Friday, 17 August 2012

I acquire a duck, and more pigeons in need of help

Thurs. 16th Aug '12

My last blog finished with a photo of my conservatory in the evening, with Faith, the poorly thin dove, having been transfered to a small box for the night, and a duck in her crate. So, here's how I got the duck.

I took my two and a half year old grandson to Claremont National Trust landscaped garden/lake (where I found Jose) and when we got to the entrance kiosk there were quite a few people milling around due to a lame duck. The kiosk ladies seemed unsure of what to do, so I said I look after birds and I'd be happy to take him til he was better. They agreed that I could put him in my car for now - I told them I had a box - and they would contact the powers that be in the office, to find out if I was allowed to take him. So leaving grandson in buggy to be looked after by kiosk ladies, I picked up the duck - drake actually - and put him in a cardboard box in my car - with suitable ventilation. I don't think I have ever picked up a duck before!

Grandson and I had our usual fun, then on the way out, I said I was leaving and what about the duck? They said they usually took injured birds to the local wildlife aid centre but they were happy for me to take him, and took my name and number. I agreed to bring him back to his social group when he was better. I must be mad! I don't really need a duck to add into all my birds and the looking after they require! When we got back to the car, the duck had clambered out of the box and was sitting on the parcel shelf, looking quite content. My grandson was excited about keeping him in the dove hospital, and helping me make a pool for him, but fell asleep on the way home which probably made my job a bit easier without him 'helping'!

The last few days I haven't been very satisfied with the hospital as a place for Faith, as she tends to sit in the upstairs compartment in the dark, not getting much light, sun and air, so I've been putting her in an open box on the garden table anyway - so the hospital was empty and ideal for Joby, as I named him.

On examination, Joby's leg and foot didmt seem too bad to me, so I released him into the hospital with a bowl of water, a cat litter tray of water and some soaked wholemeal bread, which he gobbled up. I also gave him a tray of dove grain and some peanuts. I didnt know what ducks eat, but enquired on Purplecoo (lovely place for like-minded souls) and found out that he would eat vegetables, slugs and all sorts really!

And as it began to grow dark, I put Faith in the conservatory as I always do, and then Joby.... without telling my husband, as I wasn't sure how he would take to us having a duck!

Friday 17th Aug

This morning I put Joby out into the hospital again, and went shopping to buy him some food. All the pet shop had was Wild Things Swan and Duck food - sort of pellets. It seemed ok and nutritious (and expensive!) so I bought it and put it in his water, but I'm not sure if he ate any or not.

Joseph came down to eat with the others at the early morning feeding. I made sure I threw plenty of peanuts near him, and he is managing fairly well on his own now. Just those few feeds I gave him, kept him going, and now he is on the road to recovery. I am so glad because he is a thing of beauty that is a joy for ever! Certainly not a common grey pigeon but more the King of Pigeons! Poor Herriot though, also with paramyxo, hasn't been seen again.....

I didn't need to go out again so I was able to leave the hutch without the wire box up, and Happy spent all day with Jose, like he did yesterday. He brought one stick in, and I know he is thinking of starting a new nest. There's a few bricks in the hutch, making a step or roost, and for a while he sat behind it - weirdly! - and I think he was wondering if it would make a suitable spot for a nest. No Happy it wouldnt!! If you must have more eggs, then use the old nest, it would be far safer - though not, I have to say, cleaner! The nest site is of course getting pretty soiled, though I do try to clean it up a bit.

Here's Pearl today....

And Spring and Autumn in the cote.....

I gave Faith her bath, paying special attention to her underneath parts, as they get so clogged up and messy. Then I popped her on the runner bean sticks to dry out in the sun. She was beautifully happy there all afternoon.

One time when I went into the garden, I was surprised to see baby Pearl had ventured off the nest and tottered into the main part of the hutch. I'm so used to seeing the adults only in that part that she looked incredibly tiny and babyish, though when on the nest I tend to see her as quite big. She is luckier than Spring and Autumn as they have no opportunity to stretch their legs, unless I get them out of the cote.

Jose never seems to feed Pearl, and I was worried that I'd only seen Happy feed her once in the morning. I tried to listen for the squeaking - which is very high pitched and can be heard from inside the house - and I did see him feed her again. At bedtime, when all the birds had left the garden, I braved Jose's wrath, and gently felt Pearl's tummy (crop area) and I could feel the grains through her skin, so presumably she is getting enough. I'm sure Happy does feed her properly, but he and Jose seem so wrapped up in themselves, billing and cooing, and I don't want poor little Pearl to be neglected.

