Thursday, 29 November 2012

Guess what?

18th November '11

I thought that the doves were quietening down, the pidgies were moving on, not much to blog about... and then today...guess what? Mrs. Summer laid an egg! Despite a slightly frosty start to the day, and her last babies being 8 weeks old, Summer decided that she and Sky would begin a new family - their 5th set of eggs since they came to the dovecote in the early Summer.

She left the egg at various times during the day - (which the doves do until the second egg is laid and they start sitting, and taking it in turns with the eggs never being left) - and therefore I was able to get the photo.
I caught one of the pigeons with paramyxo and brought it in for a hand-feed. I decided it would be best to ring them, so I can see them more easily in the flock. Although the birds with paramyxo act differently - walking round in circles etc - sometimes when they are in the flock and are just an ordinary grey bird it's hard to pick them out at any given moment, so I gave this one double rings on one foot (pink and green) and named him Mixie. Later on, when I'd brought Faith in for her weekly bath, and left the hutch open, he put himself to bed in there. I shut him in for the night, but if I release him tomorrow which I no doubt will do after he's had a feed, I will have to totally clean it out for Faith. I don't want her getting the illness as she actually seems to be improving. She no longer has the diarrhoea that she had for so long in the beginning, and the blood that was in her poop for a day or so has also stopped. I was beginning to wonder if I should take her to the vet for the final journey but that is something I hate to do, and since Jose was snatched by the jaws of death, Faith has been my special pet and little companion. Here she is after her bath, drying off on the aga, while I melt butter and golden syrup to make brown biscuits. Maybe not the most hygienic thing to do, but I don't care!

For the last while, at bedtime, October has been putting herself to bed in the 'mouth' of the dovecote - if you think of it like a face, and September has been going into the old nestbox. Now of course Summer was in there with her new egg, and I wondered what would happen. Octie went to bed as normal, and I have often felt she is the younger sibling of the two. Septie tried out a couple of places but came out again and joined Happy on the roof, the last of the doves in the garden.

Here's Septie on the hedge looking to see where to go to bed. You can see a jay on the table scrounging the last of the grain - there are often two in the garden at this time of day. It was only about twenty to four but getting dusk.

In the end, September flew off with Happy, and I was glad he was with an experienced dove who will hopefully bring him back to the garden in the morning. The first time Septie has not slept in the cote since he was hatched, and he's now 8 weeks old today. I blocked Octie in with the half brick - I haven't been doing that for a week or so, since I felt the threat of fireworks had passed, but I wanted him to be safe and not decide to follow Septie at the last minute!

Monday 19th Nov 12 - Happy was one of the first doves back in the garden in the morning - but no September! But he was back at lunchtime when I came home from shopping - and ravenous! These two young ones can now hold their own with the flock, and don't stand back bewildered or modest at feed-time like they used to, but get in there with the rest of the unruly mob!

I let Mixie out, and hand-fed another pigeon with paramyxo (named her Trixie and ringed with red and purple)

Tue 20th - Out most of the dovie day, and it was very grey and mizzling, but home in time to feed at about 3.15pm. October had already put herself to bed in the cote, and Summer was of course on the eggs (hopefully there are two as usual!). There was a little mouse robber in the hutch! By the time I fetched my camera, he'd gone, so I took a photo of Summer instead.

With the days so short, and pickings probably not as good as they were, I have put a little pot in the dovecote for Summer - or Sky when it's his turn to sit - and top it up regularly. They are quite used to my hand appearing to pop a handful of grain and peanuts inside!

Wed. 21st - In the evening, I had an instinct that I should go round to the old mill at the back of our cottage - so I set off carrying the net. Although my instinct had warned me that a bird needed help, and sure enough, a little grey one was sheltering in a corner, on the ground, I was still surprised to see it, and didnt wield the net very efficiently, and it flew up and out of reach. At the time, I thought this was a good thing - the bird was safe from cats and foxes for the night.

Thurs. 22nd - I love it when the doves arrive before the pigeons! Here are some of my persil brigade at about 7.15am

It's hard to make sure the ones suffering with paramyxo get fed. Here's Trixie eating from a little pot - the red lid proved too shallow. She came down to the patio and I was able to sneak a pot out for her without the others seeing and swooping down to elbow her out of the way. The trouble is Trixie, and the other one, Mixie - are not so bad that they are very weak and I can catch them easily - which of course is good! BUT they are not quick enough to pinpoint grains and peck them up before another bird gets there. I do my best for both of them.

