Yesterday morning when I went out early to feed the doves I was greeted by scattered white feathers on the door step. My heart sank as we have had several successful hawk strikes recently, but as there was no corpse and no bloody feathers I hoped that the dove had got away. I cleared up the doorstep feathers but left the ones trailing off towards the coal bunker. And although it crossed my mind to see if the dove had been chased into, or sought refuge in the bunker, I didn't actually check.
Later when I came home after lunch out, and was generally pottering in the garden with the dog, something caught my eye and I realised there was a dove squeezed in between the coal bunker and our shed kitchen. I couldn't tell if it was alive or dead because there was several pieces of wood propped up there, and I could only see white feathers.
(You can just see it behind the strip of pale wood)
I carefully moved the wood, piece by piece, and could then see that the dove was alive. I didn't know if it was injured, and crouched down to try and pick it up. It immediately moved away and having now been freed from the wood that was trapping it flew to the top of the bunker, and then onto the next highest level, the low roof, where it sat, appearing to get its bearings.
(A bit dazed but pleased to be free)
It appeared to be completely uninjured and could probably have wiggled its way out of the wood. I'm glad I found it though in case it was actually trapped. A white dove on the ground in our garden at night wouldn't have lasted very long. We have the rats back for one thing!
The dove flew to the main roof, and was immediately subjected to courting behaviour by a male dove, so I knew my trapped dove was female. He bowed and circled in front on her. She immediately flew away from him - hardly surprising. No lady is likely to be 'in the mood' after such a horrible experience.
She had obviously been chased by the hawk, but thankfully this time survived the ordeal.
There was a dove on the feeding table this morning with 'clutch' marks - it was probably the same dove. The injury is only like a graze would be to us, and she was feeding well.
Update on the nest in the barn (see blog dated 9th March '08)
The babies are now mini-adults! I haven't been back since the first time but when I visited the barn yesterday I could see them clearly. The flash on my camera is not powerful enough so I couldn't get a decent photo. They looked very healthy and contented, tucked up safe far above me on a wooden beam. There were some adults in the barn too, 3 or 4 of them - 2 no doubt the parents.
(The nest is there, on the vertical thicker beam just above the diagonal. You may be able to see it if you are able to enlarge the photo. The second photo shows one baby in the nest and the bigger one out of the nest to the right)
I may pop back to the barn today or tomorrow and put an empty cardboard box or two on the ground underneath the nest. The babies will be fluttering down soon, and then they will live on the ground, being fed by the parents there until they learn to fly. I hope they learn quickly! The boxes will give them something to hide in, and give them some protection. I don't expect I will go back to the barn after that though to check on the babies again. I daren't - because if I did and found evidence of their death it would make me sad.
(Doves in the barn - possibly parents, but probably not as they were at the opposite end of the barn)