The Sophie The Pigeon Harness (DIY Pigeon Flight Harness)

As some of you might have seen on our website or YouTube channel (or not), we have a rescue pigeon called Sophie, we needed a decent ‘system’ to take Sophie outside safely without her risking getting caught by predatory birds, dogs etc.

There are several solutions like pigeon pants, parrot harnesses etc etc, but I personally didn’t find any of the available solutions suitable, comfortable and/or safe enough for Sophie.

Therefore I decided to develop/design a Pigeon Flight Harness myself, which does enable Sophie to tag along with us on trips and does enable her to have enough exercise and sunlight outside safely. My DIY Pigeon Harness system is fairly simple and cheap to make. Please read the description and additional information bellow for more information ๐Ÿ™‚

NOTE: I have also made a very detailed YouTube Tutorial Video about making the Sophie The Pigeon Harness.

Download: 3.6MB (PDF)

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Information

Like mentioned in the short description (above), we needed a safe, reliable, comfortable and simple to make flight and/or travel harness for our Office Pigeon Sophie The Pigeon.

TIP: You can find Sophie The Pigeon on her own website/blog and on her own social media channels here:
Her own YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@SophieThePigeon
X (Formerly Twitter):
ย https://www.twitter.com/PigeonSophieXNL
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/PigeonSophieXNL
TikTok:
https://www.tiktok.com/@PigeonSophieXNL
Her own website/blog:
https://sophie.teamxnl.com
Sophie’s Own Project Page about her harness: https://sophie.teamxnl.com/product/sophie-the-pigeon-harness-a-diy-pigeon-harness/

If you don’t want to read the information bellow (TL-DR), then you can also just start watching the video itself directly ๐Ÿ™‚
Video Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F7eG-7TwR8

Pigeon Pants/Diapers and Buying Pre-made Sophie The Pigeon Harnesses
In the additional information tab you can find some additional information regarding pigeon pants/diapers (for indoor use), and I will also list stores there in the future which are selling pre made Sophie The Pigeon Harnesses.

Main Information
Before I even get started, please let me point out that there are PLENTY of reasons why some (rescue) pigeons are not suited (anymore) to be released ‘into the wild’, or to be ‘free-flighted’ outside. There are lots of pages online about this topic, and I just want to point out that this isn’t what this harness, this page, the PDF tutorial or the video is about.

Sophie is one of ‘those pigeons’ which isn’t suitable for free-flight outdoors. Long story short: She came from a place where she was heavily neglected and she needed a lot care and love to recover. This took quite some time, and during this period she has (on her own accord) bonded with one of us. Aside from this, she still needs ‘special care’ from time to time, and she unfortunately doesn’t see any danger in things like traffic, dogs etc when she is outside. In the beginning we even had to stop her from trying to ‘attack’ a large German Shepard because she “thought she could” ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿฝโ€โ™€๏ธ. There are more reasons why a pigeon like Sophie (and many other rescue or even pet birds) should not be free-flying outdoors, but that’s not the point of this project. With this project, the video and the PDF I’m actually hoping to help others whom have rescue(d) pigeon(s) to allow their pigeons to get proper (and safe) outdoor time.

Going outside and flying is actually very beneficial (and even important) for the health of the pigeon (both physically as mentally).

The reason why I decided to ‘start from scratch’ to make a harness system for pigeons is that most other solutions available where: not suited for outdoor use, not suitable for serious (outdoor) flight exercise, not safe enough, just ‘repurposed’ parrot products, not comfortable for a pigeon etc etc. The list goes on.

I wanted to design a system which would be cheap, simple, easy to make, safe, comfortable, easy to use, reliable etc, and that is exactly what I have finally achieved (in my personal opinion of course) after working on this project for literally 465 days (which does include testing, re-designing, making the video, writing the PDF, more testing, re-adapting etc etc).

All you basically need to make your own Sophie The Pigeon Harness is a bra and a buckle clip (and then of course a leash with soft brake, which is also explained in detail in both the video and PDF).

