Tag Archives: pigeon

Daily Drama 68 – Duck Herding 101

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Daily Drama 68 – Duck Herding 101

I took a little trip to Canada in February to witness my son’s marriage. The big news is this fabulous Guinea Pig coffee cup that his bride bought me!

Right handed view: little piggy swimming inside

Left-handed view: reminds me of furry Stevie Ray (RIP)

We also went to Costco (they have poutine at the snack bar!) where I saw this nice Mason Bee house. My store has them, too, so I got one when I returned from Toronto.

Mason Bee house (accidental photobomb of Dobby)

Mason bees have been using the frames on this window screen. They lay their eggs in there, daubing with mud between, and then they seal it up. when the bees emerge, they come screaming out straight at my shoulder if I’m sitting on the chair right there. It’s annoying for both of us.

Their entry/exit hole is that teeny gray rectangle under where it says $500 on the sign.

They also have a couple mudded-up areas on the siding, above the door and windows. They are all under a wide overhang on the East side of the house.

Mason Bee activity over the front door

Mason Bee activity over the window

Do you think the bees will use the new house? I have it mounted deep under the wide overhang, high on the East side of the house, within walking distance of local shops and schools. I’ll let you know.

“Can you please help me with this jacket?

Meanwhile, we were talking about ducks, right? The afternoon Garden Party is when all the poultry explode from the aviary to eat snacks with Dobby and destroy the back yard. They usually return to roost, but I often have to herd them in to the aviary at dusk. I do a head count to make certain nobody gets locked out. It’s harder than it sounds, and I am always surprised to discover a duck pacing outside the aviary as I lock up. The last time it happened, it was a suspicious drake, notably without his lady friend. A third sweep of the garden revealed Bev, one of my two Muscovy hens, snug on Princess’s tiny nest in Dobby’s pen. One more hiding place to check on this season.

“Have you seen my jacket anywhere?”

We have the opposite problem, too. About a million local mallards now know about the afternoon garden party, and it isn’t uncommon to see thirty of them on the roof, waiting for the Happy Hour snacks to be put out. Lately, to discourage them, I have varied the snack time, or offered nothing at all. Not to be deterred, they all parade into the aviary to help themselves to the layer pellets in the barn. Setting out the Happy Hour treats inside the aviary backfires for the same reason. The herding happens later, and I call this game Brown Duck at Dusk. My own flock is in the aviary/barn, and I could close the gate and call it a day, except for the mallards who can’t find their way back out. They panic when they see me, hitting the top wire, crashing into the fence, pacing at the gate itself, but not at the gate opening. This is a skilled herding: keeping their attention, quelling the panic, easing them toward the gate, using “eye” and body language like a Border Collie. Dobby likes to help, and because they are wary of him, I can use his presence to drive them to the gate. Unless he is sitting at the gate. Oh, Dobby!

Tony, Vinny, & Sal, moving on out

Currently, there is a third herding. Twice a day for fourteen days, eye drops for Sal. Tony, Vinny, & Sal are a tight sub-flock who came in to sanctuary together about five years ago. The aviary is big, but it is set up with a barn and a bully pen that I use to sequester the flock for various reasons. The trick is to herd as few animals as possible (but including Sal) into a “corner” so I can nab him. Again with the Border Collie skills, I move them gradually into the barn or bully pen, without spooking anybody. The herd thins until I have Tony, Vinny and Sal separated out. Moving Sal (who looks remarkably like Vinny) onto the bench (Get out of here, Kitty Hawk!) I can finally administer one eye drop to his left eye. I’m halfway through the treatment, fourteen more round-ups to go.

Get down from there, Conchita!

This is why I try not to move quickly or make the flock scatter. There’s always a smart-aleck who jumps up, down, or performs a risky evasion technique. I wasn’t a witness to Conchita’s Folly (when she broke her leg) but now that she’s healed and rejoined the flock, I have noticed she is always flying up to a high point. Let’s not repeat the broken leg, okay?

“Can you heat this up? Maybe float some lemons in here?”

Dobby’s limping is worse during cold weather. The calcification that occurred during the healing of his fractured vertebra pinches a nerve, causing a sciatica-like pain. I know it well, and he walks like me. He can still hop up to his pool, though it is too cold to swim. He prefers a hot tub this time of year.

Dobby and Samantha

Dobby and Princess

Dobby is eating my bamboo hedge, one bucketful at a time. He also has an Instant Pasture in the back yard. After eight winters of lousy winter front yard grazing, it finally occurred to me that he might “graze” on scattered hay. Sure enough, strewn-about rain-soaked hay has been a big hit. With a bit of luck, some of the seeds will sprout in spring.

