Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meet The Pobble and Faith goes visiting

15th Oct '12

Happy and Cloud turned up in the garden together. They visited Happy's old lodgings in the cote, swung on the wire for a bit, sunned on the roof, and generally seemed content in each other's company. I am so relieved that Happy has moved on so quickly after Jose's death - I couldn't have borne to see him moping around the hutch where she used to live.

I have seen him 'driving' Cloud - which is the expression used when the male chases the female, occasionally pecking her. This either results in the female giving in, and becoming the male's mate, or the male giving up and trying to fix his interest elsewhere!

It would be a fantastic ending - or rather a continuing - of Happy and Cloud's stories if they were to get together properly as mates, but even if it is just an Autumn romance, this diversion is exactly what Happy needs - poor boy!

Here they are again - Happy with 'driving' on his mind....

16.10.12 - As Happy is pleasurably diverted, I have been using the hutch for my bedraggled little Faith when the weather is fine. Mostly she sits inside the blue part, but can wander outside into the wire box if she wants to.  I liked to give Jose as much freedom as possible, but can't allow Faith to be unprotected as she can't defend herself in any way against the rough and tumble of the other doves and pigeons. She is very thin and vulnerable, but incredibly stays alive somehow or another.

I have trained a handsome pigeon to fly to my hand for grain and peanuts. I've named him Royal as he has a rich mantle of purple and green plumage. At Claremont, the white doves and pigeons readily eat from my hands, but my own flock here are much more reticent, so having Royal come to my hand is a feather in my cap, ha ha! I look dreadful in the photos hubbie took, so I cropped the pics down!


18th October 2012

Today would've been the second anniversary of the finding of Jose - if she had lived. I had planned to do an anniversary portrait of her. Instead here is a photo as a memorial of my lovely dove, pretty in the snow of 2010.

When I was tucking up the squabs this evening, I checked Happy's lodgings to make sure it was clean in there, and found one stick! Oh no! Surely Happy and Cloud will not start nesting at this time of year? Maybe it was just a stick to say 'This is my home, so stay out!'. I haven't seen Happy and Cloud all day, but I haven't been in all the time. I took the squabs out again today to check them for lice and louse flies.
25 day old white dove squabs
Last time they stayed cuddled up - this time they are much more grown-up and October started climbing up the back of the chair
September followed, and they managed to scramble up using their sharp toe-nails for leverage

I took some close ups as I love their fluffy yellow downie bits
Another week or so and these babies will be fledging. They get very excited now when the flock arrives, and are starting to take turns to look out of the window at the world outside. Soon they will be teetering on the edge..... and that's the time that squabs can get lost - if they fall off the edge, away from the nest, the parents probably won't feed them, they can't fly properly and are easy prey. Of course if Septie and Octie fall off, hopefully I will find them before too long and pop them back!
Fri 19.10.12 - I'd fed the birds and was eating my porridge, but still keeping an eye on the cote outside when I realised there was something going on at the back, so I went out to see. From the ground I could see two white doves scufflling in Happy's lodgings, and when they continued for a while, I got the steps up so I could peer in. I could see one bird had a single red ring and one a single blue ring so I could tell it was Happy and Sky. It seemed odd as since the initial fighting when Happy first came to the hutch they have lived in harmony, with Sky and Summer even tolerating Happy sitting in his lodgings at the back whenever he pleased. I didn't want my boys to hurt or even kill each other, so I decided best to remove one. I took Sky out as it's Happy's place and Sky knew that! and then took Sky into the shed kitchen for a quick look at him to check for lice etc. He struggled but let me examine him, and he seemed pest free - but I still gave his back and tail a little spray with my anti-mite stuff before releasing him. Then I worried he would be cross with me and wouldn't come back to the babies, but he's made of sterner stuff, and of course I have handled him before, when I initially ringed him - so all was well, and hopefully he will just let Happy be. Cloud wasn't with Happy, so I don't know what's happened to her.
There's been a lot of loose behaviour round the cote recently - the sort of thing Flash wouldnt have tolerated - comings and goings, ins and outs. After this morning's fight with Happy, Sky had trouble with another white dove wanting to get into the nestbox where the squabs are - he routed out this other one, and at first I didnt know what was going on, as this one also had a blue ring - but I think it's Bianca2 who I ringed ages ago - she's a female, so I can usually distinguish her from Sky but sometimes it's not easy. Why on earth does she want to go into the nest box? As I type, Sky is sitting blocking the entrance, and she is sitting on a lower ledge.
Monday 22nd Oct. 12 - September and October are now about 28/29 days old. Sky and Summer seemed to be encouraging them out today. Here Sky sits on the ledge, and one of the babies peeps out.

