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Thursday, 23 October 2014

A catch up - nearly two months later

Hello regular readers - and anyone new who may be reading - welcome back to my dove blog. I last blogged on the 26th August and have kept a few notes since then but this blog will probably all be a bit of a jumble. After writing the last blog, I kind of snapped and just felt it was all doom and gloom, and repetitive, and being very pushed for time I decided not to write for a while. But of course I have still been caring for the doves and pigeons, and even blogging in my head, if you see what I mean!

WARNING - this blog does contain some distressing photos.

I have been perfectly ok, but just very busy. When I first started blogging about the doves, I didnt have two grandchildren and I also had an income for which I didn't have to do anything (yes, wasn't I lucky) but now I have the two grandkids (and yes I am blessed to have them, they are adorable!) and I also have to earn some money as we are not as well off as we were....anyway, I felt I would like to update you a bit though things have been pretty tough with the birds with illness, hawk strikes etc. and there are days when I have felt extremely low about them - but then of course something good or funny happens to make me smile.

Since I bothered to write some blog notes I will include them as they were written with maybe a note explaining here and there. And of course I will add in any photos I took.

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8th Sept 14 - After the hawk attacks, I didn’t see Desiree again and resigned myself that another sweet little vulnerable white dove had either died or been caught but on Monday 8th Sept about 2 weeks after I last saw her, a small white exhausted dove plomped down on the lawn at my feet, with yellow and pink rings – I wasn’t quite sure at first because I couldn’t exactly remember her rings, but I thought it must be Desiree – who else could it be? She stayed at my feet, and I trickled a steady stream of grains down, and she ate and ate and ate! Poor little thing, she must’ve eaten something in the time she’d been away but she was obviously practically starving! Thank God she managed to find her way home. Maybe there is hope for Chance, her sibling, also missing since the hawk attacks.

Today I took the opportunity and removed Mr. Moon from the nestbox where he was sitting with baby Twinkle. He didn’t like it of course, and struggled, but I put a cloth over his head – ringed him with one purple ring (I’ve got new colours – lots of them!) and then took him back to the nestbox, and stuffed him back. He accepted it quite well and I am pleased that he is now ringed and recognisable – I will save a fortune feeding white doves that pretend they are Mr. Moon..... I’m Mr. Moon, no I’m Mr. Moon!!! – well now there is only one Mr Moon, husband to Star Light and father to Twinkle – and Little Star who sadly didn’t survive.

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NOTE - Desiree and Chance were Lucky and Loveday;s offspring. Since then I only saw Desiree once, and never seen Chance again. Loveday was never ringed so I don't know if she is around or not, but I see Lucky most days. Mr. Moon and Star Light are both still around. Little Star was dead in the nestbox about age 2/3 days - I don't know why, and more about Twinkle later

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 Above, Desiree, a young dove, - 8th Sept and below on the 12th - I havent seen her since. A little sweetheart, too vulnerable to survive


Now there is a 10 day gap where I either didnt write any notes or have lost them - then I continue......but before the 18th when my notes continue. I have my photos to remind me.....

Do you remember Gulliver? The little stock dove brought to me by a friend as found in her garden - like this - aged about 3 weeks and totally unable to feed or look after himself, as is usual at that age. He must've tumbled from the nest.


Gulliver, a baby stock dove, left, with Chance, a baby pigeon about the same age - 3 weeks

Below photos of Gulliver in the garden once he was grownup and free



 See below Gulliver on the left, next to a feral pigeon

But on the 16th Sept, I found Gulliver poorly in the garden and he was easily caught and brought in
By the next morning he was dead. RIP Gulliver. I had to tell my friend who is getting divorced and she said it was just one more bit of misery to add to her life! (and a little bit more to mine). I have no idea what was wrong with him, poor thing - he was approximately 9 weeks old by my calculation. Although it was sad that he died, if my friend hadn't brought him to me, he would've died that first night aged about 3 weeks in her garden so he had 6 weeks extra life, and 4 of those were spent free. I miss him coming to the top of the hutch to find 'his' food. He was quite feisty - making little rushes at the ordinary pigeons to scare them away, and of course fairly tame for a wild bird.

