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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm wondering if any of the members have noticed the following:

My husband reared an English Sparrow almost from a day or two of being hatched. The bird was found in an apparently abandoned nest in a dryer vent when the vent was cleaned, and it was brought to me because it was known that I had some experience rescuing and rearing baby birds. There was a deformity to one of its feet, and it had a sibling that didn't survive.

My husband had seen me rear a rescued baby, and he wanted to rear a bird of his own; so this was his first. It has lived almost nine years now (I think that in the wild, 2 years is the average) and my husband is the only person who can handle this bird.

My husband has noticed that the bird really "freaks out" if he happens to go into the bird room wearing a red shirt. Something about red agitates this bird. Has anyone else noticed this?

I thought of it tonight, because I came home and rushed to see if Willie Pigeon would eat from my hand for the second day - without realizing that I was wearing red. It didn't seem to bother Willie at all, and he gobbled up the safflower. (Our Budgie, Blue Bird, got really agitated; but he lives in a state of perpetual agitation anyway:)

But I have noticed that all of my birds look at me very strangely if I change my hairstyle. I have long hair that I wear down, and I only stick it up in a bun when I'm going to take a shower or wash my face. If I happen to go to my birds with my hair up, they look at me as if they don't know me.

I know that birds perceive their world largely visually - most have little sense of smell. So it makes sense that a change in their caretaker's appearance might get their attention. But, in your experience, are they averse to certain colors?

[by the way, I've read that pigeons actually have a better sense of smell than many birds; is this true?]

Thanks very much,
Aggie
 

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Hi Aggie

We have an aviary of rescued pigeons. Some of them are European Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus). A few weeks back I took a stiff broom in to help with cleaning the flight, and the Wood Pigeons totally freaked out. They are quite 'highly strung' as a species but normally calm in the aviary, and well used to us wielding brooms, brushes and scrapers around them. But this broom has a gaudy bright pink/flower patterned handle and pink or red bristles. They started flying around wildly even as I entered, and settled down when I went to the back of the sheltered area. Then they freaked out when I re-emerged into the flight, even though I held the offending broom down at nearly ground level. I have gone back to a broom with ordinary wooden handle and plain bristles :)

Your husband has really done well with his Sparrow!

John
 

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they do notice subtle changes,,our lot LOVE my daughters tiger striped pjamas(she often wears them during morning feed)when she has them on they come down real quick,when i changed from bird bath(erm,,,,they knocked it over and broke it,was plastic)to a large aluminum bowl for bathing,they were not too keen because of teh reflective qualities,ok now!
 

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Silhouette

Well I have one for you all .I have a baseball cap that has the silhouette of a hawk on it.The first few times that I wore it in the loft the birds freek out.Needless to say I don't ware it in the loft any longer.GEORGE;)
 

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I think all animals have at least one color that they're more wary of. In the wild, sometimes red and yellow mean danger. I know my birds aren't very fond of bright yellow (my dad's work uniform shirt is a bright highlighter yellow). On the other hand, somethings are attracted to the same colors, like hummingbirds and red. I guess each pigeon can be a bit different too in how they react to certain things.
I haven't really noticed any certain colors making them act different. They're normally pretty calm to me, but they've learned my dad means "time to freak out", since he catches them more than anything else. In time, pigeons can get used to just about anything, and associate things with 'good' or 'bad'. Like how they get a little nervous around my dad all the time. And how everytime I go in the loft when they're out, they automatically think I'm going to feed them and come running in.
If you wear your hair one way a lot, they'll probably be a little confused when you change it. They probably still know it's you since your face hasn't changed though. Studies have shown they can recognize regular faces pretty well.
And yes, they've done some tests that show pigeons are more sensitive to smell than most other birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I know the pigeon is wary of my husband; probably because he usually does the interception when Willie escapes; and I'm the one who does all the feeding, cleaning, etc. Tonight I'll try cage-changing without DH in the room. That should be a lot of fun, in case of an escape :-(

Eventually we should both be able to hand-feed him.

I haven't noticed the color thing myself; but husband is convinced that the sparrow, at least, hates red...

-Aggie
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I have one for you all .I have a baseball cap that has the silhouette of a hawk on it.The first few times that I wore it in the loft the birds freek out.Needless to say I don't ware it in the loft any longer.GEORGE;)
Well, do you think it's the silhouette, or just the fact that you're wearing a cap? Do you wear other caps in the loft that don't seem to bother them? Are colors a factor?

I'm interested in these things. After my first interest in animals - the sheer beauty of them - I'm interested in ethology: why do animals behave in the ways that they do?

-Aggie
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Aggie

We have an aviary of rescued pigeons. Some of them are European Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus). A few weeks back I took a stiff broom in to help with cleaning the flight, and the Wood Pigeons totally freaked out. They are quite 'highly strung' as a species but normally calm in the aviary, and well used to us wielding brooms, brushes and scrapers around them. But this broom has a gaudy bright pink/flower patterned handle and pink or red bristles. They started flying around wildly even as I entered, and settled down when I went to the back of the sheltered area. Then they freaked out when I re-emerged into the flight, even though I held the offending broom down at nearly ground level. I have gone back to a broom with ordinary wooden handle and plain bristles :)

Your husband has really done well with his Sparrow!

John
Yes; we've been kind of amazed at how long the sparrow has lived. But I think most wild birds must live much longer in captivity - they're simply not exposed to the same dangers. The only time I've lost a healthy one in an untimely way was when I foolishly left a window open on a very hot summer day - an unexpected weather front came through before I could get home, and he was right in the draft.

Well, I think Willie has answered my question somewhat. After looking back over the week, he definitely seems edgier and less friendly when I wear black, as opposed to my usual white or other light-color shirt.

-Aggie
 
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