Originally Posted by caesargirl
Hopefully nobody minds if I jump in here... @cavemanrich
I'm truly sorry for your loss.
I am hoping you might know/help:I have two pigeons that I hatched and hand fed. Their parents were ferals, These two are "house pets". You talk of setting your birds. I assume this means they "set" home on their internal GPS map... How long does this process take? I would love to take mine outside, but, I am fearful of them leaving. (Especially since Maine is jumping into its chilly season!) I'm also using them to help foster a squab that I recently acquired. (Maybe a roller) Learning to peck seed and drink and such.
Anyway, setting my birds, do you have a process, or is it simply time and breed?
Home setting means making them able and willing to return to your loft. You say that yours are inside your home as house pets. That makes it slightly trickier to home set. Here is why. A pigeon wants to return to its home. A portable cage taken outside does not look like home to pigeon. Your pigeon may hesitate to enter back into cage after flying around outside. He may even land on top and stare at you, but wont necessarily enter. May be confused and try to find home but wont know how. More ideal loft has access to the outdoors. Pigeons can see the outdoor ambiance and see where their home entrance is at. At first they may only wander off just a short distance, and they see how and where to return. At the bottom is a pix of a small aviary with access to garage loft.
There are a few tricks to use to get your pigeons to return.
If your pigeons are a mated pair, or even just chummy friends of same gender, they will not want to leave their partner. Only release one at a time. Keep the other inside loft, or within sight but not able to fly away . Partner will return and home setting started . Do this a few times, and then switch roles, releasing other pigeon while containing the first. Do this a few times. Once they know where and how to return, you can try releasing them both. Chances are they will both return.
Second trick is to release them hungry. In my case this was difficult because I always had food inside loft for them to eat free choice. But it is an option to feed your pigeons and remove food until next day feeding. If they are used to eating at a certain time, they will be hungry just before that time arrives. Releasing them hungry will direct them straight home for dinner.
Third way is to try releasing them when they have young ones. Most ideal time (in my opinion) would be when baby pigeons (there are usually 2 per cycle) are about 2 week old. Both parent are still feeding junior. Release only one at a time and start with the male. Once he is home set, after a few times, then you can switch to the female. At week 3 the female is already looking to lay another batch of eggs, so she is very likely to return. Reason to start at 2 weeks is this. Should your pigeon not return, then the other single parent is able to raise and feed the baby (babies) by him/her self. I have had this situation of single parent raising. Also have had non family member help feed orphaned as well.
Fourth method applies to new born pigeons. At about 1 month old, your babies are able to fly a little. Have them go out with a parent. They will not try to split at this time because they are still being fed some by the male parent. They are not strong fliers ether at this age. Mama parent usually stops her feeding at about day 20, and is concentrated on her new batch of eggs (or soon to be). The papa pigeon will be teaching junior where to enter the loft. It is great to watch this father child interaction.
It is not very well visible but at the lower right hand corner is the access opening into the loft inside garage. After flying around, my pigeons would return into this aviary, and then enter their loft thru that opening.. Aviary is a repurposed large dog cage. It is mounted at roof level.