Saturday, 16 June 2012

Elizabeth and Olympia fledge - and Fennie update


The babies ventured out of the cote on Friday 8th June in the late afternoon, early evening, but it was soon bedtime, so they went back in again- Lizzy choosing the original nestbox and Lympy, deciding to be independent, choosing the sidebox!  Here's Elizabeth, white, and Olympia, dark, peeking out of the cote.
Fennie, the one with the bad wing, has stayed the night every night since the end of May. This particular night he is having a little party - two friends slept over!
I think Fennie is the bottom one of the trio - I can see his purple ring. He looks ok, but can't fly long distances - which is why he chooses to spend the night. The others are an unringed white dove, and the young white one that I caught and ringed the other day - naming her Laura after a friend and blog reader. Yes, Laura B she's named for you!

Fennie dove is also named after one of my blog readers, a blog writer and a lovely internet friend. The real Fennie posted some of Fennie doves thoughts on the Purplecoo website - I was sure you'd enjoy reading them so asked for permission to reproduce them here .......

"My wing is trailing and I can't fly very well. I'm worried about sparrowhawks. Be all right, I suppose, if they confined their activities to sparrows, those hawks, but I'm a dove - a bird of peace. Not that they'd take much notice. I fly around looking for olive branches, you don't see many around here, no! Well, maybe a pesky little ornamental job, but you can't bring peace to an outbreak of internecine strife with one of those. Oh no! Don't even go there. Or if you do, be very careful! In fact that's where I got my wound - among the internecines and the bearded whatsos: Afghanistan, or was it Pakistan? Somewhere in the Middle East. I put on goggles, you know, and pretend I'm BIG CAPTAIN DRONE and make a noise like a Spitfire! Boooommm! Fooled you! I'm only kidding, whoever heard of a dove in Afghanistan, or in the Koran for that matter? No! At least not to my knowledge. Though I am in the Bible. Oh yes. A right Christian bird is a dove; although, thinking about it, as it was the Old Testament they put me in I am probably more of a Jewish bird. Yes, you see there I was looking for olive trees on Mount Ararat - though its not a very good place for olives; mountains usually aren't. Noah didn't care. He just through me out of the window. I didn't care. All the sparrowhawks had drowned! Ha! I tried to bribe an adder to poison the two we had on the boat but he thought they might eat him before the venom worked. It would have made an interesting experiment I thought. Anyway, whatever. Where was I.....

Oooh, do you get aches in your limbs? You know, in the evening with rain coming on? Sometimes, you know, I think it's the peanuts. We all get shed loads of peanuts here and I get a shed load and a half ever since I flew into the pylon. Put aside for me specially. Tell you what: I've put on the odd ounce or two. Oh yes! What's that? Well, I shouldn't say this, kids will laugh, you see - you won't tell? Well, I was trying to do a barrel roll: always fancied that. You go upside down, you see, but slowly, and when you look up you see the ground instead of the sky and it makes your tummy go all funny. Lovely being a dove, you see. I used to like aerobatics. But I'm too fat now. And old. That's why I hit the pylon. You see, if you look at the ground you can't be looking where you are going and I was really doing very well when - twang. Really! I mean I should have seen it, but I was too low down. I lost height. But, I mean why? Why do we need all this dratted electricity - wires everywhere? It doesn't half hurt, I mean I can tell you, getting snagged on the wire and I looped around it three times and lost half my feathers. I've got a bald patch now, just under the wing. the rain gets in and it's cold.

