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Friday, 17 June 2016

My new aviary - June 2016

Well…… where do I start? My last blog was written at the end of December 2015 and the months without blogging have whizzed by, and now it is 17th June 2016.

Hubbie and I have just returned from the beautiful island of Guernsey, and maybe that’s why I feel refreshed enough to blog!

Baby seagull on Lihou Island, off Guernsey
Or maybe it is because a new chapter in my dove/pigeon life has started.

I now have my much wanted aviary in the garden. The main reason I bought it was because it occurred to me at some point that my young male pigeon, Pan, was ‘homed’ to our conservatory and that when we went away on holiday the house would be shut up and he would find himself homeless and confused. I adore Pan, having brought him up from very young, and he is tame, so I needed to get organised and create him a new home! But back to the beginning…..

First, if there are any new readers – welcome to my blog about the doves and pigeons that live in and visit my garden. All my previous blogs can be found by scrolling down the blog history dates at the side. Sometime, I must go back to the beginning myself and read them all again! I live in Surrey, right near the river, in a little cottagey-bungalow with my third husband. I have two daughters, and two grandchildren.

I currently have the following birds I call my ‘homies’ – Pan, Chino, Cloud, Primrose, Pascal, Bronte and Darcy – these live in the aviary, but are free to go outside. (Previous readers will remember my Cissie, who was killed by the sparrowhawk on Monday 18th April – RIP my funny crazy bird) Then I have Lucky and Lottie living in the dovecote, with their new babies, Perelle and Apolline.

Pan – Grey pigeon - My male daddy bird. 

Pan - male pigeon less than a year old

 He has had an eventful life and is not even a year old yet! He was hatched (in my old hutch) on 28th July 2015 with his sibling Tink. Parents – Cissie, a paramyxovirus recoverer who couldn’t fly and Sultan, a racing pigeon and a bit of a ‘player’! Tink never grew up properly and eventually died, though I did my best, but when Sultan never returned when Pan and Tink were 17 days old, I took over their care and feeding (Cissie due to her previous illness was unable to feed them properly and had totally lost interest). So Pan has been ‘mine’ since he was very little and by bringing him into the conservatory every night, he thought our cottage was his rightful home. By the beginning of Feb 16  Pan was over 6 months old and considered himself sexually mature, strutting and bowing to my females – Cissie, Cloud and Chino. Cloud would have nothing to do with him – the cheeky young upstart! – and Cissie was of course his mother – so I put him with Chino (in the old hutch) and on 23rd February they mated for the first time! Then he started collecting sticks for a nest and on 24th March 16, three days before Easter,  Pan and Chino became parents to Pascal and Primrose.

Chino – pretty pale brown female. 

Chino, left, after a bath
 I’m not quite sure how long I have had Chino, I suppose it must be eighteen months to couple of years now. She is a very nervous bird who arrived in my garden with one wing damaged, and unable to fly properly (she still can’t). Like Cloud and Cissie, Chino was in love with Sultan (Pan’s daddy) but he eventually settled down with Cissie (briefly!) – now Chino is very content with Sultan’s son. She has come out of herself a bit, is more confident, has raised two lots of babies (Pascal & Primrose, and Bronte & Darcy) and is now sitting on new eggs in the new aviary nest – due to hatch towards the end of June.

Cloud – a white female dove.

Part of the old arrangements, sitting under the old hutch - left to right - Pascal, Cissie, Chino, Pan, Cloud at the front with Bronte and Darcy at the back.

I’ve had Cloud about three and a half years. She also caught paramyxovirus – a horrible disease for pigeons from which they are unlikely to recover in the wild, and although perfectly happy with all her wits about her, she can’t fly and can’t feed herself. When Sultan arrived last summer, he chose her for his first love, but although she laid eggs, it didn’t work out and he swapped to Cissie. Cloud now spends time cooing in her pretend nest in the aviary, hoping to attract a Romeo.

