Advice Sought: Brown and White Pigeon Visit

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busta1955
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Advice Sought: Brown and White Pigeon Visit

Hi, Everyone. This evening we were visited by a lovely bird that I have identified as a brown and white pigeon. Couldn't find him in my field guide but found a matching photo on the web. He is completely white with red legs/talons, and a dusting of brown around his head and upper neck. My concern is that I've never seen one around here and he seems very relaxed around humans (not to mention well fed!). This leads me to think that he may be an escaped pet. My garden is pretty cat-proof although the neighbours all ignore the curfew, so plenty of potential preditors. Can anyone advise what my best course of action is? He's welcome to stay as long as he likes, but if he is domesticated, he may be vulnerable. Any advice? Cheers, Buster.

busta1955
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Well, just an update. Our little visitor (now named 'Fatso') has decided to doss down at our place for the night. He has selected a spot inside our covered entertainment area, on top of a water tank. Well out of reach of the local feline population, so I can relax tonight at least. Clearly very comfortable around humans, as he didn't even wake up when I moved around right up close to him with a very bright light on. I'd say he has grown up around humans. We'll see if he's still around in the morning. Night all.. Buster.

Woko
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In what general area do you live, busta? That might give a clue as to the species of pigeon on your water tank.
My suspicion is that it's a feral pigeon, a species very much discouraged where I live due to it displacing native species.

busta1955
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Woko, Thanks for the reply. We are in a Melbourne outer suburb. Semi-coastal. Don't see many pigeons around here. A few crested who stick to a small area near here. Tons of speckled turtle doves. JUdging by his behaviour (hanging around the house, comfort around humans), I would say this one is newly feral.

busta1955
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Quick update: It was too dark last night to notice, but I can now see a (red) ring around his (red) leg. Does anyone know how you read the ring? How do I pick him up to read the ring? Once I have read the ring, what do I do? This stuff is quite alien to me. Help!!

Woko
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I can't say I've ever picked up a pigeon, busta. But smaller birds I've held in one hand with my hand high on the neck (not too tightly, mind you) so that my index & second fingers enclose the neck & keep the head steady(that's the bird's head. Mine waves all over the place).
The alternative is for you to hold the pigeon in both hands with your hands fairly high on the wings & get someone else to read the ring. From memory, that's what I've seen on several occasions.
I'm wondering if that pigeon is a racing pigeon if it has a ring on its leg. The ring probably has a phone number to call or some identification number. If there's no phone number I'd suggest calling the pigeon racing club or pigeon fancier's club or whatever & letting them know what you've found.

busta1955
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Brilliant, Woko. I'll give iot a go. Thanks!

Araminta
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Hi busta, let us know, how you are going with the pigeon.
Woko, I'm still laughing about your "how to hold a pigeon" instructions,I love the way your head waves all over the place!! After one follows your instructions, the bird's little legs, (not yours) should stick out between the ring finger and the little finger. That way, if the bird survives all this, it should be easy to read the number on the ring!Good luck to the bird!! M-L

M-L

Woko
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Thanks for so ably completing the picture, Araminta. That pigeon, like me, is probably flying by the seat of its pants by now.

busta1955
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Thanks heaps, everyone.

Our little visitor decided to head for greener fields sometime late this afternoon having sunned himself on our patio all day. According to the Australian National Pigeon Association he was probably exhausted and just needed a feed, a drink, and a rest. Hopefully he has found his way home now.

Thanks everyone for the great advice (and entertainment).

So long, Fatso. Thanks for honouring us with your short visit (I'll clean the pooh up later...).

Cheers, All.

Buster.

Raven
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Without a photo I cannot comment, I bred pigeons as a lad, mainly red/dark brown Carneaux's and white Mondaines. Sounds like the former, as said, no pic, cannot say.

With a band on its leg I doubt if it is a native, only pigeons around Melbourne suburbia would be feral pigeons/rock doves and their interbred variants.

