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Discussion Starter #1
My knowledge of pigeon behaviour is pretty limited so far. I've noticed males courting females among ferals, but not much else. Now I have Jacobins, whose heads and necks are fully or partially covered in their hood feathers. I bought an adult male and an unsexed juvenile who I'm now suspecting is also male.

They've been pecking and cooing at each other off and on since I got them. I know this behaviour is pretty normal among pigeons of both sexes. At first it would happen when they were close together vying for a resource like food. But in the past couple of days, the younger bird has begun aggressively seeking out the other male to peck at him, even cornering him a few times. The other male behaves more submissively. He pecks to defend himself and does not approach the other male to peck at him, in fact he backs off during these encounters, as soon as he can.

This morning I noticed the juvenile displaying in the way I've seen feral cocks do, lowering his body so it's parallel to the ground (normally Jacobins have an upright stance), bobbing his head, cooing loudly and dancing around in a circle. Or do hens perform this dance as well? He was by himself in a corner, not near the other bird.

I've watched YouTube videos of pigeons fighting. So far my birds aren't slapping at each other with their wings, nor are they fighting as vigorously as the pigeons I saw in the videos. However, I wonder if that could be due to their feather hoods getting in the way of pecking each other.

I'm aware that if they are both male they will need to be separated. What behavioural signs should I look for, to know when this should be done? Will males fight to the death? Will they injure each other?
 

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Sounds like a male. A female can act more male sometime, but not what you are explaining. The only way you are going to be sure of getting a female is if you do a DNA test on the bird. Freda does that with her birds and says it's only about $25 I think she said. The only other way is if the seller knows for sure it is female because she is mated to another bird, and that isn't really fair to break up the pair. You don't want to do that. That's the problem with trying to match them up without knowing. You can get attached to a bird and then have to switch him for another bird. If you are able to go to where the birds are, you would not only get to see the conditions they are kept in, but also how the other birds are responding to them, and whether they are paired up or not.
In answer to your last question, yes, they can definitely hurt each other. They can even peck out eyes. Doesn't usually happen, but has.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like a male. A female can act more male sometime, but not what you are explaining. The only way you are going to be sure of getting a female is if you do a DNA test on the bird. Freda does that with her birds and says it's only about $25 I think she said. The only other way is if the seller knows for sure it is female because she is mated to another bird, and that isn't really fair to break up the pair. You don't want to do that. That's the problem with trying to match them up without knowing. You can get attached to a bird and then have to switch him for another bird. If you are able to go to where the birds are, you would not only get to see the conditions they are kept in, but also how the other birds are responding to them, and whether they are paired up or not.
In answer to your last question, yes, they can definitely hurt each other. They can even peck out eyes. Doesn't usually happen, but has.
I was hoping once they settled down that there would be less squabbling, but it seems it's getting worse. I did find a local place that does DNA testing for about the same price Freda gets. My main concern is the behaviour. No matter what sex they are, in the end it comes down to quality of life. It's always the juvenile picking on the older male, and he cringes against the bars and lifts his wing tips up and down in what I think is a sign of submission. This doesn't stop the juvenile male, who pecks the other all over (side, wings, head etc.) I don't want the older male to live a life of constantly being picked on.

The breeder who sold them to me had recently acquired them from another breeder, who told him that the older one was definitely male but the younger one he wasn't sure about yet. The guy I bought them from had been planning to start breeding Jacobins and then changed his mind. That was why he sold them to me. So, he doesn't have any hens to swap my second male with. I don't know who he got the birds from. I seldom or never have the option to visit a loft because most are in rural areas and I don't have a car.

Yes I'm attached to both of them, though I have a bit more of a rapport with the juvenile male, because he's bolder and comes to the bars and listens while I talk to him. The other male is more beautiful, though, and I think without the juvie around he could come out of his shell.

I will keep an eye on their behaviour and if the squabbling gets any worse or there are injuries I will have to build a barrier in their cage to separate them until I can get another cage. I will also start looking for any Jacobin breeder who would be willing to swap one of my males for a hen, or just buy one of my males outright. I'd like a Jacobin hen, but they're not common here and I may have to get a hen of a different breed instead. (Plastic eggs would be my friend, in that case - I don't want to breed hybrids)

I know none of this will happen right away and it could be several weeks or more before I can rehome a cock and/or find a hen to replace him. During that time, who knows? Perhaps there's still a chance that one is female. I don't have a problem with DNA testing, but right now I just want to be sure the birds are comfortable.
 