The following photos are of young Tommy and Mercy when they were little. They are Snow White and Charm's last babies of the season and I have had a lot to do with them, so they are quite tame. Both will eat from my hand. At the time of writing they are about 70 days old so nearly 2.5 months, and Mercy returned to the cote every night (except one) for the first 58 days of her life. The night she didnt stay, when she at last returned, she seemed absolutely exhausted and stayed in the nestbox for a whole 24 hours - I had to take her food and water! Now she is obviously stronger and roosts elsewhere, but both she and Tommy return every day for food. They were delightful babies, being so tame - and are much treasured by me.

So here they are, skinny and scrawny, but cute, at about 3 weeks old. Mercy has the pink rings







And Mercy on my hand a few days later




And a week later, just beginning to fledge
 Below, Tommy gives himself a bath
 but Mercy is still dirty!

And a day or so later, with their parents. Charm (mum) is on the bench, Mercy on the ladder, Tommy on the ground, and Snow White (dad) at the front. These babies were lucky as being the last of the season, their parents had a little more time for them, as not sitting on another lot of eggs!

Below, baby Twinkle, the last baby in the cote this season
 We had a grass snake over the summer - living or laying eggs in a compost heap. I felt having a snake added a certain cachet to the garden (but not seen now for quite a while)




And so we carry on with my notes.....


The hawk did make an attempt on Cissie while she had her play time - not much fun here in the garden sometimes!


18.9.14 – The hawk made another attempt after I had rescued Cissie, and brought a little black pigeon crashing down into the screened off area where the oil tank is. I went to see if it was ok, and could see it there, but it moved away and I couldn’t find it – so I hoped it had struggled through the undergrowth and flown away. I’d noticed this pigeon before because it was little, very dark and seemed young – a sweet little thing. I hoped it had got away ok, but didn’t think I would see it the next day.

19.9.14 – The next morning though I was pleased to see it again, but realised it was struggling to eat – was this the start of paramyxo in the flock? I threw down a heap of food, the pigeons gathered round and I literally just picked up the ‘littlie’ so I was able to hand-feed it. After about 30 or so grains, it struggled to go and I released it. The next time it came to my attention was in the afternoon when I went to the grain bins and it was wandering about round them. I wondered if it could fly and went to get the net, but when I returned it had disappeared – I looked down the side of the house, and even in the coal hole but couldn’t see it, so supposed it could fly and had returned to the roof..... but something in the back of my mind said it hadn’t, but I couldn’t see it, so that was that.

In the early evening, I walked to the back of the buildings next to us, where there is an old mill, and which are used as offices just to check that it hadnt come down over there, and couldn’t fly – I always take the net just in case, but no little black bird. Then just as I had got through my cottage door, there was a light crashing sound and there it was on the doorstep, having plummeted from the little porch. Hello, I said, I wondered where you were!.... and then I watched it walk purposefully across the lawn to the water baths, have a drink and then walk all the way back to the coal hole – and popped itself inside! A little black bird in the coal bunker – I’ll have to call him Sooty! So obviously Sooty can’t fly – or at least can’t fly at the moment – and though I crouched down and peered into the blackness, it was impossible to see him so it looked like he would be there for the night BUT .... how to protect him from the fox? The coal bunker has a little drop down door that we scoop the coal out from – so I lowered that down to nearly shut – but didn’t want to shut it entirely and close off all the air. Then I did what I could to barricade the coal bunker against the fox – rolled up chicken mesh, and all sorts....as you see in the photo. And hoped it would be enough to protect funny little Sooty.



20.9.14 – The barricade was still there, and I removed it all – and after a while Sooty was there in front of the coal bunker, though I didn’t see him emerge..... he made an attempt to fly, and with difficulty, got to the roof – where a male started bowing and cooing, so I think he might be a female! The day developed into a ‘pigeon day’. By about 9am when the other birds had fed and left, I found Sooty wandering about near the hutch/run trying desperately to pick up grains. Slowly slowly catchee Sooty – I crept up with the net, heart beating fast as it is very difficult to try not to scare a bird that can fly but managed to trap her without too much hassle. Then I wrapped her up for a hand feed, my hands still trembling from the catching and afterwards put her in the run with Cissie. I don’t feel worried about infecting Cissie with PMV as she has already had it, and probably can’t get it again. At first Sooty tried to get out – making little runs and jumps – but she soon settled down. I feel bad keeping her in but she obviously can’t feed herself properly, and will be the next one for the hawk, unless she starves to the death – so I have no option.

