Saturday, 27 October 2007

RIP Seagull and Blanche..... and Snowdrop

I went up to the Wildlife Aid centre today to enquire after Seagull and Blanche and was told that both had been put down due to the paramyxo virus.

Yesterday morning I found another pure white dead dove in the garden. It was a delicate young bird so I named it Snowdrop.

Not much I can do, but it is upsetting.

(photos are recent ones of the feral flock - the one on the ladder is Spike)

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Dead Dove/Pigeon

I call the birds that appear half dove/half pigeon 'dove/pigeons'. Not long after posting yesterday's blog I noticed a hunched up dove/pigeon on a low part of my roof. It was obviously ill so I thought I'd be able to reach it and put it in isolation. By the time I'd got the net and the steps it had moved way out of reach.

By 8pm it had gone, and checking the undergrowth in the flower bed below I found it's poor dead body. It was a beautiful bird - white but shadowed all over with grey. I retrieved Shadow and sent him to a watery grave in the river. Now, thinking about it, maybe I should have kept him as I hope to see a vet today and discuss the whole paramyxo thing - but Hub3 recommended I dispose of him in the river and I just didn't think.

Of course he may not have had the virus, he may have died or something else or old age - but I doubt it.

I feel we have got the plague. As I type the sun is shining on the dovecote making it brilliantly white - and John or Lily is peeping out. Lord of Nature - please look after my doves.


I went up to a new vets that is very local to where I live - only five mins in the car. It's in an old barn, but sympathetically modern inside, and the staff were very friendly. I was able to have an informal chat with the vet, immediately - no waiting, wow! Not like that at my old vets. He also gives his time at the Wildlife Aid centre mentioned before and basically said the same as the vet I saw up there - nowt much one can do about it. Paramyxo is always with us.

Nothing to do with doves, but I also spoke to him about my Yorkshire Terrier's teeth, and I will make an appointment to take him up there so that I get a second opinion on whether a cleaning op will be necessary, and how it will affect him (he has a collapsed trachea).
The photo is an old one, showing some of the doves swinging on the telegraph wire.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Highly Contagious Virus

As mentioned in the last blog I took poor ill Blanche up to the wildlife aid centre last Saturday. The car park was full - it had been empty the last time I went with Seagull. Fortunately I didn't have to wait and even more fortunately I was able to speak to a very helpful young man on the desk and also the vet on duty (all staff are volunteers).

The vet knew Seagull and discussed Blanche with me. She said that they have Paramyxo virus which is carried by feral pigeons and is highly contagious. I have now found this condition in my dove book - must have overlooked it before - and it says it is not always fatal. However, as one of the symptoms is being unable to fly very well then of course it is pretty well going to be fatal as the dove would get caught and eaten!

At first the vet seem disinclined to take Blanche in - I didn't plead but she changed her mind and did so even though we had discussed the possibility of either me taking her home for Hub3 to despatch or being given an injection at the centre.

The vet said that paramxyo is endemic in the feral pigeon population and not much can be done about it. She suggested that we get rid of any feral doves that start showing the symptoms.* This will be unpleasant but Hub3 is not squeamish about such things.

I am going to see a local vet at a practice nearby and want to discuss how this may affect my own doves - John and Lily - and what can be done about it. The book says they can be vaccinated or vaccine added to drinking water. It would not be easy at all to catch John and Lily. And Francis and Iona I only see occasionally at the afternoon feeding time.

The wildlife aid centre recommended a disinfectant called Trigene and that's something else I will have to try to track down.

I would like both Blanche and Seagull back if they recover, and will pop up to the centre in two weeks to check on their progress.

* watery droppings, unpleasant smell. Birds trembling, shivering, falling over and twisting their necks. Limping and inability to fly.
PS The photo is not of Blanche, but is an old one of Hub3 holding another pure white dove, like Blanche - probably Lily.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Seagull's Story

Seagull is a dove/pigeon that was visiting my garden in the summer. I'm not sure when I first noticed him but he is quite distinctive as you can see from the photo - with markings that reminded me of a gull.

One day he was sitting on the hedge where the food pans are and didn't fly away as I came in the gate. This is unusual for all of the doves, except my Lily. None of them, except her, are that tame. Doves are easily frightened, jumpy creatures; they know they are prey instinctively and are always watching out.

I observed Seagull for a while, and took photos. He looked ok but after a while I realised was doing something peculiar with his neck. twisting it round and round. When I discovered that he couldn't fly properly I trapped him with my dove net (a medium sized pond net) and put him in my small dog's car carry box as a 'hospital' - with food and water of course.

Every day, for a week, I put him, in the box, out on the hedge so he would get light and air and be able to see the other doves, and at dusk I put him on a shelf in the shed to keep him safe. Every time I cleaned out the box I saw he wasn't getting any better and was concerned as to what to do for the best. My vet is the old one I had before I moved here and is not an avian vet.

It was suggested to me that I took him to a local wildlife aid centre and this seemed a good plan. I took him in the dog's box, which was of course returned to me, and I took a bag of feed with me in case they didn't have anything suitable. This aid centre is the only one in Surrey, and situated fairly near me in Leatherhead. According to their leaflet,they deal with 20,000 wildlife incidents a year and rely on volunteers and donations.
Find them at
Seagull was taken in and given a patient number and I duly paid my donation. I was told to ring in a couple of days to see how he was doing. When I did this I was told he was still alive, but had an infectious complaint and was in quarantine. I rang again a week later and was told the same thing. I asked the woman on the phone what the complaint was and she said she didn't know, she hadn't looked at the notes, just checked he was still alive! Calls are made on a premium line and my last call cost £6 so I have decided it would be cheaper and more productive to drive up to the centre; especially as now (13.10.07) I have another dove (pure white this time) exhibiting the same symptoms. The new dove I will call Blanche.

Only 4 of this flock are mine (John, Lily, Francis and Iona) and only 2 'home' here (John & Lily)so I don't know what I shall do if they all go down with it. I'm hoping that I will be able to see a vet at the centre and see what I can do to prevent the spread of this disease. As all the doves are free to go where they please I am not sure how much I will be able to do. I think it will be a question of survival of the fittest.

I intend to take Blanche up to the wildlife aid centre today (it is open 7 days a week) - with a letter for the vet in case I don't see one. I will update the blog in due course.

All other doves seem well, but we currently have several staying the night, just roosting on the roof, and telegraph pole. John and Lily roost in the dovecote of course. We wondered if the others have been rejected by the main feral flock, or perhaps want to stay the night so they get early and reliable breakfast!