 Summer arrives to give a feed
 Then she sat on the top of the stepladder
Here's a close up below - Summer is a beautiful, intelligent bird - but a bit grubby at the moment from going in and out of the nestbox, which despite my efforts with the kitchen paper liner is very smeared round the edges! (I don't think this pair of babies could make any more mess if they tried!)
Sky and Summer's last two squabs - Spring and Autumn - who are now about 3 months old (hatched around 29th July) are thankfully still visiting the garden, and I try to make sure they get fed, plus extra peanuts.
I couldn't get a very good photo of Autumn....who wouldn't stand still....
And Spring kept rooting in the leaves.....she often goes there.....
But then posed nicely for me!
 Wed 24th October 12
The doves get the main afternoon feed mid afternoon now the days are shorter. I noticed a pigeon under the garden table, seemingly very hungry but didn't rush/fly about with the others in the scrum for food. It stayed, still searching, when the others in the main had flown off, and I then could see what was wrong with it - the poor darling thing had virtually no feet at all!!!! My net (now not much used since Jose isn't around any more to jump down from her table and need catching) was employed and I put The Pobble as I called him into the hutch - first removing Faith to the conservatory. I gave him a dish of grain and peanuts in the outside part - but with the wire box up - and he ate voraciously.

But after resting a bit, but he was trying to get out. It was still an hour from darkness, so I thought maybe I shouldn't keep him if he wanted to go. First I wrapped him in a cloth and took him into the shed kitchen to check out. You can see his stumps more clearly in the photo below - and I also sprayed his back and wings with the anti-mite spray.


 I put him on the floor, and he could get himself off the ground, but came crashing down again. Poor Pobble, you can't seem to fly so you must spend the night in the hutch! (if you don't know why I called him Pobble, then you need to look up Edward Lear's nonsense rhyme! - it's a bit long to reproduce here).
A pigeon called The Pobble
 Cloud had been there for the afternoon feed, as she was yesterday, but Happy no longer seems to be with her. He's given up his lodgings in the back of the cote, and for the last two days has arrived very late. He'll always be welcome here, and I'll always try to feed him - my beautiful boy. Here he is, a single white dove, with the last of the pigeons, at dusk.
Thursday 25th Oct - The Pobble was quiet and seemingly content in the hutch this morning.
There was a lot of mess, so obviously he had had enough to eat! After I took the photo, he rudely pushed past me, and flew to the roof, without a thank you for the feed and night's lodging! He didn't come down to eat throughout the day, and I assume he has moved on. Bye Pobble, it was nice knowing you!
You've heard of therapy dogs/cats who go to visit people in hospital and care homes? Well today I got Faith ready to go and see my old neighbour who has had a stroke and is confined to home and wheelchair.
Here she is waiting in her little basket, on the hedge, for me to be ready
She looks cleaner in the photo than she does in real life - she is rather a bedraggled little creature though she preens and does her best to keep tidy.
Pet dove visits elderly stroke victim
My neighbour, E, was delighted to see Faith. In the old days, before his stroke, he used to willingly feed the doves for me if I was going to be out, or on holiday, and he still takes a great interest in them, especially news of the squabs.

Faith sat quietly in her basket in his wheelchair while we had a chat.... but when I left and had reached our yard outside the garden, she took a massive leap out of the basket and onto the ground - silly Faith, scrabbling about on the gravel and in the puddles, getting even more dirty!


I took the babies out of the cote again this afternoon. At this age they always look so bemused and perplexed by the world around them. They are about 32 days old, and I know Sky wants them to fledge. It will be in the next couple of days I should think, maybe tomorrow.... Here's Sky on the top of the cote, first thing this morning, encouraging September to come out.

Here's September....
and here's October.....
They'll be fledged by the next blog - wish them luck!
To be cont.....

Saturday, 13 October 2012

R.I.P Jose - and the squabs are ringed and named

Sunday 7th October 12

Happy arrived in the garden, and I first noticed him as I always did, on top of the dovecote. I had kept Jose's body in the house overnight, but now I laid it on her bricks on her table, so Happy could see her, and know..... if he was able to know and understand....

