Saturday, 6 October 2012

The squabs are fine........ but a sad sad ending for a special dove

Sat 29th Sept 12

About four or five doves and pigeons had crowded into Faith's open day box to rob her food. I caught a big white male, and ringed him with purple and blue rings, naming him Mr. Strong.

In the early evening, Summer left the nest while I was in the garden, so I zipped up the steps, and yes, we have two gorgeous plump-alicious downy yellow babies! I went for the camera, but Mummy came straight back and I didn't get one. So pleased there are two!

Sunday - the last day of September 2012, where has the month gone?

Sky kindly allowed me to take a picture of him sitting on the squabs. They just look like two hairy little lumps!

But later, when Summer left the nest in the late afternoon to refresh herself, I was able to get the first proper photo...
Did you spot the fly? Always, even though the weather is chillier, there are flies around the cote. I hate them as they threaten the health of the squabs. I will have to start my paper towel 'nappy' method again soon.
Monday 1st Oct 12
I had another peep at the babies today. Their eyes are now more opened than in the pic above and one even reared up a little at me! They grow so fast!
You know that there are too many pigeons and not really enough food to go round - though I do my best. The pigeons and other doves often try to get into Jose's hutch, to steal her food, and today after the 3pm feed - which is the main feed - I realised that Jose was injured near her eye. She was standing on her brick with blood on her face.
I immediately wrapped her in a tea-towel and brought her in to the house. Hubbie held her while I took the photo.

 Thankfully, the other bird's claw or beak missed her eye. It could have been a squirrel I suppose - they get into the hutch too. I cleaned the wound with plain water, and put her safely in her crate in the conservatory with food and water, to recuperate.
She was feeling a bit shook up....and just crouched in her box...
Later, I got her out again and bathed and checked her wound again. I think it is superficial, as long as it doesn't get infected. Poor Jose! and why wasn't Happy defending his missus? Well, I don't know where he was at the time, but it seems he has taken lodgings with Spring and Summer. He is renting the back room, and when he's not with Jose or out and about - he sits in there, perfectly content and cooing. I don't think Spring and Summer actually agreed - probably Happy is a tolerated squatter!!!
Tuesday 2.10.12
Jose greeted me by coming forward when I went into the conservatory to see how she was this morning. This is how her eye looked...

I put her out in the hutch, as usual, but took more care today to make sure she was locked in when I was out, and also when I was feeding the other birds, so they wouldn't try to barge into the hutch and upset her.
She kept her eye closed..... I wonder if it is hurting her, poor Jose. Doesnt look too good, does it?
Happy turned up as usual, and sat with her. I had meant to pull out the old nest this weekend just gone, but I hadn't the heart to do it. It's clean, so it might as well stay. Though if it gets all damp I might remove it.
The squabs are approximately one week old today - here's Summer looking fierce, with one of them
Wed 3.10.12 - See the babies little white feathers are already beginnning to come....


Jose is still keeping her eye shut sometimes, but I think she's ok.
Thurs.4.10.12 - I stood on the stepladder to take photos of Summer feeding the squabs
Here's a close up - see how far down the baby put his beak (it's a bit gross looking isn't it?)
White dove feeding week old baby squab

And here's the baby all happy, perky and fed!

Summer flew off in the late afternoon, and hadn't come back by 5pm. I was getting concerned that she was going to leave the babies at night, and I don't think they are old enough yet. It's chilly at night now, and usually squabs are not left until they are at least two weeks old. I put Faith in the conservatory, and then Jose... and kept checking the cote when a lone white dove appeared on the roof..... please let it be Summer!

It sat calmly there for at least ten minutes
 Then flew to the cote......thanks for coming back, Summer!
Friday 5th Oct. 12
The same thing happened this evening.All the doves and pigeons had flown away - even Charlie had had his late peanuts, and left - and Faith & Jose were in the conservatory. It was darker than last night  and raining. I changed the baby doves 'nappy' paper so it would be clean for the night, and put a tiny pot of small grains tucked into the corner of the nestbox in case Summer came back - which she did eventually. But I got the feeling that perhaps she had flown to the roost with the others - then though Whoops! the babies! I better go back......but I also feel it won't be long before she's leaving them, and I'll hate it, but I'll tuck them up somehow!  Summer helped herself to the little pot of grains, but I was watching her, and I felt she was still hungry, so I took out some peanuts and stood in the rain while she flew out of the cote to eat them. There has been a hawk around - hubbie saw it on the farm, and twice I've seen 'something' in the garden flying off quickly. My pleasure in the birds is very much spoilt by the threat of the hawk.
And I have bad news - as well as Joseph being missing, so now is Fennie. I'm not implying he has been taken by the hawk, but I haven't seen him for quite a few days now. Hopefully, my Fennie blog reader, your namesake Fennie dove is just off on a peace mission and will come back soon - and bring Joseph with him! But there have been many doves I have loved and lost - I believe their life expectancy in the wild is 4 years at the most. Fennie was in the best of condition when I last saw him, so no reason to think he has perished.
Sat. 6th Oct 12
The day started well. My projects were going smoothly and it was a sunny day. The squabs had their nappy paper changed and posed for the camera - all beady eyed and feathering up.
Jose's eye was fine. She wasn't closing it any more and seemed in good spirits, despite posing bashfully for the camera.
Come on Jose, show my blog readers how your eye is now....that's better!
I washed poor Faith - she gets so dirty underneath, it is disgusting. But she shivers so much after washing that I always put the job off..... but today was sunny so she had a bath (needing two bowlfuls of clean water) and then I left her on top of the box in the warm conservatory to dry off. But she still shivered, so I got my hairdryer and blow-dried her!

