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!
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.....