Dozens of pigeons can be seen in the streets every day. Some fear them, others love them, and finally some decide to keep a dove as a pet. But is it as simple as raising and caring for a pigeon?
- 1 Types of pigeons
- 2 What exactly are pigeons like?
- 3 Is it advisable to raise several pigeons together?
- 4 How can you tell the sex of a pigeon?
- 5 What should the pigeon cage look like?
- 6 Where is the pigeon house to be located?
- 7 What do pigeons feed on?
- 8 How should the pigeons be fed?
- 9 What other foods can be given to pigeons?
- 10 Pigeon diseases
- 11 Is it advisable to leave the pigeon loose in the house?
- 12 Paint and put a ring on the pigeon?
- 13 What are the steps to follow to train a pigeon?
- 14 Mating pigeons, what is there to know?
Types of pigeons
What exactly are pigeons like?
Pigeons have had a close relationship with humans for many years. With a length of 32 cm, from beak to tail, and a weight of 0.35 kg, this animal has been used as a carrier pigeon, as a symbol of peace and as a faithful companion for humans.
It is an animal whose behaviour is usually calm. Most commonly seen in the cities is the rock dove, a species that is believed to be endangered for its purity due to the multiple crossings it has suffered over the years.
Although it is an animal that does not respond to threats from humans, the same cannot be said of other animals. As there is food in between, they are very violent to each other or to other smaller birds, such as pigeons. This has led to a large decline in some species of birds, including the pigeons themselves.
Many believe that they also have a very “heavy” character, because when someone feeds them, they like to follow that person in search of more food or to go to the area where they were fed in search of more food. For this reason they were banned from being fed in many cities.
Is it advisable to raise several pigeons together?
In some countries, such as the United States, pigeons are reared from birth in pigeons that are placed on top of some buildings. Although these have been disappearing in recent years.
At first, pigeons that have grown up in captivity often do not have the violent feeling of hurting other pigeons when trying to get food. However, some species of pigeons have a dominant gene, so it is not surprising that when the two species are mixed together they end up fighting each other.
But they don’t just fight over food. Two male pigeons may end up facing each other for trying to match a female. In the same way, two female pigeons could fight to get the attention of a single male. So you have to choose very carefully the sex of the pigeon before putting them together in a cage.
How can you tell the sex of a pigeon?
Not all birds are so easy to distinguish. In the case of pigeons, the thing to do is to look at the genitals. For example, females have the exit of the left oviduct similar to a large diameter fluted mouth, especially if they have previously laid eggs. In the case of males, they have two small red beaks in the area, 1 to 3 mm long.
But after laying eggs, it is possible to determine the sex of the brood. One example is that most of the time, the first egg that the female lays is male, with a success rate of no more than 50%. If the egg is more pointed at one end, this means it is male. The reason for this is that, as the former is the latter, the expansion of the sewer costs more, which is why it has such a characteristic shape.
In the case of having a pigeon and not knowing its sex by the genital organs, the two fingers of the end can be joined together. In the case that these are the same it will mean that it is a female, but if they are of different length, it will mean that it is a male.
When they’re chicks, it’s a little easier to tell their sex apart. According to experts, after seven days of life, the roundest chicks are the females due to their “sexuality”. But the most famous trick is to wait until the pigeon is three or four weeks old. The pigeon is placed on the hand, holding its legs, and the pigeon is gently stretched by the beak. In the case of lifting the tail, it is a female, but if the tail is low, it is a male. This system has a 99% success rate compared to other methods.
Looking at your body shape and behavior also helps you find out what your gender is. As with most birds, males are slightly larger than females, having a more robust body and a different head shape. In addition, males make longer sounds and open their tails in a semicircle at mating time, while females swell their plumage. But in terms of behaviour, males often peck at the heads of females, which helps to distinguish them when they are in a large group.
What should the pigeon cage look like?
Ideally, the pigeon should be raised in a loft, but not everyone has enough space for this. So they have to be reared in a cage or modular loft if you want to have different birds. However, if you have a large garden, you can build a large, home-made pigeon house so that you can keep all the birds in it.
