My beautiful dove, Columba, went missing on 2nd December '06. It was the same day that his sister, Lily came back home injured, possibly shot. I assumed that the doves had been shot at, as there was a shoot that day on the farm, and that Columba had died. We looked after Lily, and she recovered (see previous blogs) but I was still very sad that we'd lost Columba. He was a stunning pure white dove and fairly tame.
Today, when I went into the garden to feed the doves, they were all congregating on the feeding table, picking over the leftovers, and waiting impatiently for their breakfast. They flew to the roof while I filled the pans and flew back again before I'd even finished. I stayed close and watched them for a while; looking at all their feet and hoping to see John's purple ring.
Suddenly I realised that one dove was wearing a ring - a white ring. Not that easy to see on a white dove, although their feet are pink. At first I thought 'Oh that's nice, a ringed dove, one I can recognise, what shall I call him?' and then it struck me - Columba ! We didn't know for sure that he had died and he had been ringed with a white ring!
I thought about it and have decided that it most probably is my dove, Columba and I am very very happy to see him again after more than 15 months! In all the time I have been keeping doves (approx. 21 months) apart from my own I have only ever seen two other doves/pigeons with rings. One is the white dove I call Pinkie who wears a thick pink ring, and the other was a racing pigeon who stayed near us for a few days. He seemed poorly and we called him Eric - he wore two rings I think. So it would seem likely that a pure white dove, wearing a white ring of the type I use, is in fact Columba, rather than some random dove who happens to be ringed with white.
I wonder where he has been all this time, and what he has been doing? He certainly looked very well, and didnt have the slightly bedraggled look that some of the feral flock get.
Maybe the doves were shot at that December and he got frightened away. Or maybe he just left to find a mate.
When I left the house today he was on the lower part of the roof and I could see his ring clearly. He (and I think he is a he, although I don't know for sure) was with another dove, which appeared to be female (slender neck) so maybe he does have a mate.
I got into the car but a bird circling high up in the sky caused me to worry, and I got out and stood looking up for a while until it had gone away. I'm not sure it was the sparrowhawk, but I think it might have been.
When I got home later one of my neighbours had found a dead dove in her garden - the poor thing had been half eaten. But was not John. I am getting hardened to it now although it is distressing. But even this gruesome death has not destroyed my pleasure in having my prodigal son return just before Easter!
Photo shows two of the feral flock on the table and a pheasant who seems to like my garden at the moment!
Note: Columba and Lily were the first pair of squabs raised in my dovecote. Parents: Pax and Persephone.