Thursday, 2 February 2012

Olly's Progress - and the sparrowhawk

Day 5 – Fr 27.1.12 – A friend held Olly while I ringed him- a green ring on his right foot and yellow on the left – bright colours as his plumage is so dark. His rings look smart, and make him look more grown-up, and his feathers feel very silky to the touch, though still a bit oily under his wings. It was bright but cold, but I put him, in the carrying box, on the garden table for 20 mins this morning, and half an hour this afternoon. He got excited when he saw the other pigeons and doves, and tried to get out, upsetting his water, so I am pleased he wants to be with them, but he was shivering after those times so I brought him in again. When my husband’s not around, he is loose in the kitchen – and I have to mop up with sprays and paper towels!

He can fly - but doesn't unless I try to catch him! As you can see he flew up to the drying rack over the aga (ignore the cobwebs - I don't have time for boring housework!) Eventually I had to net him which was distressing for both of us.

The crate came this afternoon at quarter to four – delivery was any time between 7.30am to 5.30pm – do you know ANYONE who gets their goods at 7.30am or even any time in the morning? I never do! But the crate is great, just what I need – and i’m looking forward to testing it tomorrow. I have to be out late morning to early afternoon though and definitely won’t be leaving him alone in the garden, even locked in the crate. It’s too cold for a start.Olly – day 6 – A bemused little dark pigeon went out into the garden, in the crate, this morning. He was in his carrying box inside the crate, but ventured out when the other pigeons came down to eat the grain I’d put near the crate. The whole thing went back into the conservatory when I went out, and he had another 40 mins mid afternoon when I came home again.

Olly's crate in the garden, with the hospital and Jose's hutch and table in the back-ground. I moved the doves feeding pans to be near Olly so he could see them.

Olly has a good look round

I didn’t like leaving him in the conservatory for the night – I was worried it would be too cold, but I know I have to accustom him to the cold – he can’t live in my kitchen forever! So he was inside his box, but not locked into it, with a covered microwave ‘bottle’ and a cloth draped over the crate when it got dark. I hope he will be ok.....

The sore place on his back has healed quite well, but it’s quite a big hole – I can put the tip of my little finger in it. Poor Olly, I wonder what happened.
Olly day 7 – Sunday 29th Jan. – Olly seemed fine after his night in our cold conservatory, and went out in the crate in the morning to spend the whole day in the garden, learning about the flock and the surroundings. I brought him in at 3pm, and cleaned out his box and crate. He isn’t tame, which is good, but I have to handle him sometimes to move him about, and his body felt warm, even after all day in the garden, and that means he can thermo-regulate so I feel more confident about him in that way. I also re-anointed the place on his back, but I think it is totally healed so I won’t need to do it again. I don’t think he is ready to be released yet. I think I will know when it’s the right time.
Lola, the white dove that I caught last Sat aft with paramyxo symptoms has spent a week and a day in the hospital, and the last two days has been desperate to get out. I watched her closely today while she ate today, and she could pick up and eat grains easily. I got in to the hospital with her, caught her, ringed her with a green ring, checked her over – she felt warm, plump and strong – and so let her go. She flew immediately and swiftly to the top of the roof, and stayed there for 5 minutes til some pigeons turned up and they all flew away together. I hope I have done the right thing.I did the RSPB Big Birdwatch today – it’s always in January, and I’ve done it for the last few years.. I watched from 7.45am to 8.45am - it's only for one hour.The first bird I saw was the grey wagtail - which is in fact very yellow!Then I saw great tits and blue tits, a robin, the doves and pigeons, of course and 2 carrion crows.Then suddenly the sparrowhawk was there, down on the ground, tussling with a pigeon, right on the patio in front of my kitchen door. I ran out, and they both flew up to the little porch above the door, and the hawk had hold of the pidgie again. Then they were on the low shed roof, a whirl of brown and grey, and then suddenly the hawk was gone and the pigeon was on the ground. I picked it up, it's heart beating madly poor thing, and put it in a box in the shed to see if it would recover.

After an hour or so, I checked the pigeon, ringed it, sprayed it for mites and left it alone again with food and water. It wasn't damaged by the hawk as far I could see.

After another hour, I moved it, in a carrying box with no grille, to the top of Jose's hutch and left it there, still with food and water, of course. It was free to fly away but stayed there all day, seeming to sleep for much of the time. I don’t know if it is traumatised or maybe old.
Late in the afternoon, when a few pigeons were still around and before dark, he seemed to realise the time, came to the edge of the box and flew away. I haven’t seen him since...not surprising, I wouldn’t come back here after an experience like that, would you?