Primrose – dark grey pigeon now about 12 weeks old. I don’t know her sex yet but guess she is female. Feisty little thing with nothing wrong with her.

Pascal – pale brown pigeon and Primrose’s sibling. He developed wing flight feathers but they all dropped out ages ago, weirdly, and he has only a fluffy stump for a tail, so can’t fly. I really don’t know why this happened to him, but a genetic defect I suppose. He (or she) is very lovable.

Young pigeon siblings, Pascal, left (can't fly due to lack of wing feathers) and Primrose
 Bronte and Darcy – nearly 7 weeks old -  quite bright sandy-brown young birds – both can fly and have developed normally.

Darcy, left, and Bronte in the new aviary
Lucky – white male dove in the cote, with black smudge on his breast and odd eyes – one is a light amber-brown and you can see the pupil, the other is very dark brown (what pigeon fanciers call ‘bull eye). This is his fourth season nesting in the cote, and he is with his fourth mate, Lottie. He has had an eventful history – all in the previous blogs – the most important being having survived a cull when someone unknown (probably a local farmer) must have killed hundreds of my feral flock at the end of Jan 15, including Lucky’s ‘frenemy’ Snow White who enticed away Lucky’s former mate, Charm.  Lucky got away with only a shot wound under his wing so really was Lucky that time. 

Lucky feeding new babies in the cote
 Lottie – white female dove. She and Lucky had only one baby last season, Selfie – who died around fledging time. Now they are proud parents to fluffy yellow babies,  Perelle and Apolline – now about 4 days old. Perelle is named after the location of where we stayed in Guernsey, and Apolline, after the charming little restored 14th century chapel there, dedicated to St. Apolline, patron saint of dentists.
I also feed the feral flock of pigeons and a few white doves that visit the garden daily. Some of these birds I have known for a long time, including my white dove Dolly, hatched in my cote three years ago and Autumn, my oldest white dove, four years old – but so many of my special ringed birds were wiped out in that dreadful cull.

I have a cat called Loopy (I didn’t name her) who we adopted from neighbours who had to relocate abroad about four years ago – she  is extremely nervous but gradually getting more used to us - it has taken all this time! Mostly she stays in her little igloo house at the back of the cottage. My tortoise is called Orlando, and is not a year old yet. He has a vivarium inside and a run in the garden for sunny days – which don’t seem too many at the moment.

Orlando, baby tortoise, less than one year old

So now you know who’s who…. I will continue!

Hubbie didn’t take much persuading to have an aviary in the garden as he hated having the birds in the conservatory, and some, at night-time, in our little back bedroom so I started frantically saving, and looking at aviaries on the internet – so many to choose from! My aviary needed to accommodate flightless birds so had to be just right, and probably customised too. The one I bought was from an ebay seller – brand new - and described as suitable for birds of prey and chipmunks, so I knew it would be strong. He customised it for me – putting in a wide shelf in the night time area, and a little window at the side, with sliding door to close. It will be easier for you to look at the photos, as I go along, than me describe anyway. It cost about £600 delivered, but not erected – but hubbie and a mate put it up easily.

 Aviary won't fit in the old space. I managed to block Lucky into the cote just before work commenced, so thankfully his eggs were not abandoned even for a short while.
 The homies wait in the conservatory for their new home to be finished
 It was decided the aviary would go against the river fence
 Brand new home for Pan's People!

 Pan, left, Bronte or Darcy middle, and Chino right - getting used to the new arrangements

Another main reason for having the aviary was that when the birds were nesting, in the old hutch, I had to be around all the time, to let birds in and out – or leave the hutch open and at risk of predators. With the aviary, I can, if I want to, shut the whole thing up, with my homies inside, and they have access to what is called the ‘flight’ area so can have light and air, but be totally safe – and this is very important for Cloud and Pascal, and Chino of course – and means I can go out for the whole day without feeling terrible about shutting them into a confined space.

