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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Experienced dove owners are probably aware of this but as a novice dove owner, I thought I would share.

mirror toys seem like the most common and often cheaper variety of toys you could find in a pet shop.

For almost as long as I have had Dakota, she's had one of those activitoy mirror/bell toys in her cage. At first she didn't want anything to do with it, but after I tried to remove it from the back of the cage (which I gave up because I didn't want my arm paired with loud cage rattling and stress) she saw me "playing" with it which enticed her to investigate.

A few days later she would court mirror-bird. At the time I didn't think much of it really. It was just another activity to enrich her life while I was away.
Only recently I started questioning if her mirror toy was actually benefiting her mental health. In the past week her attraction to the mirror increased. She's still eating and drinking but she prefers to stay in the same spot next to mirror-bird.
Yesterday I was cleaning up a bit and noticed her toys were dusty, and there was a spot where she tried to regurgitate for mirror-bird.

I did some googling on the subject to find my suspicions verified without a doubt. Mirror toys are a double edged sword, and often the cons outweigh the pros.

Here's a good article. "The Problem with Mirrors".
http://feistyhome.phpwebhosting.com/mirrors.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
For those that didn't read the link. I will sum it up.

It's natural for a bird to want the company of other birds, which is the selling point of mirror toys, but providing a mirror is not the correct way to socialize your bird. Mirrors turn into a crutch so that birds don't have to accept humans and can actually make your bird anti-social around other birds. Mirrors can't provide the genuine companionship a living creature could. Mirrors are like dating SIMs for birds in that respect.
 

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Interesting topic, Joe. The question of how do pigeons (or doves) perceive mirrors comes up now and then. It has been said that pigeons are aware enough to know that the image they see is themselves. I don't know.

I have tried propping up a mirror on the floor for a pigeon, only to find that after walking up and down in from of it a few times he then went round the back of the mirror looking for the 'other bird'. That suggested that he was treating the mirror like a window. When he could not find his mirror counterpart, he showed no further interest in the mirror.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Yeah I've read about a scientific study on pigeons and self awareness and they can be taught to know their reflection is and how to use it.

A quote from Wikipedia.

Pigeons[edit]
In 1981, Epstein, Lanza and Skinner published an article in the journal Science, in which they argued that the pigeon is also capable of passing the mirror test, but only after extensive behavioral conditioning.[27][28]
In the experiment, a pigeon was trained to look in a mirror to find a response key behind it, which the pigeon then turned to peck—food was the consequence of a correct choice (i.e., the pigeon learned to use a mirror to find critical elements of its environment). Next, the pigeon was trained to peck at dots placed on its feathers; food was, again, the consequence of touching the dot. The latter training was accomplished in the absence of the mirror. The final test was placing a small bib on the pigeon—enough to cover a dot placed on its lower belly. A control period without the mirror present yielded no pecking at the dot. When the mirror was revealed, the pigeon became active, looked in the mirror and then tried to peck on the dot under the bib.
It should be noted however, that untrained pigeons have never been able to pass the mirror test. [29]
An interesting article about how magpies and pigeons were trained.
http://www.plosbiology.org/article/...PDF&uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060201
 

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I have agreed to this opinion for a long time esp where male birds are concerned. usuing a mirror to perhaps determine sex in a pigeon can be of help but it should be taken out and not used as a "toy". I feel the same with how they put those betta fighting fish next to each other it is stressful but humans think it's cute? funny? intertaining? it really is just wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Yeah I've certainly learned mirrors aren't toys. Especially during the spring when hormones are rising.

Just took it out. I didn't want to be a stressful situation and I tried to entice her to get away from it and eat lunch but it hard to keep her distracted from it for long enough to remove it.
I just took it out and immediately gave her millet spray. Later I attached about half a spray to her cage where the mirror used to be. She started cooing more often when I leave the room so I plopped my chair by her. She's a bit on edge but she's eating more now and flapping a bit and preening as I write.

I haven't thrown the mirror out. Not sure if it should be used as a rare reward or be tossed out like a cursed artifact. I put it away in a spot that's hard to get to. (My mother is weak about spoiling her but she's also lazy :p )

Update: not sure, but she's been really eating a lot lately and lying around. She's not territorial or defensive. Mother said her rear looks bigger. She gets a dove seed mix as well as millet and hemp, as well as grit that has oyster. We suspect she might be laying an egg after having been bonded with her reflection. We've provided her with a place she can lie on that's elevated. She's not acting broody though, and she still gets around and exercises. Another possible explanation could be she was underweight when we took her to the vet she was 107g and isn't the average weight for ringnecks ~140?