Charlie - rescued from the hawk

Mon 30th Jan'12 – Olly has been with me a week. His days are much the same – he spends all day outside in the crate and I bring him in about 3pm at the moment, into the conservatory. Today I brought him into the kitchen to see if he would fly, but he just stayed on the floor, as usual.
I went up to see the guy who found Olly in his workshop (in an old barn) today. The pigeons had nested on the beam, and the guy – I’ll call him Alan – hadn't wanted them there, but didn’t feel it would be fair to disturb a nest. The eggs hatched in December some time, and the parent birds could get in and out through the open work shop doors during the working day, and through various big cracks and openings at other times. The open drums that Alan stores the used oil in were (and still are) directly underneath the nest. I reckon that Olly took his first unsteady flight or just plummeted straight into the oil. The oil drums are behind other things and it was only by chance Alan saw, and rescued Olly. I do hope he covers the oil drums now, but I don’t count on it. You can’t expect a motor mechanic to feel the same about bird safety as I do!
This lunchtime, as my husband was leaving the garden, we found the results of another sparrowhawk attack by the gate – inches from where Flash died. The victim this time was another lovely big white male dove (unringed). He was still warm, and it had obviously happened while we were sitting in the kitchen having lunch. What can I say? It wasn’t the same as Flash, who I was particularly fond of , but I feel so sorry for these birds. If I wasn’t feeding them, they wouldn’t be here and the hawk wouldn’t come..... but they need to eat.... and so does the hawk... it’s vicious circle, never a truer word was said! Later that afternoon, the hawk came again, and chased the doves, but they got away. I felt it was being a bad day, shut Jose up straight away and much earlier than usual. How can I let Olly free in these circumstances? I can’t. He is too young, too timid and would be gobbled up straight away.
Tue 31st – There was a frost this morning. Charlie (sparrowhawk pigeon) came today. Seems slow, but protected by the flock, he is still going!
1st Feb- Even colder today, the wind is icy. The sparrowhawk was actually on it’s kill in my flower bed when I came home from shopping. Shame I came home at the moment, as obviously opening the gate scared it away and it hadn’t eaten very much of the bird. A pigeon, with wings like Charlie’s and in fact at first I thought it was Charlie until I saw there was no ring. Charlie turned up again later, with the flock. I left the poor pigeon where it was to see if the hawk came back and it did about three hours later! Once the dove/pigeon is dead it just becomes part of the food chain, so better that the hawk eats its fill. I hate all this killing, but there will always be hawks, and there will always be pigeons, and I have to accept it. Anything I used to scare away the hawk would also scare the doves and pigeons. I found this which I thought put the situation well - It's a piece called Oh No There's a Hawk at my Feeder
I have decided that I will transfer Olly from the crate, which comes in at night, to the hospital so he gets used to living totally outside. But the weather conditions through Feb are indicating to be very cold so I’m not sure when I will do this. He is desperate to get out but I don’t feel he is strong enough yet. I had another look today at the sore on his back, and it’s scabbed over but not totally healed.
Out of interest I counted the doves and pigeons at one point on the roof – 29 white doves, and 64 mixed pigeons, one or two brown, and the main grey, dark grey and nearly black. It’s a large flock, and that wasn’t probably all of them, but if the hawk kills a pigeon a day, or every two days, they won’t last long.
2nd Feb – Extremely cold and I had to be out all day, so Olly stayed in his crate in the conservatory, and Jose had the cage up on the hutch. I am getting almost nervous of coming back to my own garden in case the hawk has left her gory calling card. There were grey pigeon feathers by the gate, but no body. If I stopped feeding the doves and pigeons now, with the weather so coldand natural food scarce, it would be cruel so that's not an option. I suppose I shouldn't have saved Charlie - I should just've let the hawk have him - but I know that every time my heart will rule my head, and if I see the hawk, and can save the pigeon, I will do so - right or wrong. To be cont.


Lesa said...

The only time I didn't interfere with a "predator" bird, if I think I can save a life, was when two eagles took two of our mallard ducks. The eagles were not intimidated by us or our car and we got quite close. It was too late to save the ducks, so we let the eagles eat. I think those eagles may have been raised in a rescue or other wildlife center because of their lack of fear. We walked within a foot of those big birds and they never lifted! I also believe they'd been fed chicken, ours their intended target, but the ducks were slower.

I'm so glad Olly is doing so well. I've heard your weather this week has been very cold, so I think you're wise to keep him close for awhile longer.

As always, I enjoyed reading about your garden and your birds. Have a wonderful week!

Fennie said...

Fascinating story, Faith. Almost a novel. All the comings and goings. Your pigeons and doves seem like real characters. It's the naming I suppose.

Faith said...

Gosh Lesa, at least I don't have eagles to contend with!

CAMILLA said...

I am going to name you Saint Faith, for that is what you are dear Faith, a saint looking after and caring for your darling birds.

Terribly cold at the moment and I think you are very wise Faith to keep little Olly near by with you a while longer.

I usually see the Pigeons outside my window most days but only saw the Blackbirds and Robins today, put out lots of seeds and brown bread for them.