Pan’s People, as I call them, all live together very comfortably at the moment, but Pan is dominant and if one of the young ones prove to be male, he will no doubt not tolerate them for ever. If Pascal is male and Pan is nasty to him, I am not sure what I will do….. but cross that bridge when I come to it. Pan, Primrose, Bronte and Darcy all fly out when I open the little window in the mornings, coming back in when they feel like it. Chino sits on her eggs, and Pascal and Cloud can come out when I open the main door, and when I am around to keep an eye out for them in the garden. One day, probably, like poor Cissie, they will meet with the sparrowhawk as it is extremely difficult to allow flightless birds freedom and ensure their safety at all times – but I do my best. When Cissie died Cloud lost her companion, but now she has Pascal to be her little friend.

The squirrels and jackdaws get in to the aviary and are a total pest, but as long as they only steal the food and not the eggs, I can cope with it. This baby squirrel is quite cute!

The robin and blue-tits sometimes come in too, but little birds are not a problem. The jackdaws crash about, making a mess and knocking the food bowls off.

While I was on holiday, Pascal and Cloud went to the local poultry farm, to be looked after. Pan, Chino, Primrose, Bronte and Darcy stayed in the aviary – with access to the outside as usual, and were looked after by The Surrey Ark – I can’t thank them enough for helping to ensure that all my birds, particularly Chino, were still there to welcome me when I got back. I was particularly concerned that Chino would jump out of the little window, and of course not be able to get back. Surrey Ark were visiting twice a day and told me that several times they had to rescue her from where she was hiding under the old hutch, and return her to the aviary.

On the Friday before we were due to be home on the Sunday morning, we had a call to say that there was a pigeon in the house! The only way it could’ve got in was down the chimney! Fortunately our young neighbour was able to come in and rescue it. He couldn’t find it at first but thankfully did, and it was still alive – he said it was ‘red, with an orange ring’ – meaning the bright sandy-brown, and the ring told me it was Darcy, the smaller of the two youngest ones. I was so glad she was alive but wasn’t looking forward to the mess in the sitting room! Luckily it wasn’t too bad, but there was blood on the window pane and sill so I was relieved when I managed to catch Darcy in the aviary, and check her. I put some of the veterinus gel I keep for the pigeons’ minor injuries on her breast where there was matted bloody feathers, but I think it was just a scrape.

From that call, I also heard that Chino had an egg (or two) so I was very pleased that Pan and Chino had started again in the new aviary, and knew that that would keep Chino confined to the nest-box for longer, also a bonus! I had had to remove two lots of two eggs from the old hutch before we went – which I have never done before, always wanting to give each potential baby pigeon/dove (squab) a chance – but I had to do so at that time for various reasons, including the well being and continued feeding of Bronte and Darcy.

Left to right, Primrose on top, Darcy and Bronte, and Pascal, on the old hutch, when they were all younger.

Pan seemed exhausted went we got back. Some people claim they can hear their pets talking in their heads, but though I certainly don’t, I do feel that I understand them and know something of what they are experiencing and communicating to me. I felt Pan had had to do a lot of the policing of the aviary while I was away – keeping out intruders as best he could, and on watch at night too, due to the little window hatch having to be left open. He spent a lot of that day dozing, but the next day was very clingy to me – flying to my head or my back whenever I came into the garden.

Cloud and Pascal were pleased to be home too – they had been confined all week, and wandered delightedly in the garden, revelling in their freedom. Primrose immediately flew to her sibling, Pascal, and cuddled up. She’d missed him! Don’t say birds don’t have feelings! – and pigeons are one of the most intelligent of birds. And of course my birds specially so – ha ha!

So all is well and happy….. though I would like Cloud to find a nice understanding mate. She has attracted the attention of two different pigeons, and seemed to like one in particular, but unfortunately he didn’t seem to understand her issues, and expected her to fly off with him – which she can’t!

