Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Flash is Released on Boxing Day

At the end of my last blog, I mentioned a dove I had named Bianca (in photo above) She seemed a bit unwell and on the 12th Dec as it started to get dark in the late afternoon I caught her as she crouched in 'poorly mode' on the gravel path and put her in the hospital box in our conservatory for the night. I was glad I'd managed to catch her at it was a wild, stormy, rainy night and she would've had a horrible time on the roof being buffeted in the wind. Unfortunately and unexpectedly as I didn't think she was that bad, she was dead when I went to collect her in the morning. I was saddened but I suppose it was just the end of her life, though I did worry that the conservatory was too cold . A pigeon I had caught a while before because it had breathing difficulties, and I didn't expect to last the night, survived, and is still going. That bird was gasping so much that I could hear the noise it made through two closed doors, which was pretty upsetting. But in the morning it wasn't so bad and I set it free and now it seems fine! I didn't ring it because I was sure it would die, but I recognise it as it has a funny fluffy bit of feathers on it's neck.
On Sat 17th another poorly white dove was netted and put in the hospital box in the conservatory - but it seemed so icy cold in there that I changed my mind and put the box in the spare bedroom - unheated by warmer! It survived the night and I ringed her with a blue ring naming her Bianca2. I could feel her bone through her chest, so she's a bit thin but I put the box on the garden table and opened it and out she came, joining the other doves for breakfast on the lawn, and later with a bit of an effort flying to the low roof.

Above is Bianca2 staying the night on the porch roof. I'm pleased to report that she's still around the garden every day, so maybe she will be ok. That's if she survives the sparrowhawk - yes Miss Hawky is around the garden, and the farm again. I took the photo below after she flew into the trees just beyond the yard in front of the house. She also made a dive at the doves feeding, while I was standing there!

Vim, hatched in my dovecote, sat for ages one day on Daddy Flash's hospital run. I wondered if he recognised Fkash, or remembered how he and Daz (his sibling) used to be in their 'play pen' in that section of the garden.

Vim, above and below, sat for hours one day on Flash's run.

On several consecutive mornings, a little white dove arrived on the roof when I had just got up and it was still dark. It sat on the roof for a moment of two, then popped into the dove cote. I soon worked out it was Shanti -one of the fairly tame 'peanut eaters' of the summer that I had managed to ring (purple ring) and who I mentioned in my last blog because he is cute, hobbling when he walks. So Shanti was trying to stake his claim in the cote - very definitely an early bird! But there was another dove that I hadn't mentioned in the last blog but that I knew was also very interested in the cote. This bird often sat in the most favoured section of the cote (the one used by Flash and Omo as a nestbox) and one day I decided to try to catch it in there, and ring it, so if it claimed the cote in the spring it would be easier to identify. I managed to do this at the end of Nov., sprayed the bird for parasites, and ringed it with a red ring.

So we have Shanti and Mr or Miss Red Ring (as yet un-named) both with a strong interest in the cote. I suspect come spring, or even before, we will have a battle for the cote again! And when Flash recovers, will he want his old place back again?

Flash continued to improve and every day I felt dreadful about keeping him confined. Birds should be free to fly, and I could tell he wanted to get out He'd often try to take off from the ground but the run is too low for him to do more than bob up and down. We had some cold weather, a morning of sleety snow and some nights of high winds. Much less here in Surrey than in other parts of the country but not good weather for a still not fully fit bird to be set free.

On Fri 16th Dec when I was letting Jose out of the hutch in the early morning. I heard cooing in the cote and saw a dove - or maybe two- in the window of the cote facing the hutch. Had it, or they, been there all night? And later that day I saw Madame Shanti - yes, she's a she, not a he! - mate with Monsieur Red Ring - most definitely a he! So there won't be a fight for the cote, they are a couple and can live there together! Unless Flash or someone else objects. And if they stay a couple, I will have to name Red Ring properly. I have now asked the friend I named Shanti for to provide a good complimentary name for RR! That night Shanti stayed the night, and soon RR was spending each and every night with her - they are so cute, tucked up together. Funnily enough, they spend the night in the window facing Jose's hutch and the choose the front window for day canoodling - as below.

It's only a few days to Christmas day and I am feeling that Flash is probably well enough to be released, but I have so many commitments and will be away from the garden so much til after Christmas that he will definitely have to wait until at least Boxing Day. Then I'll only release him if the weather will be reasonable for the first few days after that. The plan will be to release him in the morning of a good day, when the other doves and pigeons are in the garden.
Friday 23rd Dec - the elderly lady who cleans the offices in the building next door came round to ask me to collect a dove that she said had been in the same position for two days (why, oh why didn't she come before) - the offices are in an old mill, the dove in an awkward position but I managed to wriggle in, net and box it to bring home. I named it Iris after the lady but she died later that afternoon, poor thing. If you see a dove/pigeon in trouble and think you would like to help, then act sooner rather than later - they have little in the way of reserves and don't last long without food and water. These two sites give excellent advice for someone who is maybe not used to dealing with pigeons, but wants to help - or

But this seems to be the time of the year for the doves to die.... maybe they have used themselves up during the previous months, breeding and feeding young. When I got home in the evening, in the dark and rain, I could see a white dove on the ground behind Flash's run, so again I put it in the box for the night. It definitely wouldn't survive a night on the ground with all the foxes we have around - and there are mink too on the riverbank.