Fat Bonnie begs in her day pen

Phoenix bathes in his water dish

 

 

Gentrification of the kitchen continues unabated. Fat Bonnie, who moved into the kitchen four years ago, has finally overcome her terror of wide open spaces. Every night, after Dobby went out to bed in his night pen, The Bartender cleaned his area, and we spent the next hour cajoling the rabbit into running around the corner to play in the area he set up for her.

Phoenix chases Fat Bonnie around the box. She’ll sneak up on him later and chase him back.

Enter Phoenix the pigeon. Now that we wheel his cage in there, too, Fat Bonnie races around to claim the ground plane before he gets out. She lets us pet her, she begs for treats, she hauls out verboten birdseed, rips wallpaper off the wall, exactly like a regular pet rabbit. So, we traded Good Bonnie for Bad Bonnie, but she seems a lot happier.

Fat Bonnie: the new relaxed model

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Daily Drama 67 – Between Disasters

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Daily Drama 67 – Between Disasters

No, I haven’t been slacking off, and I’m not out of material to write about, either. It’s just that I can only find time to write when I’m between disasters, and today qualifies. Right now the only problem is the dead microwave oven. I’m re-discovering the joy of steaming and I will soon perfect re-heating leftovers in the new toaster oven. At $50, it was a bargain compared with replacing the built-in microwave. This is the third microwave I’ve had perish here over seventeen years.

And then there is the IRS audit. We’re all paranoid when it comes to fat envelopes coming from the IRS, aren’t we? Our Tax Compliance Officer reassures me that we are not being audited due to any action, lack of action, or violation. When I submitted our initial application, I used the fabulous new 1023EZ form instead of the old 1023 long form. She said that, unfortunately, there has been “public outcry” regarding the EZ form, and that it isn’t thought to be thorough enough. The IRS is now evaluating a random sample of the organizations who used the EZ form to determine whether the form should be amended. Lucky us. I am honored to have been selected to verify the validity of the EZ form, and hope future users of the abbreviated form will appreciate the week I spent helping them out.

The clogged “so-called drain” is at about the center of this photo, above the bright flare. Typical Pacific NW basement.

Time to get the drainline reamed out again. It’s cheaper to snake out the drain every six months than replace the 50′ of pipe between this basement drain and the outlet by the driveway. There is a discontinuity in the seventy year old sectional concrete pipe, caused by groundwater rearranging the substrate and allowing the sections to relocate. Underneath the basement floor and driveway. Don’t worry, everything stored down there is waterproof or up on little planks. It’s important stuff: all my spare cages, equipment, and supplies. The water has to rise another three inches to begin flooding the downstairs, but don’t worry, everything down there is waterproof or up on little planks, too. And anyway, it has been fixed now, and should make it through the season.

What would I do without Briana? All this stuff would still be neatly stored on shelves, not doing any good for anyone. My mother, Georgia Dee, would be so excited to see what we are doing with her inventory!

In stark contrast to recent disasters, our Jewelry Manufacturing Centre is up and running! New board member Briana Bell has dedicated herself to creating some exciting new items for Georgia Dee’s Gift Shop. We are specializing in earrings this year, by popular demand. You will start seeing new inventory . . . soon! Watch this space!

Stevie Ray, already looking a bit rough, and Squirrel. Stevie Ray was so good lookin’ he didn’t have to have a personality at all. He was cool, you know?

Little old Stevie Ray left the Dude Ranch in mid-October. He had been diagnosed with an abdominal mass in April. At seven years old, surgery was not an option. He rallied and had quite a few good months before he decided to check out and that was that. I miss his silly antics and his good looks, and so does Squirrel, his cage-mate.

Brutus (named before her gender was known, but I don’t judge) and Cookie Monster, beyond, with her four-different-colored feet.

Waiting in the wings are Brutus and Cookie Monster. They were thoughtfully referred to me by Stevie Ray’s veterinarian as potential future companions for crazy Squirrel. They were recently spayed and are in the process of being slowly introduced to Squirrel, after occupying a nearby-but-separate space. Rushing the process rarely works and these spoiled girls are first class prima donnas. Fingers crossed!

Oh, Conchita!

Conchita had her final veterinary checkup (Apparently Dobby had issued instructions regarding how to register a complaint.) and moved out to the infirmary as a first step toward reintroducing her to the flock. Now that Samantha has joined the flock, Conchita has advanced to step two: navigating the Bully Pen (a separate enclosure within the larger aviary). Her broken leg has healed but she’s got an uneven gait. Mostly, she’s got to re-negotiate her position in the flock. Pecking order is no joke.