To be continued…..

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The birds of the year - 2015 - and Sorrel's story

December 2015

In previous years I have remembered the birds of the year in a blog around Christmas-time. Unfortunately, my old pc died, taking with it all my photos, and so this will be a blog with few piccies I am afraid, though I think I can use some from Blogger. I don’t know if I will be blogging in the New Year – I seem to have lost my blogging mojo, though not my interest in pigeons and doves. I will always like them as they have such interesting, clever, funny characters.  What I’d really like for Christmas is my own little pigeon loft! Not because I want to race pigeons, but a really safe little environment for my homies (and any others that come along) to live and breed, and so I don’t need to keep them in the conservatory and the spare bedroom! The cote of course is fine for birds that can fly but not for Cloud, Cisse and Chino. Well I won’t get one this year, but one day perhaps…. This appeals to me  but I would need to find out exactly what would suit me before I went ahead with anything (if hubby agreed).  If you want to read up on anything I have mentioned below you will find all the ‘stories’ in the individual blogs at the right hand side of the blog page you are reading – and they go way back to 2007 so I have been blogging about the doves, pigeons and other birds for 9 years – and enjoyed it, but maybe it is time to move on.

January  – The end of Jan was terrible as my beautiful white daddy dove Snow White, his mate Charm (who he had enticed away from Lucky). Lucky’s new mate Loveday and many others failed to return – ever – and I had to assume had been culled. Even now, it’s not something I want to dwell on. I reckoned 100 birds had been destroyed. Although the numbers eventually recover it’s the loss of the individuals I mourn – and so many white doves went that the numbers may not recover for a long time. I think this was the beginning of the end for me - this was the second big cull I've suffered - the other was in 2010 I think.

March  – At the end of March, Lucky and his third wife Loretta, successfully hatched one of their two eggs, my darling pretty little Solo. Loretta was white with brown markings, and Solo was white, with prettily marked brown and charcoal wings.

He was partially reared by me and became quite tame, flying to my arm – but by September, about 6 months old,  was no longer coming to the garden. I don’t know what happened to him but I like to think he’s living somewhere. I never give up on hoping to see a bird back again – unless they were ill of course when I last saw them.

April  – April saw a magical morning when a mummy mallard duck and her babies proceeded quickly through the garden and into the river. I was given a small juvenile collared dove (found on the road but apparently uninjured) to look after – Ockie – so sweet, but he didn’t survive.

May – A ‘new’ Snow White turned up in the shape of a white male I named Snowden. He tried to take Lucky’s wife no. 4 away from him, but Lucky won in the end! My daughter’s cat knocked a nest out of a tree or bush in her garden and I had three teeny weeny babies to care for – Bibberty, Bobberty and Boo! I managed to keep them alive over night and delivered them to the Wildlife Aid at Leatherhead – they didn’t survive more than a few days  either, though hardly surprising. Two of my female homies, Cloud and Cissie started a silly girlie relationship. A pair of females can rear babies successfully but of course I had no fertile eggs to give them!

June – By June, Lucky had a new wife, Lottie and they also only hatched one of the two eggs. I called this baby Selfie, and all seemed very well with him with both parents feeding him well – but in the end he didn’t really fledge properly and died in July at 38 days old having never flew. My three flightless ‘homies’ – Cloud, Chino and Cissie acquired a ‘minder’ – a big ringed racer who liked spending time with them. He here is with Cloud, and Chino, left, and Cissie, right, below.