Twinkle, Mercy and Tommy were all in the cote and ok and I went off to a jumble sale in the afternoon. (Note - Mercy and Tommy are Snow White and Charm's last two babies of the season. I named Mercy after the first Mercedes who died after the hawk attack and Tommy after the 'old soldier' bird I let the hawk have) When I came back, rather pleased with myself as I’d found a little bike in excellent condition for my granddaughter, I could tell the birds were quiet, and wondered if the hawk had been about, but no sign of anything. I pretty well always check any young birds in the cote, and my homies when I come home, but this time, I just noted that Cloud was tucked in a corner of the hutch, and Cissie and Sooty were crouched under the upstairs part of the run – and I could see that one of the two young birds, Tommy, was in the cote and I sat at the garden table doing a few things to the bike, and then went indoors for a little while.When I next went out, I could see through the open gate, the hawk right near it, with a bird..... so I ran towards it, and could see it had a brown pigeon. After the dreadful experience with the first Mercedes, and then Tommy (the first Tommy) and how I felt afterwards, I am not prepared to let the hawk peck a bird to death in front of my eyes, in my own yard. Obviously the hawk flew off as I approached, and the poor victim fluttered under the hedge, from which I picked it up.... and then saw the green ring....and thought Who?.... and then Oh no, it’s my sweetest, bravest Brownie Mo! Brownie Mo has been coming to the garden since May, with a broken beak and is such a little trooper.









I did what first aid I could for Brownie Mo, washed his wounds and staunched the bleeding and settled him in a box then went out to look for Mercy – petrified that the hawk had got her. But I’ve learnt my lesson from past experience, and now before I go mad checking the undergrowth and everywhere, I always check and double check EVERY section of the cote – and I found poor Mercy cowering in the back nestbox (that used to be Lucky and Loveday’s). Thanking God she was safe, I left her in there for the time being. I also found that Snow White and Charm were sitting tight in the front nestbox, and of course little Twinkle was in his nest too.

This is not the first time I’ve come back from a jumble and found the hawk had had one of my birds (maybe it reads my calendar!) – that was what happened to my favouritest dove of all time, my gorgeous feisty clever daddy dove Flash – and he was dead when I got back – and the bloody hawk hadn't even eaten him.

I wanted Brownie Mo to calm and settle, so beyond looking at him, I didn’t do much more for him then, but got on with other things.....until I heard a bang, crash on the kitchen window and went out to look.... and there was a very pretty pale brown pigeon, sitting near the coal bunker. I wondered if it had been chased by the hawk... as it doesn’t usually give up til it kills (which was why I sacrificed Tommy no. 1). So I picked it up and it seemed rather tame, or maybe just stunned, and because it was pretty, I popped a pale blue ring on it’s leg, named it Chino (Cappuchino) and then took it back to the garden.



Chino walked under the table and I thought that was reasonably safe, so I left him to it, and went back in – but, would you believe it, within seconds he had come straight back to the kitchen and hopped up the two steps between the kitchen and sitting room and was looking at me! I softly approached and crouched next to him, and he allowed me to pick him up. Writing this in the evening, I’ve done so much hand feeding today that I can’t remember if I fed him or not, probably did, and then released him from my waist height and he flew to the roof ....



– thank goodness, I thought. I don’t need a fifth homie! (Cloud, Cissie, Sooty and Brownie Mo being 1-4) BUT in the late afternoon/early evening when I was walking down the path again saying goodbye to my daughter who had popped in for a cuppa, I found pretty little Chino in the flower bed – and picked him up, yet again, and being no room in the inn for the night, I put him in one of the side compartments of the cote and blocked him in for the night – safe.

Brownie Mo’s wounds were treated with medi-honey and I was very pleased when he accepted a long drink later in the day. I didn’t sleep very well worrying about him but he survived the night.

Sunday 21st Sept 14 – Brownie Mo had, I felt, a reasonably good day. He accepted food and drink, and treatment for his wounds. I ordered over the internet some special derma-gel for his main wound, plus some derma-gel spray, so I would be prepared in the future. In the afternoon, when I opened the run to get Cissie out, Chino flew up to the top, and very soon flew to the roof. I hoped the rest had done him good and he would be ok, but when a bird begins to find flying difficult – especially taking off from the ground – then they are doomed really. I wasn’t sure I would see him again but never feel it is fair to keep a bird that can fly confined, and I had no real reason to keep him. In fact, I knew partly I just wanted to keep him because he has such gorgeous pale coffee plumage.  

