Wednesday, 23 May 2012

New babies in the cote - with a difference!

May 23rd '12

This is blog no. 3 for the same date, so if you haven't read blogs 2 and 1, which will be below this one, then you may want to catch up on them first!

This one will be all about my new babies, hatched in the dovecote two weeks ago. Above is their parents, the pure white doves, Sky and Summer. They are not ringed and except when they are attending to their babies are virtually impossible to distinguish from the other doves. I find this difficult as I like to know my mummy and daddy doves and give them special treatment i.e. extra peanuts!

18 days to the day after Summer first spent the night alone in the dovecote, I found the first egg shell on the patio. My first baby had hatched! 18 days is the normal incubation period for pigeons, and I had marked 'hatching day' on my calender. I waited all day and was rewarded in the evening. I had just popped into my shed kitchen and when I came out a minute later, there was the shell on the patio, just like that! I expected to see the other egg shell the next day, but didn't so I wasn't sure if there would be two babies - which is usual - or a singleton - which is not unusual. My blog readers may remember that my lovely pair last summer's first hatching produced a single squab - Fairy - and the other egg, when opened, proved to be a dud.

In the first few days of the squab's life, there is not much chance of getting a peep as the parent birds take it in turns to tend the baby in the cote, and when one takes over babysitting duty, he or she joins the parent in the cote, which only leaves when the other comes in. The hen does the long night duty, and when she comes out in the morning the first thing she does is relieve herself, and the result is the very large 'hen poo' - (sorry if you're squeamish - I find anything to do with the doves interesting!)

Hen dove poo

Above you can see the two tiny babies snuggling into Summer's breast

To take the above photo, I stood on the stepladder, some distance away from the cote. The babies - and yes I was so happy to see there ARE two of them! - are about three/four days old (May 12th)

Here one baby is reaching up to Summer (or Sky) and the other one is probably tucked away behind her.

The first chance I got to take a proper photo was when Sky and Summer started leaving the babies alone in the cote for short periods - while they sat and sunned themselves on the nearby roof.

The babies are about 6/7 days old here and can you see what is unusual about them? The one nearest to us in the top photo is distinctly darker than the one behind. I've had several pairs of white doves nesting in the cote since I first put it up - Pax & Persephone, John & Lily, Hope & Glory and Flash  & Omo - all pure white doves, and all had pure white babies. So why have Sky and Summer, also pure white doves, had a dark baby? I wondered if it was a 'throwback' but when I consulted my book it said that EPCs (extra pair copulation) was very common, and so maybe the dark baby is not Sky's offspring after all! As far as I am concerned it is viva la difference, and as long as the doves feed both babies then there are no worries at all.

Blonde & brunette squabs! - 7 days old

By day 11, the babies are getting quite big and feisty. When I take a look at them now, the white one - probably the oldest by 24 hours or so - rears up and 'snaps' at me.

The dark one has some white in her plumage, and as you can see both babies still have the fuzzy yellow down on their heads. The 'pigeon pair' are supposed to be male born first, and female born second, but it doesn't always work out that way.

The babies look pretty big here, but you can't judge their size very well out of context. I haven't taken them out of the cote, but reckon they are about as big as my cupped hands.

Other doves are interested in the cote. Flash, last year's daddy dove - sadly killed at the beginning of 2012 -would never have allowed other doves near the cote like this, when he had babies. I'd love it though if several pairs, lived and bred in my cote. Well, we shall see what happens....

A now - a cat among the pigeons!!! - though I hope not! Our neighbours had to relocate back to Africa and couldn't take their cat with them. So we have adopted her. She's a pretty tabby, a bit of a scaredy-cat and currently hiding under a sofa in the spare room. She's never hunted the doves before, despite only living across the yard so I'm hoping it will all work out. Here she is still in her hiding place.

And to finish my blog, here the white baby stood up for his or her two week old portrait

And later in the day, when they had moved round  in the nest, I got the dark one's 2 week old picture. The days are approximate as it's impossible to know exactly when they hatched.