Samantha at the green bowl, Eartha, Windy, and Frieda this side of the fence, then the little white hussy, Ping, and her useless but devoted boyfriend, Boxcar.

So, who is Samantha? Samantha, otherwise known as Miss New Hampshire, is an older hen whose companions are no longer with her. Lately, a bobcat had been spending his afternoons staring at her through the secure fence that surrounds her coop. She was lonely and so now she’s here. Introducing a new hen can be challenging, but the flock has been very cooperative. She started out in the Bully Pen. Norman the Goose magnanimously accepted her without controversy. It wasn’t long before Eartha befriended her and joined her in the Bully Pen.

Ping in the distance, then sweet Eartha, and Samantha. Adelita is outside the fence.

It wasn’t long before Samantha was accepted by all and she is enjoying her new friends and her new home.

For cryin’ out loud, Windy! That’s pathetic!

The hens molt (get new feathers) this time of year. It isn’t always graceful. Most will lose and re-feather gradually. You’ll see the feathers around the yard, but otherwise it’s no big deal. Once in a while, a hen will have a very rough molt, like Windy. She’s uncomfortable, and she’s going to kill me when she discovers I posted this unflattering photo. The new feathers emerge through the skin encased in a waxy substance (How else would you push a feather through skin without mussing it?) that she’ll pick off as she fluffs up the feathers. The intact new feather shafts look like little toothpicks on her neck.

Turkey and a few friends. They have figured out that my flock comes out for a catered garden party every afternoon.

Remember Turkey the duckling who grew up in my bathtub and was released? Here she is! She’s the female with a mostly orange bill, more slender than the others. I’m serious: she’s in that crowd somewhere.

Not Cinderella’s coach.

Lord Dobbington, as he was referred to recently, always steals the show. The weather turned cold, so I jokingly got out his old halloween pumpkin costume. He seemed glad to see it again, so I found this rubber ducky rain slicker on sale, free shipping. He would wear hats and clothes when he was a baby, but refused during his haughty teen years. Now it seems he has discovered the practical side to jackets. Hats, not so much.

Rubber ducky raincoat on capybara.

Dobby is kind of a goofball, possibly a spoiled one. Grazing time is short, and pickin’s are slim, so he often has Uber deliver a bucket of bamboo to the kitchen. “Someone” has knocked over this bucket and spread out the bamboo for inspection. “Someone” is also demonstrating that his milk bowl is empty.

Foot-in-bowl disease is rampant at the Funny Farm.

October’s most time-consuming effort was the publishing of Dobby’s book. Rewards were autographed and shipped out to the Kickstarter backers (Thanks, again, everyone!)

“I could eat that!”

Prince Dobalob’s book is available online as a print-on-demand paperback, so any “not available” baloney you may see on Amazon is simply not true. If you have trouble buying your copy, please contact me here and I’ll try to figure out what’s up. I’m also collecting links to international sources, so let me know if you find it abroad, especially in Asia. The eBook will be available as an ePub edition soon, and I’ll update this post with a link here when it’s up and running. Sorry, no Kindle version: it doesn’t like graphics and it loads up sorta goofy. We haven’t given up on Kindle, but don’t hold your breath.

Gotta get this published before I am interrupted by any more baby pigeons coming in! It’s always something!

Daily Drama 36

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Daily Drama 36

Can you hear my printer in the background? That’s the sound of my first Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) application, popping out, page by page, ready for signature. Incorporating as a Non-Profit Organization has been an adventure, and mostly a boring one. But I want to keep doing what I am doing, and this is the best way to do it. That’s enough of that. Let’s look at the fun stuff.

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“There’s a tiny snake eating my face off!”

Let’s be honest. Most of you are here to see silly pictures of Dobby. No doubt about it, he is a major force around here. Long before Dobby, though, I was taking in castoff pets. I have been the “Go-To Girl” for transitional pets for over 40 years. Fortunately, I know how to say “No, thank you!” and I re-home many little critters that come my way. I still seem to end up with a lot of drifters, though.

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“I disapprove of this morning’s offerings.”

Because Dobby is such a charming animal, and SO well behaved, he has brought a lot of attention to my little pet collection. Initially, I thought to exclude him from the “umbrella” of my non-profit organization. In fact, every single donation that has come in can be traced to him. I grit my teeth and repeat my mantra every time I clean up a masterpiece in the kitchen. “Thank you, oh Evil One.” Yes, here is Mr. Charm himself, sharing bird seed with Penguin the hen. He does love his hens.