The entire Sophie The Pigeon Harness (except the buckle clip of course) can be made from bra straps and components repurposed from the bra (including the ring which connects the shoulder straps to the bra, and the adjustment slider).

The best thing about The Sophie The Pigeon Harness is that it will be made as custom fit for your pigeon.

Why I decided to use Bras to make the Sophie The Pigeon Harnesses
The Sophie The Pigeon Harness is made from bras for various reasons, some of these reasons are:
– They are easy (and cheap if using a thrift store) to obtain
– They contain 95% of all the components needed to make the harness (the straps, the leash connection ring and the adjustment slider)
– The shoulder straps (of which the harness is made) often looks quite pretty, is a BIT elastic, and often have a ‘soft inside’ meaning they are comfortable

The elasticity of the harness itself ensures that it will ‘give in’ just a little bit when Sophie would for example suddenly reach the end of the line (‘lowering the blow’), but they do not have enough elasticity to actually be able to come off suddenly. And thus they will add another ‘buffer’ to the entire leash system (together with the soft brake).

WARNING:
The Sophie The Pigeon Harness, soft brake and leash system are NOT suitable for ‘destructive birds’ (aka chewing birds) like parrots and such! There are already more than enough commercial solutions available for parrots and such, so that doesn’t matter anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also STRONGLY recommend to read all the safety tips and warnings in the PDF, and to watch all the (other) additional safety tips in the tutorial video about making the harness! Just putting on a harness on your pigeon and going outside completely unprepared and/or untrained is NOT something you should (ever) do! It is very important that you are also aware of the potential dangers to take your pigeon outside (either with or without my ‘harness system’).

NON-ELASTIC LEASH WARNING:
Although it is also already clearly explained in both the PDF and the video tutorial of the Sophie The Pigeon Harness, I do want to stress it yet again here: PLEASE DO NOT USE those ‘cute‘ or ‘pre made pigeon leashes‘ which are often sold online! Those are often non elastic and could cause serious injuries to your pigeon! I know that there are stores and owners who swear by them, but you really can’t convince me otherwise to be honest! I (unfortunately) know two people personally who have had an accident with those leashes! One of the two pigeons it happened to was ‘fairly okay’ after a week of ‘taking rest’ and “only” seemed to be bruised. The other one however did needed (immediate) intervention of a vet!ย  In both cases the pigeon ‘never flew away like that before‘ and (by total coincidence) both just got spooked by a dog which passed the pigeon and it’s caregiver. They suddenly tried to fly away and because the leash wasn’t elastic at all it caused a very violent and abrupt stop mid-flight for the pigeon(s).

Even if you are not planning to use a long retractable leash (like we do with Sophie so that she can fly large(r) areas like a park for example), PLEASE for the love of your pigeon! DO use the ‘soft brake system/leash’ like I’m explaining in both the PDF and video tutorial!

Your pigeon will then still not be able to get to far away from you, but the gradual increase in resistance of the ‘soft brake’ will prevent your pigeon to some to an abrupt stop mid-flight, and thus minimizing the risk of potentially injuring your pigeon due to the abrupt stop.

And yes! I have also seen those (in my opinion: stupid) claims of owners like “Oh but after a few attempts of flying to far, my pigeon has now learned the length of the leash. That doesn’t matter… period! It is still not safe! If your pigeon get startled and suddenly tries to fly off into safety, it might (will often) forget this. This is also exactly what happened to the two people and their pigeons I spoke of above.

And then there is my personal view on this: Would you let your kids fall down the stairs a few times until they remember it hurts and thus they should not ‘tumble down that big hole’ (while hoping they would not get seriously hurt or worse)? NO of course not, you would install a stair gate before something like that happens. So why would you basically do the same to your pigeon then ๐Ÿ˜‰ ? Just go for the appropriate and safe route, and use a soft brake at all times, and thus also when you are not using a retractable leash and your pigeon is just sitting on your shoulder during a nice summer walk.