I do have names for them, but they won't be given them til their ringing and naming day. Do leave a comment and let me know what you think of my squabs. I think they are gorgeous!

To be continued.....

Roll Call + New Babies (Blog 2 - read Blog 1 first)

23rd May '12 - continued

Unfortunately I don't think I have the hang of blogger, and I couldnt upload more photos, so had to start a new blog to solve the problem. If you haven't read Blog 1 with the same date, then please do as this is a continuation, thanks.

 Here's a shot of the garden with some of the birds feeding, with the cote at Jose's table and hutch at the back. The hospital was moved while we cut the grass, but has been moved back to it's place near the fence on the right.

In the last blog, the last photo was Cloud's tummy which at the time was still healing. She and her pigeon mate, Storm, were coming every day for feeding, and as Cloud was still limping I made sure I threw extra peanuts right near her, so she could get them easily. One day they separated themselves from the rest of the flock and started resting on the top of the shed at the back of the house.
 It's a sheltered warm spot, and the other doves and pigeons rarely go there.
Storm and Cloud come down to eat

There's a grassy path, then the garden opens into a small area of lawn, where I have my washing line as you can see. I started feeding Cloud and Storm separately there, and for about a week, they came - afternoons only - and had a bowl of peanuts and another of mixed grain to share (plus a dish of water of course). I enjoyed doing this with them, and the other doves and pidgies didn't catch on and it was our little secret! The jackdaws knew about it though! they are canny, and any food left over was soon gobbled up by them and the jays.

Storm had been very patient, I think, waiting for Cloud to recover. But nature takes it course, and one day I was lucky enough to have my camera in my hand when I was passing the conservatory, and caught them mating. The photos are taken through the windows. The female crouches down during mating, so luckily less pressure was put on Cloud's bad foot - she seemed fine afterwards anyway!

 Miss Squirrel and Mr. Rat search the for left-overs. I don't mind if there is only one of each- they're like garden pets!! but I don't want to be over-run with them!
 The garden sees a variety of wildlife - heres my lovely Robin after the rain, collecting up his mealworms. The other day when I left the back door open, and was making an urgent phone call, sitting on the sofa, he hopped silently through the kitchen, up the step to the sitting room and appeared on the carpet before me - because I had forgotten his worms!!!
Below, I caught a shot of the rat, the pheasant,  a blue-banded feral pigeon and one of the gentle brown little collared doves, all together.

Faith (white dove) feathered feet
On my birthday in the middle of May a little white dove, with feathered feet, who was new to the garden (I would've recognised her feet as that is fairly unusual) seemed to want to shelter in Jose's hutch. I named her Faith and took Jose in early to give her the chance to stay if she wanted to. Sure enough, she put herself in the hutch for the night, and I shut her in (and barricaded it up a bit!) to keep her safe from predators. In the morning, I ringed her, and as she seemed ok and could fly I released her again. 
Faith, uncertain, in the hutch for the night

Last day for Faith

RIP Faith - and a watery grave below
Faith spent the day hunched up on the roof, and it torrented with rain at one point, I felt so sorry for her poor little thing. The other doves came down to feed, but she didn't so I got the feeling she wasn't going to make it. In the late afternoon, when the other birds had flown away, she had disappeared so I went out looking for her, and found her crouched on the ground, round the building next door to us. I swung my net, but missed and she flew up to the roof - I was so annoyed with myself as I had been clumsy, missed the bird and scraped my knuckes on the brick wall as well! Later that evening, I couldnt see her on the roof, and this was about 9pm so I went round the back of the building, and could see her crouched in a corner. I took off my garden clogs, and tiptoed, my heart beating, and this time successfully captured her. I put her in the hutch with food and water, but in the morning, found her dead. At least, she had a peaceful death, and didn't make a fox a nice supper. It can be hard to tell if doves are just a bit poorly, or in fact, old or dying. Below is Cloud looking very sprightly despite her injuries when she was found at the beginning of April - so it's certainly worth giving all a chance.

