Mon 9th July 12 - Jasha seemed ok at the 4pm feed, and I put him back in his nest box in the crate in the garden. When I checked him about 6pm, he was listless, with his beak slightly open – always a bad sign. I immediately took him out and he felt less warm than usual, and his beak was slightly bubbling. My heart sank. I really thought I could rear this bird. I put him in the larger carrying box in the conservatory, with an extra towel wrapped round his sitting on towel to make a nest shape, that would be warmer. I’d already got his little supper ready, but could tell he wouldn’t be able to eat it. As the pessimist I am, I don’t expect him to last the night. Later in the evening, when it was dark in the conservatory, I checked him with a shaded torch. I couldn’t tell for sure but I thought he was dead, though his eyes were open and he was in a sitting position.
Tuesday 10th July – Jasha is dead. God knows I tried my best, but maybe I did something wrong. One thing I did that I wouldn’t do again, was put him in the garden, in the crate with the freedom to move out of the nest. Maybe he caught a chill, or maybe some of his feed got down to his lungs – I think that was probably it. I don’t know but I do feel responsible and sad about it. I’ve learnt a lot, but didn’t really want to learn something at the expense of a little life.
|I'm so sorry,Jasha, it was not to be - RIP|
One amazing thing cheered me up when I fed the doves first thing. Amongst the many many birds on the lawn, I spotted a dark, spotted head and thought ‘You’re new’ and then I saw the dark body, the white wings and the yellow ring – Olympia, my hero, has won gold and returned home! He’s been missing since before I went on holiday so about 12 days or so. Of course he was rewarded with extra peanuts!
|Can you pick out Olympia from the flock?|
Here he is!
And he was middle bottom row in the flock photo!
Wednesday 11th – Summer stayed the night so she must be laying again – luckily I had cleaned out the babies the night before because now I won’t be able to do more than a bit of pooper-scooping at night or risk upsetting her. Lizzy2 and Pip are now approx 23-25 days old. Today I had to be out for a good part of the day – normally in these circumstances I put the wire box up and shut Jose in – this means she has the hutch, and her little door is open, but she can’t jump down from the table and is protected from anything that might come into the garden. Now Happy is spending so much time with her and is her true mate, I didn’t know what to do as I didn’t want to prevent him from being able to be with her but nor did I want to restrict his liberty. I decided that her safety was my priority and shut them in together, with plenty of food and water of course. They seemed perfectly happy when I got home, still cooing and billing in their funny little home.
|Happy and Jose|
|The dove that stays the night (she has a story later)|
Friday 13th – Happy has brought more sticks, filled in the hole of the polo nest, and it’s quite respectable now. I brought another brick to the table so they can sit on them side by side, instead of squashing up together.
Sat 14th – I was rushing out to my Pilates class, with no time to spare at about 9.30am when I saw a very young dove on the hedge. At first I just thought it had arrived with the flock but then I saw the green ring and realised it was Elizabeth II – goodness, I thought the babies were too young to fledge! But Sky was with her, so I thought she’ll be ok and off I went. Before the end of the class I was worrying but luckily she was still wandering about the hedge when I got back, and Sky wasn’t with her, so I got the net, managed to trap her by kneeling on Jose’s table and popped her back in the nest. Not a moment too soon as the heavens opened and it poured without stopping for two hours. Lizzy2 would’ve got very wet if she’d stayed out and might have caught a chill. She really was too young to fledge, probably by about a week, and if I hadn’t helped may not have been able to get back into the dovecote. After that little foray into the wet world outside the nestbox, she decided to stay nice and warm and dry with sibling, Philip.
As soon as the rain stopped, Happy was out collecting sticks again. He continued on and off all afternoon and I even saw him with a stick as late as 7.30pm. He usually flies off about 8 to 8.15pm, and by that time Sky has left too, and I collect Jose to put her in the conservatory. Tonight it was gloomy and several times I went into the garden to see if Jose was outside on the table, hovering and looking like she wants to jump – which is what she does if I don’t collect her in time, but she stayed inside the hutch. I began to get my suspicions that she might be laying an egg but the last time I went out, and softly approached the hutch, she came out onto the table. I quickly opened the hutch door to the nest part a fraction and sneaked a peek. There was an egg! Jose, my flightless dove, has laid her first egg!!! Wow! Now we really will have problems! She went back in and I quickly put her little door into the entrance slot and locked her in, and also put the wire box up for safety.
