Sunday, 11 January 2009

New Year and how are the doves?

Thurs 15th January 2009

We have had some very cold weather recently with sub-zero temperatures. The doves are hardy but the icy ground covered in snow means that they can't easily supplement what I give them with little extras of green stuff. In the worst of the weather I have relented and given them a bit more. They don't seem to mind the cold, even having baths and sitting on the snowy lawn to dry off

The flock has now reduced to approx. 50-60 birds. It's rather hard to count them as not all of them appear for each feed. I have seen hawks about - they are using my poor birds

as food in this hard weather.These were ones that got away, and I saw them heal in the days that followed. Others haven't been so lucky.
In previous blogs I was concerned about the huge flock. I keep a very rough 'dove diary' and note that on 4th November I had a morning flock of about 40 and an afternoon one (some of course would be the same birds) of 70-80, so obviously we are down quite a bit. I have been 'working out' the food. I'm finding it difficult to find any reference anywhere - even if dove books - as to how much each individual dove/pigeon eats per day. Some say one thing, others say another. I think its about one and a half ounces - that looks about right. So I am working on the principle of giving about half the feed required for the number of doves I have visiting - they must search elsewhere for the other half! There's a lot of weighing and measuring as the number of doves fall.
I am still seeing most of the doves I ringed in the Summer or Autumn. So, I'm still seeing Sooty (who fell down the chimney, remember?) and these others - Sweetie, Octavius, Octavia, Rose and Daisy. Unfortunately I have realised that Daisy is a male! I'm not seeing Columba any more, or Autumn.
Last night, at dusk when the other doves had flown away, I found a dove on the bridge to the island. It would definitely be fox fodder if I left it - I have seen fox footprints in the snow and the frost, and one morning saw a beautiful big brown fox sitting in the snow. Amazingly enough I had my camera with me, but by the time I had switched it on and ducked behind the hedge, it had loped off. A missed photo opportunity! I got my net to catch the lone dove but at the first swipe I missed and it fluttered up to the metal side of the bridge, but didn't, more likely couldn't fly away. I tried again with my heart in my mouth, because if it slipped and really couldn't fly then it would have fallen in the fast flowing water and been swept away - I would have felt like a murderer! This time the net caught it's wing and I grabbed it and took it back to the cottage. My daughter ringed it, and demanded that she name it.... so we have a pure white dove called Scarlett now. I've put it in the dove box in the shed with food and water for the night. Scarlett may be the dove I called Frosty who had been spending the last 7 or 8 nights on our roof... but he's Scarlett now.
My most exciting news is that a pair of doves have been showing a great interest in the dovecote. They spend quite a bit of time there - one sometimes in the cote and one looking up expectantly at it. Sometimes they go in together. Also I have seen them mating, and so I am very much hoping that they will set up home here, but currently they are flying away at night.

It would be so lovely to have a pair of doves here at night again. The cote looks so empty at the moment. So here's hoping........

I also have a special dove! He is unringed because I havent attempted to ring him, not wishing to frighten him. When I feed the doves on the island in the afternoons, I hold my hand out with feed and he always flies up to it. I call him EagleEye because he is always watching my movements. Although unringed and pure white I can easily recognise him even on the ground as he has a peculiar crossed beak - and a knowing look! Sometimes when he is feeding off my hand I move my fingers so that I can feel his warm feathery body - I love the fact that he trusts me enough to come onto my hand. None of the others do!

The end


WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Eeeeeeek there seems to be a huge gap after your blog before you come to the comments.

Thank you for the up-date faith. I admire the way you care for the Doves and hope this latest one is ok.

Oooooo how lovely that you have doves in your dovecote again - I bet it has looked lonely. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely gorgeous, Faith. There are an awful lot of doves feeding, I expect keeping you very busy. I love the way you have given them names and know which one is which. Another delightful dove blog.

CJ xx

Faith said...

Thanks WW - will try and sort this out!

bradan said...

That is good news Faith, you've worked so hard with your doves, I hope some do stay in the dovecote. xx


Love the photos of the lovers. Amazing. I hope they stay

Pipany said...

Oh I hope they set up home Faith. How lovely to have such pretty neighbours xx

Frances said...

Faith, please do keep trying to keep your doves strong through the challenges of winter.

Your postings have really taught me lots!

Calico Kate said...

How lovely to have such beautiful birds come to visit. I too hope that the love birds will come home to roost. Lovely pictures Faith.

fillbrookdoves said...

hi thanks for up dateing where abouts do you live because i have a small white flock and i handreaerd a white baby with a crossed beck and he used to fly too me when i fed him he has now taken off mine had a little brown patch on his back his name was timmi if the one you got has a brown patch on his back please e mail me as i would like too know how he is doing where a bouts do you live