Our chicken coop is a necessary evil of sorts. We would rather allow the chickens to roam the yard freely, but we quickly discovered that was a death sentence for the tasty birds. So for a number of years we have kept them contained in a clean, spacious enclosure, free from the threat of owls, eagles, bob cats, coyotes, fox or numerous other dangers. In the summer they get a fan, in the winter they have heat and, I have to say, overall they appear pretty content. The coop has a totally enclosed inner area that contains the roosting boxes and a spacious outside area that is accessed through a windproof tunnel. The interesting thing about the chicken coop is the number of visitors it receives besides the resident hens. It is really amazing to see a full grown cottontail move back and forth through the chicken wire as if it isn't even there. The baby chukars often find their way in, although they seem to have a harder time getting back out, and we often have to rescue them at the end of the day. The pigeons will not go through the chicken wire. They just won't. They will, however, squeeze their way under the plywood door to the interior of the coop on occasion.
I tell you all this so you can picture the situation of Pete.
About a week ago Ken and I were in the llama corral when Ken pointed to a pigeon on the ground nearby. "I don't think he can fly." said Ken. I walked closer to the healthy looking bird only to have him move slightly away where he stopped again. After several times of performing this dance step I declared Ken's statement to be accurate. Throughout the day we watched the bird as he hung around the corral, carefully moving aside when the llamas got too close. He was easy to identify as he has a different coloration than most of the other pigeons. The bird books call it a "checkered" pattern. That evening we decided we needed to do something. We knew he would not survive a night on the ground and there was another, more insidious danger. One somewhat unique feature of pigeons is the amount of water they need to survive. They are heavy drinkers and we knew this guy had no place he could go to get the needed liquid. He didn't look sick so we decided to see if we could put him inside the chicken coop for the night. It really wasn't too hard to pick him up, although he made it clear he wasn't thrilled about the process, and I placed him inside with the bigger birds. We were able to put an extra water container on the ground just in case he couldn't figure out the system and we knew he could always slip under the door if it was too unbearable for him.
The next morning I looked in the coop and there lined up on the roost were three hens and Pete the pigeon. He tolerated us adding feed and water and later that morning we saw him walk out of the pen like it was the easiest thing in the world. As I got close to him he sort of fluttered away and I thought "Hmmm, I guess he's cured!" The next morning I went to feed the chickens and what did I see? Three hens and Pete on the roost. He had let himself in the night before. As he has done every night since. He comes out and walks around all day and then tucks himself in at night. He is welcome to stay as long as he wants. I know he doesn't lay eggs but he makes up for it in the smiles he brings each morning!