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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have a mated pair of pigeons who I noticed fighting yesterday and in particular today. They've been together for almost 3 years now, and they've sat on (and subsequently abandoned) many clutches of fake eggs. (I always replace the real eggs with fake ones for birth control purposes). The cock seems to be approaching the nest to take a shift on the eggs and the hen seems not to be letting him displace her.

I think that they've had this clutch of fake eggs for about 5-10 days now. They're usually very good and egalitarian about taking shifts on the eggs - and I think were so with this clutch until the last few days. They've occasionally fought in the past - I think usually when the cock is driving the hen onto the nest before she's finished laying the eggs. In the past they may have occasionally fought over who would sit on the eggs when. But the fighting today seems to be particularly bad. So I thought I should ask if anyone has any advice as to what might be going on or what I might be able to do to help stop them from fighting.

I saw on a related post that someone suggested that covering up the nesting area could help calm the birds down. My birds' nesting area is already pretty covered (it's under a table between two large objects), but I tried turning the lights down. This seemed to have helped a bit, but they're still fighting to an extent, and I was wondering if there's anything else I could do to help them. Especially because my vet and I think the cock is getting on in years, I really don't like to see him getting stressed out and exerted like this.

I'd be most grateful for any thoughts or help anyone could give me.

Thanks so much,
Howard
 

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I have no clue as to what to do, but just sitting on a non productive nest all that time might mess with their minds some what. How frustrating it must be to never succeed....
 

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I agree with LuckyT, especially the hen must be frustrated and concerned as to why her maternal desires are not being fulfilled. And as is often the case with human females, the hen is probably thinking it's the males fault they never hatch. (That part was meant to be funny).
What breed are they? Have they ever been allowed to hatch young and raise them? How old are they? Would you be in a position to care for one more pigeon or give it away? You could consider allowing them to hatch just one egg.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hi LUCKYT and Jr Brown,

Thanks very much for your responses. Actually they seem to have calmed down and are now back to peacefully exchanging turns on the nest as usual. I don't know what it might have been during that recent two day period.

They are both formerly feral, having been found in the wild (in our city, with wing breaks that left them flightless and thus non-releasable), so I'm not sure if they belong to a distinct "breed" above and beyond being apparently typical members of Columba livia domestica. (The hen's coloration is red barred and the cock's coloration is blue checked, but I assume that has little if anything to do with breed membership). Because they were found in the wild we cannot be certain as to their ages, but we think that NuNu (the hen) was quite young and Philly (the cock) was a bit older. NuNu also had a difficult time laying her first clutch with Philly - she became egg bound with the second egg - but she has had no difficulties laying since. As such, we think it's quite likely that NuNu's first clutch was with Philly and thus that she has thus never hatched any eggs, but reasonably likely that Philly did have a mate in the wild with whom he hatched clutches.

When I first adopted my pigeons and was asking my vet and people on this forum about birth control methods, I expressed concerns like yours about whether repeatedly replacing the eggs would lead the pigeons to be frustrated or upset. But everyone at the time assured me that it was a common method of birth control and that they'd be OK with it. My experience over the last few years with both Philly and NuNu and my other mated pair of pigeons (also formerly feral, also found with wing breaks that left them flightless and non-releasable), Bird-Bird and Mary, has been that they don't seem to be getting upset or frustrated. Bird-Bird and Mary have been sitting on infertile clutches for the same amount of time as Philly and NuNu, and they've never had any problems (and as I'd said Philly and NuNu hadn't had problems like the ones I mentioned until recently, and they've been doing this for about 3 years).

I do not think I'd be in a good position to have Philly and NuNu have a chick. For one thing, I live indoors with my pigeons in an apartment, and we have a very limited amount of space. If the chick were to be released, he or she would probably need to be trained by an expert rehabber, because Philly and NuNu are flightless and do not have access to the outdoors. I have no idea how training for release could work with family life, and I know from talking to my vet that all the local rehabbers' efforts are needed to rescue chicks who are found orphaned or abandoned in the wild. I'm hoping eventually to move to a larger place with access to the outdoors. But when I do I'd prefer to use it to help more actually existing non-releasable birds.

Philly and NuNu seem to have a very close and loving relationship, so I think that between that and their interactions with Mary and Bird-Bird (and with myself and Maggie, my non-releasable Magpie who is safely separated from the pigeons by a screen), they have a good amount of companionship without having chicks. That said, I'm very grateful for your suggestion that they could be frustrated by the infertile clutches. I'll definitely have another word with my vet about whether she knows of this happening in mated pairs sitting on infertile clutches for extended periods of time.

Thanks again,
Howard
 
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