Escapee I would think, most racing pigeons/homers look much like the common city pigeon.

j9.labellaluna
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HI there - I was interested to see your comments as due to a large tree being removed from the front of my small apartment block some months back had three pigeons arrive that seemed to have decided to make my large semi enclosed balcony their bunk down spot. Unfortunately they make so much mess -but I haven't wanted to try and encourage them to move on until the weather was settled - one of the three is a white and brown pigeon and when they first arrived it seemed that there was a grey male, a female who looked a bit post fledgling and the white and brown who also looked fledgling - but who keeps her distance from the other two - who seem to be a couple. The other two may have finally been discouraged by my balloons and aluminium foil strips flapping around but the white and brown one is still there - alone - I am really very fond of her and she seems to trust me - but am worried about her - one, that she has not found a partner and secondly I think she tends to come back more during the day to stay out of the sun (or so it seems) - it is very hard for me to discourage her because I am worried about her - want to help her - wouldn't mind if she stayed if there wasn't so much mess. any thoughts? I am concerned that white pigeons or white and brown are rejected by potential mates -is there some genetic mutation that is not appealing as a mate? I want her to live a happy pigeon life and she is really very sweet. If you have any advice please help. thx

Phoenix

Woko
Woko's picture

A clear identifiction of the pigeon is important for deciding what to do, Phoenix. If you're able to take a photo & post it on Birds in Backyards it can be identified.

If the pigeon is a native species then you & the pigeon are indeed fortunate. Relax & observe its behaviour. Allow it to live naturally.

If, on the other hand, it transpires that the pigeon is a feral pigeon, or Rock Dove as the species is sometimes known in eastern states, then you would do well by the native pigeons in your area to discourage the feral pigeon. It would be more helpful to our  native species if you could find it in your heart to transfer your attachment from your feral friend to the native pigeons & their habitat.

This may seem a little harsh on the feral pigeon but so many of our native birds are under threat because of habitat destruction & invasion by feral species into the new, altered habitats. And this implies that as well as discouraging the feral species protecting & restoring whatever natural habitat you might have in your neighbourhood is also important.

Good luck with your thinking about this, Phoenix.

j9.labellaluna
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Hi Woko - thanks so much for getting back to me. I do know that it is highly likely to be a feral pigeon, although will try and take a picture of her and submit and also do a bit more study up on your comments about the other possibility. In my area we do not have pigeons other than feral and not that many of them these days as there has been a large insurgance of native species of lorikeets - a lot of lorikeets and since then there are far less Indian Mynas and unfortunately willy wagtails. Haven't seen or heard any ring necked doves for a long time now too. Our building had been bird spiked to prevent pigeons roosting under the eaves so that they made a b-line for my balcony was curious. For my cat too! She is purely indoor cat but does like to watch through the glass. Two nights ago I managed to stand outside to discourage the other two grey pigeons from returning for the night and they headed off elsewhere and had not come back last night so think I have encouraged them to move on. Some weeks back I had gone out onto the balcony and a pigeon head popped up from a pot plant - she had laid eggs - as they were only laid that day or possibly the previous day I knew they wouldn't be viable if I removed them which I did - felt very guilty about it but that is just me. I don't like killing anything, I was curious about one thing - I woke to noise on the balcony yesterday morning and found one of the grey pigeons had returned and was either fighting beak to beak with the white and brown pigeon - is that how pigeons fight? Anyway - I appreciate your getting back to me and I expect she will return later today as it looks like rain so will try and get a pick and also do a bit more research and post again. Enjoy your day! 

Phoenix

zosterops
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i believe culling of rock doves in melbourne resulted in a decline in peregrines and pairs moving on. 

j9.labellaluna
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Hey ther Zosterops - it is a delicate balance isn't it - it can be flagged that certain species throw out the natural species ecobalance but that doesn't happen overnight and many other issues contribute I am sure - you sound like you are in Aus so might know about our own eastern coastal birdlife - I am Sydney east - we have lost blue wrens, wagtails, sparrows (and as far as I know they were only treated as feral and wiped out of WA) and now we have a possible overabundance of lorikeets - nothing seems balanced at present - don't have the possums that used to be about - a lot of insect life - what happened to cicadas? Christmas beetles - it isn't easy to preserve - keep trying - but also try to help an individual anything that might need help -I move huntsman spiders back under treebark at night - I don't kill anything -just want this little pigeon to go and find a mate and move on - I certainly agree with the idea that people deciding to cull a species has unexpected ramifications - and in nature - they sort themselves out - after all - humans introduced so many things to Australia to control other species and ultimately created another fiasco - thanks for your post - lovely to connect with people who care about all those guys out there - if I can get a pic of my little fragile feral I will post - I am hoping I am gently discouraging her - and hope she finds a mate - coz they need a mate - they are not solitary - that is what makes me care so much - feral or not - she doesn't know she is feral - and she is really sweet!