Do excuse me while I have a peanut and a sip of water. Between you and me I'd like something stronger, but I've only ever been offered water. A drop of brandy wouldn't go amiss. Got used to that on the ark. Well, you didn't know? How then do you suppose Noah heard himself think. No, I mean, come on: it was brandy, that kept us quiet, trebles all round and that wasn't the only thing they gave us to keep us quiet. Goodness, cooped up in a wooden boat - we wouldn't have remained two by two for very long, I can tell you. Especially with the brandy. We'd have been humping away...well I won't go into the details. I mean you can imagine. Five arks full of humping animals high on brandy. So they mixed the brandy with bromide. I tell you, you trying flying with that lot inside you - even if you've got two good wings. No wonder I came back with an olive branch, I needed something to stabilize me and then I needed the whole deck to land on. Ever watched ducks now, trying to land on ice? Well I was like that. Wheeee, bump! Right into the backside of an elephant. Who didn't even notice. Anyhow, then we bumped ourselves! Right into Mount Ararat! That's in Turkey by the way. And then we were stuck on the top of a sodding great mountain.

When I'm flying through the air ...and me wing's not poorly.... and I've got a full complement of feathers and haven't eaten so many peanuts that I can't take off, then because I'm all white people look up and think I'm a cloud. Would you believe that? Do I look like a cloud? - No. But there's no accounting for folk.

Anyhow, I think I'll just rest up a while now and let the peanuts digest. I'll hide away here under the eves and practice my yoga. I can do the salute to the sun, you should see me. And I can puff out my chest so that it looks as though I've swallowed a football. I hope this wing will mend, though, otherwise I'll be off the peacekeeping detail and be reduced to cooing and sitting on eggs. I mean it has to be done, but it's not a life, I mean, is it now? Not when you've done what I've done. Still there's always someone worse off than you that's what I say. That Flash now. Always showing off - handsomest bird in the garden and Milady's favourite he was strutting around, puffing out his chest, showing his white feathers. Then Boom! Wallop! No more Flash! He might have had Latin by the bucket as the expression has it and a college education but it didn't count one jot with Old Hawkie. No! The sparrowhawk came and did for him. Bang! No more Flash. Out of the blue sky, as it were. So I ought not to complain. My toes aren't curled up, I'm not shivering and in the hospital pen, I haven't booked my plot among the rhubarb - at least not yet. Always someone worse off than you. Don't you find that? So you won't catch me complaining even if I have a bad wing. I'm not a big hero, not me. Just a little hero. And there are plenty worse off. Anyway, if you've got this far and not got stuck half way on Mount Ararat, thanks for persevering and if it wouldn't be too much of a bother could you shoo away any likely sparrowhawks you see lurking.

I don't suppose you've any cashews, have you? I mean for a sick pigeon? A nightcap? One grows tired of peanuts, but still mustn't grumble. Drat this wing. G'night"

Sat 9th June '12 – I got up at 6am. Fennie was still in the night roost, but the others had got up earlier. Elizabeth was already out of the nestbox and on the roof with Sky. Olympia was still in the side nestbox where he had spent the night.
Lizzy is the grubby one, top right

I observed for a while but Sky was totally absorbed in Elizabeth.  H,ave you forgotten your black baby, Sky? About 6.30am thinking it might be my only chance to do so, I got Lympy out and sprayed him for lice. Then put him back in the original nestbox where Sky was more likely to find him. I'm call Lizzy she and Lympy he for now, but of course at this stage I do not know their sexes.

From the roof Sky and Elizabeth came to Jose’s table and Olympia peeked out of the dovecote, calling to Sky, and eventually went to Daddy as Daddy wouldn’t come to him! I saw Sky feed him on Jose table before my camera ran out of charge.

Then Lympy went back to the side nest box again, Sky to the original box and Lizzy on the top of the cote. I expect they will flutter round the area of the hedge and Jose’s table for the next few days, like Vim and Daz did last year. Jose's hutch provides another safe haven for the babies, and hopefully Jose will tolerate them like she did Vim and Daz.
So the babies have fledged at approx 31/32 days, which is normal for pigeons.