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Lula is a couple years younger than Miss Penguin, but she has been having “spells” off and on since early last summer. She was in The Infirmary for a couple months, but a daily dose of Metacam has her out cavorting with the flock again. She’ll be on drugs for whatever her forever is.

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Lula, foreground; the ubiquitous Carmen Miranda, background.

Norman is in Full Honk again, spring being what it is. I’m seeing pairs of birds, birds with beaks full o’ straw, because we’re only a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. I know that isn’t officially the first day of spring, but around here, things start hopping coincidentally with the Wearing of the Green.

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Norman keeps his eye on that pair of mallards on the edge of the pool. “Back off! HONK!”

When I agreed to take in a flock of doves, I knew that population control would be important. I swear I just collected eggs two days ago. No wonder there were more than 20 doves at the time I received them!

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Six dove eggs and two pigeon.

Here’s little Carmen Miranda, again. She’s one of those sticky birds who is always underfoot. Seriously, I can’t take a step without checking where she is. She is convinced she is more special than the others: first one out of the aviary, last one to return in the evening.

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Jello, the busybody hen, and Carmen Miranda. Princess Carmen is enjoying the dregs of Dobby’s warm bath water.

The next photo is actually the before picture, with Prince Dobalob in his hot tub. Carmen is lurking in the background, waiting for Dobby to wander away.

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The Bartender has upgraded his orange peeling technique so they look nicer in the photos.

I know you want to see more Dobby photos, so he’s going to show you a couple of his toys.

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Dobby’s morrillo.

Dobby is quite territorial, so he marks everything, including me. He marks with urine wherever he walks. He poops strategically, surprisingly most ends up in his pen, the ultimate territory. But, of course, also the kitchen. But mostly he marks with his morillo, the hairless waxy area on the top of his snout nose.

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Dobby’s Big Apple, hanging on the apple tree, of course.

He especially likes this new one, a deflated punching bag. If you’ve never shopped at Goodwill Outlet, I highly recommend it. Put on some old clothes, grab a pair of vinyl disposable gloves, borrow somebody else’s car, and see how much (I’m talking VOLUME here, like cubic yards . . . ) crapola you can get for 20 bucks. It is sold by weight.

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My new punching bag is SWELL!

The grass is starting to grow, and every year I try to get my mudhole of a back yard to look like my front yard. Until then, Dobby and I spend a lot of time in the front. We’re expecting a major deluge this weekend, so I will be hiding out in that little greenhouse back there. And Dobby will be grazing, rain or shine.

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Dobby’s Front Yard

 

Daily Drama 30

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Daily Drama 30

I was away for a couple days, and when I returned, Dobby kept his eye on me. He can see me in the living room from this vantage point.

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Note the resident mallards.

Dobby was extra naughty to teach me a lesson.

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Boom! Crash! Garbage cans make a big noise!

So I rewarded him with a nice hot soaking tub. Also known as a wading pool.

In other news, a new Muscovy Maiden has officially joined the flock just a short ten days after her arrival and quarantine here. In comparison with the bullies I picked up from Pasado’s Safe Haven who took about five months to integrate, this is a stunning achievement. In fact, none of the mallard-derived domestic drakes (and including my gay Muscovy Drake, Romeo) are interested in a Muscovy hen, so she has been an uncomplicated addition. Plus, she easily passed muster with Winky, my Muscovy hen, who doesn’t seem to know she’s a duck, so no contest there.

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Carmen Miranda, crest up

Carmen Miranda, the new Muscovy hen, earned her name by flashing her crest readily and constantly, as if forming a question mark over her head at each new discovery. She is still young, a spring bird transitioning through her first year. She is very poised, but aggressive when appropriate. She has been very excited about joining this flock and convinced me that she could hold her own among them. She has a little story, and a duck friend and five hens who may join her here, sooner or later. I stopped asking questions when the words “stem cell” came up and seemed to hang in the air. At that point, I just asked what I can do to help.

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Romeo, front center, Carmen’s little white head behind pool

She must have been eyeing the pool from her pen, because she went directly to it and now spends a lot of time near the steps.

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Run! Godzilla is coming!

When Carmen emerged from her isolation pen, all the drakes charged in there to check out her food and small wading pool. I almost got a photo of them all milling around in there, but suddenly they came out almost as fast as they had gone in.

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“Mine”

Dobby had to check it out first, apparently.