Update 2: I think she's just realizing that mirror-bird hasn't been around for a while. She's really acting excited and sitting near where it used to be. She's calming down now that I've closed the blind and partially covered her cage. She was laughing every 30 seconds for the past 5 min and looking around her cage frantically. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
She was upset last night without mirror bird. I know it's hard for her to lose a "mate".
I didn't want her to injure herself so I darkened the area to calm her down while I sat by her cage until completely covering for bedtime.
Good news is she's communicating with us (back and forth coo fest) this morning. Though she definately still misses Mirror bird.
 

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Wow! I am very thankful for finding this post about mirrors.

My daughter's 2 house pigeons have been feeling frisky and adventurous lately. Henri and Simon found themselves in my bedroom and discovered my mirrored closet doors. Simon danced for a bit, grew bored and went back downstairs to obsess over the tv (he's in love with the channel logo when the news is on).

Henri, on the other hand decided that her reflection was better company than Simple Simon, who falls in love with vacuum cleaners, oil lamps and now tv logos. Do you blame her? haha

I found her lying against the mirror as if she was cuddling with her reflection. We thought it was cute, but now I understand how it could be socially dangerous. Thank you all for your input. I will keep my bedroom door closed.
 

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I have a loft of rescue pigeons, and I always keep a mirror in with new birds I get in while they are in quarantine. It keeps them company, so they don't feel so alone. They like having another pigeon around. I have found that it helps to calm them. I don't think mirrors are a bad thing. It depends on the situation. I can see how someone would find it a problem with a lone bird, if that bird prefers spending time with the mirror, to spending time with the person. But I also think that shows something. The bird is happier spending time with another bird, to spending time with a human. If possible, it is better to have a mate for the bird. They are very mate oriented. Not natural for a pigeon to be alone with only a human to bond with. It's instinct for them to want to find a mate and build a nest and have a mate to preen and snuggle with. Without that, it is lonely for them, even if the owner spends time with them. For the rest of the time, while the human is living their life, the poor bird is alone. It's hard for a lone bird to live in a human world. They miss out on a lot. Having a mirror can help to make them feel not so all alone. We humans can be controlling, and that leads us to want to keep a bird on our terms, whether it is actually better for the bird or not. What is better for the bird would be another bird. Not to have a mate and partner goes against everything they have been programmed for. So mirrors aren't always a bad thing. But another bird would be even better. If you want her to be happy, then find her a mate that she can have more of a normal life with.
 

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For those that didn't read the link. I will sum it up.

It's natural for a bird to want the company of other birds, which is the selling point of mirror toys, but providing a mirror is not the correct way to socialize your bird. Mirrors turn into a crutch so that birds don't have to accept humans and can actually make your bird anti-social around other birds. Mirrors can't provide the genuine companionship a living creature could. Mirrors are like dating SIMs for birds in that respect.

Sadly, a human also cannot provide the genuine companionship that another pigeon could. Might be okay for the human, but doesn't fill the needs of the bird.
The back and forth coo fest you mentioned, is most likely her just calling to her "mate", that she has lost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I respect your point about preferring other birds, however mirrors themselves for lone birds can be psychologically damaging. As the link said it increases territorial behavior even to other birds. The site mentions a particular case where mirrors led to behavioral problems such as stealing another birds food and attacking others, even in hospital cages. Some birds may be ok with mirrors and reflective surfaces, but that's a gamble.
 

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I've got a question concerning mirrors, if anyone here is interested in answering.

My bird Curie is currently without a mate. I'm trying to find a female for him (he's probably a him, not sure yet) and he currently has a small mirror in his cage above a brick.
He doesn't seem that interested in the reflection at the moment as he doesn't spend more time there than anywhere else. He's done bow-coos at it on occasion, but isn't exhibiting any behaviors hinting at him feeling particularly bonded to the reflection. I'm afraid of him developping social problems for when his future mate arrives, but I also don't want him to feel lonely in the meantime, as the search for a female has been confusing and difficult so far.
So the question: Should I take the mirror out, even though he currently has no other bird companions to keep him company?
 

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I respect your point about preferring other birds, however mirrors themselves for lone birds can be psychologically damaging. As the link said it increases territorial behavior even to other birds. The site mentions a particular case where mirrors led to behavioral problems such as stealing another birds food and attacking others, even in hospital cages. Some birds may be ok with mirrors and reflective surfaces, but that's a gamble.

This is one opinion, and not the be all and end all of it. One opinion. How do you know that it was the mirror that caused the behavioral problems? And how does a lone bird attack other birds or steal their food? We are talking about lone birds here. Nobody to do that too. And even lone birds without mirrors often become very territorial and will attack an owners hand when they put their hand in the birds cage, as they view the cage as their territory. Pigeons in a loft situation will do the same thing if you go into their nest box. And they will fight with other pigeons, and steal food from their boxes. So there is no way of knowing if the mirror caused the behavior, or if it is just the personality of the bird.