I wrote the above, sitting with my laptop and observing the birds from the house, and popping in and out to take photos.
I eventually went in properly to see my husband and have breakfast at 7.30am. When I went out again at 8.15am Lympy was nowhere to be seen. I checked the dovecote, Jose’s hutch, the roof and the flower beds – there was no sign of any disturbance or struggle, no feathers anywhere. I couldn’t think where he might have gone! I got dressed quickly and went out with the net. I checked the yard, the back of the old mill (offices, but currently not let), the neighbour's garden, the side of the river, a bit of the wood – nothing! A sad mystery. I can only hope that he flew off with sone of the flock and will eventually find his way back. The day is gusty, and newly fledged squabs usually stay near the cote for the first day or two, so I am worried that something has happened to him. But where there is no body, there is always hope. What a shame – on his first proper day out! I’ve seen Sky look for him, in the dovecote and on the roof – but he’s not there, Sky, is he? Your beautiful black baby changeling...

Later on I went down to the farm, with the net, but no luck. Unpleasant possibilities suggested themselves to me... he’d got blown in a gust and landed in the river to be swept away....... my newly adopted cat, who never comes in the garden except once a day to eat, came in and gobbled him up....... a hawk came out of the blue, even though not seen for months, and snatched him..... And then, at 11.20pm I looked up and there he was on the table again with Jose and the others! And Sky fed him. The garden was sunny again!
After a few minutes Lympy flew round the back of the cote and went in with Summer and the eggs! Probably he’d been there all the time. The doves always surprise me – as Summer doesn’t feed the older babies now, I just didn’t think he would be in there. I had checked when I looked round the cote, but because he is so very dark, and I can’t see that bit of the cote very well, maybe he was hidden round in the back part.
Olympia, in with Mummy Summer and the eggs!

Suddenly everyone's interested in Jose's table!
Afternoon - Jose is not so tolerant of Lympy as she is of Lizzy. She pecks poor Lympy - I think he is so dark she thinks he is one of the jackdaws that rob her food!
Group photo - the doves pose perfectly!
Left, Lizzy - Top, Jose - Right, Sky

Lizzy is spending more time out of the cote than Lympy, but I have always thought that she is the older one. Lympy will be a full day younger, so it's to be expected that she will be a bit 'behind'.
Now let's have a group photo of all of you -
Lympy, stop eating and look at the camera!

Lympy, stop preening! - Oh I give up!

During the babies first couple of days out, Sky had a dirty mark on his breast. This was handy as it meant I could recognise him. Lizzy was dirty too (and no doubt Lympy was, but it didn't show!) but after all the rain we had they were both snow white again.

Doves and pigeons on the roof
I was glad it was dry for their first day out though. The photo above shows some, by no means all!! of the current flock on 'their' roof. It's not the roof of our house, but of part of the office building, adjoining.
Sky - and Lympy , high five!

Evening– Sky fed the babies around 7pm – it had been a lovely sunny afternoon and evening, and Lympy put himself to bed in the side of the cote. Sky was annoying  and blocked the old nest hole giving Lizzy no chance to get in there. I wondered what to do and when he would leave – would Lizzy go with him, and how far was it to wherever he roosts? I put Jose to bed in her crate in the conservatory earlier than I would normally do on such a fine evening, but I wanted her table and hutch to be totally free if the babies needed shelter. I saw my opportunity when Lizzy sat on the table near the entrance to the hutch, grabbed the net and guided her in – before locking her in. She was a bit upset, naturally, but I just wanted her to be safe for the night. Sky stayed around for a while, sometimes flying to the roof, sometimes just blocking the cote but by 8pm I was sure he had gone. I waited til it was dark though before I put Lizzy carefully into the old nestbox hole. If I’d done it while it was anywhere near light, there was a chance she would come out, but it would be extremely rare for a pigeon to fly at night – unless upset in the roost. Of course, I could’ve left her in the hutch, but that’s not as safe as the high dovecote by any means – and I wouldn’t have slept well knowing she might attract the fox!