Since the fox came and took poor Bobbie in the hospital in the early part of the year, I have never left Jose in the garden, but now I had no choice – she had to be with her egg! I have sometimes left other doves in the hutch at night – I left Cloud there for a week in April to recuperate while we were on holiday, but it’s not something I want to do as I don’t feel it’s safe, though the hutch being on a table would be harder to break into than the hospital run.
I did everything I could to make the hutch impenetrable. I draped pieces of blue plastic over it, and held them down with bricks, and put up other defences. I hope it will be off-putting to a fox, and also water-tight if we get more rain tonight. I’m not terrible optimistic for the chances of the egg – the hutch is not an ideal nestbox but we shall see. I am quite excited though – Jose’s got an egg, what fun!Sunday 15th July – I was up early to undrape and un-barracade the fort knox hutch. Happy joined me to see his lady and egg, and then proceeded to get more sticks! Jose and Happy took it in turns through the morning to sit on the egg, and all was well. I was pleased, although it wasn’t a hot summer day – will we ever get them again? – that at least it was dry! Once or twice, I saw both doves together, and wondered what was happening but one or the other always went quickly back to the egg, and I also wondered whether Jose would lay another – as is usual. Happy days!.... but soon over....
By lpm the little family bubble was burst. Both Happy and Jose were on the table, I sensed something was wrong or different and I cracked open the nestbox section of the hutch a fraction. The nest was disturbed, and pushed over to the other side, and NO EGG! I then saw that Jose had blood on her breast....but she seemed to be ok, and so I left her as she was with Happy.I reckoned it might’ve been the jay, I’d seen it earlier in the garden. I was more angry than sad – how DARE another bird come and take my Jose’s precious egg!!! I gardened in fury, yanking up weeds. Jasha dead, and now the egg taken.....
|Jose - her blood or the intruder's?|
But within an hour Jose and Happy seemed to have forgotten their loss, and were billing, cooing and mating again. What on earth will I do now, if she lays another one?
|Don't be sad, darling - here's another stick for you!|
The afternoon was pleasant, and Happy and Jose stayed together, mating often. I worried about what to do. If she doesn’t lay another, then problem solved but I feel she will. She hadn’t by the evening, Happy flew away and I brought Jose into the conservatory. I checked her over for injuries, and hope the blood was from the other bird and it came off worst! Later on I had a proper look at the nest and found a jackdaw feather – the probable culprit. The jackdaws are always there in the garden, robbing the doves grain and I’ve several times caught one in Jose’s hutch – but that was earlier in the season and I’d forgotten about it and if I’d thought about it I would’ve assumed Jose and Happy would be able to defend their nest.This is my thinking.... Nature will take its course, and therefore Jose will probably lay another egg. If I leave things as they are, then the corvids will keep taking the eggs, and Jose might get hurt, and will certainly get distressed. I could confine both Happy and Jose in the hutch and wire box area, which would keep them and any eggs safe, but would restrict Happy’s liberty. And is that fair? Hubbie suggested dismantling the whole nest but I can’t have Happy bringing sticks all summer long... no, that wouldn’t be fair either. And I don’t want to use artificial eggs.... I wouldn’t want Jose/Happy sitting for hours on eggs that will never hatch. Though I’d like to see the jackdaw’s face when it stole and tried to crack a plastic egg!