Again, that evening, I took the net round the back of the house, but could see no birds at all, low or high. However, next morning....
Friday 23rd - when I went to my grain bins, I saw a little grey pigeon, surely the same one as before, underneath a small tent shelter made by a paving slab propped against the wall. I hadn't put it there like that deliberately, but it's handy for a pigeon in need. I was able to pick this little one up easily and bring it into the house. Pigeon rescue sites say that birds must be warmed up, then rehydrated before you attempt to feed them, so I put her on a covered hot water bottle in a box near the aga. Later, when I felt she was warmed up, I dipped her beak in a cupful of blood temperature water to which I had added a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar - well stirred up (rehydration mixture) - and was really pleased when she took a long drink. There was hope!
I set myself a half hourly schedule to offer the water mixture, and she responded well. We were going out for the evening, and I felt if she was going to have a chance I must try to give her something to eat, so because the birds are going to roost now so early - half three to four - I fed her about then. She ate surprisingly well - handfed of course - but she seemed to like the silky smooth pale blue dried peas, as they slipped down easily. Sje looked less peaky than in the morning, but still had that far away look that the doves and pigeons seem to get before they die. My angel cards in a little pot in the kitchen caught my eye, and I decided that whatever the card was would be her name, so I picked one!

Then I prepared Beauty for bed, as warm as I could. I hoped that she would digest the food in the quiet of the night, and be a bit stronger in the morning. I hoped and prayed as hard as I could!

Here's Beauty before bedtime with bowls of food and water. At bedtime I removed them and draped the box with cloths to keep away draughts and give her peace and quiet for the night.

We were very late home, and anyway I would rarely disturb a bird at night unless it was absolutely necessary, so it wasn't until 7am that I went in to remove the cloths and see how Beauty was. She was still, and quiet, sitting in a comfortable position..... but dead. Poor poor little thing.... if only I had managed to catch her on the Wednesday night, she might have had a chance.

Saturday 24th November - not a good day for the doves either. Autumn, who I haven't seen for several days, turned up injured, with another white dove called Mr. Sunshine, also injured. And is it a coincidence that they were shooting on the farm today.... I think not! Who would want to shoot at a white dove? What a terrible thing to do.... Autumn, you will remember, is Spring's sibling and they are Sky and Summer's 3rd lot of babies, the ones before September and October (keep up! keep up! I know it's confusing!) Mr Sunshine I ringed ages ago but probably haven't mentioned in the blog - he has two yellow rings. I was horrified to see fresh red blood on not only one but two of my beautiful birds.

Injured white doves - possibly victims of the shoot

They both came down to eat, and I did wonder about catching them, but felt it was more important to give them a good feed, with extra peanuts, to build up their strength again, rather than frighten them by trying to net them. Mr. Sunshine was wounded on the breast and wing, and Autumn on the wing. A little wound can make a lot of blood, and as you know a little blood can make a scary show, so I am hoping that the damage is not too bad, and as both birds can fly, they have a good chance. Thankfully, no flies around now to get attracted to the blood....and lay those fatal eggs....
Here are my little wounded soldiers...... Mr Sunshine
and my special dove, hatched in my cote, Autumn

It's not all doom and gloom, Happy and Cloud still seem to be spending some time together... not a very good photo I'm afraid... Cloud's at the front.

And October, nine weeks old this weekend, is still roosting in the cote at night, while Mummy Summer sits on the new eggs. And yes, there ARE two, as expected, as Sky left them for one minute and I had a quick peep.

Sunday 25th Nov 12 - Last night was so windy but luckily I slept through and was not worrying - hubbie told me that he checked the dovecote twice in the night (the old softie!) All the birds turned up at different times during the day, including the two 'bloodied but unbowed'. Mr Sunshine is below
'Ooh, that looks nasty - what happened?'

