Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Another Rescue + continuing Hugo's story

Sat 11 June 2011

Flash was definitely on the nest today, and so I assume there must be eggs, which is great news!

I ringed another white dove today - pink ring - and called him Ice. It's fairly easy to catch the doves at the moment, and Ice is one of the morning peanut eaters. I caught him by putting a few peanuts on the doorstep, some just inside the door and some in the kitchen. He just walked straight in, I shut the door quickly and caught him. He is none the worse and still comes each morning to eat peanuts from my hand (since then I've caught and ringed another - Bianco - green ring)

At night now Jose goes in the hutch and seems to have accepted the situation and doesnt look longingly at the cote, and Omo is on the nest. Females always do the long night shift! Flash doesnt stay the night, which is strange considering there is plenty of space in other compartments of the cote.

Tuesday 14th June - Hugo the jackdaw has been with us for one week today! See photo at the top of the blog. We celebrated by giving him a shiny yellow ring.

He has definitely got bigger in the last week and so I took the box out of his garden cage to give him more room and made him a perch by poking my mother's old cobweb duster stick through his cage (that would've made her chuckle!)

It was a lovely warm day and Flash had a bath while his wife, Omo, was sitting on their eggs. His mistress, Jose, sat on the bath rim and watched him! Flash definitely considers Jose his property. Naughty Chocolate Brownie was courting her again, and Flash saw him off in no uncertain terms! When he's in the garden he spends most of his time with her, and saves her from hassle, but the chancers are always there when he has to go back to nest duty.

Flash on left, Jose on the right

I mostly go to Claremont National Trust garden on Tuesdays to see the flock of doves there and walk round the lake. I take up a bucket of grain and peanuts for them. You can see from the photo that the doves have a lot of competition for the food!
I saw one particular dove first at the lakeside where a mother and small child were feeding the ducks with bread, and this one was at their feet trying to get any falling crubs. It was the only dove there, and I thought then that it had a brown face, almost rusty looking. I threw it a few grains and then walked round to where the main flock normally comes down to feed. The doves quickly surround me and then I noticed the brown face dove again. It was reacting much more slowly than the other doves and I realised it must have had a horrific injury to its face as the brown was actually blood! Up close, I could see one of its eyes was closed too and it was in a dreadful state. I easily picked it up, it felt quite cold in my hands, and I put it in my flat-bottomed hessian bag and left the garden immediately to drive straight home. The dove stayed quietly in the bottom of the bag. Once at home I wrapped it in a towel so I could examine its face. Not a pretty sight.

Maybe she flew slap bang into something? I do know from my St John Ambulance days that a small amount of blood smeared around can look pretty worrying but is in fact only from a small injury, and where there's life there's hope!
I bathed the dove's closed eye and offered it a drink by gently dipping its beak into a deep pot of water. After a few tries, it ook a sip or two, and I thought, good! Like Jose (also rescued from Claremont) it was choosing to live! I ringed it with a red ring, and called her Rusty.

There wasnt much more I could so I shut poor damaged Rusty in the hospital box with food and water, and every hour or so through the day I took her carefully out and tried to get her to drink. She stayed in the box, shut up in the conservatory, next to Hugo that night - the dark sheet draped over both their boxes.

The next morning Rusty was stil alove. I truly hadn't thought she would make it, she looked so bad, and had felt cold to the touch, but she was alive and her closed eye was now open. I let her out of the box and onto the garden table where she helped herself to drinks and I offered her peanuts and grains. She seemed to be able to pick up the peanuts more easily than the small grains and whole peanuts seemed easier than ones I had broken for her, but she also seemed to 'bring back' some of them. I wasn't at all sure how much she was eating and wondered if her throat was damaged but I knew she had more of a chance now with me giving her as much as she wanted, than she would have had at Claremont where all the birds fight for the food. Rusty seemed much happier out of the box, so I put her on top of Jose's hutch with food and water where I felt she would be partly hidden by the tree, but would still be free.