You can see that Lizzy tried to find a high perch in the hutch. She's standing on the thin partition that divides the two parts of the hutch. I couldn't leave her like that - so close to the wires and so visible to the fox. I expect they can smell the birds too. Sorry about the quality of the last two photos, but I have to grab my opportunity when taking pics of the doves and it's not always good light etc.
By the time it was dark and I put Lizzy in, I couldn’t see Lympy in the side entrance, but I just had to hope and assume he was either in there, tucked away in the darkness, or gone back to sleep with Summer. Along stressful dovie day!
Sun 10th June '12 – I got up at 6am, but all the doves and pidgies were up before me – except Fennie! He was still in his sleeping place under the gutter. The babies, LL, were now both in the old nestbox with Sky sitting on the ledge in front of them. I fed the flock, and Fennie, perking up, came down to eat. I was out for the first part of the morning, and came back to Sky and Lizzy on the roof, and Lympy lurking in the nestbox. He only came out to be fed when Sky was around. Sometimes Sky is on egg duty, of course, and Summer doesnt feed the babies now.
All doves off flying, except injured Fennie (top) and baby Lizzy
with daddy Sky

That afternoon, Lympy helped himself to a little bath in Jose's drinking bowl.

Eve –  It was raining and gloomy – Fennie and Laura to bed at 6pm-ish and I put Jose to bed early again. Lympy had chosen the orig'nal nestbox this time for the night, rather than the side one. Sky again blocked the entrance – maybe he thought both babies were in there. Lizzy flew from the roof to the top of the cote, to Jose’s table, and back round again, not seeming to know where to go. Sky left earlier than last night, due to the weather, and bedraggled little Lizzy didn’t take the opportunity to go in with Lympy or any of the other empty rooms in the cote. I observed her from the window til there was only one random pigeon on the roof, and she joined him. I hoped she wouldn't fly off with him as goodness knows where he would go – he might not be with my main flock. That’s what happened to Laura dove I think. She came one day, brought in by others, but didnt know which way to go back so she stayed on the roof with Fennie! Eventually Lizzy sat on Jose's table - really a pathetic little figure - soaking wet, looking lost, in the darkening evening. I went out with the net, my heart beating, knowing I'd only got one go to get it right. Luckily, I did it! I brought the net gently down over her, then shut her in the travel box until it got dark and I could transfer her to the cote, knowing she wouldn't fly out. Hubbie observed why don't I just let them get on with it? - well, pigeon fanciers shut their birds in at night, and that is all I am doing, I think - not really interfering.
Monday 11th – I was out in the morning, and again out in the afternoon. My big babies had to be left to their own devices. In the late afternoon while Lympy sensibly stayed in the dovecote, Lizzy stood stoicly in the non-relenting rain and got extremely wet! Fennie stayed on the little porch over the kitchen door, and didn't move at bedtime, though Laura went to the usual spot under the gutter, and sensibly took Fennie’s prime position place. I don’t like Fennie being in that vulnerable position, but I can’t reach him there. I didn’t see him eat all day (sad face). Sky left early it was such a dreadful day, and Lizzy didn’t put herself to bed, and again I went out with the net, caught her and put her in the cote to be safe for the night.
Tue 12th -  Fennie came down with the others for the morning feed (happy face!). All ok during the day, though still raining. I had to go out before 7pm in the evening, but joy of joy, Lizzy put herself to bed in the dovecote before I went – choosing the place I have put her in the last two nights. Fennie was back under the gutter, and Laura didn’t stay the night.
Wed 13th - In the late afternoon, a dove went into the cote (old nestbox) and I assumed it was Sky, blocking the babies again. I softly moved the steps, blocked the exit and removed the dove. I ringed him with purple/yellow rings, and sprayed him for lice, then released him. But for day or two after, I wasn't sure if he was Sky or not! Now I know the ringed dove is definitely one of my pair - either Sky or Summer. It seems odd that I can't decide if this dove is male or female, but they are both a similar size, and Sky doesn't act like Flash did - being male all over the garden! - strutting his stuff, flirting with other females, mating with Jose etc. In the early evening, I heard distressed squeaking and saw Lesa dove (who is definitely male!) in the cote routing little Lizzy out! Luckily, Lesa decided to leave and I was able to block the babies in the cote (which I do with a crumpled up ball of wire) - keeping them in and any other doves/predators out. I remove this when it's fully dark, so the babies can get out in the mornings. Fennie was under the gutter again.
Thurs 14th - I had to be out from late afternoon through the evening, and hubbie wasn’t home to deal with the birds, so I had to bring Jose in early – she did look rather miffed to come into the crate in the conservatory at 4.30pm instead of 6.30pm at the earliest! I wondered what Lizzy and Lympy would do? I got home about 10pm – Fennie was alone under the gutter, Summer was in the nestbox at the back as expected, and a white dove was in the front nestbox. I couldn’t tell from a quick flash of the torch whether it was Lizzy, Sky or another white dove. The other compartments seemed unoccupied but Lympy is so dark he could’ve been hiding in there somewhere
Fri 15th – I was around most of the day on Friday. Lizzy wasn’t there for the first feed and I was a little concerned at the time, but she turned up later so that was ok. There was a lot of activity at the front of the cote – Sky and Summer, whoever was off the eggs, had a few tussles with a white dove that seemed to want to live in the cote. It turned out to be Happy (Happy Anniversary – caught and ringed on our wedding anniversary in April) and  just before I went out at 6pm I saw Lizzy had put herself to bed. Sky/Summer was still there and Happy still hanging hopefully around but I popped the ball of wire in the opening to the box, so at least one of my babies was safe for the night. By the time I was actually ready to go a few minutes later, Lympy had put himself in the old nestbox, so I blocked him in too. 40 mins later when I got back a white dove was on the ledge of Lympy’s bedroom, but whoever it was came down when bribed with a few peanuts then flew away.
Saturday morning- 16th June '12 - The babies have been fledged for a week. Happy and Sky/Summer are still arguing for the supremacy of the cote while the other one of my pair is either still sitting on the eggs, or hopefully tending the babies. They should’ve hatched Thursday/Friday but I have seen no evidence of egg shells. Sometimes the shells get left in the nest, and eventually crushed.
Fennie flew down rather haphazardly for the feed this morning, and found it an effort to fly back up to the roof but made it in the end. He has now stayed every night for over two weeks. It can take the doves quite a while to recover fully from an injury. Cloud is now not limping - and that's about 10 weeks since she was first hurt. I wanted to add a photo of her, but blogger wouldnt let me add any more pics - I can't understand that. Can any other bloggers shed any light? Maybe my blogs are too long!
To be cont.....