24th Dec - The latest poorly one, named Iris2, lived through the night and I opened the box on the garden table to allow her some freedom. She ignored the nice bowl of water at the correct luke-warm temperature and the tempting pot of specially graded grains with peanut sprinkle on top, and jumped to the ground. She made her way over to the dove bath (washing up bowl) and with an effort hopped up to sip. Then she just sat in the damp drooping flower bed and so, when I had to go out, I collected her up and put her in the safety of the box again with food and water. But Iris2, like the first Iris, was dead by late afternoon. Two dead doves in one day and Christmas Eve at that, how sad. A river burial in the morning, and another in the dark of the later afternoon. Back to nature, beautiful birds. Fly again in Heaven.

Christmas Day was a mild day and Flash was very eager to be free - flying onto the wire sides on the run and clinging on there - one more day Flash, one more day!

Boxing Day - the day of Flash's proposed release arrived, and another mild day with several forecast ahead. Below is Flash still in his run, with some doves clustered around Jose on her table.

And Flash, below, last picture before his release

I opened the top section of Flash's run and propped it back. He ran up and down the ramp a few times, then flew out with assurance. to the low roof near the dove cote. I had expected him to stay around for a few minutes and then take off to fly, enjoying his freedom. Instead he flew straight to the favoured front position of the cote, where he had raised his families in the summer. Obviously he is perfectly recovered as he had no trouble flying into the small window of lthe cote. Previously he wouldn't have been able to negotiate it as the paramyxovirus causes lack of co-ordination, amongst other symptoms.

It didn't take long before Mr. Red Ring realised that Flash was in the cote space he now considered to be his and he also flew determinedly in! The last thing I wanted was Flash to be involved in a fight, as I had no idea how strong he was. I got the steps which raised me to the doves level and could see a whirling fury of white wings, sharp beaks and claws.

I put my hand in and drew out whichever dove came to hand. It was RR and he flew to the low roof. Flash stayed in the cote and I took him a small dish of seeds and peanuts pieces to keep his strength up! I didn't actually mind who won the fight/and or the cote but I didnt want Flash to be killed on his first day out after all my careful nursing. Mind you he was obviously fighting fit!

After a while, RR entered Flash's space again, and after a minute or two, I intervened once more and removed RR - again just by chance or luck. Of course the little dish of seeds got spilt! Shanti, arrived and sat placidly on the side ledge of the cote while the two cock birds fought. I left them to it this time, and eventually RR emerged. By 10am they had all settled down with Flash at the front and the others at the back of the cote. At 10.30 am Flash cautiously peeked out, then flew down to the blue bath which is the nearest to the cote, and had a good long drink. He perched easily on the side andto me looks perfectly fit. He had been in captivity (for his own good) for 59 days and I hope has totally recovered The fighting shows he is certainly not weak and feeble.

While I was observing all this - and having my Boxing Day brunch of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and Bucks Fizz with my husband! - I noticed another white dove mating with Jose. RR is also interested in her, and I wondered if and when Flash will resume his jealous guardianship of her.

At 11.30am Flash came out on the roof for a very brief while, then had another drink and back to the cote. I haven't seen him eat at all today, but have put more grains in the cote for him. He stayed there all day. By 3.30pm RR and Shanti were in their side section of the cote, Flash was in the front and I'd shut Jose in her hutch. 15 mins later Flash came out onto the hedge, then turned round and flew in again. Five mins later he came out again, had a drink from the bowl I'd thoughtfully placed on the table for him and flew back to the cote. By 4pm it was pretty gloomy in the garden and I was hoping Flash would stay in the cote. By half past it was dark and I knew he would stay. It would be very unusual for a dove to leave a safe roost once it was night. Flash has NEVER stayed the night in the cote before - not even when he was courting Omo or when they had squabs in the cote. I was delighted to have him stay, and surprised as I hadn't expected it. I thought he would leave the cote before dusk and fly to his previous roost. I was also pleased that Shanti and RR felt comfortable enough to stay in their current night-time part of the cote. Maybe they could all live happily together?

27th Dec - The other doves and pigeons came into the garden as usual, Shanti and RR came out of the cote, and Jose's door was opened, but Flash stayed in the cote. He hadn't eaten anything on the ground yesterday, only what I had put in the cote for him, so I took him some more and hoped he wasn't going to turn into a recluse! I was out all morning but from the look of him when I got back I doubted he had been out. In the afternoon he somehow perked up, emerged, flew to the roof, joined in with the flock and came down to eat with them. He flew away with the others before dark, and I just hope I will see him again tomorrow. But I did what I hoped and wanted to do - helped feisty Flash, my delightful Daddy dove, recover from paramyxo!

I had to run my little grandson home, and when I returned to the garden after dark, there was a pigeon under Jose's hutch. I just can't leave a bird on the ground all night but it was easy to net it and put it in Flash's vacated hospital (which I haven't yet cleaned out) There might be germs in the run but I had to choose - possible germs v probably fox - and germs won!

To be cont.

1 comment:

Lesa said...

I enjoy reading about your birds. Thanks so much for sharing their stories and yours. We have hawks in our area and quite often the wild doves are taken. I know it's completely natural, but I'd much rather the predator move on than consider our area his buffet. Unrelated to doves, this morning my husband and I were treated to a rare view (for us) of a pair of caracara birds. We were thrilled! Happy New Year!