Monday 6th June 2011 - Again Flash and Omo were in and out of the cote all morning. Flash bringing so many bits of twig and leaf that the cote appeared full up, and bits of stuff were poking out. Later in the afternoon Omo didnt seem to be around and I saw Flash mate with Jose on three different occasions - and I promise you I am not watching them all the time!
Flash makes his intentions clear!
Flash prepares to mount Omo
Mating only last a few seconds
And then it's over!
Still Tue 7th - My husband has a workshop on the farm. About 9am he rang me and asked 'Do you want to look after a baby crow?'... 'Oh yes!' I said. 'You'll have to wash it' he replied 'It's fallen into oil - I'll bring it round'. I was still in my dressing gown but no time to get dressed, and I rushed to get a plastic pinny n and find a washing up bowl and some old towels. Hubby turned up with the bedraggled little scrap wrapped in a grimy workshop towel. 'It's a jackdaw, not a crow' he said. He handed me the wrapped bird, suggesting that I apply the washing up liquid straight to its feathers, rather than dilute it in water. I did this as best as I could, rinsing it in the bowl of water (blood temperature - well my blood temperature, I hoped it was ok for the bird). It took about six washes and rinses before I felt the oil was off and the water ran reasonably clean. The bird struggled a little but I didnt have time to worry about it, I just got on the with job, trying to be as delicate and careful as possible. For some reason it reminded me of washing lace! Then I grabbed the camera and took a couple of quick shots for my blog.
My husband had suggested that I put the jackdaw to dry in the sun - in the dog box. Although it was early in the day it was very warm, but the bird was shivering uncontrollably and after a few seconds, I scooped it back into the towel again and tucked it under my arm while I collected my hairdrayer and put the 'snugglesafe' microwave hot pad into the microwave to heat up. I felt it was very important that I warm it up as quickly as possible if it was going to survive. I took him into the conservatory which was very warm and gently dried him a little with the hairdryer on the lowest setting. Then I put the snugglesafe in the dog box, wrapped in a towel of course, and put the baby on top of it. Whew! I was now able to take a good look at him and was quite pleased that he looked fairly ok.
I didnt want to be too hopeful in case he didnt pull through so I thought I'd done my best for him and now I'd leave him a while - with food and water in the box of course. I was back within the hour and went straight to see how my baby was, and he was still alive thank goodness and looking quite perky so I decided to name him. Meet Hugo! You'll want to know what actually to him. He was found by a motor mechanic when opening up his workshop, in part of an old barn, after being away on holiday for more than a week. Hugo was on the floor and had obviously fallen into, but scrambled out of, a pan of oil. How long he had been there is anyone's guess but it probably wasn't more than a day or so or he would not have survived. The mechanic knew there had been a jackdaw's nest in the other half of the barn as he'd seen the parent go in and out, but now the nest was deserted and the other babies had obviously fledged and gone.
Next thing of course was to get Hugo to eat - he certainly wasnt going to make it if he didnt eat and of course I had no idea when he last ate or indeed what would be best to offer him. I have mealworms so I soaked some, and I also got some worms out of my wormery and chopped them up. Doing this was unpleasant but I figured no worse than birds would do themselves with their beaks. I tried offering him the bits of worm and mealworms on long tweezers held out to his beak, but he just wouldnt open it. I even looked up people feeding baby jackdaws on Youtube and put his box near the laptop so he could hear the other babies squeaking for food in the hope that it would stimulate him! I started trying to feed him about 11am - on and off, mosting on! - and eventually at 1.10pm he opened his beak and ate the tiniest morsel of chopped worm! Hurray!
Then he ate NOTHING again and I was getting desperate. Some of the advice on the internet suggested puppy food, either wet or soaked dried pellets, so I zoomed down to the petshop and bought a small selection to try. At ten to three Hugo suddenly got the hang of it and started to eating soaked mealworms and the occasional bit of soaked dried puppy food. I fed him half hourly until about 9pm ish, and I'll be honest with you it was a labour of love. Sometimes he wouldn't open his beak, sometimes he dropped the mealworm, or I dropped it off the tweezers, or it broke before it got into his mouth. I had no idea how much he should eat, but each feeding session fed him til he seemed to lose interest, then waited another half hour before offering the food again. At about 9pm it was getting dark and baby birds are not fed at night of course, so I covered the box, still in the conservatory with a dark sheet, and hope he would survive the night.
Back to the dove - Flash and Omo didnt stay the night, so I put Jose to bed in the dovecote again.
Wed 8th June - Again I got up at 4.30 am and moved Jose to the hutch. I often wake up around this time anyway so it wasnt a big effort, and I can easily go back to sleep again afterwards. At 6am I removed the sheet from Hugo's box and fed him soaked mealworms again, which he ate quite well but slowly. His box was on the conservatory table and I sat on a chair, sipping my tea and poking mealworms through the grille with the tweezers. Sounds crazy but he preferred the straightest ones. Imagine me bending over an icecream tub of soaked mealworms trying to pick out the straight ones at 6am! By mid morning Hugo had started to peck at the mealworms that had fallen off the tweezers and started to feed himself! Big relief for me at it is extremely time consuming feeding a baby bird!
I arranged a cage in the garden for Hugo withthe small hospital box for him to stand on or go inside. I draped the end with a towel and plastic to give him shade and shelter and he seemed fairly content.
Again Flash and Omo spent a busy day arranging their nest, but didnt stay the night. Flash was also busy behind Omo's back, mating with Jose, and then later with Omo!
That evening I let Hugo be free in the conservatory and he seemed to like it. He was not brilliant at flying, more fluttering than flying, but he flew from my hand to my head!
I put Jose to bed in the dovecote again.
Thursday 9th June - I was up at 5am, half an hour later than yesterday and Flash and Omo had already arrived and kicked Jose out onto the hedge below the cote! I rescued her and put her in the hutch til I got up properly. Flash and Omo repeated yesterday, including Flash mating with Jose while Omo sat inside the cot. Chocolate Brownie also mated with Jose today - all these carryings on! I think CB and Dalmation Dove have eggs again as I'm only seeing one or other at present. Yet again Flash and Omo didnt stay the night so I tried something different. I put Jose to bed in a different section of the cote, not her old place where F and O had built their nest but the top side one facing the hutch.
Friday 10th June - I got up at 4.30am and meant to wait and watch to see what Flash and Omo would do when they arrived - see whether they noticed Jose was in the cote, but I was too tired and just put her straight in the hutch and went back to bed.
Today I saw Hugo drink for the first time - he probably has drunk before but secretly! In the evening I brought him into the conservatory for flying practice between 6-8pm so he could built up confidence and get the feel of his wings.
At 7.30pm Omo was on the nest and Flash was on the roof. I surreptiously moved the step-ladder and put Jose to bed in the side section the same as last night. Within one minute Omo had flown out of her part and onto the roof to 'tell' Flash. Fifteen minutes later she went back in and ten minutes after that Flash entered Jose's bit, chucked her out and was nastily pecking her on the hedge. It seems she is fine for a plaything when Omo is not around, but he isn't going to allow her to live in his house! From the hedge Jose fell on the yard side, not the garden side, and she immediately ran under my car. Brilliant! It was raining and I had to force her out from under the car and catch her with the net, so I could put her safely in the hutch. This time Omo DID spend the night in the cote but I didn't think Flash stayed with her. And that's my wonderful news - breeding doves in my cote! It's been more than TWO years since Hope and Glory hatched Victory and Purity in March 2009 (see previous blogs for their story) and I am full of expectation again.