As a little background to anyone new to Sammy, he is a hand reared wood pigeon that we took in, badly injured, as a small squab. As a hand reared wild bird, with zero inclination towards doing anything for himself now that he has me waiting wing and foot on him, he will remain with us for the rest of his life. He is now approximately eight months old and doesn't seem to want to stop growing... There is no way that we could cage a bird like Sammy (nor would we want to) so he lives free range in the upstairs of our house. Downstairs is off limits, since our two cats are lethal predators (when they aren't lying in embarrassing positions in the sun).
The very large and intimidating bird (not to scale!) represented to the left is the man himself. He was quite a stubborn character in babyhood and that isn't changing any time soon. One of his latest habits is waking us up at about 5AM by picking up his little plastic pot, which I fill with corn and peas during the day to supplement his diet of seeds, and banging it noisily on the windowsill to insist that I refill it at the crack of dawn. Another fine habit of his is waking himself and us up at around the same time with some VERY LOUD deep coo-coo-coo-hoo-ing. You know when you hear a wood pigeon outdoors and it sounds soft and beautiful? That's because it's FAR AWAY. Up close it's as grating and startling as a klaxon. Never-the-less, coming from the bird you love it has it's charms.
Then there's the swooping. We're not sure what he's trying to communicate with the swooping, but we're guessing that he's practising his territorial...urrrm... assault behaviour? The swoop tactics mean that he criss-crosses the room in quick succession, hovering an inch above our noses as we lie in bed (trying to sleep no doubt), before he perches and then has another go. That, just like the klaxon-hoot, doesn't bother us all that much. I suppose after eight months of living with someone, pigeon or otherwise, you adapt. He's a very charming individual. Some of his poses are downright regal. Then there's the puffed up baby faced look he can give us sometimes, which gains him forgiveness for a multitude of pigeon offenses.
My husband has a 'I'll get your tail feathers game' with Sammy, which is what I imagine to be the closet you can get to play-wrestling between a man and a bird. I'm sure that Sammy sees Mark as his rival in the world he inhabits, which has got to be doing him some good. Life gets boring without a nemesis. As for me, I'm the all-round pigeon tender, with glamorous jobs like clipping his nails, showering him and changing his under-perch newspaper. He oversees my work with a critical, beady eye.
After I had dismantled my ornamental Easter Tree that had given us so much fun throughout chocolate egg season, one of the children suggested that I give the small branches to Sammy. 'Great idea' I thought, and proceeded to tie the branches to his perch so that he could use it to land in, nest in or whatever took his fancy. The next few days were very stressful for Sammy, who went to live almost entirely on top of our wardrobe, looking sadly down towards his perch and venturing for food only when he had to. We have discovered that there is no room for trees in the world of a domestic wood pigeon. A bird so terrified of greenery that he avoids getting too close to the potted plants I have about the place to simulate a natural environment for him. 'I'll have none of that nature' he seems to say, 'and while you're at it, turn the radiator up another notch'. After removing the branches from his perch he went on to it and marched around it triumphantly, rejoicing in it's well sanded wood and perfect 90 degree angles. What a disgrace to birdies he is.