Sunday, 19 August 2007

My new blog for my doves

I want to have a blog just for my doves so will start at the beginning of their story, which started when Hub3 and I got married at the end of April 2006.

My mother gave us some money for a wedding present, which she said was from herself and my father, although he had died 10 months before. I don't know how the idea got into my head but I decided that I would love to have a dovecote, especially as we have the perfect garden for it. Although many people call pigeons 'flying rats' I have always been fond of them, and as a little girl it was a treat to buy a paperbagful of food from the pet shop on the corner on Richmond Green and feed the pigeons, and an even bigger treat to do so at Trafalgar Square.

The kind of 'doves' I keep are really just white pigeons and are referred to as white garden doves. They are not fantails or anything special. But of course they are very beautiful and special to me!

Hub3 was agreeable to the idea but said we must ask our landlord as we rent our cottage from a country estate. The land owner who is rather posh said that he thought a dovecote would be 'a charming idea'. I was so excited - I started researching doves and dovecotes on the net, and discovered Kootensaw Dovecotes who have a very pretty website

As the doves need to be confined for a homing period of six weeks, we couldn't get them any earlier than June as I wanted to be there for them, and we had our honeymoon and other commitments before then.

So I chose a beautiful white (expensive) dovecote and we had it delivered. Hub3 and some mates erected it for me, and it awaited its occupants.

I spent some pleasant dreamy moments choosing my doves names. We had decided to start with two pairs (now I wish we had started with three pairs). I immediately decided to call one pair after my parents - John and Irene. John is a funny name for a dove, but Irene means 'peace' so very appropriate really! The second male I decided to call Pax which of course also means peace, and his mate's name was to be Persephone. I chose this partly because it is pretty and springlike (although Queen of the Underworld) and I also thought it sounded well with Irene; John and Irene, Pax and Persephone.

The four doves arrived by special carrier on the 15th June 2006. We got them out of the carrying boxes and ringed them, not knowing at the time which sex they were or which doves were pairs. The rings were yellow, green, purple and orange.

The dovecote was netted for the homing period and staked to the ground. So the doves had the dovecote and a semi-circle of grass only to be their home for the next six weeks. I hated confining them but it was part of the process; otherwise they would've just flown back to wherever they came from.

It was absorbing watching them. I hadnt realised how they would all have their separate personalities. I knew nothing about keeping doves either, but had been assured by Kootensaw that it was perfectly simple.

It was soon obvious that orange and purple rings were male. So orange became Pax and purple, John. Green was paired with orange and became Persephone. Irene was yellow and paired with John. It was also obvious that Pax and Persephone were a strong, loving couple and Pax was the alpha male. I hated to see him running after John and pecking him to show who was boss. I had never realised the significance of the phrase 'the pecking order' til then! John and Irene, unlike my parents, did not seem that interested in each other. Irene seemed young and rather aloof.

Pax and Persephone immediately got down to business and set up home in the nestbox they considered 'best' - probably the one that gets the most light or something. We very soon realised that they had laid eggs and were very excited. The babies were hatched on 17th July and all the doves were still under the homing net.

The new babies were named Columba and Lily. I chose the name Columba and my daughter, Em, named Lily. We didnt know if they were male or female. It is apparently very difficult to sex doves even if you are an expert. It's easier to wait and see what characteristics they show when they are older.

Baby doves stay in the nestbox being looked after and fed by their parents until they are approx four weeks old, so the babies, Lily and Columba, were about two weeks old and very visible and noisy when the day arrived to take off the homing net.

We followed instructions as to how and when to remove the net, and got up early one Sunday morning. Hub3 removed the stakes, dragged off the net, and the doves peeked out.

Within minutes they had all realised their freedom and flown completely away. I burst into tears!

To be continued.....


Elizabethd said...

What a lovely dove tale, Faith. There is so much to learn about these pretty birds, and as you say, the dove is a symbol of both hope and peace.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Deratt - trying so hard not to get Doves as I feel we have enough animals for me to look after . . .Faith you are not helping.

Suffolkmum said...

I've always wanted a dovecote too Faith - and a beehive!! Maybe I'll stick to wanting doves ....

Pondside said...

Oh Faith you'll be the cause of an international interest in keeping doves!
I loved hearing about how you first started with your doves. Could you take a photo to show your whole dovecote?

Barbie said...

I can't believe that someone else is finding keeping beautiful doves is such an emotional experience!
I have a dovecote in the middle of my lawn in deepest Wales. In the cote are two contented doves,currently under a homing net.I am so worried about removing the net when they are `homed`.
Any advice, please ?

CAMILLA said...

I love your Blog about Doves Faith, they are truly beautiful birds. As Pondside has mentioned, would be lovely to see a Dovecote with birds in a photo.


Angela said...

Hi, Faith, Am really intrigued and interested to hear about your doves. I have been keeping doves for eighteen months now and it has been a real learning experience. I have them in a 6 x 4 wooden garden shed with a sixteen feet wired run. They fly free every day for a couple of hours. I mix them with seven hens who occupy the other end of the run which extends further for another 12 feet. They all get on very well. I have eight doves and two more babies on the way. My silkie hen also has five chicks about to hatch. I would love a dovecote. The one on your site looks so beautiful. But it seems so small. Are they all your birds in the pic.!! I think it is wonderful to find someone else so dedicated to these most beautiful birds. I am very impressed. x Angela (Ireland)

Annie said...

Hi, I am trying to find out about Kootensaw Dovecotes - does anyone have one/can recommend one to buy. Any advice on buying a dovecote would be very welcome!! Thanks