risk. Building a loft and housing several birds just isn't an option for me now, nor will it be for several years (I am still in college, living in parents' home). Maybe two pigeons? I hear there is safety in numbers when flying is considered.
 

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Hmmm...they sound like such interesting birds! Thanks everybody for the help--I just hear so many different and sometimes conflicting opinions on what is best to feed a pigeon, and which breeds make the best pets, etc, I didn't know if perhaps there was a resource better than the rest for a definitive opinion. As far as harnesses are considered, 'Fether Tether' and 'FlightSuit' make bird harnesses or harness/diaper combos for parrots, though I'm not sure about pigeon sizes--thanks, Bella for the link, those are too cute!

I do understand that letting a pigeon fly free encompasses a very real risk for the bird to be caught by a predator, and that hand-raising a bird is a lot of work to do if you're going to expose it to that sort of risk. Building a loft and housing several birds just isn't an option for me now, nor will it be for several years (I am still in college, living in parents' home). Maybe two pigeons? I hear there is safety in numbers when flying is considered.
Iam sure you can find two young weaned pigeons and train them to do what ever you want, just have to put alot of time into it. pigeon feed that is sold for pigeons is best, If you only have one or two you can get by with getting some dove mix and you can add some dried peas and lentels and popcorn to it or what ever may be lacking for pigeons. just remember pigeons can live to 10 to 20 years so it would be a long term commitment, so you would have to take them when you move and find a job and all that stuff. finding homes for house pigeons is not the easiest thing because alot of folks consider them like chickens or poultry..I guess they are classed in with poultry as most keep them in a loft outside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Iam sure you can find two young weaned pigeons and train them to do what ever you want, just have to put alot of time into it. pigeon feed that is sold for pigeons is best, If you only have one or two you can get by with getting some dove mix and you can add some dried peas and lentels and popcorn to it or what ever may be lacking for pigeons. just remember pigeons can live to 10 to 20 years so it would be a long term commitment, so you would have to take them when you move and find a job and all that stuff. finding homes for house pigeons is not the easiest thing because alot of folks consider them like chickens or poultry..I guess they are classed in with poultry as most keep them in a loft outside.
Yeah...it might be like the people who keep descented skunks as pets..."These are, um...Norwegian Snow Kitties!" I know birds are a long-term commitment--I have had my parrot for four years, and he will easily live another 20-30 years on top of that.

I feed my cockatiel a stovetop-cooked bird food called 'Beak Appetit." Its main ingredients are basmati rice or pasta, oats, dehulled millet, barley, various nuts, split peas and lentils, cracked wheat, and then some fruits, veggies, and spices/herbs to taste. He gets a protein supplement when molting, either a bird supplement or some pieces of cooked egg or chicken. I am trying to find out if this might be a good staple diet for a pigeon as well.

I have heard that hemp seeds are many pigeons' favorite treats...is this true? Are seeds of any kind often used as a training reward? I was thinking, if I am going to train a bird to come to hand, I might try whistling before giving a treat, and eventually the bird will associate the whistle with the treat and come to me for it. Is this the right track of thinking?

Thanks again!
Whams :)
 

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Yeah...it might be like the people who keep descented skunks as pets..."These are, um...Norwegian Snow Kitties!" I know birds are a long-term commitment--I have had my parrot for four years, and he will easily live another 20-30 years on top of that.

I feed my cockatiel a stovetop-cooked bird food called 'Beak Appetit." Its main ingredients are basmati rice or pasta, oats, dehulled millet, barley, various nuts, split peas and lentils, cracked wheat, and then some fruits, veggies, and spices/herbs to taste. He gets a protein supplement when molting, either a bird supplement or some pieces of cooked egg or chicken. I am trying to find out if this might be a good staple diet for a pigeon as well.

I have heard that hemp seeds are many pigeons' favorite treats...is this true? Are seeds of any kind often used as a training reward? I was thinking, if I am going to train a bird to come to hand, I might try whistling before giving a treat, and eventually the bird will associate the whistle with the treat and come to me for it. Is this the right track of thinking?

Thanks again!
Whams :)
yes, the only way to get a pigeons attention is with food, they don't usually like to hang with humans like the hook billed birds do, so everything will be for a treat /food. they eat seeds and lugumes and some green veggies, not animal protein, and of course the grit for calcium. they do like hemp and safflower and raw unsalted peanuts seems to drive some crazy with want, so those are good treats to train with. you will have to learn alot "on the job" as you don't know the personality of your future pets, so basic pigeon care is the first thing and how your going to house them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Cool. I've been eyeballing a larger (60" long x 30" high x 22" deep) cage for my cockatiel, was thinking perhaps another of the same for an indoor pigeon. I think it would really be interesting to see the different instincts utilized in training a pigeon vs. training a hookbill, kind of like the difference between training a dog vs. training a horse.

I'm now a member of the NPA, have contacted a guy that has trained Rollers to come to hand in Topeka (a short drive away from me), and trying to get in touch with an ARPU racing club in my area. I'd like some of this 'hands-on' experience--hope I can get someone to take me under their wing! And speaking of wings, Spirit Wing, you have been sooooooo helpful--thank you ever so much!
 
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