Here's a lovely family portrait...

Squab hatched in rabbit hutch!

And here's Joby again....looking more male in this photo

Sat. 18th Aug '12

I went to bed last night wondering how I could make Joby a better bigger pool. My mind ran through all the possible receptacles we possess and hit upon the very thing! The tin bath. Now this tin (I call it tin, I don't know what it's made of) hung for near on 50 years in my parents' garage and I never saw them use it once - for anything! I imagine it came from my grandparents. When my parents' house had to be sold, I rescued it from the garage, and it's been hanging up at ours for the last 7 years without being used! So I washed off the cobwebs, put it in the hospital and was confident that Joby would love it.

But he didnt! So the poor bath that was getting excited thinking it might be useful again after 57 years - or probably much more - was emptied out and put back from whence it came. And I had another think, and found an under-bed storage box that was bigger than the pink litter tray and deeper too.

Ah! quacked Joby, That's better!

Don't drop me!

Jose jumped off her table, so I took the opportunity to pick Pearl up - what a cutie she is! She now moves freely around the nest area, often coming out into the main hutch area, but so far hasn't come out of the little door onto the table. If I'm out, then the table would be secured by the wire box so she'd be quite safe if she did.

Faith is either in an open box on the table, or on the grass, or on the bean sticks. This afternoon she was sitting in the flower bed, while I was sunbathing, reading and having a cup of tea ... and then she was gone! I searched the undergrowth, and all around the garden and was getting a little worried, when I found she had walked into the open conservatory - where she sleeps and possibly feels safe - and was on the floor amongst the toys!

Spring and Autumn are beginning to get curious and appear at the entrance to the nest box to watch what goes on in the garden. They are both very grubby, but I wouldnt dream of attempting to bathe them as they might get too chilled. It'll soon wash off when they fledge.

Sunday 19th Aug - I was wanting to go off carbooting early, but luckily Happy was there early too and I locked him, Jose and their baby, Pearl in together, by putting the wire cage up, when I left after the morning feed. It was an extremely hot day and I didn't take many photos - but I remembered to take today's one of Pearl...

A scruffy little fellow turned up at bedtime and perched on the hutch, but he seemed ok and when Happy flew off to goodness knows where, he went with him.

Monday 20.8.12 - Spring and Autumn were brought out of the dovecote to have their 3 week old portraits taken. Here they are looking a bit bewildered

This is Autumn....

And his sibling, Spring. At the moment I can't really tell which one is the eldest, they seem very similar sizes.

Close up - probably of Spring...

And Summer, the babies' mother, poses for her photo too. She and Sky continue to look after their babies and get on with their lives unobtrusively. They seem to have started nesting again in the back of the dove cote though I didnt see any stick collecting going on.

Jose and Happy now spend practically every minute together. Happy rarely flies to the roof, let alone go off flying. He feeds his baby, and stays with his wife in his little blue hutch-house, and seems perfectly content.

I got the little blue tray at the car boot for 20p - an ideal size, shape and depth for a bath for Jose's table. In this photo you can see the arrangement I make with the opening to the hutch. When I am around the house and garden, I leave the hutch open, but make the entrance small so that Happy and Jose can get in and out, but the gap is restricted, to prevent Pearl wandering out or a predator getting in, though I am not so worried about that as I was in the early days. The plastic overhead creates a kind of canopy to prevent too much sun getting into where Pearl sits, and also to protect the entrance from rain-fall.

Later, I was in the garden, and peeped through the leaves to catch this portrait of my special little family, all together. If I approach the hutch, Pearl scuttles back to the safety of the nest area.

At the late feed, a pigeon came down in a very bad way, dragging his leg and appearing most distressed. I didn't even need the net to pick him up. I would always be very reluctant to despatch a pigeon, though my husband would do it,if we had to - I'd much rather try and give it a chance. Unfortunately I haven't got the resources to take feral pigeons to the vet - when I took Flash just for an examination it cost £22 I think, and really with all these birds I would be constantly at the vets, so it is out of the question.  I examined the damaged leg - the picture below is not very pleasant...

