Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A special dove - and Turtle-Doves

It was 18th October 2010 and my Pilates class wasn't on due to half term so I decided to go to Claremont National Trust garden to have a walk and see the flock of 30-50 white doves that live there. The dove above is a rather scruffy fantail at Claremont - the only one. The rest have ordinary tails.

Here are some more of them, with a few pigeons

They appear to roost in the trees - I don't think they go anywhere else at night.
I was probably the first person in the gate that day, and almost straight away I noticed a dove sitting alone on the grass, nearly under a hedge and near the lake. I thought it looked sweet and took a photo but didn't think much more of it. I wandered on and fed the large flock and wondered anew how they all manage to get enough to eat, competing as they do with ducks, geese, swans, seagulls.....

After I completed the shortish walk around the lake, it struck me that there had been something unusual about the first dove and I went back to see if it was still there. It was in the same position and I got close and took another photo and it allowed me to get closer and closer until I could pick it up without any trouble at all.

The poor little thing looks pretty in the photo but had a damaged wing and was very poorly. It occurred to me that if I went back to the entrance kiosk and said I've found one of your doves with a damaged wing, and can I take it home, I have a flock of white doves, I know what to do etc etc they might actually say no, health and safety, property of the NT, we have to ask someone, blah, blah, so I just whisked out the carrier bag I had in my pocket and popped it in there, secreting it out of the gate with no-one any the wiser! Safe in the car, I put it in a box that just happened to be there. One good thing about me being so messy is that I always have useful things in the car!

I named the dove Jose, after the men from the San Jose mine who had just been rescuedf. My poor little Jose was very quiet in the car. He (or she) appeared to be a young bird with the sharp beak of a juvenile and was very thin and dehydrated. At home, I filled a little pot with water and dipped his beak into it, but he didn't respond. For the first 48 hours I kept him confined in the 'hospital box' in the conservatory, with food and water of course. Every couple of hours I took him out and held his beak in the water pot - and when at last he took a sip while I was holding him, I felt uplifted and happy that we'd turned a corner and he might pull through. The next day though one of his eyes was sticky and half closed and I thought 'here we go, the beginning of the end' but I bathed it gently with a soft, non-fluffy cloth and plain water and the following day it was clear again. Jose started eating and drinking normally within a day and quickly gained strength, but unfortunately I doubt if he will every fly again. I had asked the Universe to send me a dove for my empty cote so I wasn't surprised when I found Jose, but he was not like Spirit a very friendly dove who had also had a damaged wing and lived with me for a month from Sept to Oct '08 (her story can also be found on this blog), Jose was much less amenable. Spirit spent her days on a branch near my kitchen door, mingling with the other doves on the patio and lawn, and walking out onto the path when she wanted to go to bed in the dovecote. Jose didn't like the branch, wherever I placed it, choosing to jump off and go and hide in the flower beds or the shed kitchen if I left the door open. Eventually he decided to like being on the big garden table with the hospital box as a shelter. He now goes in and out as he pleases, and has a big shallow dish of water to drink from and bathe in. Well he's supposed to bathe in it and has done so precisely once! He's beginning to look a bit grubby now.
I've had him for about 2 months now and he is more friendly. I don't have to chase him round the table when it's bed-time any more before I can pick him up. Bed time is currently around 3.30pm -3.45pm as the days are so short and gloomy. Of course he is vulnerable on the table if there are any hawks around, but I saved him from probably being eaten by a fox on the first night, or starving to death. I do wonder if it was the right thing to do - is it much of a life for a bird, not being able to fly? But it is a life, and he does have company as he can see the other doves, and some of them alight on the table - most probably to eat his food rather than say hello! I also worry that if he proves to be a she, in the mating season she will get hassle from young males who don't realise her disability.

Since I've had Jose I've looked after three other birds. The first was a dark pigeon - the one above. Here he is getting better - sorry I've got the pictures out of order! He arrived alone, lame and lacking much of the feathers from his back. I threw him peanuts as he had difficulty hopping between the feeders but as he could fly I wasn't too worried.

Jose again, looking perkier - we ringed him as soon as we knew he would live

Here's the poorly lame one, as he first arrived - possibly got away from a hawk or other predator

The second was a brown pigeon who was seemingly dazed and unable to fly. I put it in the dovecote - not Jose's quarters, in case it was diseased! - with food and water and it flew away after a couple of hours, so don't know what was wrong there. The third casualty was a cock pheasant, also dazed, wandering round in circles on our little country road. I got out of the car to see what I could do and it flopped into the ditch and lay trapped in a bramble. I got it out and it sat quietly on the back seat of the car til I got home. I put it in a box with food and water and next time I looked it had gone. I think it may have suffered a slight collision with a car but was basically ok.
The old saying of be careful what you wish for can be applied to me now as I have dependant bird and we are going away for a few days after Christmas. There is no-one I can ask to bring Jose out of the dovecote in the morning and put him to bed in the late afternoons - although someone is coming to feed the birds, of course. So I bid on and won and super hutch from ebay - a bargain at £28. The hutch is just right, all one level, as Jose wouldn't have been capable of going up and down a ladder. Occasionally he jumps off the table, thinking he can fly, and lands feet up, totally helpless. He will have to stay shut up in the hutch while we are away, but it is roomy and he will be safe - I hope.

Jose standing in front of his lovely new hutch
Before I finish, I must mention Turtle Doves, the gorgeous recycled wrist warmer and fingerless gloves rolled into one. I met Kate, who makes them, at her stall at the Bishop's Castle Michaelmas Fair - I was attracted by the name!- and just fell in love with them. I bought 2 pairs for me, in soft blue-grey and emerald green, and four pairs to give as presents, all of which have been enthusiastically received - especially the lucky girl who got the cashmere pair! The photo shows me in mine feeding a pigeon at St. Peter Port Harbour, in Guernsey. But do please go to her site to have a look, they are so colourful, pretty and useful
The end


hopeinparis said...

Faith, I think you did the right thing in saving Jose. It IS a life and s/he will likely blossom with time and trust. The hutch is perfect! What a great story!
Thank you for sharing with us and also the excellent photos.
Happy holidays.

Preseli Mags said...

I'm in awe of your dove and bird nursing skills. I agree you did the right thing in rescuing Jose. He's a very lucky dove. Lovely to hear his story and about the others too.

Yan21 said...

Really lovely Hope. How special to have saved him at this time of year.
Hope you all have a lovely xmas

Faith said...

It's Faith, Yan, not Hope! Hope was a mother dove I had once! I'll be emailing you soon.

Kate Holbrook - Turtle Doves said...

Faith, what a lovely story... you are a star and I'm sure you did the right thing for Jose. I had to phone the RSPCA yesterday as I saw an injured buzzard by the road (fast road- couldn't stop) I do hoe that they found him. Thank you for the mention, I do appreciate it & I'll pop it on twitter if that's ok? Look forward to receiving the jumpers. Best wishes, Kate

Guernsey Girl said...

Hello Faith

I've just discovered your blog!

Great to hear about your new friend Jose and to be reminded of my favourite place - Guernsey. I might just have a look at those lovely dovely gloves, too...


Faith said...

Kate Holbrook and Guernsey Girl - thank you both for reading my blog and commenting. It's always lovely to have new people interested in my doves.