Tomorrow I will just have to see what happens, and make my decision then.Monday 16th July 12 – Jose went immediately to her nest when I put her in the hutch at 6.30am. Had she been crossing her legs all night?! I left the hutch open in the usual way, without the wire box up, fed the doves and went back to have a mug of tea in bed! When I went out again, I peeked and could see at least Jose in there, so I put the wire box up. I wasn’t sure if Happy was in there too, or not. Later on, I thought I saw him on the grey bath with a young female, but they both flew away before I could check it was actually him. Bandit, who I keep forgetting to mention, has two red rings, and it might have been him. A miserable morning, gloomy with persistent light rain, and Jose stayed on her nest all morning. I wonder how long it takes to lay an egg? I must try to find out.
|Jose, on her egg - protected by the wire box - we're not taking chances this time!|
About 10.45am Happy was hovering about the wire box, and I took it off to let him in. Jose was off the nest and I could see an egg, gleaming pearly white on the brown sticks! Hurray! Once Happy was in, I put the wire box up. What I’m thinking today is.... I will keep them shut up together if I have to be out, but if I know I am going to be in all day then maybe I will let Happy out when he’s done his nest duty. I am going to try to keep a log of the times they change places. Sky also came to his nestbox and relieved Summer at almost exactly the same time.
;Last night, I had cleaned the hutch a little. Put down newspaper for ease of cleaning the floor, and took away the branch that normally provides a perch. Instead I put 3 bricks, to make a step – two together, and one on top of the back one. I try not to leave feed inside the hutch at night as the squirrels gnaw the wood to try to get in, but this morning I have put in food of course, and a little bowl of water, as well as the bigger bowl in the outside part. I hope all this will be ok. It seems to me to be the only solution.Later – The arrangement worked well for most of the day. The birds changed places on the nest at various intervals and seemed content – the one not on the nest either eating, or sitting on the bricks, in or outside. At about 3pm Happy seemed restless and I opened the door to let him out, knowing I would be around to let him in when he came back, and trusting him to do so! He came back ¾ hour later and was duly let in. First I opened the main door, as if he went in and out of there it would be easier for me, but though I propped it open and stood well back he didn’t seem to understand and was looking for a place in through the wire box, so after a minute or two, I lifted it off, he went in, and back it went.
As if all this wasn’t enough excitement for the day, just after 4pm both squabs, Elizabeth II and Philip were out on the hedge. They are only about 28 days old, and I’ve never had babies fledge so early.
|Pip, two purple rings, on the hedge|
|Sky, on the roof with Lizzy2, tries to encourage little Pip to come up|
It was such a miserably rainy day that after half an hour I caught Pip in the net, and put him back in the nest box. He did come out again later, and at about 5.45pm I caught him again, and again put him to bed!
After another half an hour, I popped out to the garden to check what was happening, and found little Lizzy, on the ground, in the flower bed. She looked enchanting and it was a great photo opportunity, but I thought if I went to grab my camera, she might disappear in the undergrowth, as the bed is packed with plants (and weeds!) high and low. I tried to catch her but she moved away to hide instinctively, but luckily I could still see her, and brought my hand down upon her. Rescue complete, she went back to join Pip, and thankfully Sky didn’t consider that the babies should be out, and he left them alone.
Happy had been on the egg (or eggs maybe!) since 3.45pm. We ate our supper at 7pm, me looking out of the window every few seconds. Both Happy and Jose are pure white, but I can sometimes, not always, tell the difference between them at a distance. Luckily both are ringed, but I suppose as Jose is ringed it wouldn’t matter very much if Happy wasn’t, though it’s helpful to be able to distinguish him when he’s out in the garden. Anyway, he emerged at 7.10pm and I let him out of the hutch. He stayed around the garden for 20 minutes, then flew away for the night and was gone by 7.30pm. This is earlier than previous nights, but the weather’s so bad, there were no other doves or pigeons around by then, Sky had already gone and Fennie had put himself to bed.We’ve got through the first day of the new egg/s and I think we managed pretty well! I was impressed with Happy – what a great husband for a disabled dove he is - he really seems to understand the difficult circumstances. Now, I have to make sure the night passes without incident. When it got dark, I did all the draping of the plastic sheeting, fixed with bricks again. The hutch is as safe as I can think to make it but I am still worried it wouldn’t be effective against a determined fox. What a nightmare! I doubt I will sleep very well.
