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   http://www.pigeonrescue.co.uk/footinjuriesstring.htm  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 http://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/about-pigeons.html 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! http://www.pigeonrescue.co.uk/pigeonfeeders.htm  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...


Fennie said...

Faith, your dove blogs are always irresistible, so I have to read immediately these everyday tales of pigeon folk: life, love, death, with a surprising amount of illness and folk 'going missing,' as though there were some great war going on. I am saddened, though, by Fennie Dove's continued disappearance but I am optimistic for the spring. Yet maybe she has succumbed unnoticed somewhere and gone to that great pigeon loft in the sky. Still the story that I wrote remains and just as Fennie was proud of the medal following her peace mission, so I am proud of that story. I don't expect there are many doves to have been recorded in this way. Still your blogs remind us of how tough life is for many creatures - nasty, brutish and short - just as it was for us once upon a time when harvests failed and the young and old died at the slightest indisposition. What were Fennie's rings, for the record?

Faith said...

I'm glad you still enjoy reading my blogs Fennie. Fennie dove had purple (right) and green rings.