I called him Sultan, and the girls all adored him – Cissie and Cloud stopping their girlie relationship to scrap over him but he set up home with Cloud (probably because she had the most suitable accommodation for a nest) and by 12th June she had laid an egg. The egg and relationship was a non-starter and Cissie took over as favourite in the harem. Her first eggs also came to nothing but eventually, and amazingly, as she is not a normal bird, being a recovered paramyxovirus sufferer, she hatched Tink and Pan. These babies, hatched in the hutch, and so very accessible to me gave me so much interest and  pleasure. They were tricky times, especially when they developed a weird condition where they couldn’t walk and were dragging themselves about like bum-shuffling babies using their beaks as a ‘walking stick’! – but they both got past that. Tink was very small and never grew up properly. She died at 7 weeks old, having been much loved by me, but her big strong brother, my boy, Pan, is still alive as I type – sitting on the top of the open kitchen door – aged 21 weeks. At least I think he is a boy, I’ve always thought of him that way and he has displayed a bit of ‘grownup boy’ behaviour already! He is ‘homed’ to the house which is a bit inconvenient, but as he matures things may well change, and at the moment I am happy to have him come in every night, to safety. Since he has got past the baby stage he hasn’t really given me any worries – he always comes in at dovie bedtime, just walking into the kitchen as if he owns the place. Below, Tink and Pan - Tink, the small one that never grew up properly.

July – Sparky arrived on the 10th. He was the tinest thing you ever saw – a very young wren, though fully feathered, brought to me by my neighbours. I didn’t expect him to live, but I did my best feeding him with soaked mealworms, practically all day, every day and he was amazing – got bigger and sparkier every day.

 He was with me for a hectic two weeks, during which he was extremely demanding but I took him out if I had to, including to a christening, and he was adored by all – me, the grandchildren, everyone who met him and even hubby! But one morning he appeared poorly and by evening he was dead. I lost him and Selfie within two days of each other. A gloomy few days losing two of my babies, and I couldn’t really see any cause for either death.

Selfie, pigeon and Sparky, wren

August – Lottie laid more eggs but abandoned them. She and Lucky are still together as I write though so at least my Lucky has a faithful mate – for now. Sultan had gone by August – abandoning Tink and Pan, and his mate, Cissie, when the babes were just over two weeks old. Cissie lost interest in them too so I reared them, which is why Pan is now the tamest pigeon I have ever had – flying to my hand, my head or whatever bit of me he can land on. He was babyish for ages, needing help with feeding til he was 9 weeks old but he’s great now.

September brought a horrible eye infection to the flock and I treated quite a few with a very effective homeopathic remedy I got from ebay from a lovely gentleman called Healingsun. Definitely recommended. Many cleared up in 3 or 4 days.  Tinkerbell was a poor little pigeon with terribly bad eyes that I was unable to save – if any bird touched my heart this year it was her (totally blind by the end but still responding to me). She was named after Tink and died two weeks after her. She's alive in this photo, but hardly looks it!

October was all about feisty little Tigerlily and her story is all written down in the October blog, but in the end she was another I couldn’t save.

November brought my Autumn back after being missing for a month or so. She always goes off and I wonder if I will ever see her again and then I am overjoyed to see her. My oldest known surviving ‘baby’ hatched in the cote at the end of July 12 so now 3 years 5 months old (parents Sky and Summer). Chino, my pale brown ‘homie’ has regained a little bit of flight, but still wouldn’t be able to live on her own. Sometimes I pop her up on the roof to spend time with flock, and then she flies down again on her own. She is currently in possession of the top of the hutch and has TWO boyfriends so I am hoping she will be nesting in the spring. She missed out last year when Sultan chose first Cloud, then Cissie as his partners – though he did mate with Chino too (he was a right player!)

November into December 15 – Just in case this is my last ever blog, I want to end on a positive note. It may seem that all the birds do is die! – but of course I only tend to get involved when the birds are injured or poorly or in need of assistance, so the losses are high but let me tell you Sorrel’s story…..she's the brown one in the photo below, the only one I can find of her.