I can see that if the pigeon views the bird in the mirror as his mate, then that could make him more territorial of his cage. But there is no difference in that, then the mated pair in a loft. They would be very territorial of their nest box.

Seems you are basing too much on one article. There are many opinions out there, I am sure, that are pro and con. All I am going on is my own experience, and the experience of others that have birds. And we haven't had the problems you are talking about. We have had the opposite results. So I guess it is individual really. And every bird is different.
 

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I've got a question concerning mirrors, if anyone here is interested in answering.

My bird Curie is currently without a mate. I'm trying to find a female for him (he's probably a him, not sure yet) and he currently has a small mirror in his cage above a brick.
He doesn't seem that interested in the reflection at the moment as he doesn't spend more time there than anywhere else. He's done bow-coos at it on occasion, but isn't exhibiting any behaviors hinting at him feeling particularly bonded to the reflection. I'm afraid of him developping social problems for when his future mate arrives, but I also don't want him to feel lonely in the meantime, as the search for a female has been confusing and difficult so far.
So the question: Should I take the mirror out, even though he currently has no other bird companions to keep him company?


I personally don't see any problem with your leaving it there. If you find a mate for your bird, you wouldn't just put them together. You would put them in cages side by side, until they both seemed like they were interested in each other and wanted to be together. Then you would want to let them out together in a neutral place. Don't just put her in his cage, as he does view it as his territory, and he could hurt her. When you are able to find the other bird, and put them side by side, you could remove the mirror at that time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is one opinion, and not the be all and end all of it. One opinion. How do you know that it was the mirror that caused the behavioral problems? And how does a lone bird attack other birds or steal their food? We are talking about lone birds here. Nobody to do that too. And even lone birds without mirrors often become very territorial and will attack an owners hand when they put their hand in the birds cage, as they view the cage as their territory. Pigeons in a loft situation will do the same thing if you go into their nest box. And they will fight with other pigeons, and steal food from their boxes. So there is no way of knowing if the mirror caused the behavior, or if it is just the personality of the bird.

I can see that if the pigeon views the bird in the mirror as his mate, then that could make him more territorial of his cage. But there is no difference in that, then the mated pair in a loft. They would be very territorial of their nest box.

Seems you are basing too much on one article. There are many opinions out there, I am sure, that are pro and con. All I am going on is my own experience, and the experience of others that have birds. And we haven't had the problems you are talking about. We have had the opposite results. So I guess it is individual really. And every bird is different.
True. There are pros and cons and every bird is different. Personally with companion birds I would advise against mirrors but with different scenarios mirrors could be beneficial. I'm mostly speaking to companion bird owners that mirrors aren't the best replacement for humans or other birds. Also your correct in saying mirrors aren't THE cause of territorial behavior, but can be a trigger.
 

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Well, as far as companion birds, the mirror could detract from the birds wanting to spend time with you, so I will give you that. But I also would like to add that it is more often male birds who will react that way to a mirror. Often a female will just sit by it, as if for a bit of company. But I haven't noticed that females normally become that attached to it. Maybe someone elses experience is different.
 

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I personally don't see any problem with your leaving it there. If you find a mate for your bird, you wouldn't just put them together. You would put them in cages side by side, until they both seemed like they were interested in each other and wanted to be together. Then you would want to let them out together in a neutral place. Don't just put her in his cage, as he does view it as his territory, and he could hurt her. When you are able to find the other bird, and put them side by side, you could remove the mirror at that time.
Thank you.

Hopefully it won't be too long before I find a hen. I feel I may end up having to buy one from the pet store and hope it's a female. Why, oh, why do they refuse my offer to pay for DNA testing.. But I digress.
 

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Bring a mirror into the pet shop, put it in front of the birds, and see who struts his stuff, or who pretty much ignores it. The strutters are the males, and the quiet are the female...............normally. Don't use a very small mirror. Use a large one, like a make-up mirror.
 

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I personally don't bother with mirrors in my bird cages. I think mirrors make them aggressive, in love, or crazy. It gives them the illusion there's another bird in there, which can upset them. Better to have another bird (even if a different species) in another cage for company.

I once had a male diamond Dove that became very aggressive because I had put a mirror in his cage. He thought it was another male dove in his space. His aggressiveness continued even after I removed the mirror. When I let him out of his cage, he would fly over to my toaster and immediately attack his reflection in the side of the cage!
 

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common sense I hope would tell a person that if using a mirror and the bird is a male esp, and he is strutting and trying to mate it or even fight it, that is pathetic and cruel IMO. Im sure people who use them and that is not happening, that is what they are used to doing ,then they will keep doing it.
 
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