Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Homing Pigeons

Earlier this Summer I decided to start a pigeon loft.  I'm not really sure why . . . at this time in my falconry life I don't plan on flying any falcons, and I would be absolutely insane to think I would take on an Accipiter . . . my work life just doesn't allow for that.  I've never kept pigeons, and it seemed like something fun to do, as an undertaking of its own.  I have an old hawk mew which I decommissioned as a hawk house when I released Hit Girl.  It has seen better days, and has some rot going on in a few places, enough that I don't want to risk a hawk in there.  After all, it has been moved four times!  Last year it was a rat house, where I kept my breeding rats that produce some of the food for the hawk freezer, and provide fresh food during the summer for the molt.  It was easy enough to move the rats into my hawk trailer mew and make the changes to the building to accommodate pigeons.
I was gifted two groups of four "squeakers" from two falconry friends that have already established lofts.  Squeakers are young pigeons that have never fledged from a loft.  Homing pigeons will orient on the location they fledge from and return to it from great distances, once they have flown around the area.  Richard converted my old hawk shack/rat shack, building out a 'pigeon porch', and making some proper perches inside.  The birds have been spending several weeks hanging out on the porch, looking around.  For the last two days I've caught them up, and shown them the 'trap', which is the door they can go back into their loft.  Each bird was individually shown the door and went back into the loft, so they see how it works.  This morning I opened up the door on the pigeon porch, so they could exit.  I stood at a distance and watched their progress.  One by one they came out, flew up on top of the pigeon porch, then on top of the coop, then on up onto the pole barn.  As of right now, seven of them are pecking around on top of the pole barn.
This last bird was the last to fledge. It took a different flight than the others, landing in the grass.  Eventually it flew back to the coop, and went back inside, so didn't seem quite ready to join the others.  I closed up the exit door, and will let this bird try again tomorrow.

Hopefully, the other seven will have a fun day out, avoid Coopers Hawks, and come back by the end of the day.

Side Note:  Later in the afternoon all 8 were inside their coop, having returned for food and water.  Their first day flying free went very well.

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