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.....


Fennie said...

Still no sign of Fennie dove, then? Sad about your two injured doves. Might it have been a hawk? In my story about Fennie dove I imagine that Fennie has been wounded and carries a shotgun pellet under the skin.

Aren't those sticks uncomfortable to sit on? Doves don't seem to be very good nest builders.

Do rings ever fall off? Do they have your telephone number on them?

Guernsey Girl said...

Sad and happy stories mingled with wonderful photos - what an amazing blog!

Lesa said...

As always I love catching up on your dovie news! I've had pigeons nest year round, but I'm in Florida which is usually quite warm. However, my old pigeon, Bertie, hatched during a cold spell in February. His mother abandoned the nest in no time after he and his sibling hatched. I was able to save him, but his sibling was too near death when I found them. Bertie was with us for 22+ years. I know, I can't believe how long he lived, but I have photos! LOL!

Hope its not too cold for your new eggs!