The new babies in the dovecote are two weeks old as I write, and so big and beautiful! I think they deserve a blog to themselves, so I will get that done as soon as possible. There's something different about them, so come back soon to find out what!!

Roll Call + New Babies!

23rd May 2012

Quick roll call –  Here are some of the doves/pigeons that currently live in or visit my garden – my regular blog readers will know some of them  – all in all there is currently a flock of probably 80 to 100 but I don’t see them all together, and of course don’t recognise them all. I’m still finding it a problem feeding them all – I’ve given up trying to ration them and hoping the universe will supply the monetary support I need!!! Come on universe!!!
Summer and Sky are the white doves in my dovecote. Neither are ringed and they are unobtrusive, going quietly about their business and looking after their babies who are 14 days old as I write. I have names for the babies but they won’t be given them until their ringing/naming day.

Jose is my female white dove that can’t fly – she lives in her hutch/table by day, and I bring her into the conservatory at night due to a frightening fox one night a while ago.

Rosie – white dove, pink ring - is no longer elusive, but very much in evidence in the garden. She is a male, but he will stay Rosie! He will now eat peanuts from my hand
Fennie – white dove, green and purple rings - is also seen daily in the garden. He’s male and is getting very near to eating peanuts from my hand!

Lesa – white dove, yellow ring - had been missing, but has come back in the last few weeks and I see him/her regularly now. I think he’s a he!
Moonshadow (beautiful opal pigeon) is still with us, so is Bianca2 (white dove) and Charlie, a pigeon (rescued from the hawk)

Bobbie3 is also a regular – he was one in the hospital that recovered from paramyxo
Olly, my oily pigeon, hasn’t been seen for ages – I think he was an Olivia and I’m hoping she’s gone off with a male to a new home.

Lampie and Happy are white doves I have caught nicking food in Jose’s hutch and ringed recently. Lampie has a purple ring and is named after Lampworkbeader, one of my lovely blog readers and a member of Purplecoo and Happy (caught on our anniversary – so Happy Anniversary is his real name) has a red ring. I don’t know yet if they are male or female – but probably both males as they are bolder.
Cloud – female white dove, pink/blue rings on the same foot - has been seen every day. She had some sort of accident/trauma – perhaps an encounter with a hawk. Her tummy has now totally healed and although she hobbles a bit, she can put more weight on her bad foot,

Storm – male grey pigeon and Cloud’s mate. I only recognise him when he’s with Cloud


I was pleased and surprised to see Joseph back again in my garden a few weeks ago. He hasn't been here since last summer! He stayed for a day, then disappeared, but came back yesterday, again only for one day. He is very beautiful and probably trades on it to get fed - if you saw him, you'd feed him! He has an iridescent purpley/green patch on the back of his head/neck, and is a gorgeous bold and fairly tame male.
Varied coloured feral pigeons, including Joseph, front right
Bianca2 - to be perfectly honest I can't remember the circumstances
under which I ringed her! I'd have to look back on my blog - I think she
was poorly in the hospital at one time 

Freckles - new to my garden since April and now a regular

In the photo above, you can see the amount of pigeons compaed to white doves coming to be fed at the moment. Bobbie3, recovered from paramyxo, and ringed with a blue ring is in the middle of them.
Bobbie3, left, with friend
Fennie, top, ringed with green and purple, and Rosie, ringed with pink,
both males and named after my blog readers
Not very clear, but Storm (Cloud's mate) is the pigeon, and Cloud
is far right, Jose, centre and another white dove eating Jose's food.
At one time Cloud and Storm rested a lot on Jose's table.
Cloud's tummy 23rd April '12 - now it's a month later and
it's totally healed

For some reason blogger is not allowing me to add more photos, so, annoyingly, I will have to start another blog to continue this one..... sorry.

This will be 23rd May '12 Blog 1, so read this one first!