Sorrel had the eye infection and I told you about that in the blog dated 31st October where I, over two days, removed big lumps of cheesy matter from one of her eyes, and treated her with the homeopathic drops.She was cured in 4 days! I didn’t ring her because he is a very bright sandy colour with mauve iridescence on her breast and while not exactly  unusual, at least very noticeable. I certainly don’t get her mixed up with the other brown pigeons. But by mid November the paramyxovirus was taking its annual toll on the flock, and Sorrel, with several others, were suffering from it. The infection is nearly over by the time the symptoms of head turning ‘star gazing’, turning round and round etc are noticed but the birds are unable to pin-point grain due to head tremors and unless helped quickly die from starvation or exhaustion or are caught by predators. I took a few to the Wildlife Aid to be put down, as it seems kinder than letting them starve and I haven’t the time to help them all but I decided I would make a huge effort to try to save Sorrel. So every day I had to catch her to feed her. I really should’ve kept her in and away from the others, but with 3 homies and Pan already, I just don’t have the room/facilities. Catching a pigeon that can fly is not so easy, and takes times and patience, but of course one with paramyxo is desperate for food and spends time on the ground unsuccessfully trying to pick up grain so easier than catching a normal pigeon. Every day from the 23rd November to the 6th December, I tried to catch Sorrel and managed to hand-feed her each day, except once (when I felt terrible). At these feeds I fed her double the amount I feed the homies to ensure she would have enough to get her through til I could catch her again. Every day I was relieved to see her in the garden again – due to being fed she was managing to keep up with flock, despite the illness. I noted in my dovie calendar on the 7th Dec that she had had paramyxovirus symptoms for three weeks (the illness runs for about 6-8 weeks I believe and as I said the symptoms only show at the end – I think! I am not an authority on this!) A couple of nights I kept her in – much against her will! - one was on a dreadful rainy blustery evening and it would’ve done her no good to be out in it. At the time she was roosting on the light over the porch, and although this is a good safe place for a poorly little bird it is still exposed to wind and rain. On the 7th I didn’t manage to catch her, but did notice she seemed to be able to pick up some grains herself and on the following day she was feeding herself quite well! – and I haven’t had to hand feed her since, though I do throw her extra peanuts!  So I’d given her about 13 hand feeds – and probably saved her life!

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the past year or years. I hope you all have a truly lovely peaceful Christmas.  Love from me, the homies and the whole hungry flock!

Below, magnificent Silver Shadow, with some of the flock

And if this really is the last blog - God bless!

Faith xx

Saturday, 31 October 2015

An unexpected blog - October notes - mainly Tigerlily

I didn't expect to blog, but I kept some notes and they developed!

Early in Oct Pan came home with a small wound on his back. Otherwise he seemed fine and I treated it with my special veterinus gel – within two days little feathers were growing back in!

Cissie had a PMV relapse – making her more floppy in the head and more inclined to go round and round in circles. Maybe the excitement of the summer, having a mate and becoming a mother got to her in the end! Anyway, she would have to be a whole lot worse before I would consider the dreaded trip to the vet – she is still my girl - My clever girl, Pan’s mother!

18th Oct - I am very fond of this pair - Mr. Strong and his new mate, Blackie

Above, Pan - my big strong gorgeous boy!

20.10.15 - I had thought that the nasty eye infection amongst the general flock had blown over but one day I realised that a bright sandy little pigeon with unusually purple iridescent feathers on her breast had got something wrong with one eye, so I set out to capture her. She was a pigeon I had particularly noticed before – because of the unusual colouring – so I know that she had had nothing wrong with her eyes previously or I would’ve picked up on it. Once I had got her I had a good look – one eye was very puffy, bloodshot, practically closed and with two lumpy areas in the region our eyebrows would be.  I gently pressed round the eye and a piece of cheesy solid matter came into view over her eye and popped out. 