Tuesday 17th – All was fine in the garden, thank goodness, and I saw Happy was in the garden for the early morning feed but he didn’t go near the hutch. I was meeting my daughter and grandchildren at a local farm park so was hoping he would go in earlier than yesterday. Sky and Summer swapped places at 10.22am, and just before 10.30am Happy came to be let in, and I was free to go out. As I drove into the farm park I found a dead pigeon. It had obviously just died as it was still warm – poor little thing, how sad. It had a GB12 ring so this year’s bird. If you find a racing pigeon – dead or alive – then you can report it here http://www.homingpigeons.co.uk/straypigeons.htm as long as you can read the ring which will have a number like GB11 D 12345 on it – and if it’s alive it’s owner will make arrangements to collect it. There’s also care details on the site too. I would always make a report, even if the bird is dead, as I think it’s owner would like to know what’s become of his/her birds.
I was a bit worried about being out so long – for Happy’s sake - but when I got back just about 4pm he was sitting and Jose was off the nest. Three quarters of an hour later. I let Happy out and Jose went to sit. Happy came back 20 mins later, and I didn’t have to remove the wire box as he understood to go in and out of the main door. At 6.30pm he asked to be let out for the night, and flew off. Sky didn’t leave til 8.15pm –I’d already popped Pip back into the nest box and Lizzy2 sat in the carry box I’d left on the hedge, so once Sky had gone I was able to easily pop her back too. The dove that sleeps on the building round the corner was on the ground, so I picked her up and put her in the crate in the conservatory for the night. Lucky I found her!Wed. 18th July – This morning Jose got off the nest to have a stretch and I saw the two lovely eggs!
The dove in the conservatory was taken into the garden and set free. She flew from my hands to the roof, but later on I saw her in her night time place, pressed up under the gutter and she stayed there all the rest of the day. I think she will soon pass away. I did ring her and name her Faith3 but I don’t think she’ll survive.
Happy went in to do his nest duty at 10.24am. Though I was around he didn’t seem to want to come out before 6pm. Then he wanted in again at 6.30pm, ate some peanuts, and off for the night at 6.40pm. There’s a rough pattern emerging and I think I will be able to cope with the routine. At the worst, both doves will have to stay in the hutch/table area locked in all day.Thursday 19th July – I shopped early and was back by 10am so as to be ready when Happy wanted to go to the nest. The usual time of 10.30 ish went by and I was getting a bit worried when 11 o'clock went by. I had to stay somewhere where I could get on with something but keep an eye on the hutch, so the kitchen has never been so clean! Eventually at 11.26am Happy went in, and I was free to get on with other things! I didn’t see Sky and Summer change over either, but they may have done, and I don’t need to worry about them. Summer first stayed the night on 11th July so these new eggs should hatch about the 28th. All these babies! Isn't it lovely!
In the late morning Faith3 emerged from her hidey hole and sat on the roof with the others in the sun, but I haven’t seen her on the ground to eat.
Pip was sitting in his day box on the hedge from early morning. He seems much more immature than Lizzy2 who flies from cote to hedge to roof quite easily.
|Little Elizabeth II dove with daddy, Sky|
Sky is still feeding them both, but I put a dish of little seeds and a pot of water in the day box, and Pip can certainly eat on his own. I don’t know exactly how old they are because I’m not sure when they hatched but they are about 33 days old now. When it looked like there was a rain storm coming, I put Pip back in the nestbox in the cote where he will be more protected.
|Pip (squab about 33 days) making himself comfortable in the day box|
I let Jose have an hour and a quarter on the ground this afternoon, chillaxing with the other birds, rooting in the flower beds and generally having fun away from nest duty. I also thought she might need a bit of greenery for vitamins, or little stones for minerals or something!
|Jose, flightless dove and mum-to-be, pecks around the lawn|
|While the naughty pidgies get into the kitchen garden!|
I also took baby Pip out of the day box and put him on the ground so he would get used to it - with me there to watch him of course. I then gave him flying lessons from my hands to the hedge. Putting the day box on the hedge was a brilliant idea of mine, because both babies go into it at bedtime, and I can easily transfer them from there to the nestbox when Sky has gone. He is doing the same thing he did with Lizzy and Lympy - blocking the entrance so they can't get in at night.
|Young squab (Pip) on the ground|
Sky came off the nest at 5pm, but Happy didn't leave the hutch til 6.27pm. Then came back to eat, and leave again, at 7.05pm. And yes, I have to keep an eye on the hutch and let him in and out. But it will be so worth it for Jose to have babies! We can do this thing!