In this photo, you can see that the tip of her beak seems to be over-growing, but as she can still eat well, I'm not too worried. She stayed in the conservatory until I was sure she was completely dry, and under her wings as well. Then I put her in the garden, on her favourite place high up in the beans. The photo below shows her underneaths - after two washings! I felt I should wash her again, but she hates it, so I didn't. I can see that I didn't wash her feet very well. According to something I read online, some pigeons can get their feet so caked with poop, that sets like concrete, that they are literally walking around with hard balls of faeces on their feet. You can see how this can happen from this photo, as Faith had been in two bowls of warm water, and I thought I had washed her feet, but obviously not well enough.

So it was a beautiful golden October afternoon and never did I think that my birds were at risk of something other than the hawk, or even the fox. I had fed them at about 2.30pm as the afternoon main feed has become earlier and earlier due to the shortness of the dovies' day, then I carried on with whatever I was doing in the house. About 3pm I came to the open kitchen door for some reason, and at first my eyes couldn't focus or understand what was going on near the inside of my garden gate .... some big moving shape......shaking a white thing.....Oh my god, I realised it was a my garden!!! and with a dove in it's mouth.... and I knew of course it had to be Jose! I rushed down the path in my slippers, shouting NO! NO! and the dog dropped my poor Jose on the gravel and I scooped her up in my arms, but she was already dead.
Cradling her in my arms, I rushed screaming over to my neighbours' house across the yard - it was their dog - but both their cars were absent and they were both out. BOTH their bassett hounds had escaped from their garden and were now loose, barking, in the yard, with their dachsund still yapping behind their garden gate.
I feel terrible that Jose has died in this way. One minute there she was sitting on her brick, enjoying the sunshine, and then the jaws of death arrived in the garden and I was unable to protect her. But I would never have kept her shut up all the time, it would not have been fair, and I am glad I was able to give her nearly two years more of life, and a mate, and a baby. Jose, named after the release of the San Jose miners, arrived in my life on 18th October 2010 - (read her story by going to the Blog Archive on the right side panel, and open the blog for 2010 December - 'A Special Dove - and Turtle-Doves').
My husband rang the dogs' owners and they said they would come home straight away. He spoke to them when they arrived and I doubt he minced his words! What could they possibly say? Sorry doesn't cut it! I don't want to see them or speak to them. It's one thing people keeping 3 dogs in a smallish cottage when they are both out at work; it's another when one of those dogs breaks out of their garden and into mine and kills my bird. Their pet killed my pet, and I think my dove is as valid a pet as their dog.
After the initial shock, I laid my poor broken Jose down on the garden table while I rescued poor trembling Faith from the top of the beans. Thankfully, thankfully she had stayed put! I immediately took her into the conservatory and shut the door, and then, would you believe it, the other bloody dog was in the garden, and hubbie chasing it out! - this was before the owners had come home. The other doves were all spooked, and wouldn't come down to the lawn, but Summer did come back to her babies before nightfall.
Jose, rest in peace, my feisty stroppy little madam of a bird. I loved you more than you loved me, and I will miss you tremendously..... what am I going to tell Happy?.... sad, sad day.

To be cont..... as life goes on....


Jayne said...

Oh Faith, I don't really know what to say, poor you poor Jose.
Jose had a very very happy life with you but neither of you deserved an ending like this.

J x

blackbird said...

Dear Faith, I'm so sorry to read your news and I can imagine how terrible you feel. Your bond with Jose sustained her and gave you both so many wonderful moments through the years. She will always have a place in your heart and because you have shared her highs and lows with us, in our hearts too. Thank you and take care.

Fennie said...

Very sad for you, Faith. Big, big hug!
Can't really say more. Am sad and concerned too that Fennie isn't around. Good news about the babies though.

Calico Kate said...

Fabulous blog Faith such a sad tale after all your care. Can't say anything that will help but sending a great big hug. xoxox