As you can see from the photo, it was quite large. I treated the eye with the excellent drops I get from Healingsun on ebay and released her. Next day I caught her again – and the same amount of matter was eased out of her eye. If you didn’t know you’d think it was half a soggy small peanut. This stuff, hard pus I suppose, was the cause of the two bulgy lumps above her eye. I used the drops again of course. This sounds a bit gross, but it was very satisfying to get rid of the stuff and give the bird some relief - several times I had seen her scratching at her eye with her foot; it must've been painful and irritating, and of course was making her practically blind in that eye, and therefore vulnerable.

 On the third day, her eye was looking better, and by the fourth really good. On the fifth day I could tell by looking at her that her eye was fine and I didn’t need to try and catch her to do the drops. Amazing – cured in 4 treatments, yet if you had seen her the first day you wouldn’t have thought she even HAD an eye it looked so awful. I wish I had taken photos every day, the cure was so dramatic. As I write it is now 28th Oct and Sorrel, as I call her, is with the flock every day and perfectly fine.

Below, the homies gather in the kitchen doorway - with naughty Pan, who can fly of course, up on the left on the sink unit. (the blue things you can see in the garden are stacked bags of coal!)

Cissie and Cloud in the bath - the water was probably fairly clean though the bath has algae growing on it but I read that it is good for the birds not to clean the algae off - so I don't very often

I haven’t seen my Autumn – (my oldest white dove hatched in my cote) for several weeks now, since the beginning of October, but she has gone away before for long periods and then returned, so I hope that will prove to be the case this time too.

 23.10.15 - 5.15pm - Above and below, my little loner, Tigerlily

You might or might not remember Tigerlily from my last blog. She’s a feisty little skinny black and white pigeon that I was treating for the eye infection. Every day in October I have marked on my dovie calendar whether I have seen her or not, for feeding, and only missed seeing her on three days or rather late afternoons or early evenings, as she always comes late. Her story continues .....
28.10.15 – It was quarter to five and as the clocks have changed already getting very gloomy indeed, and past the time I would expect to see any pigeon around. I started cooking the dinner in the back kitchen as we haven’t lit our aga yet, so was in and out of the house, when suddenly there wasTigerlily on the roof! I got the pot of food I had ready for her and went out and started throwing it on the garden table, and eventually she came down. She immediately gobbled up one peanut, then just sat there, panting or breathing in a heavier way than usual. I talked gently to her and sprinkled more food, as I walked round the table so I could get a good look at her from all sides. She seemed to be unharmed, but something seemed a little wrong or different, and I didn’t like her breathing. I decided that if I could I would capture her, just for the night, so she got a forced rest and didn’t have to face the possibly long flight back to wherever she comes from in the semi-darkness. I got the net, but actually just grabbed her with my hand. Inside, I examined her eyes with my glasses on plus a magnifying glass, and both seemed fine. In fact, I couldn’t remember which one I had treated with the drops. She was quite light and a bit skinny, but otherwise ok. As it was nearly bedtime anyway, I put her in Pan’s day box, and locked her in for food and water , and put Pan straight to bed in his night box. I left the food and water with her for a few minutes so she could eat more and get a drink, but it really was getting pretty gloomy by this time (or ‘doomy’ as my three year old granddaughter calls it!) so I removed it before carrying her box into the room where the homies sleep. Then I brought Cloud in next because she always makes cooing noises when I put her to bed and I think that hearing this any ‘newbie’ will be reassured that they are in the company of their own kind. I will of course release her tomorrow morning, as soon as the other pigeons are on the roof, provided she does not seem worse. I think maybe she is just exhausted – other pigeons have benefited from just one night’s rest. For all I know she might roost just round the corner, but somehow I get the vibe that she flies a long distance, and comes here just to eat due to lack of food in her more local area. She is rarely with other pigeons  which means she is more vulnerable.

Thurs 29.10 15 -  I released Tigerlily after taking a photo....

and first she flew to a roof away from the other pigeons which is not good news because they do that if they feel poorly..... but a bit later, she joined some others on the main roof 

and by 8.45am had gone. I wondered if I would ever see her again....I doubted it, and my heart was breaking already.