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Norman the goose keeps an eye on little Carmen, center right of photo. Note the blurry crow landing to her right!

Carmen’s hen friends should pose no problems here, but I am concerned about the duck. My drakes will no doubt find a white Peking duck to be the most exciting thing at the farm since Cleopatra, my last remaining female Rouen. I rehomed her to bring peace to the farmyard. Carmen’s friend might as well be named Marilyn Monroe for all the excitement she will cause around her, yet I am reluctant to separate her from her friends. Carmen is already here (she had to have her wings clipped) and she suffered no separation anxiety, but I know not where poor Marilyn will end up. I can keep her here, in her own pen, indefinitely, but it is not a good long-term solution. Please let me know if you hear of a suitable home for her. And stay tuned for The Carmen Story, which will be written when it is time.

Foreground, LtoR: Vinny, Sal, Fabio, Emilio, Tony, Norman the goose, Shamrock, Boxcar, Cubicle the goose, & Boondock. Back behind the fence, LtoR: Carmen, Winky, & Romeo

The flock was pretty excited about getting into the yard, again. They were more excited about their freedom than the new duck, so it was a good time to let her out.

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The Lurker

Dobby just had to be in charge, though.

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Run! Godzilla is coming!

He kept rounding them up and putting them away, like a Border Collie being paid by the piece.

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The following day, Dobby is still watching me like a hawk.

Now that we are past the solstice, our early winter has backed off enough for fall weather to try again. With milder temperatures, dry ground, and even some sunny breakthroughs I was finally able to clean out the dovecote. I wish I had been able to do it earlier, before my December birthday, because my back has aged another year with the rest of me, and hauling out over 100 gallons of sodden wood chips set me back a bit. Fortunately, the Funny Farm has a bartender on staff. This no joking matter.

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Indian Ringneck Doves

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The hardest part is keeping them from breeding.

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They are so friendly, and the cooing is soothing.

I counted 21 in there but it’s not easy to feel confident about the count. There’s a pigeon in there, too.

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Dobby wanted to come in as much as I wanted to keep him OUT. That white dove is The Pirate’s mom.

Dobby was perturbed by my lingering in the dove area. He watched and “helped” for a long while, but I was later informed that he managed to register *3* complaints in the kitchen while I was occupied with Not For Dobby activities. Spending the day outdoors, but not with The Prince, is NOT APPROVED.

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“Sit? That’s so lame. How about this?”

I told him to sit for this photo, but he struck this pose instead. He stood there like this for quite a while.

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Harness schmarness

No day is complete without a trip to the front yard to eat corn, grass, and bamboo. As you can see, he suffered a terrible mishap out there: his harness is wonky. It was so dark by the time we got out there I didn’t manage to get his harness on correctly. He doesn’t seem to mind as much about that any more.

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Whiskey Sour, Specialty of the House

I wasn’t joking.

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The End

Daily Drama 6

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Here’s little Carl, showing everyone that his eye doesn’t look too bad. He gets eyedrops twice a day, while the Dudes line up at the food bowls waiting for the imminent treats.

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Carl Sagan’s left eye is still just a bit cloudy

Dobby, meanwhile, is miffed. We were out late last night and his bedtime milk was not on time. Plus, SOMEONE is at the washer, cleaning his blankets, which always meets with disapproval. And the dreaded Penguin blanket is on his bed. He hated it from the beginning, but I assumed it had picked up some Eau de Goodwill Outlet. It has been marked and then washed and he still hates it.

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“Don’t touch my blankets!”

Outside, Quasimodo, the Red Slider, is enjoying the morning sun. You can clearly see the calcium growth on his right cheek in this photo.

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“Blink”

Elsewhere, Cor-Ten, the new pigeon is getting along just fine with the doves. He’s busy checking out the perches, food, and water, and so far nobody id bothering him or vice-versa. He’s closer in size to the doves than other pigeons I have had, so that helps a lot.

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Kitty Hawk

The cats look pretty useless, but their work is mostly graveyard shift. I initiated the morning nose-bump with Grover this morning, and he didn’t flinch.

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Grover

The huge crashing sound this morning was Dobby. This is where we store his soiled blankets until they reach the top of our laundry queue. We have 2-3 loads a day and his bedding isn’t always a top priority. The kitchen rugs and blankets are washed daily, though.

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“Where are my blankets?”

Finally, here is Dobby in bed, sulking. I had just spread out his blankets, but he was in there before I had finished, wadding up the penguin blanket and pushing it aside. You can see it in the back.

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“Take THAT, nasty old penguin blanket!”