And here's Autumn

Both birds seem unfazed by the injuries and are as quick as the others to get to the food

 Tue 27th Nov - BUT ..... by today only Autumn has come back, and I haven't seen Mr. Sunshine for a couple of days and think he may have succombed to his injuries which seemed worst that Autumn's.
I managed to catch Autumn today - by simply throwing down lots of grain in one place and picking him up from the crowd! First I shut him in the hutch for a few minutes with a bowl of his own to have a good feed, while I got the camera ready. Then I had a look at him. His injury in close up was a hole - healing well - that I could put the tip of my finger in.
I put a bit of my special cream on it, as I thought I might as well as I'd got him there, and I checked him for mites/parasites but found none, so didnt spray him. He struggled away, and flew to a perch in the kitchen...
and then up to the drying rack over the aga, where I captured him, and set him free again outside
A friend I met on the internet who also has white doves, and now reads my blog, has been in touch to say her pair of white doves have started a new nest - like Sky and Summer. She says this has never happened to her before - and likewise for me - but I do know that doves and pigeons can breed all year round. I was looking online and found a forum where the dove owners were discussing this subject, but in some cases the babies died from the cold. I wish I hadn't looked now! Hopefully this will not happen to us. My Sky and Summer are good parents - and if they did leave the babies at night I would bring them inside and pop them back in the nestbox before the parents came back to the garden in the morning! I did this a few years ago - I think this must have been Victory and Purity.... their parents were Hope (f) and Glory who was killed by the hawk when the squabs were only about 3 days old. They were hatched in March, I think, and I was worried about them.
Wed. 28.11.12 - No dovie news, but I was sent an email from the lovely Kate who started the company Turtle-doves and has launched her new website. She sells gorgeous fingerless gloves, or mittens, made from colourful recycled jumpers - please do have a look, but be warned - you will get addicted! My favourite pair are my 'house' turtle-doves in bright pink cashmere - I keep them under a cushion on the sofa and if my hands get cold when I am typing, I pop them on - so snuggly!  and I have a pair in every jacket and coat!
Thursday 29th - Nearly the end of November, so I will bring this blog to a close. I caught Mr. Sunshine today, and had a look at his injury - it was pretty nasty I think but healing nicely - about 5/6 days after it happened.
And in the late afternoon, when I dragged our bin out to take it down to where we have to leave it for emptying, I spotted a poorly grey pigeon.....
The bin was abandoned, and he was scooped out to be looked after. I named him Beauty2, and I'll have to wait til the morning, and you'll have to wait til the next blog to see how he fared.
On a happier note, two white doves were courting on the roof this evening - they didn't seem to be ringed so not 'mine'....

To be cont.....

Friday, 16 November 2012

RIP Baby - Winter comes and goes - and Remember Me?

Tuesday 6th Nov. 12

We woke up to a sharp frost, with the garden table all white. It was so cold I worried all day about The Baby and where it would be best to keep her. Most of the time she was in the kitchen in an open box - she did fly or rather plummet out of that, and I found her in the pantry in the gap between the wall and the fridge - luckily she hadnt squeezed behind the fridge, as that would've been a mission to get her out. Her favoured place was hiding behind my furry boots near the back door. She perked up at moments, but mostly seemed to want to hide and was listless. I fed her several times and left food scattered about on the floor and in dishes wherever she was, but she had no interest in it, although would take a drink from a little shot glass.  It gets dark so early, I fed her a last feed at 4.30pm and put her to bed in a covered box in the sitting room with me for the warmth. I only had a dim light on, and even kept the tv down low - what I do for these birds! I was going to my daughter's the next day to look after my grand-daughter so I made preparations for Baby to come too - grains, small peanuts etc in a little tupperware box and I even got her little brekkie all ready to give her first thing  as I had to leave by 8am. But in the morning, I found poor fragile light little Baby dead in the box. It was no surprise really, though I was still very sad - I think she was already dying by the time I picked her off the roof - she had no energy to even have the will to live. It's so hard for me, when I love these little birds and do my very best for them. RIP Baby - you were so adorable, I wish you had been destined to live.

Later I came home to my ravenous flock, and all was much as normal. Do you remember me telling you about Royal, the pigeon that would eat from my hand? Well, I don't know what happened to him, but he stopped coming after a while, though another younger pigeon had copied him and was also eating from my hand - I call him Baby Royal and he's still there morning and afternoon. The birds are clever - another pigeon I call Bandy has copied Baby Royal, and today several of them caught on and flew to my hands, including a white dove. Sometimes they peck my fingers, and they have very sharp beaks!

There was another fight on the hedge at the back of the cote - this time it was Lesa (yellow ring and a male, despite being named after one of my blog readers) and a big white male I caught a while back and ringed with one blue and one purple ring,calling him Mr. Strong. Not sure what this fight was about - but they all seem to want some part of the cote. I flapped a hand, and they flew off.

