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....


Fennie said...

Thanks, Faith. All most interesting. So sad for you for Jose, though. And sad, too, that Fennie has disappeared. What rings does he have in case he decides to come here. You never know. Weird things happen. I've decided he must be on another mission though I worry about his wing and there seem to be so few of the sensible adults left to train up the youngsters. I think Fennie would also have helped you to see off the pigeons.

Faith said...

Fennie dove has purple and green rings. You never know he may come back in the Spring.

Lesa said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of one so special to you.

If you had a chance to check my blog, you'll see we had a scare with our Che. A little spotted skunk managed to get in the aviary and attacked Che. He's doing quite well now though, thank goodness.

You do such a beautiful job in caring for and documenting the doves near and dear to you. And I learn so many things. Thanks again for your unique blog!

Faith said...

Oh thanks Lesa, I must admit I don't get to read other blogs much, but I will have a look at yours asap! The dove I named after you 'Lesa' is still around and doing very well.

Lesa said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and reading about Che. He's such a sweet bird and happily adjusting to living in the house. I have a bird-dander allergy, so I'm doing some serious vacuuming and dusting, hoping I won't develop problems again. My husband built a lovely aviary that attached to our house and I had many birds then, probably too many for my breathing. So he built a huge outside aviary and I haven't had that awful cough.

Florida is a pretty dangerous place for birds, especially doves and pigeons, so we try to protect them as much as we can and still give them a lot of freedom. Over the years, I seem to have inadvertently specialized in injured or orphaned birds. People kept bringing them to me. I guess the word gets out.

Yes, I would love to live close to you! Wouldn't that be fun! I think we'd understand each other perfectly and have the same love for birds. Just think, we could spell each other when we wanted a vacation.

Thanks again for stopping by. I look forward to reading more of your bird adventures...and I'm so glad to read that your Lesa is doing well!