Hope and Glory's babies (squabs) are four weeks old today. The oldest, and I assume that is the largest one, is 28 days and the smallest, 27. As you know, poor Glory died at the claws of a hawk when they were only days old, and Hope has done a magnificent job rearing them on her own. According to various studies, when one parent dies and the babies are very young, the remaining pigeon parent will chuck one baby out of the nest as it can usually only rear one. Hope has had unlimited access to food of course and that has made it easier for her. On Tuesday 14.4.09 the day's feeding schedule went like this - mind you this is just the feeds I saw, there may have been more: 7.30 am, 7.45 am, 8.20 am, 10.00 am, 4.15 pm and 6.50 pm. Some days there are less feeds and then I get worried that they might not be getting enough food. Mind you feeding does slacken off eventually so that hunger drives the babies out of the nest to fledge.
Hope goes in to feed. If you can click on this photo which should enlarge it, you will just see a squab's little beak lower right.
The babies are now very vocal. I've been able to hear their faint peeping since they were a week old, but now I can hear their high pitched squeaking for food when I am in the house with the doors and windows shut! Yes, it's that loud! And this is the reason that I am alerted to many of the feeds - I hear the squeaking, look out and see Hope's in the nest box. If you are ever in a town with old buildings and you hear noisy high squeaking then look up because there could well be a pigeon's nest tucked up in the nooks and crannies somewhere. Another giveaway is the mess on the buildings and the ground nearby of course. Squabs are sometimes called 'squeakers' for this reason.
They are also much more visible at the door of the nestbox, appearing and disappearing like little ghosts. If I see them and approach, then they shimmy down out of sight. They are still nervous and cautious, although don't seem to mind me handling them too much when I collect them at night to bring them into the kitchen and put them back in the morning.
A little face at the window
And sometimes two!
I weighed them again this morning to see if they had gained from when I weighed them on the 13th - see previous blog - and also because CalicoKate wanted to see a photo of one of them on the scales. So these are specially for you CK!
Big enough to peep out of the box, but not climb out!
Won't stand still on the scales!
Posing nicely now! - This is the smaller one of the two.
The largest one, tail marked with pink, was 9 and 3/4 ounces and is now approx. 10 ounces
The smaller one, was 7 and 3/8 ounces and is now approx. 8 and 1/2 ounces.
(This is their weight gain in 3 days, but difficult to be accurate as they kept getting off the scales!)
According to 'the book'*at 28 days feral pigeon squabs should be between 300 - 350g (i.e. 10 - 12 ounces) so my biggest one is just hitting the target and the other is underweight.
Notice the claws - they are extremely sharp!
I will be having a Naming Competition for them soon, with a prize, so watch this space!
* The book is 'Feral Pigeons' by Richard F. Johnson & Marian Janiga and costs over £70. It is on order for my birthday!
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