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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm getting my first pigeons this afternoon (white homers) and wondered if there was a way to tell if they were truly young birds. They are supposedly unflown (this I pretty much believe) but I can't be sure how young they really are... they all look the same!

I have a friend who bought some mixed breed birds from the same guy and when he let them out several months later they flew off, never to return - I believe that was because he fed them nothing but chicken scratch in a flypen by just throwing in on the ground like you would for your chickens and the pigeons never learned where their food came from.

I built a nice loft with more than enough perches and nest boxes for them but I would also like to know if I should include a flypen for them. or should I just keep them in for a few weeks, trap train them, and cross my fingers that they come home...

Thanks in advance for your help!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
He does not know how old they are because he has tons of birds and doesn't keep track. He just puts young birds together and sells them. None of them are banded.

So if they aren't cooing yet, I can guess that they are pretty young?

I'm 90% sure they have never been flown, will they be easy to train to come home to my loft then? Trap train from the get go, etc...

Is there a treat that might intice them to come home more readily?

I know these are stupid questions, but it's better to ask than to find out the hard way...
 

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I don't think you will have any trouble. Let them get to know their surrroundings a couple of weeks and teach them where to trap in and give them a loft that they love being in. Make sure they are hungry the first few times you release them and respond to your feed call. I have never lost one this way but it only applies if they are fairly young and unflown.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well I got the birds home yesterday, 4 pair, and they're all settling in quite well. One of the cocks is a bit of a bully and he's for sure older than the rest (he coos) but still has a pinkish cere. From what I've read, and that's a lot-lol, I'll keep them in the coop for about 2 weeks then start trap training them. There are varying opinions on when and how to fly them the first time though.

Should I fly just one pair the first time and wait for them to come back regularly then add another and repeat - gradually adding the other birds? (If that first pair flies away though, I'll just keep these as breeders and add a flypen to the loft)

Also, with so many varying opinions, I'm feeding them a seed mix by Purina, but should I add some pellets? They have grit and oyster shell available. Is there a treat of some kind that pigeons prefer? I do tend to spoil my animals...
 

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Spanish peanuts. Pigeons go crazy for them.


Him cooing means nothing. I have an 8 week old male just learning to coo. He could very well be a squeaker, under-breeding age and easily adapt to homing to your place (ie he isn't like 6 months old or 3 years or anything).
I would wait a bit longer then 2 weeks, but each to his own. The pairs aren't bonded, are they? If they're bonded, then I'd fly one of each pair (1 male from 1 pair, 1 female) for a bit, then call them in. I'd do the 1 male 1 female so that if they take off you'll still have a breeding pair.
Does he know the genders? Their pure white, right? Could you get them banded so you can tell them apart?

As for feed, mine just get chicken feed so not sure what to tell ya though. Feeding them pellets makes them less picky and makes sure they don't just pick out the good stuff.
 

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Spanish peanuts are candy for them. I always trap train from the first time they enter my loft. I have a small wire cage that they can see out of from all directions, that I push up to the trap door with one end open. I have never had one get out on me, but if they did at least they would know how the trap works from the start. The same cage has a slide door on the open end I can shut. I use this to set out about 20 yards away from the loft to let them get use to the surroundings so there are no surprises when they go out for the 1st time. This advice is just what works for me, listen to the Matriarchs for experience. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, they are all pure white...The guy I got them from sexed them as he put them in the carrier... they have not paired up yet. He also said that if he was wrong I could bring them back and swap them out to make sure I end up with pairs... I intend to band them as pairs when they do so I can tell who goes with who. I hadn't thought about flying one from each pair... that would give them a reason to come back-lol...

They were all very quiet when I went in to feed them this morning. I talk to them a lot. Should I be trying to handle them yet? Hand feed them or anything? I have no idea how long it takes to "tame" a pigeon... They don't seem to be really afraid, just a bit skiddish...

These guys were all in a teeny cage (about 2x2x1) and there were about 16 or so... They're very happy being able to fly about in the loft. Only one is banded and it's just a plastic band with "14" on it - his new name...lol - nothing to identify how old he is though (I say he when I don't really know yet) They're all on the floor most of the time - occassionally on top of the next boxes, but don't seem to know what a perch is - I guess that will come in time... I don't imagine they've ever had perches before...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
He would, in fact, give me my money back... I've checked around and he has a very good reputation! Everyone says they've had no problems with his birds and that they are all healthy birds and trained to their lofts pretty easily (not sure I liked the young birds all squished in a little cage though) He also said that he could be wrong about their sexes and, as I said before, would swap out any birds so I'm sure to have pairs. He's had pigeons for eons and admitted that sometimes he's wrong about young birds... and again, I'll band the birds before I ever let them fly so we'll know if they are our birds at his loft.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Spirit Wings

The way he put it to me was, that if he was wrong about the sex, he would add the bird to his breeder loft and give me another bird to replace it OR give me back my money... either way I'm happy. He says they are 'in the neighborhood' of 3-4 months old...