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Even if they are different sexes the youngster still may not want to share the cage - perhaps. I've got a pair that are actually brother and sister from two different lays and neither of them would share their cage, chased each other out if one went in the others cage when they were young, the female did it too but once they became sexually mature all that changed and they are now paired, sitting on dummy eggs in a cage together.
The breeder said the older one was definitely a male? I only wondered because my males have treated females like your youngster does, even out of a cage, until I step in. I didn't know my first pigeon was a hen, didn't have her DNA tested because I wasn't aware they could test egg shells and I wasn't going to pluck her feathers to find out, could have sworn she was male by her dancing and cooing - wrong, lol. They really are a conundrum these pigeons.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Even if they are different sexes the youngster still may not want to share the cage - perhaps. I've got a pair that are actually brother and sister from two different lays and neither of them would share their cage, chased each other out if one went in the others cage when they were young, the female did it too but once they became sexually mature all that changed and they are now paired, sitting on dummy eggs in a cage together.
The breeder said the older one was definitely a male? I only wondered because my males have treated females like your youngster does, even out of a cage, until I step in. I didn't know my first pigeon was a hen, didn't have her DNA tested because I wasn't aware they could test egg shells and I wasn't going to pluck her feathers to find out, could have sworn she was male by her dancing and cooing - wrong, lol. They really are a conundrum these pigeons.
So I guess in your case, even though they were male and female, they fought when they were young and were separated, then they got back together when mature and paired? I was seriously thinking of getting the two of mine DNA'd next week anyway. If both are male and I decide to sell one or trade for a hen, I can tell the buyer it's DNA'd. If they are male/female, I'd separate them for a few weeks and then reintroduce them.

The breeder said the older one is male, but now you have me thinking. Obviously I can't tell by looking at them. So for all I know my submissive male is actually a female, in fact both could potentially be female.

What's frustrating is that they can sleep beside each other or just roost within an inch of each other for hours. Then one goes away to eat etc. and they split up. After a while, the juvie goes looking for the other one and starts picking on him. The submissive one never attacks the juvie, he throws a few pecks in self defence and then cringes with his wing tips going up and down until the juvie gets bored and goes away, or until he gets fed up enough and walks away to hide under their shelves.

So I will get them DNA'd next week so I know what I'm dealing with, then see what happens from there. In the meantime I'l build a cage partition and keep an eye on them just in case things get too rough.
 

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Even my paired tumblers have squabbles but it's the male that picks on the female. Yesterday I let him out with one of the boys and left her in the cage because her being out causes fights with the boys. When I put the male back in with her he was a right pain in the neck, chasing n pecking her wings and back - so he went into the cat carrier until it was bedtime and lights were out, then I put him back and they snuggled to sleep. If he's away from her at all he makes her pay for it.
When you DNA your two give them both an ID number because you get certificates, if they have bands with numbers all the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Even my paired tumblers have squabbles but it's the male that picks on the female. Yesterday I let him out with one of the boys and left her in the cage because her being out causes fights with the boys. When I put the male back in with her he was a right pain in the neck, chasing n pecking her wings and back - so he went into the cat carrier until it was bedtime and lights were out, then I put him back and they snuggled to sleep. If he's away from her at all he makes her pay for it.
When you DNA your two give them both an ID number because you get certificates, if they have bands with numbers all the better.
Neither of them are banded but I'll give them some sort of identifier when they're DNA'd. I will do that next week when I get paid. I'm really curious to know who is which gender.

Today things were a bit different. I saw them pecking each other only a couple of times. The second time, the older one was the aggressor and the younger one was raising and lowering the wing tips. I think this is because both of them are starting to feel more comfortable and exploring their cage. The juvenile found a new resting place that he/she seems to really like. It's the corner between the basket nest I gave them (I read they like to roost in nest like structures even if they're not breeding). I draped an old towel over the basket and he snuggles beside it.

The other one took the opportunity to walk around the cage exploring and pecking at things. Finally he stretched his wings and experimented a bit with flying from place to place. I was alarmed at first when I heard the flapping, thinking the two were fighting. After a while, the juvie took his turn stretching and flapping his wings a bit. I notice also that when one is on the shelves, the other goes under them.

Of course I'm getting more attached to them, and I'm hoping they turn out to be male and female so I can keep both. If they're both male, then I'll have to decide which one I will have to rehome. I will probably end up with a hen of a different breed because there aren't many Jacobins around here.
 
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