I told him she was dead and he didn't fly to the table like he would normally have done. Maybe he did understand.

When my daddy dove, Glory, was killed by the sparrowhawk some years ago, I laid his body on the hedge and Hope, coping with the new little squabs on her own, ignored it. Happy appeared to ignore Jose's body, but still didn't come down to the table, even though there was food there.

When I removed her body to the inside of the hutch, and put the little door in place he came down to eat.
Cloud arrived and sat on top of the dovecote. She's always easy to recognise with her two rings on one leg, pink and blue.
And Happy seemed to notice her
I think I said in the last blog, even before Jose died, that Happy had taken lodgings in the back of the dovecote. He still seemed to want to be in there, and tolerated me putting up a hand when he was inside to give him grains and peanuts. I was doing that for Sky and Summer when they were constantly in the cote when these new babies were smaller but now I don't as leaving food inside the nestbox might attract the other doves and other more predatory birds and Mummy Summer and Daddy Sky only go to the babies at feeding times now. Anyway, so Happy gets food in his lodgings and I will always feed him while he is around as he was used to having as much food as he wanted just by walking into the hutch, and he deserves it for being a loving mate to an disable bird-lady, and a good father to Pearl. The photo below shows him in his little room at the back, with Cloud sitting on the side, and either Sky or Summer on the ledge of the nestbox. (The wire in the way spoiling my photo is the support cable for the telegraph pole just outside our gate)

Happy and Cloud seemed interested in each other, and I started to get the hope that perhaps they would hook up! Next time I looked Cloud had flown off to the roof, and was with a white dove - was it Happy? No, it was someone with a yellow ring - possibly Lesa who has a yellow ring, or Summer who has one purple/one yellow rings.

Above - Here's Cloud back on the side again, and Happy leaning out to see what she wants!
I didn't see the switch over, but suddenly it was Cloud in the cote, and Happy on the side. She's eating a dried pea - is it a mate she's after or just a meal ticket?!
Twenty-four hours after she died I had my poor Jose's little funeral. As I said, I had removed her body from the bricks to the inside of the hutch, and had left her there, but of course she had started to attract flies, so although I was still a little reluctant to give her up, I had to return her to Mother Nature. I was dreadfully sad - the outrage of yesterday had gone, leaving only grief for my special dove. I couldn't really believe it had happened - I had had plans to take her special '2 year anniversary' portrait for this blog in mid October, and had hoped that she and Happy would mate again in the spring, with more squabs. 
It was a sunny breezy day so I totally cleaned out the hutch, pulling out the nest, and Jose's last lingering feathers and droppings, and left the doors open for it to air.
Monday 8.10.12 - Dreadful day, absolutely pouring. I didn't even put Faith outside, there seemed no point, so she spent the day in the crate in the conservatory.
Summer left the squabs alone for the first time tonight. They are about 14 days old and this seems to be the normal time for squabs to be left, but I don't like it as I always worry about whether the parents will get back safely from the roost - wherever that may be - to feed the squabs in the morning. I always block young squabs in at night, in case a predator comes in the early morning before the parents get there - well it makes me feel better! As it is chilly now at night, I filled one of those tiny net laundry bags with the drawstring (the ones for washing powder tablets) with small dove feathers to make a warm cosy Mummy thing,and put it in the nestbox with the babes - then I put half a brick against the entrance, blocking them in safely but leaving room for air-flow.

Tuesday 9th - Happy flew to the porch above the kitchen door which he has never done before. I feel so bad for him, and I do talk to him but he is bound to feel upset and disorientated for a while. I first 'met' him when I caught him robbing food in Jose's hutch on our wedding anniversary at the end of April, and that's when I named him Happy Anniversary which is his full name, so he's been around the garden for at least six months and probably longer. Poor Happy, I hope he forgets quickly but tests have proved that birds, especially pigeons, have exceptionally good memories. So he probably won't forget, but maybe will find a distraction in Cloud or another female.