Mon 22nd – Sooty arrived back, much to my delight and relief, and twice during the day I captured, fed and released him again. (Reading back over these notes, they don't make sense about Sooty - I think I kept him in for a while but because he could fly I released him). Brownie Mo was stable – his wounds seemed ok, not smelling nasty or anything and my heart was gladdened at near the end of the dovie day about 4.30pm when a coffee coloured bird with a pale blue ring appeared at my feet – Chino had made it back! He was very hungry but after he’d eaten I gave him no opportunity to try to get away as I felt he must be exhausted, so I put him in the hutch for the night, with food and water.

Tue 23rd The first bird on the roof was Sooty, making me suspect that he had spent the night very locally – which is all to the good. He won’t tire himself out with flying a long distance.

Brownie Mo seemed to be doing well. The wound had dried up some more and I still treated it with medi-honey and hoped that the derma-gel would arrive soon. It was difficult to get him to eat as usual, but he did eat, and drink – and then I settled him back in his box – but by 11am he was sitting down, which he hadn't done before, and soon his head drooped and he died peacefully. I laid him out, with a candle, on the mantelpiece and read a prayer from my special book.  I kept him there for a few hours as I was reluctant to part with my very brave boy – but in the end he had the usual river send-off, with more tears from me. Rest in Peace my most very special little bird.


 The photo of his beak below, was taken after his death, so you can see close how well he has been managing since May - about 5 months - with just half a beak. He didn't deserve to die - and I loved him, and still do. It's not the same at feeding time without following him around with peanuts, trying to make sure he got enough to eat. My '3 day' rule applied here - I always say that if an injured or ill bird survives 3 days then it has a good chance of getting over whatever it is - but Brownie Mo was attacked on the 20th and died on the 23rd.


Later in the day, I managed to net Sooty and gave him as many grains as he would accept before releasing him back to the roof. He is so soft to touch, so very sweet – a very young bird I think. He’s easy to see on the roof because he is so very black. He came down again a few times, and just cannot pick up anything for himself, but I didn’t try to catch him again – once a day is enough for both of us. Of course, I was tempted to keep him in but he doesnt want to be kept......

Chino was taken out of the hutch, and I could see mice had been in there, so decided if he was with me at bedtime, I mean if he survived, I would be putting him in the cote from now on for the night – more peaceful without the meeses! I put him in the run, and after a while of course Cissie went in there too. Chino paced around a bit trying to get out, but eventually settled down, and I could see them both sitting in the sun, happily together.

I brought Chino out at the afternoon feed time, and fed him (or her) though he had had the opportunity of eating with food in the run. He let me feed him easily, and walked about the lawn a bit, but his attempt at flying was totally inadequate, and he went to stand on the bottom run of the step-ladder.He may be old, or ill, I don’t know, but I will keep him safe for as long as it takes.

(Note - I no longer feed Chino as he can feed himself perfectly well. One wing seems to drag a bit or be slightly lower than the other so he may have hurt it and that's why he can't fly. He has settled in as a homie pretty well)

I have totally fallen in love with both him and Sooty – they are both so pretty and adorable.


Above, Chino on the ladder, Cissie underneath, and my white dove, Cloud

Wed 24th – Chino still alive but still can’t fly. Sooty was captured, fed and released again – except for the inability to feed himself, he is not too bad. Twinkle ‘fledged’ and I came home to find him stuck in the hedge. I rescued him and put him back in the nestbox – goodness knows how long he had been there poor little thing.

Thurs 25th – This morning I am pretty sure I captured and fed a Sooty-lookalike, so later when I caught the real Sooty, I ringed him with a pale pink ring so there can be no mistaking. The other bird must’ve thought it was Christmas getting all those grains! Came back from a MacMillan coffee morning to find Twinkle on the ground under the cote – just sitting patiently, waiting to be picked up. He seems to have something wrong with his leg – maybe he has injured it with today and yesterday’s ‘fledging’ accidents.

