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Beagles are great! (I doubt there is one member here that will say otherwise).
If you get a puppy, I don't see any reason for it not to get used to the birds. Beagles are very pack oriented dogs, so there is a good chance that an adult dog will get used to the birds, too.
As for the hours you're not home. I'm away from home most of the day and Chloe gets by just fine. My ultimate goal is to get another Beagle (which I am positive will help her manage when she's alone) but she is 2 years old and is doing just fine so far. If your mom is home for the majority of the time, that's even better for you, especially at first when the pup is young.
Guard dogs? I don't know, but I do know that Chloe is very protective of me and if there is a sudden sharp noise from outside the apartment, she immediately starts howling. The same on walks, if something scares her, she won't let me proceed towards the general direction. Now I know she is small and I can drag her, but at night, I mostly trust her.

One more thing, since you're a teacher, if you're planning on getting a pup, I would advise that you get it when you have some time off (spring/summer break). That will help you get it used to its new home and start potty training properly.
 

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Well my Bagel hates pigeons - thinks one of his main jobs in life is to keep the back yard free of pigeons! Doves, quail, sparrows he pays no never mind but pigeons he loathes. I don't know why but I'm glad (<span style="font-style: italic">I think it might be because they mess with or in his water bowl</span>)! It might be that pigeons act like prey where as the dove and quail don't! Bagel is the same with cats, if they act nervous, scoot away, he howls and thinks there is some sort of chase game afoot but if they don't he ignores them. Most beagles are not good protectors but they will alert you to an intruder! My Bagel is alone while I'm at work but he has his backyard, lizards and chipmunks to fret at, pigeons to admonish, grounds to patrol, a job to do. I think it is important that a dog alone not be bored and beagles do like being with the pack (which will be you and your mum) so when your around, expect the beag to be around and content.
 
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