Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Glimmer of hope for John

Nov. 27th '07

Sunday started badly - when I opened the door to let the dog out and feed the doves first thing in the morning, I found a dead dove with its head bitten off in the yard just outside our gate - white feathers everywhere. Very unpleasant, but thankfully not John, and I must be getting hardened to these losses. We don't know if it was fox, cat, mink or hawk.

Yesterday (Monday) when I came home it was already dark and John wasn't in the usual nest box. But there was a dove in a different one. This is unusual, and of course not being able to see his ring, I don't know if it was John or not.

Today, John was in his usual box and flew out early to join the others on the roof - later he went back in the box, and another dove flew up, peeked into a nestbox, and entered. And stayed a while!

I'm hoping that another dove, or pair, will 'home' here and we will have new families. Of course I also hope that John finds a new mate.

The only downside would be if the new dove/s drive John away.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

How John is coping

It is a week today since poor Lily died.

The first day or so, John behaved fairly normally, although seemed rather lonely and appeared to be looking around for Lily, although I knew he had known she was ill.

Then he seemed to become depressed in a way - I don't know if that is possible in birds. I suppose it must be. I noticed that he wasnt coming out of the dovecote and kept a close eye on him. Eventually I decided to get the steps, and put some food up in the nestbox for him. He pecked at it, and then flew down to the water bowl on the lawn, then back to hedge - stretched his wings - and back into the nestbox. The weather of course has been very rainy and/or gloomy which hasnt helped, but there has been sunny periods.

I have kept putting food up for him, but it occurred to me today that as doves (pigeons) have no qualms about fouling their home, then it must be getting pretty gross in there by now, and not very healthy.

I agreed with my husband that if he still was not out by the weekend then we would have to take him out, at least while I cleaned the nestbox.

Today, as the sun shone, he came out and flew to the roof where there were about eight other doves, and preened himself. I shot out to clean out the nestbox, and put fresh hay in there. He has now gone back in but at least it is clean, and he has 'socialised' a bit.

My poor widowed dove - I hope he finds a new mate for the spring.

PS I have now added one of the last pictures of John and Lily together.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Lily died today

My bright, beautiful and beloved dove, Lily, died this morning.

I knew she was poorly as she had sat, hunched up, all day yesterday on the roof, hardly moving. John, her mate (named after my father) sat with her for most of the day, but as the sun started to go down, he went and ate and drank, and then went to bed in the normal place in the dovecote.

I watched Lily anxiously but there was nothing I could do. Eventually she edged slowly along the roof, until she was nearer the end of it, and nearer the dovecote, and the hedges where I put the food pans. I called her and put out food in front of her to see if I could encourage her down, but she stayed the night on the telegraph wire, near to the roof.

This morning I went out into the frosty garden at 7.00 am and she was just outside our gate, in the gravelled yard, on the ground. She couldnt fly, and made a feeble attempt to run away, but I netted her and put her in my 'hospital' box while I thought what to do. She wasnt showing any symptoms of paramyxo. Of course, I put food and water in the box, but she didnt appear to touch either.

My husband and I agreed that it seemed a good idea to put her back in the dovecote with food and water, and see what she did. I took her out of the hospital, having set up the steps, and put food and water in the dovecote. She seemed to change, but I put her in the dovecote anyway. Now I think she died then, in my hands, and maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move her from the hospital. But she has been handled many times before, and not died, and picking up a bird carefully doesn’t kill them, and I knew she was poorly anyway…..

I watched the dovecote on and off for two hours, but she didn’t move and very soon I noticed a fly or two around, so I went and put the steps up again and I could tell she was dead.

I am very sorry indeed to lose her, and concerned that John will fly away, as Pax did when Persephone was killed. I still see her Easter babies, Francis and Iona, with the feral flock, but they don’t home here.

Later on I gave poor Lily a lovely funeral with a little posy of small pink, white, blue and yellow flowers picked from the garden tucked into her feet, and sent her on her way down the river. She looked so white and beautiful that I took a photo of her first - some might think that macabre, but I don't.

John sat on the roof and another white dove kindly kept him company. I don’t think I could have borne it if he had to sit alone. He went to bed in the normal place in the dovecote at quarter to four. The other doves in the feral flock will come tomorrow and mostly at least some stay around all day. I hope he will find another mate out of them, but it is more likely, I suppose, that he will succumb to the virus. I presume Lily had paramyxo, although thankfully none of the distressing symptoms of head-twisting and turning round and round. And at least I didnt have to take her to the vet to be put down.

Lily's life: She was the squab (chick) of Pax and Persephone and hatched on 17.7.06 with her sibling, Columba. In December that year she was injured, presumed shot at, and I nursed her until she was better and able to fly again. Handling during nursing made her the tamest dove we had, and she was never scared to be near me. She mated with John, and became a mother at 8 months old, to Francis and Iona. She had more squabs right at the end of May but they died aged a few days old, and then more in July. They were the Ugly Dovelings who died aged 2 weeks. (More details on all of this in previous blogs) Lily died 15.11.07 aged 16 months. RIP my beautiful dovie angel.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Tommy - more bad news

It never seems to stop. Another pure white dove landed in the garden, and displayed all the symptoms of the upsetting paramyxo virus.

As it is near Rememberance Sunday I named him Tommy.

Again I was in a terrible quandary about what to do. My husband would have 'bumped' him off, but it is not a pleasant job, and I didn't want the poor thing to suffer. The Wildlife Aid place hadn't really been that much help with Seagull and Blanche, so I took Tommy to the local vet.

The vet himself was just going out, but said if I left the dove, and signed a form, he would do it when he got back. I went in and spoke to the nurses - sweet young girls, and sympathetic. They transferred Tommy to one of their boxes, and I signed the form, feeling like an executioner. I suppose I must have signed something when I had my poor old cat, Scissors, put to sleep aged 19 years, ages ago but I don't remember. How the kings and queens of old could have signed real people's death warrants I will never understand.

The vet will do it unless he feels there is a chance of a cure....... I don't hold out any hope.

There were so many doves on the roof today, 47 or 48. John and Lily tend to keep themselves separate from the others most of the time. I am still hoping they will stay well.

Sorry no photos today as they are all on my laptop which is at the menders.

PS The vet rang me late afternoon which was sweet of him as I hadn't asked him to. He felt that it would be kinder to put Tommy down as he had no quality of life - which of course was true. He knew Tommy wasnt my dove, but one of the feral flock, so I wonder if he will bill me for the job?