Fri 30.10.15 – After bringing the homies in, I still kept popping to the kitchen to see if Tigerlily had managed to come back, and eventually there she was at 3.30pm just before it starts to get dusky and gloomy – alone again, naturally! I took out food, and while she ate I skirted round the table trying to look nonchalant but really waiting for an opportunity to grab her!  Again I managed it, poor skinny little thing, and one eye, though not looking infected, looks a bit closed. Here she is in temporary accommodation, in with Cissie. 

Soon the homies will go to their night boxes and she can have Pan’s box for the night. Of course using boxes for birds like Tigerlily and even bringing them in is a potential risk for the health of the homies, but all the birds take their chance and I just do the best I can, and keep them all as clean as poss. Just after this, a white dove appeared on the garden table with one pigeon. The dove had a long piece of straw tangled round one foot, and trailing after it – it was sort of criss-crossed round the foot in ballet shoe style. I threw peanuts and made a grab for the straw – but missed! Hopefully straw is not as binding as string or wire but when they can’t shake off something tangled up , pigeons can lose their feet.

Below, Chino relaxing on top of her box - she doesnt do this very often, she's such a 
scaredy-bird, mostly just hiding inside

 Tomorrow I have a problem, I am going to be out for the major part of the day so will have to leave the homies in the conservatory. Pan, being betwixt and between, and considering himself a homie at night is my main worry. Currently during the day he perches on the kitchen door,  which is propped open, and flies outside if he wants to – when hubby’s not around anyway! I am off to see a show with my daughter and don’t expect to be back here before 6pm at the earliest – well past the time the homies come in now – which depending on the light is around 2.30-3pm so very early! Pan decides for himself when he will come to the conservatory, but it is no later than 3.30pm – so what to do? Do I shut him up when I have to go? I think I might have to. He would be worried if he couldn’t get back into the house at night – but having him ‘homed’ to the house is very awkward sometimes!  Tigerlily will be another problem – but I will release her in the morning after hand-feeding her a really good feed, so at least I know she has had a cropful which will last her a good 24 hours.

Sat 31st Oct – So I had to leave the house at 10.45am – the three homies had been brought in and would be all right in the conservatory. I also, luckily, had managed to catch Pan and he too would have to spend a boring day inside but I did put one of the water baths on the conservatory floor and hoped he would manage to amuse himself. He isn’t crated like the other three. Luckily hubby is away this weekend or goodness knows what I would’ve done

I had released Tigerlily and she’d gone by 8am, but at 8.30am she’d come back and was sitting on the side of one of the water-baths, in the odd upright way she has. I gently approached her and without difficulty picked her up – but what to do with her?  I put her in the hutch on the raised bed, with the door open, so she could leave if she wanted to..... but she didn’t, she went into the ‘night’ part and hid. Poor little thing. I couldn’t leave her in the garden for any random fox to break into the hutch and eat her while I was out, so I made arrangements  – and had her in with the others, but not loose like Pan. At least she would be safe and I could enjoy my day out. But she is obviously weakening, and unfortunately I don’t really expect her to survive in the long term.

Although my plan was not to ring, name or get fond of any more pigeons, it is impossible for me not to with some of them. Tigerlily, like others before her, has captured my heart.  But also, she reminds me of and is my last link with Tink and Tinkerbell. Tink was first, Pan’s sibling, and the day after she died was the first day I bought another little pigeon in – and named her after Tink....Tinkerbell.  Less than 2 weeks later, Tinkerbell was also dead, and I was treating Tigerlily (named after Tinkerbell – if you get the Disney connection) for the eye infection. All small little pigeons with endearing personalities, and Tigerlily has unusual colouring for the pigeons round here.

I leave you with Lucky, my daddy cote bird, and his current mate. Lottie, who seems to be sticking with him. Will they be having babies again in the spring - hope so!

Bye for now, I will catch up again at Christmas.

To be cont........