There was one big white dove that had set itself slightly apart from the others and was hovering near the door of the cottage - I threw it feed which it ate hungrily, and I noticed it seemed to be limping. So I threw down another handful, all the birds clustered round and I literally was able to just bend down and pick up the one I wanted. I put him in the hutch with a dish of grain and he continued to eat enthusiastically. When I judged he'd had a fair bit, I brought him into the kitchen and ringed him with one pink and one red ring - and put him back in the hutch but this time with the doors open. He did fly out, and could fly though not strongly and just to the garden table where he stayed. By this time it was coming on for dovie bedtime - the juveniles, September and October, put themselves to bed in the cote anytime from 3-4pm depending on how grey the day is, and all birds seem to have left the garden now by not long after 4, so I though best just to put the limping one back into the hutch for the night, and close it up. I will give him a morning feed in the hutch - away from the scrum - and then when it quietens down a bit, open up the hutch and see what he wants to do. I'll call him Winter - as in 'limping Winter...' from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet - and he is as white as snow!

Wed 7th Nov. - Winter was given the option of coming out, and did so, but he only ventured to the hedge, and after a while I re-captured him and put him back in the hutch.

Septie and Octie managed to scrounge a feed from Sky - but he gave it reluctantly.

Thurs 8th Nov - Today, for a change, it was a group of white doves who arrived first on the roof about 7am. Mostly its a select group of pigeons that I recognise and assume roost locally.

. In the photo below, Winter has come out onto the table, and was rather bemused by the riff-raff that immediately dived in to find food.

Then he had a little walk on the hedge....
But again I put him back in the hutch for the day
Friday 9th Nov'12 -

The birds had been fed, and I was sitting down having a bowl of porridge when I heard an unusual and fairly loud noise - the kind that needs investigating!  Oh no, you fat pidgie lot - you've brought the electrictiy supply cable down!

Of course the birds swing on the wire, and hubbie must have had a premonition because only the other day, he shooed them off on a rainy day as he said they were so wet and heavy they'd being the cable down. This is the third time it's come down since I've been living here! To give Southern Electric their due I rang at 8am and it was all fixed up again by 10am - so a pat on the back to them! Now the pidgies can swing again - ha ha!

It was a mild bright day, so in the late morning I opened up the hutch for Winter and he came out and flew to the hedge again. I soon discovered he is a she, as a male grey pigeon started courting her! I watched to see how she would cope with the advances, but she soon brushed him off, flew to the roof, and started preening. There are always doves and pigeons here now so plenty of company for her. You can see how her wing drags in the photo below.

During the day, I noticed the juveniles, September and October, begging for food from Sky, but he ignores them now, and in fact spends quite a lot of time with Summer in the dovecote. I can't believe they are thinking of starting another nest now, at this season,.... but I think they are!

By 3.30pm Winter had put herself to bed on the porch above the cottage door. I had hoped she would go back to the hutch and I could shut her in, but she was quite safe where she was. I'm still able to block the babies in at night - though they are not really babies anymore, especially as Daddy has stopped feeding them. They still have a few wisps of baby down on their heads and I feed them in the cote before the other birds arrive in the mornings, to make sure they get enough. It's October here.

Sat. 10th Nov 12 -  7am, and here's Winter where she slept the night, above the door. It looks darker than it was!
I had hoped that she would come down, alone, to eat the grain and peanuts I threw for her, before the hungry hordes arrived, but she didnt. I fed the babies in the cote - I keep thinking of them as the babies but really this weekend they will be 7 weeks old! - and they always eat before they come out of the pigeon holes and fly to the roof, but Winter didnt come down til 8am. I hope she got enough amongst the scrum. She spent the day on the roof, but flew off with the rest of the flock around 3.45pm - so God Speed Winter - and I hope she's back with them all tomorrow. She's had five days rest here with me, and good food, so hopefully she'll be alright, bless her.
I noticed when I shut the babies in tonight that one of the them, September I think, had some lice on him (or her) so as they might not be staying in the cote much longer, I intend to take them out one by one first thing in the morning and spray them with the anti-mite spray. I will also have to bath Faith again - she gets in such a mess underneath. I noticed that there was what looked like a few blood stains on the paper underneath her after the night, and she can't curl her feet round properly now. Poor little thing, I can't see her lasting long now.But she's contented enough... well, I hope so.
Another thing I noticed this evening - there are sticks in Sky and Summer's nest box! They HAVE started building a nest!
Remembrance Sunday - 11.11.12 - Septie and Octie didn't like it, but I took them out one at a time and sprayed them against mites. They struggled and complained a bit, but they are quite tame actually. I bathed Faith, and you can see in the photos below how painfully her breastbone sticks out.

