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I'm thinking about getting my first pet pigeons, and have a couple questions I haven't seen answered in the guides I've read.

I live in an urban neighborhood, in a house with a small yard. I've got room for a good-sized indoor cage for a pair of pigeons, or a big enough outdoor enclosure for a few pairs, but I don't have the space for a huge aviary. And part of what I like about pigeons is the possibility of having birds that can fly out on their own for a bit & come back--I'm not interested in flying them long distances, just letting them get some exercise around the neighborhood and come back. But I've read they rely on numbers to avoid hawks, and of course many rescues can't fly safely. What I'd like to know is:
  1. How many pigeons do you have to have to let them fly outside? Obviously they can't be 100% safe out of an enclosure, but is there any consensus on best practices for relative safety?
  2. Is it possible to fly birds that mostly live inside? Tips?
  3. Anything I should look for or ask the breeder/adopter? Do I need to look for birds that've flown before, or are young, etc?
I've got a ways to go before even deciding if I should get pigeons, but this is my biggest unanswered question. Thanks!
 

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I'm not that experienced, but I have had 2-3 pigeons at a time and let them out to fly. When I had 7 they got too comfortable under the birdfeeder and a cat got one. That spooked them away for a week.
I live at the end of a rural subdivision surrounded by field, woods, agricultural fields, and meadow. We have turkey, *****, possums, hawks, coyotes, foxes, etc. I think they have enough cover to hide from hawks and make their way back to the coop of needed.
 

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Start with 4 pigeons and see how it goes. Build them an outside enclosure, keep them inside there for about a month and then let them venture out on their own. They need to get used to the area before you let them out. They will notice the hawks in the area during their one month stay inside and will learn to be wary of them.
 
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