In the case of a single pigeon, a cage of 60×50 is sufficient, and 50×50 in the case of a pigeon. They should have enough room for me to be able to move my wings. Although if you have enough space, a 100×60 loft is better for you to move around inside it.
If you are going to breed, the pigeon flock will be large enough to have an apartment for the pigeons to be reared, the pigeons, a third for the males who have become widowed and a third for the females. This will avoid fights and problems with the chicks while they are growing up.
It is necessary to place both grilles that separate the different compartments and with the floor, as well as on the walls. The grilles should not have very large holes. It is not that the pigeons are going to escape, but if the material of this one is not very good, they will be able to tear it little by little with the legs to try to escape.
Once the pigeon loft has been chosen, the interior should be decorated so that the pigeon feels comfortable inside. A lot of hangers are needed, as pigeons like to sit on them very much. It is best to remove the ones that come in the cage, as they are not of very good quality, and buy a flat hanger 6 cm long, another made of rope fabric about 2 cm in diameter and several wooden hangers. All these hangers must be located at different heights, so that the pigeon can exercise inside the pigeon. Under no circumstances should mirrors or reflecting objects be placed inside, as this seriously damages the pigeons’ vision and makes them very nervous.
In the vicinity of the cage, if the pigeon is going to spend a lot of time inside, an ionizer and air filter must be installed, which will help to collect the fine dust that the pigeons expel and which can irritate people’s lungs when they come into contact with these birds in their loft.
Pigeons are animals that live in warm temperatures, between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius, or 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you will have to install some device that allows you to control the temperature of the area where the pigeon is, so that it does not die frozen or heat. When summer arrives, a small fountain can be installed inside the loft to cool the pigeon. If there are several pigeons in the loft, then at least two must be present. But if the pigeons are trained, they can be removed and cooled off by themselves in the garden fountain, then they will return to the cage by themselves.
Choosing to have the cage outside is best, but whether you are at home or away from home, it is advisable to cover the floor with newspaper or something similar to help make the task of cleaning the base of the loft easier.
Deciding to breed pigeons is difficult, as this will require building a nest. There are many tutorials on the web, and you can even find artificial nests, but the best thing is to give the pigeons everything they need inside the loft so that they can place it themselves. To make the task easier for them, there should be a few bricks high inside the loft, as there are some where they will place their nest.
The watering trough must be large, installed outside the cage, and with a large capacity so that the pigeon always has water at its disposal. However, the water will have to be changed very often, especially in summer, as pigeons do not like hot water.
Where is the pigeon house to be located?
Locating a bird like a dove can be a real headache. If you only have one, place it in a quiet room where no one will bother you. You have to leave her water and food for three weeks and stop by every now and then to check on her, but without manipulating or disturbing her, because they are easily stressed by being in an unfamiliar environment. After this time, you may already be able to make direct contact with her.
Once she is used to being human, the best thing to do is to place her in a room where social life can take place, so that she can interact with her surroundings. It should be in an area where in the mornings it gives lightly the rays of the sun but that it is also a warm zone at night so that it does not get cold, because one of the main causes of death of these animals in death by freezing.
At all costs, avoid placing them near lamps or televisions, as, like most birds, the flashes that these devices give off are harmful to the eyes and this could cause the pigeon to become violent. In the case of having other animals, special care must be taken that the pigeon is within reach of them. Yes, there are many pigeons that get along well with cats and dogs, but these are usually cases in which the pigeon has had contact with the animal since birth. However, if you are acquiring an older specimen, it is best to be cautious.
If you are thinking of installing a loft outside, simply look for an area that is neither too warm in the morning nor too cold at night. Assemble the loft, give it the necessary toys so that it can be entertained inside and ready. Areas of light such as outdoor lamps or near roads should be avoided, as the sound of traffic can make you nervous. The best thing is to opt for the back garden.
What do pigeons feed on?
