Pigeons’ Pride

Hot on the heels of Pride Brighton & Hove, my pigeons are celebrating in their own way in the garden.┬áIt’s official – well, has been for some time – Angel and Daemon, females, are in a loving partnership. It’s beautiful.

 

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Pigeons are notoriously difficult to sex. Even experts will admit that. Young pigeons are pretty much impossible to sex, though I’m sure they know quite well themselves! For us mere mortals, we have to rely, largely, on observing their behaviour. Male pigeons tend – note the modifier – TEND – to strut about a lot, with chests puffed out, making what I can only describe as growly coo noises like avian Tarzans.

Hence, the pigeon who started life with me, fondly called Penelope, with pink ring on one leg in pure gender stereotyping, is now Mr. Penelope.

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Except…who knows?

I very much want my pigeons to breed. I’ve always wanted to be a pigeon granny, she says without a hint of anthropomorphism. Imagine my delight when Angel and Daemon indulged in a lot of billing and cooing and then one of them laid two eggs. (Pigeons only ever lay two eggs, about 48 hours apart so when they hatch, after 17 days, the necessarily intense period of care is staggered).

They were devoted parents-to-be, never leaving the eggs unattended, taking it in turns to sit, one taking the day shift, the other taking the night shift. Time passed…much more than 17 days…

One day they were both out together and Daemon, the one I thought was the male, was displaying again. The eggs were abandoned. Infertile. “Ah well,” I thought. “Young birds. Perhaps this was a trial run? Maybe next time.”

Next time happened very quickly. Another two eggs. Then…ANOTHER two eggs as well. FOUR eggs. Whoaaaaaah!

Research revealed that this only happens when two females pair up and both lay.

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It’s very sweet. They are devoted to each other but, sadly (for me?), their eggs will never be fertile.

It happens, apparently, when there is an odd number of pigeons in a group. My pigeons and doves have always been bought in pairs – which is to say, two at a time, not pairs as in a male and a female. Sadly, again, predators or other natural causes have meant that I’ve lost some. Which breaks my heart.

Interestingly, and I’m not sure what I feel about this, at Lancaster University scientists have managed to breed a strain of gay pigeons. This is in order to reduce the pigeon population. Less fertile eggs. Less pigeons.

Well, Angel and Daemon are happy. I have NOT, as pigeon breeders suggest, removed their eggs each time they lay. I just let them do what they do.

My white doves, Una, Paloma and Blanca (Faith disappeared – so three again)… Una and Paloma have paired up. I’m waiting for them to lay.

Then I’ll be waiting to see what happens next.

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Life is so joyful.

 

 

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