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Unusual Siblings are Named & Ringed

Duck joins the pigeons on the roof!
June 6th - Blog 1 - (this blog continues - see the blog listings for June at the side to find the continuation if it's not under this one) In the photo above we have a spot the difference!!!!  

Sky and Summer, my white doves, have a new nest! They have chosen, very annoyingly, the back of the cote for it – the absolute hardest place for me to get to, if necessary, and I won’t be able to peep in and see the babies there either. I wish they hadn’t started another nest so soon, as once the babies get to a couple of weeks old, I like to get them out of the cote every day, check them over, give then some fresh air, pooper-scoop the nestbox, take photos and generally enjoy them, and this would be difficult now as they would squeak and make a fuss, maybe upsetting whichever parent was on the nest, maybe causing them to leave it. I realised S and S were going to start mating again, and one day before they did was my only chance to get the babies out and clean the smelly nestbox. They were about 10 days old, and quite big, so I ringed them and named them – Elizabeth, the white one, with a green ring, and Olympia, the dark one, with a yellow. Lizzy and Lympy for short, or LL collectively. Of course I don’t know if they are male or female yet. I was glad to do the nestbox, although the usual revolting job! I took out all the sticks the parents had brought in, to give the babies more room. There was a lot of poo, of course, and some tiny maggots. If the babies had got a scratch, and the maggots had got into the wound, they may have died, so it's important to keep the nestbox as clean as possible, but very very difficult. As the babies get older, they get better at pooing over the side, which means the box doesnt get fouled - but don't stand underneath!
Baby Olympia, about 10 days old just before ringing
Baby Elizabeth - white dove 10 days old
Mummy and me (or it could be Daddy!)

