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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm slowly introducing my non-releasable male pigeon Philly to a new non-releasable pigeon who we very much think is female. The new pigeon is in a kennel (a converted plastic medium dog carrier, sized 28x20.5x21.5" / 71x52x54.6cm) in the middle of Philly's territory. They seem to be getting increasingly used to each other.

Today I noticed Philly engaged in a strange behavior: he had gathered a bunch of larger feathers (which were his - I assume he had shed them) around his favorite mirror toy. He was picking them up in his beak, carrying them around, and shaking them. He seemed to be carrying a bunch of them back and forth between his nest box and his mirror toy.

Does anyone know what this behavior could be about? Could it be a mating display or something? I didn't think he was molting (I didn't notice him shedding any downy feathers), so I hope he isn't going crazy and pulling his larger feathers out, or losing them due to illness (although he seems very perky and healthy in other respects).

Thanks so much,
Howard
 

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Now that he has a potential mate, he could be nesting. Try giving him some long pine needles, straw, hay, or other material with a nest bowl if you have one. Otherwise try to improvise the nest bowl. Also make sure that any materials you give him are clean and dry. Moldy hay or straw could cause health problems.

See if he continues the behavior after you offer the above items, especially after you let the two get together. Are they physically able to become a mated pair? You mentioned that they are both un-releasable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Dave,

Thanks very much for your response. We live in a very urban environment, so I'm going to look for the sorts of nesting materials you mention at our pet store and our bird feed store (as such I shouldn't have any problems with them being clean and dry initially - but maybe I should change them routinely in order to avoid their getting modly due to droppings?). Do you have any suggestions on what to use for a nest bowl? The birds currently have large plastic nest boxes - should the nest bowl be placed at the bottom of the nest box?

Yes, Philly and the new bird are physically capable of becoming a mated pair (they are both non-releasable only because they had badly broken wings that left them permanently flightless), and it's my hope that they can become companions. Actually, since I don't want them to have babies (no space to keep babies if they aren't releasable, no way to socialize babies to be releasable, already existent ferals don't need more competition for resources from babies I might produce, etc.), I wish they could become companions without becoming a mated pair. But it looks like having a mate is going to be the only way for Philly to have companionship with another pigeon (I'd tried keeping him with my other non-relesasable male, but Philly started to bully the other guy in bad and dangerous ways - and my vet and everyone else tells me it's not possible to spay / neuter pigeons). So it looks like my best bet is to try to find a mate for Philly, and if I can find a mate for him to practice pigeon birth control in the form of immediately replacing any eggs that get laid with false ones.
 

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Thank you for caring for these birds.

You can contact either Foy's or Jedd's Pigeon Supply. Either one will have everything you would need. If you are going to the pets store, you could check out the ceramic dog food bowls and get one that will fit your birds.

If they should mate, but you don't want young ones, get some fake eggs and replace the new ones. Leave the fake eggs in the nest for about 18 days. Letting the hen lay too soon can lead to calcium depletion problems for her. Are you giving the birds grit? Eggs and grit are also available from the pigeon supply stores. You could check your local hobby or arts and craft stores for wooden eggs.

Have you let them be together yet? If so, how are they getting along? Hope all is okay and good luck with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Dave and minimonkey,

Thanks very much for the assurance that this is nesting behavior. Yes, the feather shaking is pretty cute. I was a bit worried that something might be wrong at first, but now that I understand what's almost certainly going on I can just appreciate the cuteness.

Thanks also for the recommendations of Foys & Jedd's. I'm going to see what I can get at Petsmart and our local bird feed / fancier's store, and whatever I can't get I'll order from them. I do have false pigeon eggs (two kinds of plastic ones) that our bird store ordered from a catalog for me some time ago. (When I first got Philly, I actually thought he was a girl, and that Philly and my other male pigeon would be a mated pair. After they didn't, and Philly started doing typical male behaviors we figured out that they were both were males. The got along O.K. for almost a year, with the other male being dominant over Philly, but once Philly came into his own they started fighting and I had to separate them). While I do add Natural Granen vitamin / mineral supplement to the birds' food, I haven't been giving them grit. Some time ago I asked our vet about grit but she didn't seem to think they needed it, but I think that this was before we thought anyone was really going to form a mated pair and lay eggs. I take it that grit is important for egg-laying birds?

I did try to let Philly and the new bird out together, but I think that it was way too early in the introduction process. After I had only had the new bird for a few days, I let him/her (hopefully 'her') out into Philly's territory, and Philly acted VERY aggressively towards the new bird - chasing him/her and pecking at his/her face. Someone here at pigeon talk suggested I just needed to give them more time, with the new bird in his/her kennel in Philly's territory. I think it's been working - it's been almost a month now, and they both do seem to be showing interest in each other and interacting peacefully between the bars on the new bird's kennel. I guess it's about time for me to try to have them out together again....

Thanks again!
Howard
 

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It isn't unusual for a male to be aggressive with a potential mate at first, but you do have to watch to make sure that the submissive bird doesn't get injured. I hope it goes much better for them the second time around! A male will often show his stuff, chase a hen around and rough her up a bit, and then calm down when they are first introduced ... but if it doesn't cease pretty quickly, then I wouldn't allow it to continue.

I consider grit important for both males and females -- it is particularly important for the hens that lay, but it helps with digestion and provides needed minerals to them across the board.

Jedd's and Foy's are wonderful places for bird supplies-- and I also order a fair amount from Vita King.

Vita King sells mineral/grit buckets that my birds go absolutely nuts for -- they'll go for the grit before the food when I have that available. Unfortunately the shipping isn't cheap on that, so I often just go for the regular pigeon grit from my local feed store, but when I can afford to order the "catnip" of grits, I do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nesting Materials

Hi all,

Thanks very much for the input about nesting materials. The people at our bird store told me that the main nesting material used by pigeon breeders around here are tobacco stalks, which come in a box sold by Natural Granen. These look very suitable in many ways, but I was worried: could these be carcinogenic or otherwise toxic? I know that there are health risks associated with smokeless tobacco (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless), and I don’t know if these are restricted to the leaves. There is also an advertisement on the package about the tobacco stems keeping pests away, which led me to suspect they might be somewhat toxic (and pests aren’t a problem for my birds, since they live indoors in a bedroom).

A nesting material that seemed to me to be much safer is the Eco Nest & Forage crinkled paper / cardboard strips, which I got from Petsmart. They’re hypoallergenic and vet tested & approved. These seemed in many ways ideal for our indoor environment. The only thing is that each strip is pretty small. A clerk at Petsmart also recommended that I could cut some note-cards into strips if Philly needs something bigger.

So I was just wondering if anyone else knew anything about the safety of tobacco stems, or whether you think the paper / cardboard strips would be sufficient.

I’ve also gotten Philly two terracotta saucers (one is 12 inches in diameter and the other is 14 inches in diameter) to serve as nest bowls (I didn’t know which was the better size, so I thought I’d let him pick). The rims are only about 1-2 inches high, but everything else I could find had very high rims that didn’t seem so great for flightless pigeons, especially if one is pregnant or laying eggs.

Thanks,
Howard
 
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