DISCLAIMER:
It should already be quite obvious, but using my design, making my design etc is 100% at your own risk, and you will also accept all responsibility for doing so! Simply because I obviously can’t guarantee the quality of the materials you’ve used, your sewing skills, your location’s safety (predators etc), your bird’s behavior etc etc.

IMPORTANT TIP: If you're planning to redistribute this project/product or if you are planning to use it for any commercial purpose (if the license permits these uses of course), then it is highly recommended that you 'copy-paste' this License and store it along with your download(s) for future reference.

License

You are allowed to ‘take my design’, make harnesses of it and sell them on your own website and/or store, however the ‘rules to do so’ can be found in detail in the PDF which you can download above.

A short summary about ‘the rules’ to sell my design of the Sophie The Pigeon Harness:
– You are required to either call the product ‘Sophie The Pigeon Harness’ or to clearly and visibly state that it is either based on or inspired on the Sophie The Pigeon Harness.
– You will link (back) to either the tutorial video on YouTube, or you will link to this page on your product page(s).

Why these ‘rules’?
Simply for the same reason I decided to make this a ‘fully open-source project‘ and share it for FREE after working 465 days on it ๐Ÿ˜‰ :
– I want everyone to be able to make one themselves to help their rescue pigeons getting exercise and outdoor time.
– I don’t want anyone to start claiming they made/designed it and then demand other stores to ‘take down the design’ for example
– If others have the option to buy it and decide to do so (instead of making it themselves) then that is perfectly fine (I would even encourage it, so that others who can’t sew, can still use the Sophie The Pigeon Harness). But I also want to ensure that everyone also has the option/choice to make it themselves instead of buying it if they would want to. And if someone would just start making them, and then sell them without honestly telling they made it based on a FREE design, then I would consider this to be very unfair to be honest.

So I’m basically applying the same rules as for a lot of ‘open-source software projects’: You can redistribute your own modified (or made in this case) version, but you are required to also provide the (original) source-code of it.

This is just a short ‘website friendly’ description of the ‘license rules’, but If you are considering to sell finished Sophie The Pigeon Harnesses, then I would strongly recommend you to read the information in the PDF regarding selling the harnesses ๐Ÿ™‚ .

NOTE
In the PDF I also ‘warn’ that I will actually make a ‘wall of shame page’ for those who are trying to exploit buyers without actually honestly telling/displaying that the same design can be made by themselves with my free tutorial. And please don’t come with stuff like “Yeah but I just came up with this idea myself” or “I already had this idea (on my page/channel)”. Trust me, I will (obviously) recognize my design on which I have worked over 465 days, and I’ve also done more than ‘just a bit of research’ before I put all that time in designing it and making the video and PDF to know that there isn’t a design similar like this with the same benefits and functionality for pigeons.
Otherwise those 465 days working on it would have obviously been nothing but a waste of time ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

Instructions

Detailed instructions to make the Sophie The Pigeon Harness can be found in the downloadable PDF or by watching the YouTube video here

Features

This is a simple summary of what the Sophie The Pigeon Harness will have to offer for your pigeon (if made properly and the instructions are followed correctly that is of course ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

– It will enable your pigeon to go outside with you safely without worrying about your pigeon getting lost, attacked by predators or other animals
– It will enable your pigeon to ‘explore the world’ together with you (socializing is very important for pigeons, especially if you only have one which is bonded to you).
– It will enable your pigeon to fly outdoors and get proper exercise which is very important and beneficial for its overall fitness and health (considering that you are using a long leash of course)
– It will enable your pigeon to for example naturally produce vitamin D (from direct sunlight), which is important for proper calcium absorption.

And I could go on much longer, some of those (other) topics are discussed either in the PDF or video, others are (or should be) just common sense ๐Ÿ™‚

If someone would ask me what my #1 reason would be to start using a harness with your pigeon (instead of keeping it indoors 24/7) would be: Your pigeon is a bird, and birds are meant to fly ๐Ÿ™‚ .