During this time I had two poorly birds - a white pigeon that I named Faith2, and a pigeon that I didn't name. I don't know why I named Faith2 and I really should not have ringed her as I knew she couldn't survive. See her turned up toes in the photo - I have never known a bird survive when that happens. I looked after both birds in the hospital during the day - giving them water by hand, and brought them into the conservatory for the night, but by morning the pidge was dead. Faith2 was still alive, but disorientated and dying - I took her out and gently gave her a sip of water, and she died an hour later. I hope the sip of water was a comfort for her.
Below is Sky at the back of the cote where he has decided the new nest will be. No other bird has ever nested in it, and I have no idea whether it is a good choice or not for the eggs. It's certainly not a convenient choice for me, as very difficult indeed to get the steps round the back, because of the hedge.
Elizabeth sits cosily in the window of the cote. I think she is the eldest as she seems to take precedence when it comes to having the window seat! Sky peeps out of the back, where he's making the new nest. I didn't see him take many sticks in but doves make scrappy nests anyway.
 Here's Lizzy and Lympy posing for their three week old portrait. When I took them out of the box, they squeaked of course, and Sky or Summer, whoever was on the eggs at the back of the cote, flew out - making me feel guilty - but they flew back in within a couple of minutes, so hopefully the eggs will be ok. They can be left uncovered for very very short periods, but if they cool of course the tiny babies inside would die.

Unusual dove siblings - one white, one black! - 3 weeks old

This blog continues......

Fennie is injured - and the babies grow up

6th June 2012 - cont...

Fennie is a ringed dove, tame enough to eat peanuts out of my hand (when he chooses to!) and named after one of my blog readers. I was concerned when he arrived in the garden injured at the end of May. I couldn't tell what had happened to him - maybe he flew into something or met the hawk somewhere, but his wing was slightly out of alignment and a little bloody. Although getting off the ground was difficult for him, he could fly and he could eat, so as I couldn't catch him, there wasn't much I could do to help- except throw extra peanuts to him when he was on the ground! It was fortunate by that time that the heat wave had passed, as hot weather might have attracted flies to his injury and that would've been fatal for him. That night he stayed on the roof til all the other birds had gone and then put himself to bed on the cottage roof, under the gutter. This was a sensible choice as it would give him slight protection from the weather and more importantly hide him for the watchful eye of the hawk. Another poorly dove recently had chosen to roost on the security lamp, and the next morning was dead on the patio, having been partially eaten! He's stayed every night since, conserving his energy and gradually recovering.   
Fennie finds a safe roost for himself

The doves and pigeons do different things in the summer months - here are a few congregating in the over-grown hedge under the dove cote for some reason. Below is a Great Tit who flew into the house over the Diamond Jubilee weekend. He looks enormous but it's just a very close close up!
Jubilee Great Tit

Below are Olympia and Elizabeth, at the doorway of the cote, aged about 25 days
My Turn!
Swap places!
Your turn!
Sky selects the nicest grains for his babies
Has a quick drink
Looks up at the cote to judge the distance
Then flies up to feed Elizabeth and Olympia

Olympia in the playpen - 29 days old
Here's the four week portrait of my unusual siblings. Olympia, the dark one, has a mottled head, and much green iridescence. I still haven't worked out who her real Daddy is!
After 4 weeks in the nestbox, very dirty baby white dove!
Above and below - Jose (fully grown) on the left and Olympia (4 weeks)
on the right - they are nearly the same size!
The end (for now!)