Many mistakenly believe that pigeons feed on breadcrumbs. A bad habit created by humans feeding these animals in the park. But the truth is, this is the last thing these birds should be eating.
Domestic pigeons generally need to be fed a mixture of different types of cereals, legumes and oilseeds, although they can also be fed other types of food. As a general rule, pigeons eat about 30 grams of grain per day, an amount that may increase during their breeding season, both in feed and water. You have to be especially careful with the quantity, as pigeons tend to get fat quickly, so you have to weigh the amount of feed to make sure it is fair and necessary.
Like all animals, pigeons require a daily feeding, in just the right amount. But if the pigeon cannot be fed every day, it is best to make a small feeding system with which the pigeon can eat the right amount every day in the loft.
It should be borne in mind that pigeons go through many phases throughout their lives, especially if they are bred with other birds of the same species, which requires that at each stage of their life they are given a special feed for that stage. Sometimes it is not easy, as in the case of pigeons, for example. Chicks are usually separated from their parents or wet nurses when they are 25 days old, more or less. It is here that they begin to feed on their first grains. The problem is that they are very vulnerable, so they must be made easily accessible to feeders and drinkers, so that they can easily find a place to feed themselves. They may need to be helped to eat for the first few days if they are not seen to be doing it on their own, so that they can learn.
Now, what kind of food should be fed to pigeons?
Cereals: Wheat is the staple food for these birds, with a feed value of 76%. Wheat grains must be round, regardless of their fatness and reddish colour. In times when the pigeon has a lot of wear and tear, it is advisable to bet on this type of food.
The Dari should be the second on the list, with a food value of 80%. It is also known as sorghum and is one of the favorite foods of pigeons. Of course, we must not forget one of the foods that helps pigeons the most: barley. With a nutritional value of 74%, this food helps them digest and rest the digestive system. It has to be heavy and short. It is also good to feed it with oats, with a nutritional value of 63%, 50%, since its minerals help it to stay healthy, as well as being convenient for the birds’ rest periods. From time to time it is also good to feed them a little rice for its nutritional value of 82%.
Legumes: Although legumes cannot be the basis for pigeon feeding, they are necessary because they are rich in proteins, a substance that transforms and develops pigeon muscle and feathers. They are especially necessary during the growth of chicks.
Beans and peas, with a feed value of more than 70%, are just what they need to help with the evacuation, especially if you notice that the pigeon is constipated. Occasionally it is good to feed the bird one of these foods to help its digestive system function properly.
In the case of choosing the carob tree to feed the pigeon, you should choose the grey ones, because of their small size. Although they can also be given a bit of medium size. Lentils are also very good for their nutritional value of 73.6%. The best thing is that they are brown or dark brick in color, as they are the ones that provide more nutrients to the body.
Oilseeds: In fact, this type of food should be used as a supplement and not as a food, since excessive consumption of this food can affect the pigeon’s liver. But it is important because of its great nutritional value.
Among those that can be given to pigeons are hemp, rapeseed and flax, with a feed value of more than 30%. All these should be given in small quantities, as pigeons do not eat them very well, despite how healthy they are for them. Consuming too much can cause digestive problems such as diarrhea. It is also good to give them some sunflower seeds, but the grains should be striated and small in size.
How should the pigeons be fed?
As previously stated, pigeons’ feeding will depend on their stage of life. If the pigeon is a newcomer, or a pigeon, mix in 1 kg. 25% legumes (especially peas, locust beans and lentils), along with 30% corn, 25% wheat, 5% barley and 15% dari. All this well mixed must be fed in the right amount (not exceeding 30% daily).
As they will also need oilseeds to keep them healthy, 5% of them must be fed. Once the pigeons have grown a little, with 10 days, the legumes can be increased to 40% of the total amount, but if they are in the process of weaning the best thing is that this does not exceed 25% of the total.
At the end of the summer, they will start with the feather moult, their diet should be composed of 25% legumes (especially beans and peas) with 65% cereals (corresponding to 30% corn, 25% wheat and 10% root) and 10% oilseeds such as sunflower.