 Chino rests near the raised bed at 'playtime' - then he shuts his eyes for 40 winks
 Below, Sooty - I don't know when I took this though


Saturday  28th Sept– No Sooty today which makes me sad – and also saw the hawk scatter the birds. I’d hoped it had gone away but obviously not. I took Twinkle out of the cote to assess him – he seems small for his age, can’t stand properly and doesn’t seem to be able to even attempt to fly – oh dear! He should be fledging properly soon, but I can’t see it. I’m not even sure if he can eat properly himself.

In the afternoon, another injured bird presented itself. Obviously hungry, it was dragging itself along the ground to the food, so I fed it specially and when it obviously couldn’t fly, brought it in for assessment. I’m not entirely sure what is wrong with it, beyond a very scraped tummy, which is healing and which I sprayed with the Derma-Gel spray that I got for my poor Brownie Mo. It went in the hutch for the night, but didn’t stay on the nice soft bed I had made for it in the night compartment but dragged itself to sit on the raised bricks, which are covered with a bit of old carpet. I’ll see how it is tomorrow.

Sun 29th Sept - The bird survived and has been named Petronella. Twinkle, with his orange ring, fledged.



Below, Twinkle with daddy Mr. Moon (who is moulting so has a plucked look to his head)



30th Sept 14 – Poor little Twinkle – the surviving baby of Mr. Moon and Star Light has died. He was about 32 days old. When I left the garden, he was on the roof alone, and I had a premonition as I said ‘Oh Twinkle, I hate to leave you alone’ but what can I do, I can’t watch over them all the time and I had a parcel to post and things to do in the town. I was literally only half an hour and when I got back I checked the roof.... no Twinkle, and  then went round the hedge to the cote. Something white was on the ground and for a few seconds I thought it might be a piece of the white kitchen paper that I use to line the nestboxes.... but it was sweet little Twinkle – still warm but totally dead. It wasn’t the hawk – I think what may have happened is that he tried to get into the cote, crashed down and hit his head against the stepladder, the wooden bench, or the bricks on them. I had picked him up from the ground at least three times before, and had meant to always keep the area under the cote free from stuff, but I forgot, and now feel at least a little responsible for his death. My little skinny sweetheart – he was never long for this world as he couldn’t fly properly and had one bad leg. Now he goes to rest in peace and rejoin his tiny sibling, Little Star, who didn’t make it past a couple of days. Another angel dovie lost and it makes me resentful of all these brash ordinary grey pigeons, bursting with life, and wanting feeding all the time.

Below, Twinkle and dead sibling, Little Starr. Twinkle was I suppose about 7-9 days when I found Little Starr - I had thought Twinkle was a singleton until Twinkle was left alone and I put my hand into the nestbox to find a damp fuzzy limp thing (all that was pretty stressful too, and happened when I wasnt blogging - or even keeping notes, though I did take this photo)



2.10.14 – The homies today -  Cloud is ‘top bird’ – she is much as usual. Quite confident around the garden when released from the hutch, and calm when I pick her up which she allows me to do without any fuss. Cissie always acts crazy, but is also pretty confident in the garden and with me. Chino is calm in my hands, and is beginning to get used to the fact that he/she can’t fly. He walks to the water bath and has a drink, then hides under the hutch, and during the day he hides in the top part of the run. I don’t like this and feel he has a boring and gloomy life but I haven’t got any other arrangements suitable for him. (NOTE - nowadays, Chino is in a box at the top of the hutch during the day- it's not large but at least he is having light/air and a view which is better than being in the top part of run) Sheridan is still scared of the new circumstances she finds herself in. I don’t exactly feed her and Chino, but I do usually give them both a few hand-fed peanuts each, and I spray Derma Gel Spray on Sheridan’s wounds. After I’d done that this afternoon, she ran back to the run, and with a series of jumps and half-flys, she put herself back into the run – at the back on her favourite brick where she obviously feels safe, poor little sweetheart. Petronella can fly, but she is weak. Every day I take her out from the hutch where she spends the night, and clean her up, and spray her scraped tummy with the Derma Gel then settle her in a box on top of the hutch. In the afternoons, I allow her some freedom by putting her in a more open cage with the door open on the garden table. Every day so far she has chosen to come out, fly a little way, maybe to the roof and then come back to somewhere where I can pick her up and put her back. Today she flew to the roof, but a male annoyed her, so she transferred herself to the fence.....



