Monday, 13 April 2009

Weighing the Babies


Easter Monday, and I weighed the squabs in the kitchen this morning before I put them back in the nest. I marked the largest one by dabbing pink colouring onto it's tail, then I popped it on the scales. Luckily I have a flat scale and it stood still. I measured them in ounces as I know where I am with ounces! The big one weighed nine and three-quarter ounces and the smaller one, seven and three-eighths ounces.
Although I know Hope is feeding them, as I see her doing so, and I can feel the grain in their crops when I pick them up, I thought it would be useful to take their weights and see how much they are gaining.

I've had difficulty in the past finding information about pigeons/doves on the internet but I have recently found a brilliant (but expensive at over £70)book - some of which can be viewed online - with detailed info about feral pigeons. Apparently squabs at this age should be about ten ounces - so my biggest one is not too far behind. It also said that in the case of one parent dying when the squabs are less than 4 days old (as in this case with Glory dying when the babies were only 3 and 2 days old) the remaining parent usually chucks one of the squabs out of the nest as it can only rear one, so I am extremely lucky that Hope didn't do this. One reason for this could be that there is always food available from 6am to dark, and Hope doesn't have to forage to feed her babies.

I also found a blog from a few years ago with photos of the development of a pair of pigeon squabs - nice photos, have a look here

I took the squabs in about 9pm, half an hour later than normal. They were warm, but didn't seem as warm as the other nights. I think they would lose a lot of heat over the night, with no parent dove in the dovecote with them and might die. I can't risk it, even though I can sense they don't really want to be removed from the nest.

The other doves? I haven't said much about the general flock recently being so pre-occupied with the babies. The flock is small - I'm not seeing more than 30 birds together (remember the huge summer flock of 100 or more!). Nero, my black dove, is still around and the dove I ringed in the summer with two green rings, Sweetie but other doves I ringed like Octavius and Octavia and Rose have not been seen for some time. There is a nest in the barn on the farm, see photo above, but after spotting it and taking the photo I havent been back to look just in case there had been a disaster.

I often drive under a railway bridge at a traffic lights, one of the old fashioned types with plenty of roosts for pigeons. I always hope the lights are red so I can observe. There are many nests, but I wonder how many of these squabs survive. When they tumble out of the nest at 4-5 weeks old they are going to land straight onto a main road poor little things. According to the informative book, it seems that only 25% of squabs would survive from egg to total independance at around 7 weeks anyway.
If my babies do survive, and I'm not taking this for granted, I will have a naming competition for one of them - I've thought of a name for the other.

The end


Calico Kate said...

Oh Would love to have seen a picture of a dove on the scales! Maybe next week?

Faith said...

Will do CK! Didn't think of it til afterwards, I will weigh them on Thurs which is their 4 week birthday.