But when winter is over, which means the end of their molt, their diet must be made up of 10% legumes, 80% cereals and 10% oilseeds. At this time of year it is best to feed them once a day.
What other foods can be given to pigeons?
It is true that it is not very advisable to feed pigeons as bread, but there is another series of foods that are very good for pigeons, for their nutrients and minerals.
One of these is vegetables. In their natural state, pigeons are granivorous, but they also feed on vegetables. In this case, their diet is based on leaves, tender stems and some flowers that start with their beaks. As they are kept in captivity, they should be given at least once a week some fresh vegetables that have been previously chopped. It is most common to feed them lettuce or grated carrots, because they are the easiest to digest. In addition, they help prevent worms and weakening of the eyes.
Garlic, which has always been considered a food with multiple benefits for the body, is also very good for pigeons. Thanks to its high content of sodium, sulphur and ether, it helps prevent heart, lung and blood pressure problems and fight against parasites. Just give them one clove of garlic, finely chopped, a week. Two at the most.
The lemon, which is not usually recommended for many animals, but for pigeons. Especially when the pigeon is sick, it should be given to it, as the vitamin C it contains helps it to fight fatigue, cold or disease. It is best to squeeze the lemon in the water so that the pigeons can drink it.
The honey finishes this list of attached feeds for the pigeons. It is one of the most effective remedies to help treat diseases in pigeons, especially when they suffer from bronchial or throat problems. It is a food that should be given to pigeons throughout the year, in small quantities, especially during the time of skin shedding so that their feathers look shiny.
The fact that the pigeon becomes ill does not mean that it is a bad caregiver, as some may have a hereditary disease or may have been “caught” by a virus. The most common ones that pigeons can have are:
- Paramyxovirus: This is a virus that infects pigeons. One of the main symptoms is that pigeons drink a lot of water, while they eat very little. Their droppings are watery and with time their wings and legs become paralyzed. They tend to walk backwards and have blindness. It’s a deadly infection for pigeons.
- Salmonellosis: Also known as paratyposis. The pigeon suffers from an intestinal infection, although other organs such as the liver or kidneys are also affected. It especially affects newborn chicks that suffer from stunted growth or thinning.
- Trichomoniasis: Due to this disease pigeons lose their vitality and have little desire to fly. Their droppings are watery and their throats are red. It is a disease that can affect both adult pigeons and pigeons. In the case of the latter, an obligate infection is detected in which abscesses form and can spread to the internal organs.
- Ascaridiosis: During the disease, pigeons may have droppings of different consistency. Your appetite will increase at the beginning of the disease, but it will progressively decrease due to the worms you will have inside. So we have to help her get rid of them.
- Smallpox: The symptoms that a pigeon may suffer from the disease depend on the way it is presented. If it is quadriplegic, smallpox develops from the passage from the outer skin to the mucosa in the eye and beak area, but can also occur on the legs. These smallpox should be avoided at all costs.
- Contagious rhinitis: Lead begins to sneeze and leak from a nasal fluid that can be viscous and yellow-brown in more severe cases. Little by little you will lose your appetite and the desire to drink water. It won’t shed the skin, either, and it won’t fly. In addition, the pigeon will scratch its head and nose, keeping its beak open. If the disease is advanced, your deposits will be whitish in color.
Is it advisable to leave the pigeon loose in the house?
Deciding whether or not to let the pigeon go around the house is an important decision. They are very frightening animals, and even though they have become accustomed to being around people, they may not cope with moving around the home very well.
Because of its large size it is not as easy as letting a parakeet or other small bird loose. She may feel overwhelmed by not having enough room to move her wings around the halls in the room. If you’re going to take it off, it’s best to take it off the outside, but with a small rope that connects it to its owner so that it doesn’t escape, since at first you may try to escape.
Earning the pigeons’ trust is only a matter of time, so you have to be very patient.
Paint and put a ring on the pigeon?