 All photos of Petronella, you can just about see her scraped tummy in the above photo


 Below, Autumn, the oldest surviving dove (that I know is still living) hatched in my cote. Must be about 3 now but I need to check her age.


and then later Petronella sat on the earth in the raised bed before putting herself back in the hutch – which I had left open for her. At this time Cloud was on the lawn, or under the hutch, and after playtime, she then goes in the run or back to the conservatory, so it’s ok for Nella to have the hutch.

3rd – Lovely sunny warm Autumn day. First two photos are of Sheridan - named after the actress Sheridan Smith. Little Sheridan can't fly well and has what appears to be a shot injury on the top of her wing and underneath.


 Below, Chino, hiding at the back of the run
 and Petronella hiding in the leafy bit on the roof
 Cloud has a little run about

 Sheridan again, such an appealing little pidgie

 Cloud and Cissie have a get together - hmm they say, this path needs weeding!
 All the 'arrangements' - you can just see a few of them if you look closely
 Cloud and half of Chino!
Below, Sheridan, in the middle
 The flock - or those that were there


4th – I went to uncover the hutch – I drape it with a cloth at night, and secure it with bricks. One brick covers a small hole at the top, and when I moved it and peeped in, Petronella seemed to be in an unnatural position. I gently and quietly opened the night area, and found to my horror a pool of bright red blood, and a dead Nella. I just couldn’t understand what had happened. I picked the poor thing up, and she was still warm, and rigor mortis had not yet set in, just like little Twinkle – not that I know much about rigor mortis times etc. I was so upset, she had seemed to be doing so well but maybe had internal injuries and this was a big haemorrhage . The very strange thing was that there was not a drop of blood on her, and I couldn’t work out where it had come from. She had no wounds, except for her scraped tummy which had pretty well dried up – and there was no blood on or near her vent or beak.... or anywhere on her. She was lying on her little bed that I’d made for her of old towels– and the blood was somewhat away from her but still in her designated area, which was blocked from Sheridan’s area by a wire grille – but thinking about it there was soaked blood on the towel too, just not on her. When I told hubbie, he gloomily suggested that it might have been rats.... but I dismissed that because there was no sign of any sort of disturbance or scuffle, and though I suppose it would be possible for a rat to somehow squeeze in a tiny gap (and that was all there was), it is not possible for a rat to kill a bird without leaving marks and making a mess......And another thing was that Sheridan seemed calm and unconcerned. I’ve seen other pigeons that have witnessed or been involved in something upsetting, and they can’t wait to get away from the place or situation. No, it wasn’t a rat – it must have been a haemorrhage. I am glad that the day before had been so lovely and sunny, and Nella had been able to do a little flying, and make choices. Rest in Peace, Petronella. My heart breaks anew. And..... just in case of the remote possibility of rats getting into the hutch, I have decided that Sheridan will go up into the cote at night, like Chino.

5th Oct - Another bird that can't fly - I named him Bentley

 He went in the run for a while - but wasnt very happy in there

 Below, clockwise, Sheridan, Chino, Cissie and Cloud - in the area at the back of the run. When the other birds are on the lawn they join them, but when they fly off, these feel vulnerable and congregate here, where they feel safe. Since this was taken I have put a 'roof' of wire over the top, so there is still light and air, but protected a little more in case the hawk spots them.

Sheridan, blue ring, and Bentley, orange

Bentley made such a fuss about being confined in the run that I had to set him free - and he took up residence in the coal bunker! - NOTE - now he is living under the counters in the back kitchen! Hubbie does not know! There is a terrible mess under there..... more about him next time!

7th Oct 14 – Another sacrifice to the Hawk God – came home to find Sheridan, wounded and bleeding, by the coal bunker. I picked him up and wrapped a cloth round him to staunch the bleeding, but it was too late, he was gasping and died in my hands as I said a little prayer for him. The hawk picked him out as the weakest on the roof and I wasn’t there to protect him. The birds suffer and I suffer too. I put the body on the side roof where I can’t see it and hoped the hawk would take it and another bird wouldn’t have to be taken. Poor adorable little Sheridan who was doing so well and was so brave and clever. After a while I remembered Bentley in the coal bunker, and found him shivering in there, hiding, inches away from where the attack took place. Another bird was in there too – another one who can’t fly! I named him Sherry after Sheridan and collected both birds out, and put them in the run. Quite a long time afterwards I thought about the cote and wondered about Mercy, and yes, mercifully, my Mercy was there.... I took her grains and later brought her out for a little drink, and then back in the cote for safety.