Winter didn't come back all day - but instead I got the most wonderful surprise. Pearl came to see me! After several weeks away, and me thinking the worst, there she (or he) was! On Remembrance Sunday too....


Pearl, Jose and Happy's baby, looking sparkling white and fit for anything!

Monday 12th Nov - The weather is quite mild and as you can see the doves are enjoying the cote. Sky and Summer haven't added to their nest-building, maybe they have realised the days are ending about 3.30pm.... but I have heard of plenty of instances of pigeons breeding at this time of year. September and October have done very well, better than I thought, and Spring and Autumn are also around looking very healthy (I wish I could line them up together so you could see all these siblings together!) but if eggs were laid now the babies would be fledging at Christmas!!!!

And you can see how filthy the cote is - I wanted to take it down to paint it!
Right at the end of the day - or rather the daylight day - I was in the conservatory when I saw two white doves walking nearby. This is a fairly unusual place for the doves to be, as they don't normal come under the archway into that part of the garden - so they attracted my attention, and I saw it was Winter, with her drooping wing and ring and pink rings! And maybe this was her mate - I ran out to feed them with peanuts. She stayed around and was one of the last doves in the garden, maybe not relishing a long flight back to wherever it is! But she is so much better now than she was a week ago.

The last few pidgies on the roof at the end of the day - with one white dove to the far right - Winter, and Cloud at the front - she's such a poser!

Here she is again, on the dovecote, the other day

Thursday 15th Dec - A few days have gone by since I last wrote. Yesterday at bedtime the young birds, September and October, were not in the cote and I wondered if they had flown to roost with the other birds.... but I looked up into the sky and there were two white doves circling round, and I thought There you are! Just having a last fly before bedtime! That is one of the lovely things about the doves, they fly just for the sheer joy of it!

September and October are approx 8 weeks old this coming Sunday - or 56 days. Autumn left the cote at 45 days and Pearl the hutch at 44 days - I know as I checked back in my blog - so Septie and Octie are the oldest young ones ever to stay so long....and I hope they stay always! (even though I wanted the cote empty so I can paint it!)

The weather's been mild so Faith's been out in the hutch - sometimes she waddles off her hotwater bottle to sit in the outside part

 Then she will have a bite to eat..... she looks so well and normal in this photo doesnt she?But really she is like a poorly tiddly old lady!

I sometimes put her out on the lawn or the raised to have a little wander and a peck around, but she has to be supervised, I can't just leave her - she is too vulnerable. One good thing, there is no more blood on the paper in the mornings - maybe it was nothing much.....

Fri 16th Dec - So many little things happen with the doves, I haven't time to tell you everything. The other day I caught three pidgies with paramyxo and gave them all a hand-feed of peanuts, one by one.

And this evening the sweetest little thing turned up - hungry? of course! She was all white with a black tail, but I didn't get a very good photo.

To be cont....

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Babies fledge at last, but new baby arrives

Friday 26.10.12

The Pobble came back! (he's a pigeon with no toes - see my last blog). I had done the morning feed, it was about 10.30 and an hour or so off the lunchtime feed when I noticed a pigeon sitting on Jose's table - I knew immediately it must be The Pobble - clever Pobs for coming back to where he was last fed! So I was able to feed him again, and he flew off to the roof where he was pecked by the more sleek pigeons and had to keep changing position til he found a perch mate who would tolerate him. He came down several times during the day, and does have a bit of difficulty eating, being not quite so quick as the others, but if he stays around then he will be ok. I hope he does, I am fond of him already.

Day 33 for the babies, September and October, and they still haven't fledged. They look enormous in this close up photo of them in the cote, don't they?