So you are against people who are keeping their (rescue) pigeon(s) indoors 24/7??
No, not per-say. Obviously there can be various reasons why a certain pigeon can’t go outside. It can be due to its health, because the area where the caregiver and the pigeon live isn’t safe enough (weather conditions, predators etc) or any other (valid) reason. But in my personal opinion, you should let your (rescue) pigeon enjoy nature (safely) from time to time, as a bird is meant to ๐Ÿ™‚

The Sophie The Pigeon Harness does not equal god-mode for your pigeon
Basically exactly what the ‘title of this paragraph’ says: It won’t make your pigeon immortal when using the Sophie The Pigeon Harness and/or the leash system! You will (obviously) still need to properly supervise your pigeon, stay as close as possible to your pigeon, and be very aware of your surroundings (for predators for example).

DANGERS OF TAKING YOUR PIGEON OUTSIDE
Please do realize that there are still risks and/or dangers when taking your pigeon outside (even while using the harness with a leash!), I would therefore STRONGLY recommend to watch the tutorial video (especially the second half) to learn about these dangers. Additionally (like also mentioned in the video) I would also recommend you to do your own research about for example predatory animals in your area before going outside with your pigeon!

Bill Of Materials

To make the Sophie The Pigeon Harness you basically only need a bra. Either new, one of your own old ones or a second hand one from a thrift shop for example (considering you would only be using the straps anyway), and a buckle clip.

I would recommend using bra sizes starting at 75B – 85C (EU size) to ensure that the (shoulder) straps are long enough. However it is recommended to first read the PDF tutorial or to watch the video so that you exactly know what to look for when ‘scavenging’ bras, because not every bra is suitable to make a harness from.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The specific details, sizes, model/type of the required ‘components’ are clearly described in both the video and PDF tutorial ๐Ÿ™‚

For the The Sophie The Pigeon Harness itself (all) you will need:
– A bra (of which you will use the straps, the adjustment slider and the rings which connect the straps to the backband)
– A Buckle clip

If you also want to make the Soft brake (HIGHLY recommended and important!) you will need:
– Between 1.5 to 2 Meters of elastic cord with a rubber core and ‘cotton like’ outer shell with a diameter of 2mm
– Two ‘Leash clips’ with ‘included’ swivel

For the main leash itself you can basically just use a standard retractable dog leash intended for smaller dogs and slightly modify if for your pigeon (these instructions are yet again both in the video and in the PDF ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Additional Resources

Pigeon Pants (indoor use only!)

There is also an alternative to my harness, but this solution is only intended for indoor use. This solution is called pigeon pants (also known as pigeon diapers, or flight pants). Pigeon pants are exactly as the name suggests: Pants (or diapers) for your pigeon. You could use them to make sure that your pigeon doesn’t poop everywhere in your house and on your furniture when he or she is free-flying inside your home.

We personally do not use them for Sophie at all, because with just one pigeon in our home the ‘clean up’ after her isn’t that bad at all to be honest, and secondly we like Sophie to be able to preen (take care of her feathers) herself as much as possible (something she LOVES to do often). Pigeon pants are due to this a bit to ‘restricting’ for Sophie. But we do know people who do use pigeon pants for their pigeons with great success.

Our personal recommendation to get your pigeon pants would be the Etsy store Fanzy Pants (you can also check out Fanzy Pants on Instagram if you would like). We know the owner of this store and she delivers great work, and also makes the pigeon pants custom to the size of your pigeon. She is very helpful, friendly and delivers good quality. So if you are considering to get pigeon pants/diapers for your (rescue) pigeon, then Fanzy Pants is definitely worth it to check out.

NOTE: This is not a sponsors (or paid) endorsement in any way! We just decided to list Fanzy Pants here as a small thank you for her feedback on my design of the Sophie The Pigeon Harness.

Stores which sell pre-made (or custom to order) The Sophie The Pigeon Harness

Stores which are selling my design as ‘The Sophie The Pigeon Harness’ will/can be listed here (considering they are complying with the ‘license conditions/rules’ ๐Ÿ™‚

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