11th Oct 14 - Cloud chooses to give herself a bath - and Chino sits alongside

 Below, Cloud jumping about to dry herself
 and all fluffy!
 Below, no that's not Cissie in the bath - she never bathes herself (so I have to bath her)



 Below, nothing to do with doves, but so cute! - my daughter's new kitten - Nala - bless!

18th Oct 14 - At playtime now, Chino likes to stand on the pig door-prop of the shed kitchen



 There are several birds around with paramyxovirus - I have been collecting them up - paranoid they are going to infect the rest of my flock. Here's one of them - that I stupidly named Felicity. It's best not to name birds because I get fond of them so easily..... I worried about F and the two others, and had a sleepless night, but I can't take in any more birds that need hand feeding, cleaning out, protecting etc etc and in the end I took them to the Wildlife Aid which is local - knowing they would put them down. I am not sure what the procedure is with the vets and wildlife - but in the past I have taken pigeons to my lovely vet for treatment and been prepared to pay, I took Flash, Patience and Big Boy for various reasons and all survived - but even one visit in this area, with maybe some meds, costs £30 plus, so not really affordable for 'ordinary' pigeons with PMV.
 Poor doomed Felicity, peeping out of the box

The day after, I received the following email from Wildlife Aid -

Thank you for bringing in the 3 pigeons today, which sadly were suffering from paramyxovirus (PMV).  This is highly contagious disease between pigeons and doves, so it is very likely that you will find more birds with this condition in your local area.  Please bring them to us when you are able to catch them; the birds are suffering and sadly will need to be put to sleep, as we did with the three that came in today.
If you have bird tables, or areas where pigeons and doves roost, it would be advisable to clean these thoroughly with disinfectant, and then allow to dry for 24 hours before putting any food down.  Ideally, to slow the spread of the disease, you could stop feeding the wild birds in your garden for a few months, and this would stop large groups congregating in areas where they can pass it to one another.
Sadly PMV, although sometimes curable, is always carried by the bird, and so it is not legal for them to be released back into the wild.  Hard as it is to see birds put to sleep, your actions have helped to stem the numbers of birds out in the population carrying the disease, so thank you so much for caring for them, and getting them to us.
If you have any questions about PMV please don’t hesitate to give me a call,

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Obviously it is nice to receive a follow up email but of course I knew the birds had PMV, though when I took them in I just said they seemed to be ill. I disagree that the birds are 'suffering' - well, obviously they are suffering like any of us are when we are unwell, but I know that with supportive care that would've got over the illness, and just been left with the disability like Cloud and Cissie. Unfortunately, I haven't the time and resources to look after 3 more ordinary grey pigeons that need hand-feeding - Cissie was really lucky - right time and place! I think if one of them had been one of my known birds, or prettier then I might have kept it! (dreadful as that might sound  but there has to be some compensation for all the work)

The suggestion that I disinfect the areas where the pigeons and doves roost is not practical - I can't disinfect the whole roof! (no birds are in the cote at the moment, and I do disinfect that occasionally and Cloud's hutch too). Also, I can't stop feeding or my cote birds and special birds might well starve.

According to this email, PMV is always carried by the bird - and this may be true, but according to other things I have read, they are not shedding the virus after the first 6 weeks, and I don't think Cissie and Cloud are infecting any of the others. Hope not anyway!

21st Oct - 
 The homies under the hutch. The blue thing is plastic I use to cover the hutch sometimes.
L to R - Chino, Cissie, Cloud

23rd Oct 14 - we seem now to be in a 'quiet' period. There have been no recent attacks from the hawk and I havent seen any more birds with PMV, though I am sure I will do at some point. The flock comes to be fed, twice a day, and the homies are settled. The cote birds pop in and out but are not mating or attempting to nest, thankfully - unlike the couple I had a while back, Sky and Summer who nested ALL year round - giving me babies to look after in December - my sweet Santa and Snow - because they didnt look after them properly themselves. The cote desperately needs painting and now of course would be a good time to do it - I must try to get up the enthusiasm.

I will catch up again, definitely before Christmas. Bye for now and thanks for reading - I am sorry it's all a bit muddled - serves me right for not keeping notes!

To be cont....