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So, around August I obtained a 2 week old racer squab who we named Marble.

I was hoping for a girl, my last pigeon was male (poor boy died of cancer too soon), and I really didn't want to have to worry too much about the aggression a male pigeon displayed.

Low and behold, Marble is currently a very loud, very proud, very territorial male pigeon. He likes my boyfriend more than me. I can live with that. But we're both kind of on the fence about going about getting him to "shack up" with one of us as it were. In other words, we're really hoping he'll settle down with one of us soon here and treat one of us like a mate, because the constant pecking is driving us up the wall!

We've hand fed him since he was a baby. He wants absolutely nothing to do with us unless it's as a momentary perch (on our heads, hands or shoulders, whatever is most convenient when he's looking for a place to land). He eats treats from our hands but will still peck and coo at us angrily.

We're trying not to force affection on him especially when he runs from us when we try to pet him, cuddle him, or pick him up, but we're used to more affectionate, cuddly birds (cockatiels), so it's hard to break the habit.

No amount of hand feeding is warming him up to us. He get's constant access to the house (except at night time, when his cage his closed). No amount of treat bribery gets him to come to us, we have to literally shove our hands into his face to get him to connect the dots.


Basically, the point of this long, drawn out complaint of a post is getting opinions on how to bond with a male pigeon better? Nothing seems to be working. We are also trying to train him for targetting, so getting him to sit still for nail clipping, getting him to come when he's called, etc, which I've only seen in one other pigeon, who was female.

We aren't about to give him up just because he's a butt head, but if anyone else had any solutions that isn't "get another bird for his mate", we'd really like to know! We love the idea of having a bird that won't always peck at our hands. I'm scratching at red welts as I type this from my most recent hand feeding attempt. He loves sunflower seeds. Apparently not enough to not peck my hand while I'm holding them.
 

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Most pigeons aren't cuddly. Just not normally their personality. Some are just friendlier than others. You don't really want him to view one of you as a mate. That is very difficult and confusing for the bird. He may get more used to you in time, or he may never be the calm bird you want. They really do better in flocks with other pigeons. Not really meant to be alone. Maybe you just need another type of bird. With pigeons, you pretty much accept them the way they are. They don't usually like being picked up or petted. They like to come to you, when they want to. Just the way they are.
 

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In my experience, "teen" male pigeons are at their most independent, bitey, and moody. If he's not afraid of you (sounds like he's not), he might start courting one of you after he settles down a bit.

One woman I know who's "mated" to her male pigeon figured out that her bird was trying to play-wrestle with her husband, not being aggressive. Her husband learned to play-wrestle back using his hands, letting him "win" about 70% of the time, and it kept him much happier. He also stopped biting so hard, because they stopped playing and turned away if he bit too hard.

However, male pigeon are repulsed by touch from anyone other than their mate! They only want their mate to pet them or hold them. So it's not surprising that he doesn't like you touching him. Unless he starts courting one of you, he won't want to be touched.

My basic advice is:
- don't try to force or rush interaction, especially petting him
- treats (safflower, raw chopped peanuts, millet) are your friend! say the say thing each time you feed him treats from your hands (I say "do you want a treat?")
- just wait for a couple months. he may settle down
- try wrestling with him, or using a plush toy to wrestle with him

I know you're already doing many of those, which means you're already doing most things right.

Another thing to keep in mind is that they are very smart animals, good at recognizing patterns - and language is just a pattern of sounds with meanings. You can definitely teach pigeons to understand some words and concepts if you talk to them consistently.
 

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It is not the pigeons nature to play. I think they view wrestling as fighting. You need to think about what you do and how it relates to a pigeon or birds nature. To them, when they do that, they are fighting with another pigeon, not playing. They aren't puppies, who play that way. To a bird, that is being aggressive. That can make him more aggressive.
 

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I politely disagree, since it has demonstrably worked for at least some young birds. Pigeons do play - with mirrors, wicker balls, twigs, etc. Most social species which fight as adults, playfight when they are young.
 

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I politely disagree, since it has demonstrably worked for at least some young birds. Pigeons do play - with mirrors, wicker balls, twigs, etc. Most social species which fight as adults, playfight when they are young.
That isn't the same thing as fight playing. They will perceive that as aggression. That is what they know, and what they know it to be. Trying to get a pigeon to stop biting or attacking isn't done by doing that. That is going to make him do it more. And they don't really play with mirrors. Females will sit near it for the company of the bird in the mirror, and males will usually either bow and show off for the pigeon he sees there, or he will try to fight with it.

If you offer him treats and he bites, then just leave him and don't give him any. Every time he does that, you just take the hand away. Don't offer again till another time. That will teach him that his biting makes the hand with the treat go away. Eventually, he should just give a little half hearted nip that really doesn't hurt, just to show you he is boss, then take the treat. Eventually he should stop even that minor nip.
 

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That isn't the same thing as fight playing. They will perceive that as aggression. That is what they know, and what they know it to be. Trying to get a pigeon to stop biting or attacking isn't done by doing that. That is going to make him do it more. And they don't really play with mirrors. Females will sit near it for the company of the bird in the mirror, and males will usually either bow and show off for the pigeon he sees there, or he will try to fight with it.
That is your interpretation. Mine differs.

My pigeons "kiss" the mirror, look behind it for another bird, and yes, also sit by it or coo/strut in front of it. Studies have shown that some pigeons recognize themselves in the mirror.

My bonded female pigeon definitely plays with me. She likes to bite my fingertips/nails and will chase them around if I move them, all while displaying relaxed body language and coming over to me of her own volition for affection or to chase my fingers. She likes to stick her head inside my hand and nibble gently, mimicking eating from the crop of a male. Etc.

The friend I mentioned earlier...as I said, they found that he was more relaxed and bit much less hard if her husband playfights gently with him when he initiates biting.

I disagree that "it's not in a pigeon's nature to play" - I have seen far too many species of animals engage in pointless, yet mentally/physically stimulating play behavior to believe pigeons are categorically different. As I said, most social species of animals which fight as adults also playfight as subadults.

I'm speaking from examples and experiences, offering options which the original poster is free to explore or disregard as they see fit.
 

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Well then they can try it your way and see how it goes. Maybe will work for them.
 
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