Generally, the painting on the pigeons’ feathers is a symbol that the pigeons have participated in a contest, although many owners decide to paint them a little so that they can be distinguished from the others, because they decide to leave them free throughout the day so that they can interact with other birds and exercise. It is a good idea if you choose to let it fly free in the city or the countryside.
Now there’s the next part: the ring. The ring is usually used to identify pigeons by a number, but can also be used to inform that they are owned. The pigeon should be banded when they are chicks, between 6 and 8 days old. To do this, the three front fingers must be joined together, inserted into the mouth of the ring, and passed gently without damaging the animal’s leg. The pigeon will grow up with the ring on its leg and barely pay attention to it.
The rings can be a symbol of pigeon recognition very useful for the more novice who have decided to have several at home. As a general rule, the information on the ring has the identification of the breeder and the year of birth of the ring, but by buying different colors you can differentiate between males and females or decide which are going to be for contest, for breeding or simply to keep in captivity.
What are the steps to follow to train a pigeon?
Training a pigeon is not impossible, but it does require constant work. Especially if you are looking for it to participate in competitions.
To begin the training you have to wait for the first molt of the first primary feather of the wing. With this, you can start training now. The first thing is to fly for one kilometer, accompanied by another pigeon that has already flown before. You have to repeat this process several times until you can do it alone.
Once you have completed the first step of your training, it is time to double the distance, up to two kilometres. Even though she is used to flying alone, it is good to accompany her with another pigeon, or group of pigeons. With the third time, the distance must be increased to 5 kilometres, again being able to go alone or accompanied. This way, the amount of distance must be increased, always twice as much as the previous one, until it can cover 100 kilometres.
The number of times you travel the same distance is at the discretion of your trainer. Some pigeons learn quickly and do not need to repeat the same distance several times. But when it’s long distances, it’s best to get used to them little by little, and especially the first time they are accompanied so that they have a guide on the tour.
Are there any tricks to success? According to experts in the field, there are a number of requirements to be met:
- One month before the training starts, the pigeon must have started to fly in the loft, about 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon, without stopping.
- Subsequently, in the 15 days following the month of this exercise, the flight time must be increased to 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon.
- Having become accustomed to this flying time, the loft must be opened for the pigeons to fly. They have to be fed when they come back.
- The best time to release the pigeons is in the morning, at 7 am, while in the afternoon it is best to release them around 4 pm. You can vary the hours, but these are the best times of the day for them to fly out.
Mating pigeons, what is there to know?
Although the best way for two pigeons to mate and have young is to leave them to their own free will, if you want to “manipulate” the process a little, there are certain tricks that can be used.
The first thing to do is to choose a male and a female who have no defects that could detract from the breed. Check that they are well dewormed with Vermidel S for the inside and with negubon for the inside. Also give him 1/8 of a tablet of Decuazole. Once ready, they should be placed in a separate cage when they show signs of mating, such as the male running after the female or both stroking.
A nest must be prepared for the male to be placed in, and another for the female. When the first signs of “heat” appear, the female should be placed in the male’s nest. If successful, within 8 days of mating they will lay the first egg.
The pigeon will be born at 18 days, and it is time to start working with it. Once it is 8 days old it must be banded, to differentiate it from the rest. After 22 days, it must be lowered to the ground in the morning and returned to the nest in the afternoon. After 23/24 days, the pigeon must learn to eat alone from the trough, with a little help from its breeder, because it is possible that it is still looking for its mother to feed itself. On the same day, it is a good idea to put him on the roof of the loft or house so that he can get to know everything around him.
At 25 days of age it is time to separate him from his parents’ loft and put him in the pigeon loft, where he will be during the day. In the afternoon he must be returned to his parents’ loft, so that they can help him feed. But if the animal is already able to feed itself, it can be moved permanently to the pigeon loft.
Between 30 and 35 days of age the pigeon must be able to leave the loft window by itself and return when it wishes to do so. It is more or less here that the training of this bird needs to begin.