I bathed the leg, just with water, which turned bloody - and there was a bit of a nasty smell to it too, then tried to put the pigeon to bed in a box in the conservatory, but it couldnt seem to get comfortable. After trying a few things, I lined a small oblong plastic take-away meal box with cloth and it seemed to settle. I dipped his beak in water but wasn't really sure if he was actually sipping or not, and truly, the poor thing, I didn't expect him to last the night.

And a pigeon, perhaps also poorly? stayed the night on the porch roof

Tuesday 21.8.12 -  Joby, the drake, only limped for the first couple of days he was here, and has since appeared absolutely fine. To be perfectly honest, I haven't particularly enjoyed having a duck because although he was no trouble during the day, gathering him up at night from the hospital, kneeling on my hands and knees and trying to avoid getting my head caught in the wire above was not much fun. And I never realised what a strong smell ducks have! His odour wafted through from the conservatory - where he spent the nights to avoid attracting foxes to the garden and my precious hutch! - into the sitting room and wasn't very pleasant. So, since he was ok, I put him in a travelling box and took him back to Claremont from whence he had come last Thursday.

The staff were grateful, and I opened the box on the grass near the lake....

And after a while Joby decided to come out..... Hey! I'm back at Claremont!

Soon he was in the water....

Having a reviving slurp!....

Then off to find his mates to tell his adventures! ....

I had a walk round the lake, and saw a Joseph look-alike, but not so beautiful...

Claremont lake - and I thought I had a feather problem!!!

I found a peacock!

And then treated myself to coffee and cake!

While I sat outside it amused me to see a white dove walk into the cafe and gift shop....

And be gently shooed out by one of the staff

I expect he was looking for crumbs... I shared my cake with a few doves and a sprightly little robin. Oh and then I bought a lovely rug, with soft colours of pink, aquas and mauves - so all in all Joby cost me a fair bit! - and I've practically a whole sack of duck food left!

When I got home, the birds were hungry - as always - and one poor pidgie had an injured eye, and perhaps a damaged wing because he was easily netted.  I think he was the one who had stayed the night above the cottage door, and I hadn't noticed then that he had a band round his leg.

I bathed his eye with tepid water, using an old torn up hankie, and a clean piece for every wipe. The crustiness came away but the poor eye seemed very swollen and almost closed up by the time I'd finished. I contacted the racing pigeon association straight away through their easy to fill in online form, and by the evening the lady owner had contacted me to arrange collection. The pigeon had to be confined in the crate in the conservatory, which of course I cleaned out after Joby left - they are a lot of work, these birds! The amount of kitchen paper and bird disinfectant I use you wouldnt believe!

And here's today's photo of Pearl ....with mummy Jose on the bricks

Jose and Happy, leaving Pearl in the hutch to her own devices, took an afternoon walk down lovers lane to the conservatory....

And that evening, I had three in the conservatory, the racing pigeon, Faith and the patient one with the dreadfully hurt leg, who had survived the night, called Jem. I had bought TCP and made a very weak solution to bathe his leg again. Remembering my St. John's Ambulance training to compare the injured part with the one on the opposite side, I realised that not only was the leg damaged at the top and curled up at the toes but it was also dark as opposed to the red of the other one. It's not looking very good. But he IS alive!

To be cont....


Jayne said...

Glad that Joby has been returned fit and well such a lovely bird.
Do you think that the pidges put the word around that they will get help from you - they seem to be so at ease and trust you completely.
J x

blackbird said...

As always, I marvel at your empathy and skills- the birds are very lucky. I loved the shot of the two on their walk down Lover's Lane. Maybe it's time for a children's book from you:)

Val said...

'Following along and just loving it all. And that a duck made in appearance in this post makes it even sweeter. My husband and I want to have a little pond with ducks someday. I will live vicariously through you for now. :)

Fennie said...

So glad the duck saga has ended happily. I love ducks. And gladd too that your favourites are doing so well. You have some wonderful pictures here. I was wondering whether there is any news of Fennie Dove?

Faith said...

Thanks everyone for your comments, and welcome Val - a new reader to my blog.

Blackbird, I have a children's book in mind - it's been there for 20 years - not about doves - maybe one day I will get round to writing it!

Fennie, your Fennie dove is very well. I see him at least once a day and he still gets his peanuts and his special treatment!