Mystery Solved

Remember how we weren’t sure whether our King pigeon Yuzu was male or female, but were certain that Quince was a boy? (Even our expert pigeon veterinarian said so.) Well, look what our boy Quince went and did . . .

And this is how she looked at me when I asked to see her new creation. Would you want to reach under a bird who looked at you like this? She puffed herself up to twice her normal size and was ready to launch an all-out attack. I decided not to peek until she got out of the nest to get something to eat.

The second egg arrived 48 hours later. Pigeons almost always lay two.

Yuzu, who is undoubtedly a boy (really, for sure) has been a good helper, bringing straw for the nest and regularly taking turns sitting on the eggs. Sometimes he gets into the bowl and shoves Quince (now affectionately called Quincie) right out of it, so she can get a break.

But here’s the hard part. After a couple of days, we had to take away the fertile eggs and replace them with wooden ones. They’re lovely little replicas, and the pigeons accept them, but I felt guilty making the switch. They continue to sit so earnestly and it breaks my heart to know what they don’t: there are no baby pigeons in there. (I keep thinking of the proverbial wooden nickles.) After sitting for two weeks or so, they will get the message and abandon the fakes. Then I’ll collect them and we’ll start all over again.

Can you imagine how fast our aviary would fill up with pigeons if we let these two have babies? Yuzu and Quince are rescue birds — birds that we wanted simply to save, for their own sakes, not to breed or use in any way. There are lots of wonderful King pigeons that need good homes and if we want more, we will adopt.

Here’s proud papa Yuzu, all grown up at five-months old, but having kind of a bad hair day because of a recent molt . . .

I love their pink feet and little white pants . . .

Today, I am appreciating how beautiful and healthy my two birds are and how lucky we all are to have found each other.

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  • Reply Dawn July 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Isn’t it such an awesome feeling to see the first eggs?! Since I don’t have pairs of birds, my females lay unfertilized eggs so I just let them keep the eggs awhile before taking them away. I’d like to say with time and more eggs you’ll feel less guilty about taking them, but I still don’t after over 10 years!

    • Reply Shae July 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Yes, it was very exciting to see them figuring out, for the first time, how to relate to the eggs and each other. It took about three weeks for them to lose interest in the fakes, and then of course they immediately started working on new eggs! Like you, I have a feeling it will always be difficult to take away their hard work.

  • Reply meg July 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Shae- they are so beautiful! I had no idea their feet were so pink! Bird feet are so freaky– I am mesmerized by the chicken feet too. How are the pigeons with being handled?

    • Reply Shae July 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Meg, chicken feet are crazy! You can see that they came straight from the dinosaurs. Yuzu has funny little feet. Unlike other pigeons I’ve known, he uses them to grip hard, like a small bird would. He can fly to the mesh of the cage and hang onto it, flapping. Most King pigeons are way too fat and ungainly to manage that. They’re not great about being handled when they are in their aviary and feeling territorial, but outside of their home space they are much more docile. Yuzu, in particular, is getting used to me in a way that feels great. Quincie is kind of a big spoiled girl. Unfortunately, she likes to bite. We’re working on that.

  • Reply Aimee July 14, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Quincie is a girl! I’m glad the mystery has officially been solved. She and Yuzu are growing up to be very handsome birds indeed, and it’s so sweet that Yuzu is assisting with the nesting and care for the eggs. It would break my heart too to have to remove her eggs and replace them with fakes, but what else can you do?

    You are absolutely right – there are so many in need of rescue, homes, etc…there is nothing whatsoever that makes sense about allowing them to keep the eggs and have more pigeons when you’re not set up for that and when there are already not enough homes for King pigeons as it is. I’m sure it will be tough to keep on removing the eggs, but it really is for “the greater good.”

    I’m just glad Quincie and Yuzu are healthy, safe, and loved!

    • Reply Shae July 21, 2011 at 8:14 am

      Yes, Quincie is a girl. I now understand some of my reluctance to name her “Quincy.” For some reason, it just didn’t fit. I appreciate your awareness of the needs of rescue animals, Aimee. I know it’s an important subject for you, too!

  • Reply Julia July 15, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    What beautiful pictures, Shae. Your love for them is evident in them. And those eggs! So perfect.

    • Reply Shae July 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

      Thanks, Jules. I do love them to pieces. Didn’t realize til I put up the post that the last two photos look like a two-headed pigeon on one fat body!

  • Reply Molly July 20, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Wow! Those ARE some beautiful birds. You’re very lucky to have such a handsome pair :)

  • Reply Shae July 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Thank you, Molly! We are all very lucky here. :-)

  • Reply Yuzu Curd | grow it cook it can it January 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    […] citrus fruit (I can’t get enough), and I love saying the name- yuzu. Yuzu.  yuzuuuuuu.  Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven has a pet pigeon named yuzu, and now when I think about yuzu, I also think about pretty white birds.  Positive all […]

  • Reply Gem & Haiku: Love at Last? « Hitchhiking to Heaven June 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    […] we have another little family here at home. Of course, I am replacing their eggs with wooden ones, because four pigeons is plenty for us. Plus, if we wanted more pigeons there are […]

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