Saturday, 8 October 2011

The Squabs are Named & What Happened to EG?

Sunday 2nd Oct '11 - The babies are approx 24 days old (the first one hatched on 9th Sept) and they are now very visible at the window of the cote, and very vocal indeed. I don't know if I mentioned before but it is possible to hear them squeaking when they know they are going to be fed from inside the house.

24 day old squab

I love them at this stage with their fluffy yellow baby down still there - so cute! But unfortunately today when I got them out of the cote I could see they had lice on them. Well, I presume they are lice - they look like someone has drawn little short vertical pencil lines about 5mm long. I've seen them on other doves before and they can usually be got rid of - I made a mental note to get some stuff from the pet shop.

The next day I could only get one baby out of the cote, and no lice were apparent on that one that time - but they do seem to come and go and I presume hide under feathers nearer the skin. The other squab clung on to the nestbox for dear life and squeaked like mad so I just left it in there. I didn't want to upset Flash in the other nestbox sitting on the eggs. I usually take the babies out in the afternoons, and then it is Flash 'on duty' sitting on the eggs while Omo has a break.

All that day other doves were interested in the cote, fluttering round it, landing on the sills and looking in the windows, and Flash had his work cut out chasing them off, in between feeding the squabs. Luckily these interlopers didn't think to come back when Flash was on the other nest and the babies were alone, although I suppose Omo would've defended them. She is not feeding them at all now, though does visit them every day, standing on the sill of the nestbox. They squeak at her and flap their wings, but only Flash feeds them now, and this is normal behaviour.

Wed 5th Oct - Babies 26/27 days old (these dates are always approx as I am never quite sure when they hatch) and as usual I got them out of the cote in the afternoon. They can flap and flutter but not really fly properly. Here they are in the garden with Jose in the background.

I checked them over as usual and found one of those horrible fly things again on one of them. It was under the wing and luckily I managed to catch and kill it (I also saved it for research!)
Today was ringing and naming day - I had already chosen names for the two eggs that were laid before them (that came to nothing) and so we have Daz, ringed with green right, yellow left and Vim, green right and pink left.



Vim and Daz - still young enough to stay where I put them - more or less!

EG, the Elderly Gentleman pigeon from my last blog continued to live in the garden by day, and was put to bed in the box by me every night. I was quite fond of him as he caused me less trouble than Jose, being quieter and easier to catch!


I felt his crop every night and though a slow eater he was obviously getting enough as he had a full crop, and of course he always had the chance to eat his fill in my garden, and was put to bed with a pot of food to himself!

EG with a few mates!

On the babies' ringing day, EG seemed a little more perky. It was still pleasant enough weather for my husband and I to have lunch in the garden, and we noticed EG making little, not very successful, flying attempts. The next day I was out all day, leaving hubbie to feed the doves, and when I came home he said he hadnt seen EG since the morning. I searched all the usual hiding places, several times, and even went out with a torch when it got dark but there was no sign of him. He'd vanished into thin air! I can only hope that that is exactly what he did do - that he got enough strength to fly away. The garden was securely fenced (for when I had my little dog) and it is unlikely he could've got out through a gap, so unless he was taken by a cat or mink - which is possible I suppose, he must've flown off. I do hope so, but I haven't seen him since.

The next day I was inside but heard a lot of squeaking and as I knew the squabs had just been fed, I went out to investigate. Vim was on the lawn under the dovecote - unhurt - but looking very vulnerable and young.l In circumstances like this - where pigeons live in towns - it is extremely likely that that would be the end of the squab. I'm not sure if the parent bird/s would feed it once it was 'out of place' but even if they did, unless it could find an excellent hiding place for the night, it would be doomed to be caught and eaten by the first predator that came along as there is no way it could get back to the safety of the nest. Of course, I just scooped Vim up and put him back with Daz.

Sunday 8th Oct - I had bought some Anti-Mite spray - Johnsons - to be exact so I could deal with the lice and 'flies' on the squabs. I did think about bathing them, but I've never bathed squabs before and as the weather had changed to rather chilly I thought I'd better not. I didn't know how long their feathers would take to dry and I can't have them out of the cote for long. As they are now older and can flutter about, I made them a little play pen and put them in that to keep them in one place while I cleaned out the nest box again. It wasn't a perfect clean, but good enough and I sprayed inside with the product and relined with clean newspaper and a handful of clean hay. I played with the babies for a little while - they are quite tame in as much as they don't mind me holding them at the moment - and checked them for parasites. Thankfully I could see none, but I still followed the directions and sprayed them, thinking this might be the only chance I get to relieve them of any infestations before they fledge properly. I don't know where they got the flies from - Omo and Flash don't seem to have them, but maybe they do.

Daz and Vim in the play pen

I thought about spraying Jose too, but I have never seen any parasite on her at all, not even the lice, I decided it wouldn't be kind and was probably unnecessary.

I researched the disgusting flies and found out that they are probably the pigeon louse fly, Hippoboscid - they suck blood from the less feathered parts of the bird - and in nestlings those parts are easy to find! Photos below show the dead example I kept - approx 1 cm long so not small! Truly vile, but at least I know now what I am dealing with!

Pigeon louse fly - Hippoboscid

Flash fed the babies as usual today, but soon he will be encouraging them out. I think they can perfectly well feed themselves already, as I put little seeds onto the sill of the cote and they are always gone! They often come out and teeter precariously on the sill - which is probably why Daz fell off the other day - below is Flash on the hedge possibly trying to make them come out.

But eventually he flew up to feed them - they are young yet! It may well be a few more days before they fledge.

Flash goes in to feed his babies, and below you see one of the interlopers land on top of the cote. Flash will send it packing as soon as he's finished feeding!

To be cont (you may have to scroll down a bit for the comments)


Faith said...

Oh whoops I left out the end pic - never mind!

Fennie said...

All fascinating. I am glad the elderly gentleman came top a good end. Perhaps he will come back. But what happens when you run out of cleaning products? Omo, Flash, Vim, Daz - can we look forward to Ariel, Gumption, (Fairy I think we've had) Persil (or have we had that too?) You'll be reduced to Oxy-Action Vanish
or Dreft!

Ivy said...

I could always help you out with German washing powder brands if you like :)
Der wei├če Riese (the white giant)

just to name three

Faith said...

Hey you two, I quite like Dreft and Burti!