The cage was clean and the birds look healthy, the are very bright and not really afraid of me - just a bit skiddish as in moving to the back of the loft when I come in. They don't even really fly away from me unless I actually touch them. As for the cage, I'm sure it was just to show them to me, but I would much rather see them in their loft. I'm sure it's easier for him though.

I agree about banding them, I think they all should be banded, but to each their own I suppose... he has more birds than I could count so maybe that 5cents is a bit too much when multiplied by the numbers he has... who knows!

This is just a hobby for me right now, but you can bet I will be banding anything that hatches here!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Like I said earlier... I'll just fly two birds at first... if they don't home, then I'll keep the rest as breeders - and yes he will give me two more to replace the first two... I'm sure the offspring will home, and again - it's just a hobby! I'm not too worried about the money issue... if they don't home, no harm no foul! I still have 8 birds...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I will most definitely let you know how it all turns out! And thank you for your input. If the first two don't home, I'll add a flypen for the rest of them and build a new loft for their offspring. At least here I know their lives as prisoners will be very comfortable! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, of course, I would LIKE for them to home back here-lol...That's why I asked, but if they don't, I can live with that...

Thanks again!
 

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It is my understanding that young birds will drop their tenth flights at or around 45 days old.The ninth flights molt out at or around 66 days old. Eight flights at 72 days and seventh flights at or around 87 days. You should be able to get an idea of the pigeon's age by assessing their wing molt.
 

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I have bought a number of white homers and saddle homers that were 4 to 6 months old and never been out of their loft. I have never lost one after keeping them a few weeks and letting them get to know their surroundings(inside and out) and training them to a feed rattle. I think your idea of testing with a couple at first is a good idea.PS I have a small rabbit hutch outside that I like to put them in for a hour or so a day letting them get a good view of your loft from the outside and the surroundings. I then put feed in the loft and rattle my feed bottle and put the birds thru the trap door one by one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quick update...

The birds have been in the loft for a week now. They are eating well and will come up to me to get some seeds off the floor, but not eat out of my hands yet. My presence is expected at least twice a day and they are getting used to the feeding call. I had been basically free feeding them until now because they were not eating well (or at all that I had seen or could confirm) on the seeds - they had only had chicken scratch before I brought them home and would not eat while I was in there at first. I added some high pro crumbles to encourage them to eat and now they're eating fine on just the seed mix (Purina) I let them eat for about 15-20 minutes this morning - til they were not so interested - then took away the food.

One of the birds is banded with a snap on green #14 - I know that doesn't mean much, but that tells me she has been handled at least once to be banded. She (and I'm only guessing it's a she) seems to set the model for the others and is not as standoffish...

Today, I opened the trap door all the way so that they could go out into the settling cage and have a better look around They do have shuttered windows in the loft that I close every night for their safety, so they have been able to see out... It took a while, but when I went out to check on them for the second time, 5 of them were very comfortably sitting in the cage and were not startled at all when I went up to them. This took about an hour and a half. Here it is about 4 hours later, and one is still in the cage just enjoying the view.

I guess, after they get used to the cage and landing board for a few days, the next step would be to get them all out in the cage and drop the door so that it is at trap width... yes??? I'm not trying to rush them at all and have lots of time to train them... advice???
 

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1 to 2 tablespoons of feed is normal for 1 bird. It does not look like much, but is plenty. If you feed correctly, they will climb your leg to get fed, whether they like you or not. Do not feed the day b4 the first release, make sure they are hungry! When you trap train they should race thru to get fed. Every time they barrel in give a pinch of feed as reward, over and over, but keep them hungry. You can hold them and feel there keel bone, which is the long breast bone that runs from there neck to there belly, it should have the muscles that run along the sides of the keel even and full feeling. According to how active the birds are how much to feed, but when stuck in the loft trap training, 1 to 2 tablespoon is plenty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks Pigeonjim!

I have not yet been able to catch/hold them but they're certainly headed that way. I have 8 birds and am feeding a total of one cup twice a day of Purina Pro Grains for Pigeons.

This morning, I left the loft closed (dark) and opened the trap all the way... they all went outside. I then went in and closed it to make the trap (about 4 1/2 inch opening) and opened the shutters. Then I offered the food with a call and shaking the can. They didn't come running, but once I left the loft they all piled in...

I plan on doing this at every feeding for the next several days (maybe even a week) Does this seem like the right plan???
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks SpiritWings!

They walk all around the loft and perch just fine. They're not very skiddish anymore either. They'll go in and out of the trap door when it's wide open with ease. They're very comfortable in the settling cage... I can't tell if they're pairing up though because they sit on single perches or gather together when I'm in the loft...

As for banding them, I intend to band them as males and females for this first group - blue and pink for instance - but I guess I won't really know who is who until they lay their eggs... boys sit during the day and girls at night - right? And when I band the babies, should I try and find some 2013 bands (hard to find) or just band them a particular color? or both? One for the year and later one for the sex... if I can tell that is...
 
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