She stayed there for a very long time but when something happened to make the doves take flight from the lawn, she flew up to the top of the dovecote and from there to the roof, where she stayed all day.

Rusty on top of the cote - you can just see Flash or Omo inside

I hoped to be able to put her safely in the box for the night again and luckily my little plan in the early evening of throwing peanuts worked; several doves flew down, including Rusty, and I was able to catch her again. She stayed inthe box in the conservatory but I let Hugo be free for the first time and he roosted up on the metal support rail.

I ordered some live meal worms and they arrived this morning. Not my favourite sort of thing, but I wanted to get Hugo used to seeing and eating live food. They came from and I was very happy with them - they were delivered super-fast, alive, plump and juicy-looking! but no care instructions so I just left them in the sack things they came in - in the shed kitchen. Hugo seemed to like them and the robin was also very pleased with me for the treat! (p.s. 2 weeks later many of those that are left are still alive - they had newspaper and some sort of 'feed' possibly with them, a bran like substance?)

Thursday 16th June - I caught Hugo with great difficulty this morning - remember he was free in the conservatory - and put him in the garden cage. My husband thinks he is big enough to be set free, and I am inclined to agree. It was never my intention to keep him for ever, that would be cruel, but I wanted to make sure he could fly well and hopefully fend for himself and find food before I let him go. I think he was too old when I got him to attach himself (imprint) to me and probably that is just as well.

Rusty seemed a lot better today. Her body was warmer and she seemed to 'cough back' fewer peanuts. Maybe her beak or throat has improved but anyway they are staying down and she can peck more easily. She stayed on the roof again all day, coming down about twice with the main flock for food. Funnily enough she seemed to remember her water pot was on the garden table so she came to drink from that, inside of drinking from the doves bath or the low dish on the lawn. I couldnt catch her for the night, and she flew off with the others before 7pm. A bit later it occured to me that maybe she hadnt flown off but was spending the night on the other side of the roof, or part of the building beyond. These old buildings are used as office so when I was sure all the office people had left I wandered round into their car park and saw a small group of five white doves had settled there, and Rusty was one of them - her face still so streaked with blood that it was possible to pick her out even from the ground. Maybe those other doves always spent the night there, I must admit it must be months or years since I had even thought of going to have a look! Luckily they had accpeted Rusty stayed the night with them too and I was pleased she wasn't all huddled up on a cold windowsill all by herself! I wondered if Flash was in the group too, but I couldnt see his tail or blue ring.

Friday 17th - Hugo had been loose in the conservatory for the night, with a dish of meal worms and water on the table and on the floor. In the morning I peeped in and saw him eating on the table so I was glad he'd had some breakfast as I felt today would probably be bye-bye day! The weather forecast wasnt good and I would've preferred to have kept him for another few days, but I couldn't catch him in the conservatory and it can keep extremely hot in there, so I opened the doors and fixed them wide open, waiting to see what he would do. Precisely nothing! He sat on the rail and just observed, but after a while he could hear the other jackdaws 'Cak!' and a knowing look came into his blue eyes. I got tired of watching him and went to do other things but popping back occasionally to see if he was still there. Half an hour after I'd opened the doors he had gone, and I didn't see him go. I felt a small sense of loos, but glad I'd helped him to survive. I haven't seen him since.

The end.


arosebyanyothername said...

A lovely story again, Faith. You spend so much time caring for your foundlings, but I am sure it is rewarding to see them fly away strong again. I hope Rusty makes it.

Fennie said...

Hi Faith - lovely blog. And a lovely story too. Yes, you must tell us how rusty gets on. And also Hugo, whether he comes back. What does it say on the ring. Your telephone number? RSPB info?

Faith said...

Thanks Rosie, I will update soon.

Fennie, the rings I use for the doves (and I put on Hugo) are just plain. I doubt the RSPB would be that interested in white feral doves. I like the doves ringed for easy identification purposes in the garden, and the ringed ones feel more like 'pets' and get more peanuts!