Summer still gives them at least one morning feed, but after that seems to give up. Sky is still feeding them in the morning as well, and manfully comes back at midday to make sure his babies get lunch. Then he will usually give them another feed later on, but it has tailed off, and I know he is keen for them to fledge as he sits on the top of the cote, or the hedge, or the ledge encouraging them out - but they don't want to be encouraged! I was watching October balancing on the ledge of the nestbox and wondering if he (or she) would attempt a little flight, when suddenly he slipped, falling down and weirdly getting stuck face-in to the side of the hedge! It wasn't a photo opportunity but a rescue mission, so I stripped off my rubber gloves and went to get him out! I'm  not sure what would've happened if I hadn't - he might've been able to struggle free - or not.... Anyway, he flew a short distance from my hand back into the nestbox, and that was that for the day. Neither baby tried anything else. I give them both some small grains in the nestbox (once I have cleaned up and put fresh kitchen paper down). They both can eat on their own which is reassuring as I don't think Sky will be feeding them much longer. Here they are inspecting what is on offer on the menu today.
I am glad they haven't fledged yet as every day they are getting bigger, with more chance of survival in the harsh Autumn world outside the cote. The temperature has dropped and I decided it would be too cold for my poorly one, Faith, in the conservatory, so her 'bed box' is now in the small bedroom - although the crate and everything stays in the conservatory. I brought her in from the hutch about 3pm and she stayed in the conservatory, sitting on top of the crate on a wrapped hot water bottle, with food and water, until about 5.15pm when I moved her to her new bed. She accepts whatever happens quite peacefully.
Sat. 27th Oct - Day 34 for the babies - one is probably a day younger of course. I was very pleased to see The Pobble back again for the morning feed. Here he is attempting a peanut, looking very much a London pigeon on the patio!
You can see how his feet, or lack of them, compare to a better equipped pigeon
My blog reader, Fennie, asked in the comments after my last blog how he could have lost his toes. I had meant to put the answer in the blog but forgot. If you are interested have a look at the following link  which will explain much better than I can - but briefly the main cause is the birds getting thread etc tangled up in their feet which cuts the blood supply. There is also a viral disease called "pigeon pox"  which can cause growths on pigeon's toes and eventually these growths might get necrotized and fall off with the toe.
There was a lot of interest round the cote this morning, as the following photos show.

And even a fight......
Which turned out to be between Sky - left - and Bandit
\But it all settled down eventually, the doves flew away and I took the babies out of the cote for a while. They had their first paddle, and a good look around.....
But I noticed that one seemed rather bigger than the other, so I decided to weigh them
34 day old white dove squab weighing 334g
Here's September sitting nicely on the scales. He weighed 334g and October weighed 390g so quite a significant difference. But Octie could be male and Septie female, I just don't know. One sibling is bound to be bigger than the other. My 'bible' book says juvenile feral pigeons (not giving an exact age) weighed 253-283g in July and August, and 330-350g in winter. You would think they would weigh less in winter when food is scarcer, wouldn't you? Apparently squab growth is completed at 32-34 days - so does this mean that my babies will not grow any larger? Possibly so, and they will just get heavier as they mature and if they are able to feed well. Both babies were popped back into the cote before Sky and Summer got back!
I felt sure that they must fledge today, so was debating when I could safely pop out to shop. I decided that if I went at one, I'd be back by two so off I set but when I got back Sky and one of the squabs were on the ground underneath the dovecote, and by the time I'd got my camera they'd hopped up to the little bench. Sky is on the left - he looks smaller than his baby in the photo below.
The next hurdle was getting to the hedge, but baby September managed that quite well. Here he is thinking...... how can I get back to beddies? It looks such a long way up!
I turned around, probably to feed the others, and when I looked back Sky was on the roof, and Septie was..... nowhere! I checked the cote....... no....... and then, knowing what has happened in the past, the flower bed. Can you see him?...... right in the centre.....

The flower bed seems like a jungle to a young and innocent squab
Well of course he was rescued and put up in the nestbox with brother or sister, Octie
There has been a miserable looking pigeon around for a day or so - quite a pretty, distinctive little thing. Yesterday it sat hunched on the side of the hutch when Faith was inside, but though I tried to catch it, I failed and it flew away. Today I could see it probably has paramyxo and, as such, was weak and hungry - I trapped it with the net while it was concentrating on trying to eat, and put it in the hutch with Faith for a minute while I thought what to do. I wouldn't have done that if Faith had been Jose because paramyxo is of course contagious - though I don't know how much - and Jose was a healthy bird, but Faith, poor thing, has not a lot going for her anyway, so if she died as I have been expecting her to for 3 months, then it wouldnt really be so bad. It was mid afternoon, so I thought I better keep him for the night, and see how well it could eat out of a pot - so I  left him in the hutch and removed Faith to the conservatory where she had a lovely doze on a wrapped hot water bottle. I have had to buy myself a new one - so I've got a nice new pink one, and given Faith my old white one!