Wed. 10th - The forecast said the day was going to be good, so I decided to leave Faith shut up in the hutch, with the wire grille up so she could go outside if she wanted to but was protected from the other doves, and couldnt jump down. She is frail and she couldnt possibly live like Jose did, and in fact I wasnt sure about putting her in the hutch as I didnt want to get Happy's hopes up, but it seemed the best solution as the conservatory might get too hot, and the carrybox with the grille up is a bit small and restrictive. I had to leave before 8am and it was chilly, and Faith started shivering, so I heated the hard round microwave hot water bottle, covered it with a towel and propped it flat on a brick in the corner of the hutch, and she sat on that!

When I put her to bed in the early evening - back in the conservatory of course - I thought.... I only have her now, and the two little babies in the cote. I want to ring them tomorrow.

Thursday 11th - A bit of a miserable day, with more rain, and Faith stayed in the conservatory again all day. I did open the doors for fresh air, and feel bad about keeping her in, but she shivers so that I feel bad if I put her out! - can't win! It did come into my mind to put her in a knitted jacket with her wings sticking out, but then she wouldnt be able to preen properly which wouldnt be good for her.

The babies were fed twice between 7.30 and 8.30am then all the doves/pigeons left the roof, and I decided to grab my opportunity to ring and name my squabs. They are about 18 days old, and I think this is about the age I ringed the last babies, Spring, Autumn and Jose's baby, Pearl. I put a hot water bottle in a plastic bowl and covered it with a towel, scooped the squeaking babies into it, and took them into the conservatory to ring - Faith looked on!  Here are the babies - aah, aren't they sweet?

And another photo - I can't resist, they are so adorable!

I always examine the babies when I take them out of the cote, and this was the first proper time I'd looked at these squabs. The first one I named September,  and when looking him over I found he had one of those disgusting louse flies on him. I wasn't surprised about this because one day at feeding time I had seen one come to the surface of Summer's feathers, then burrow away again, and these revolting parasites like soft baby flesh with few feathers as it is easier for them to feed! Yuck!

So Summer had passed the louse fly to baby September and actually although it’s not nice to see these on the babies, it is much easier to remove them from the squabs than it would be to catch and de-louse Summer. The only way I could catch her would be to trap her in the nestbox when she was feeding and I would never attempt to do that, as it might scare her away from the nest, and better a mother with parasites than no mother at all!!! BUT I understand that the louse flies can spread horrible diseases to the babies, so hopefully they won't get any more.

I ringed September with one blue/one yellow ring, and then examined baby October. She had no parasites that I could see, and her rings were two purple ones.
Louse fly removed from white dove squab

Sat. 13th Oct. 12 - A week since the jaws of death snatched Jose. The hutch and the end of the garden are very empty without seeing her sitting on her brick. I never expected to be deprived of my Hosie-Posie in this way, but Faith is quite a comfort to me. If the weather is bad she stays in the conservatory, and if I am in there pottering about, I talk to her and she shuts her eyes and has little dozes. I still pick her up and give her sips of water as I have never seen her drink on her own. I bathed her underneath parts today and dried her with the hairdryer. She also sat out in the garden but I can't leave her unattended, ever. She had jumped down from the beans when I was feeding the doves, and I was distracted for a moment, til I saw Bandit (white male with 2 red rings) had jumped her and was trying to mate! Bandit, that's not nice, she's a poor ill old lady! So I picked her up, and tucked her on my arm while I was scattering the grains and peanuts for the others, and she was perfectly content, helping herself from the pot!
There are still way way too many pigeons around, and I just don't know what I am going to do about them. You can see from the photo below that there are only one or two white doves on the roof, and masses of grey pigeons. I think today they stayed on the roof practically all day - hovering - waiting to be fed!

 I got the babies, September and October, out of the cote again today to check them for louse flies (and to have a cuddle!). I think squabs are most adorable at this age - they put up little resistance to being removed from the nestbox, their feathers are like little cotton wool puffs, and they are so cute and alert. It was the best part of my day spending a few minutes with my babes! I left them in the conservatory while I did a quick scoop round of the messy bits in the nestbox. An internet dovie friend who reads my blog asked me how I managed to keep the nestbox so clean - but it's not clean at all as compared to the little nest bowls that pigeon fanciers have in their lofts. Despite the nappy paper, and doing my best, there was still clumps of poop, infested with m*ggots - totally disgusting! Below shows the sort of thing I am up against! - and you can imagine how much worse it is in the summer.
Let's have some nice pics of the babies to end the blog. Here are Sky and Summer's (and mine!) gorgeous squabs aged about 20 days.
To be cont....