Phoenix

zosterops
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The decline in small native bird populations in suburbia has been linked to many factors such as increases in predators (currawongs, magpies, butcherbirds), elimination by overabundant species (Noisy Miners) and increasing housing density (older leafy gardens being replaced by units and mccmansions devoid of vegetation). 

The demise of the House Sparrow has been a global phenomenon and has been especially pronounced in its native range, though it has also declined markedly in much of its introduced range as well. It is unresolved. Possible factors implicated include councils cutting grass before it seeds reducing the food supply, viruses and disease. and increased use of domestic pesticides in gardens killing insects it requires during the breeding season.

Rainbow Lorikeets continue to increase both in their native and introduced ranges, i believe this is attributed to the popularity of flowering eucalypts and bottlebrushes, grevilleas etc. as ornamental specimens and increased provision of artificial feeders (something i don't endorse). 

As pertains to your Rock Dove situation the power is in your hands, I believe there has been some suggestion of possible disease spread to native species but I don't see that much interaction. I'm not so sure they impact native species much directly as they feed on exotic seeds largely ignored by native birds and are pretty much dependent on human handouts in urban regions (and even in rural areas they congregate on spilt grain e.g. wheat and nest in houses so barely interact with natives, other than as a food source for raptors; it is the favoured prey of the Peregrine Falcon). 

zosterops
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Also the cicadas have periodic irruptions and spend many years as larvae underground; there may be more in future. 

j9.labellaluna
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Hi again - she came back later today but spooked when I went out - she probably will move on - I am in Sydney so don't have the Peregrine Falcons around but know Currawongs like to kill pigeons and are rather ruthless. I believe Western Australia decided sparrows were a pest and erradicated them some years ago -I have a photo of the last sparrow I saw in my backyard - about 20 years ago - miss the sparrow parties in the morning - I agree that the overuse of pesticides has broken the whole chain - I know cicadas are about 7 years underground but haven't seen or heard them for way longer - no more the tell tale hole in the ground - no clues of their outer shells - just nothing and no blasting summer sounds - given they were a good source of food for some birds that also throws out the balance. We now have rainbow lorrikeets but there is what I think an overabundance that may deplete food sources for others. It is all a bit sad - the diversity of nature has certainly been altered and I do not think it is a natural selection process but man made. More to post soon - sure tomorrow will bring more intrigue

Phoenix

zosterops
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Peregrine Falcons are actually found worldwide (except New Zealand), including all of Australia incl. Sydney I believe they have nested in some city skyscrapers there. However, some regions may only see them as a rare vagrant due to insufficient local food supplies and lack of nesting opportunities.  

Western Australia has been eradicating Sparrows mainly as a perceived agricultural pest of grain crops. 

I still hear the Cicadas in E Melb, this year seems more than recent years. 

Yes Rainbow Lorikeets are rather aggressive and an overpopulation induced by artifical feeding has been implicated with their taking over nesting holes required by other species and eliminating other birds from flowering trees.  

I view man as part of nature, psychological disassociation from the rest of the system being partially responsible for the issues of our time.  

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is still pertinent. 

j9.labellaluna
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Hi again - good morning to you - from memory cicadas live underground for 7 years? That is only from somewhere in my head - but it has been a very long time in my neighbourhood - some time back - way too much time back - I used to have to be careful stepping out on my balcony because (I guess the floor colour being green) I would invariably find at least one green grocer cicada on the stop going out - I so miss cicadas - having grown up with them - and no more ever see Black Princes or Yellow Mundy. I used to see holes in the ground outside which were where they used to emerge but sadly no more. You can hear them in the National Park if you go driving but I have not heard them in Sydney for a long time - I wonder if that is bird related or pesticide related? 

