Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Nero's in Love

8th July '09

I am so proud of myself as I have added a random slideshow of my dove photos to my blog - anything techie usually takes me ages but I accomplished this in a few minutes. Hope you enjoy it!
Having done that I realised that it is over a month since I wrote my dove blog so thought I should do an update - as much for myself as for any readers.

My two babies, Victory and Purity, are now grown-up and approx. 4 months old. Surprisingly enough they are exactly the same age as my eldest daughter's pregnancy! They are a similar size to many of the other doves visiting, but I recognise them by their coloured rings. I think that Victory may be female, but I'm not sure yet. I was hoping that Victory would be male and Purity female - suits their names better, doesn't it? Anyway, they are well and visiting regularly at least twice a day for food.
I have seen my black dove, Nero with a dark female pigeon, both at the farm where the doves roost and here at home. He has been trying to fix his interest with her for ages - he is so beautiful how can she resist? He is much blacker than the photo - I can never get one that shows off his irresistable darkness with the iridescent purple and green neck feathers.

Here they are at home, on the roof and the lawn

And here they are in a very bad photo at the roosting farm which I will now call Pig Farm in my blogs as not wanting to identify it by name, and they used to keep pigs there.I read somewhere that pigeons tend to choose mates that look similar to themselves or their parents, and Nero and his love would seem to bear that theory out - as she is a very dark grey bird with a white patch on her back like he has - but the expensive and informative book I got for my birthday - Feral Pigeons by Richard F. Johnston and Marian Janiga - tends to disagree, and says that, according to their data 'more matings occur between birds of unlike plumage, and fewer between birds of like plumage, than would be expected on the basis of chance'.

This book informs me that as these birds are monogamous (which I knew) they choose their mate carefully (if they have enough choice) on the basis of age, breeding experience, dominance status, size, feather parasite load and plumage colour and pattern

Nero appeared to choose Messalina (that's what I'm calling her!) and she seemed to resist his advances strongly for a long period of time. It seemed like he was always after her - I'm surprised either of them got anything to eat as there was only ONE THING on his mind! Male pigeons walk, run or fly after the object of their affections, never giving them any peace, and pecking them on the neck to try to bring them under control!

Oh there you are! .......eating!........................................ Well here I am! See me!

Look how gorgeous I am!................................... Hey, don't walk away!..................
Eventually, some part of his charm worked and I caught this series of photos as the sun went down.

Messalina is on the left...................................................and now Nero is, puffing out his chest in courtship

Billing.......................................................................and then Messalina starts to crouch down

Nero mounts Messalina.........................................and they copulate (cloacal union)
This takes seconds so clever of me to capture it in a photo!

Messalina on the left, starting the henpecking that always follows marriage!!!

But they will stay together, and nest building - according to the book - starts about 5-7 days after the first copulation. So soon I will take another trip down to Pig Farm to see if they have started a nest. There are currently about 4 or 5 white dove nests there, with squabs being raised.
Back to the other doves -
A flock of just under 50 ( white doves and pigeons) are currently visiting - last year at this time it was approx. 40.
I had a surprise recently - Victory (pink ring and green ring) was on the front lawn when I went through the garden on my way to the island to feed the doves. I walked through the honeysuckle arch and there in the lavenders was Victory again. 'You cheeky thing!' I said 'How did you pass me?' and then I realised that this dove, also with pink and green rings, was not Victory at all but a bigger, older dove, with the rings on the opposite legs. I checked my records and discovered that it must be Autumn. Autumn was a dove that I caught and ringed last October and haven't seen since before Christmas! Wonder where he/she has been all this time, and why he went away? Remember those deep snow days? Somehow he found food then because he definitely wasn't visiting my garden for it.
The End. (you may have to scroll down for the comments section - I still can't work out how NOT to have a huge gap!)