Sun 28th Oct 12 - The poorly one survived the night in the hutch, and I brought him in to have a hand-feed. I also ringed him with a green ring, and called him Trinity as it's Sunday. He tolerated me feeding him, and had some sips of luke-warm water - which I have found pigeons take better than cold when they are poorly. Then back he went into the hutch. Later, I left the door open to see if he wanted to fly off. I don't really want more than Faith and the squabs to look after as I haven't really got the time to do all the cleaning out etc. I will be happy to hand-feed Trinity, like I did Joseph, though.

The doves all decided to bathe today, using all the baths, and all of the lawn to dry off


As it was baths all round, I washed Faith in the sink. She looks pretty in pink here, but underneath she gets very clogged up and disgusting. I have to scrub her feet with an old toothbrush.
White dove in pink bath

Then I left her to dry off on top of the aga for a while. She stayed so damp for so long, even with a blow dry from the hair dryer that I put her box in the kitchen for the night - obviously not on top of the aga!

Trinity did choose to leave the hutch, and later I felt bad as he was the only bird left on the roof when it was dovie bedtime. Then when it was even later, he'd gone, so after I'd tucked the babies up - by putting a half brick against their doorway, I went out to the back of the building next to us - just in case, and there he was, sitting on the old rusty mill wheels or whatever they are.
So there he had to stay.... I didn't dare try to catch him in the net.... it's a long dark drop to the water below

Monday 29th - The babies did start to fledge today - in the photo below October got as far as the roof - he's in the middle, with Sky on the right and an un-ringed white dove on the left.


 I didn't see September get to the roof, but he may have done. Both babies put themselves to bed, in different rooms of the cote by 3pm, and there they stayed. Neither was in the nestbox and I did see Summer go in and out a few times, as if sizing it up..... and two doves were lovey-dovey on the roof yesterday...... if it's you Sky and Summer, please please don't start nesting again!
Trinity was not to be seen at the morning feed, but The Pobble was there and beginning to look a bit better after a couple of days of good regular grub. He has a problem with eating too - not very quick. There's not a lot going for you is there Pobs? - what with no toes and slow reactions! I caught him at the afternoon feed and put him on Jose's table (it will always be Jose's table) with the wire box up - and the door shut between him and Faith, so he could have a pot of food of his own, and take as long as he liked (then I let him go). I love him to bits, he's so cute, the way he trundles along!
I came back from my exercise class to find Trinity had arrived and was sitting on the hedge next to the day box I put up for the squabs - though it looks like they won't need it. I took him in and hand-fed him again, and tonight he avoided the dangerous roost of the previous night and stayed on our roof.



Thursday 1st November'12 -  I haven't seen Trinity since then, so maybe he hasn't made it, or has moved on. The Pobble is here once a day though, and since he eats slowly, I decided to try to catch him again to put him in the wire box on Jose's table so he can eat in peace, away from the others. While they were all scrabbling about, with Pobs in the thick of it, I brought the net down - trapping three birds. I sorted out Pobble, set the others free and put him in the box. He had a good feed, then I set him free again.
Pigeon with no feet

The squabs, September and October, are still staying very close to the cote. They come out onto the hedge, the table, and occasionally the roof. Today I saw one of them have a drink from the nice shallow dish I have on the table (10p from a jumble sale!), and I was glad about that as I've never seen them drink before. The adults are still feeding them, though they are about 39 days old now and I'm still putting little grains into the cote for them, so they're doing quite well.
Monday 5th Nov -  A few days have gone by, and I haven't seen Trinity again, or Pobble for a few days. I miss little Pobs - I hope he's OK. Maybe he didn't like being caught in the net. I also haven't seen Pearl, Jose's baby, for quite a long time now, though Spring and Autumn hatched at around the same time are both here every day. I would so loved Pearl to have stayed - I hope he or she hasn't died, but probably I'll never know.
September and October are brave enough to venture onto the lawn now....

But as soon as I'd got the camera out..... they flew up again
They are still badgering Sky for food
In this photo, October has his wings up, Sky is on the right, and September below - with various pigeons. The juveniles are now about 43 days old, but I still saw Sky feeding one of them today. According to my book this is normal, but the babies should be fully independent by 7 weeks.
Happy is still coming, and is often one of the last birds in the garden. Here he is on the roof at the end of the day.

Sunday 4th Nov was a very miserable day, lashing with rain. The doves and pigeons hung around in wet groups, and I took the photos from the safety and dryness of the back door!