Meanwhile - Male and Female grey pigeons have decided it is best to find another place - phew - and my white and brown speckled was that there this morning - I would like to know if her beak to beak thing with the female grey was a fight for territory or an odd feeding style - it seemed more aggressive but if it was feeding then she may follow - and problem sorted - I will miss her - she had a great attitude - she would brrrrr at me even though i was furiously waving my feather duster to shoo her away - she looked at me like I was barking - which I may well be! 

Phoenix

j9.labellaluna
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I am so glad to have found this forum and maybe if nothing else the pigeon incident has brought me here - and since I love all wildlife and am fascinated by birds and also the changes in birdlife in my area over recent years - appreciate you getting back to me and want to continue to stay in this chat with everyone. I have not seen any Peregrine Falcons and maybe they stay closer to the coast - as in edge of the ocean cliffs? I have a full on Rainbow Lorikeet happening - and a few Currawongs mainly through spring looking out for baby birds to eat. Cockatoos both Sulphur Crested and occasionally a small flock of black visit - the odd Raven/Crow (speculation about that with a friend) and Koels - love them despite how loud in the night they can be. I miss all the little guys though - the fairy wrens and the wattle birds, wagtails and of course the humble sparrow. Not sure natural selection intervened. People. Go figure. 

Phoenix

zosterops
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Peregrines will likely be only a high flyover at your place (and only if you know what to look for), having a falcon in your backyard would indeed be notable. 

Your 'crows' are most likely Australian Ravens given your location. 

Wattlebirds remain abundant in Melbourne, I'm suprised by their apparent demise at your locale. 

Small native birds can be encouraged by planting dense indigenous understorey vegetation, but they require more or less contiguous corridors of vegetation to establish (but every local plant helps!)  

j9.labellaluna
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Yes - unfortunately what councils do and what your body corporate do can make or break so much without care - I still try to plan somehow for a little house with my own back garden that I can try and set up for my little friends - the ones nearly gone - occasionallly used to see Wattlebirds when rain was about but now only see them at my mums place which is south west. Big shame was there was a big tree outside by block of eight - that unfortunately hadn't been maintained by the corporate - it is debatable if it was too big and its roots were threatening the plumbing under the foundations or if it was a case of it wasn't wanted by some - gave privacy and at night gave delight of flying foxes at some times and the occasional possum that would just sit and look at you - and all sorts of different bird life - and protected from the feral pigeons (I love them too but...) one step can change so much - one little change of that tree going changed so much - and I am not talking about its impact on me - although that was big - but so many creatures no longer shared their lives and were happy. But we just work with it I guess - one day - a little garden for me and maybe a new beginning for a few little species to feel safe. 

Phoenix

zosterops
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may your garden rise from the ashes like a phoenix... :)

Woko
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I like your concept of psychological dissociation from nature,  zosterops. And I agree that it's a critical factor in creating the environmental trouble we're in. And I agree that every local plant helps. 

j9.labellaluna
j9.labellaluna's picture

And may the road rise up to meet you - :) 

Phoenix

jason

It sure is complex the demise of various species.  But its largly seems human based and will be our destinany.  Here in Brissie the police don't like small bushy habitate in parks. They believe badies hang out in them and create trouble.  So they request councils get rid of it leaving only the big trees.  If only we cleared every badie as easily. 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

zosterops
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i am familiar with such sentiments, jason.

there was a proposal to clear all understorey vegetation at a local conservation reserve (including some of the last remaining local remant heathland systems) to ostensibly deter delinquents from congregating there. fortunately it didn't pass. 

Woko
Woko's picture

Interesting that vandalising the understorey is seen as the solution to solving the vandalising problem. (Assuming that the deliquents were involved in vandalism, of course). Ah, authorities. Gotta love 'em, bless their little hearts.

j9.labellaluna
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Councils have a lot to answer for too - clearing bushes to flush out the bad guys - yep - brilliant idea that one. So what - the baddies just go home and behave themselves? 

Phoenix

jason

My personal favourite, rip apart a natural creek system and concrete it. A new sterol flood plain with big pipes for the kiddies to play in.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

j9.labellaluna
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Interesting take on managing a conservation area - thank god that didn't pass - plenty of other stupid ideas no doubt to take place. 

Phoenix

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