It was too wet to put Faith out in the hutch, and she needed another bath anyway
White dove drying off on the aga
As she dried off on top of the aga, I noticed she had a sore on her foot, so I anointed it with my special cream. Faith, in some ways, is a lot of work - keeping her clean, keeping her warm - she sits on a hot water bottle otherwise she shivers! and that has to be re-done 2/3 times a day!
White dove with sore toe!

Yesterday, and maybe even the day before, I noticed a young pigeon, little more than a squab, in the garden. It often sat hunched up on the grass, and didn't seem to join in the scrum for food. Today, wet and miserable, it was here again. At some point, I noticed that it was sitting just inside the doorway of our shed kitchen, and so I thought if I take a blanket, holding it out before me, I might be able to trap it. Of course, by the time I'd got the blanket it had gone again! Later though I saw it on the shed kitchen roof, hunched up again, and by quietly going up my stepladder with the net I managed to catch it.
The poor little baby thing, I'm sure it hadn't fledged long though there was no downy fluff still on it's head - and there still is on my squabs - but I could just tell it was young. I put it in the hutch with food and water, and I think it ate a little.

In the photo it doesnt look small, but it was incredibly light and you can tell by it's beak - lets call it a she - that she's young. I toyed with several names, but just call her The Baby. I brought her in the for the night, and arranged bunk beds in the spare room, with a box for her below Faith's. The conservatory is way too cold for poorly ones in my opinion. It seems colder than outside to me! September and October, after only one or two nights in separate compartments of the cote, are now back sleeping together, and I'm glad as they have each other to help keep them warm. I still shut them in with half a brick at night to keep them safe, and block out some of the draught!
Here's The Baby again in the crate - looks cute doesn't she?
I have often wondered how much pigeons/doves need to eat a day, and while researching this I stumbled across a very useful website. It is actually to do with pigeon control but not all doom and gloom about culling pigeons but with much of interest for me to read, including the pigeon in history, war-time and dovecotes You may find it worth a look. Anyway, I found what I was looking for, and the answer is that a pigeon can survive on 13g of food per day. Apparently this amount is based on figures from the British Pigeon Racing Association. I wanted to know what this looks like - so weighed it out in peanuts, small grain and mixed grain.

I haven't got round to working out how many birds are sustained by the food I buy. As you know, I need to cut down because I can't afford the high cost. I am trying to do this little by little but find it pretty hard! Feeding pigeons is addictive! and I found this page also in my search about food which describes it all very well - that person could be me!  Scroll down that page till you get near the end. That site is also very interesting.
5th Nov - Here are September and October up bright and early, with a random pigeon - the first ones on the roof, probably about 7am
And later in the day, Sky and Summer were cosying up together in the nestbox. I've seen some lovey-dovey behaviour, but no mating or stick bringing, and I sincerely hope they won't start a nest at this season!

Tues 6th Nov - The Baby survived the night, but as there was quite a severe frost I couldn't decide what to do with her this morning. It seemed too cold in the hutch, and the conservatory seems just as bad. I brought her into the kitchen and hand-fed her some peanuts, but after the experience with Jasha I am a bit wary of this. Hubbie thinks that maybe Jasha died through getting grain in his lungs - I wondered if it was because he took a chill by being out in the crate in the garden - it was mid summer then of course. Obviously Jasha was a squab and much younger than Baby - as Baby has fledged and I'd seen her for at least two days in the garden, her age must be about 30-35 days - I guess! Anyway, I fed her some peanuts, then she struggled to get free and flew to the kitchen floor. Although hubbie is away for a week, and I could keep her in the kitchen with no moaning from him, I thought it probably wouldnt be doing her any favours to keep her in such a warm environment, so I put her in the crate with a covered hot-water bottle + food and water and have left her to be quiet. Faith is quite happy to be on the top of the crate - also on a hot-water bottle.
Yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to weigh Baby - so I put her in a deep box and weighed her on the same scales as I used for Septie and Octie. I was shocked at the result! After deducting the weight of the box, I found that Baby only weighed 170g! So you don't have to scroll back - Septie weighed 334g and Octie 390g at 34 days old - though they, of course, have been very well fed, and weigh more than the book says for juveniles. As a comparison I weighed Faith - she is an adult female, but poorly with her breast-bone sticking through! She weighed in at 296g. I don't really hold out much hope for Baby's survival - at the moment she also has her breast-bone sticking through, is a bit listless and not very interested in food. She's so soft and pretty with grey feathers, a dear little thing!
To be cont...