The temperature didn't rise above freezing all day today. I know this for sure as my hubbie is very keen on his outside and inside barometer/thermometer thingies and is always telling me the temperature! The doves in general cope well with the cold weather as long as they can get food, and I keep the water baths from freezing over. At about 3pm Summer left the nest to get a drink, and I took the opportunity to zip up the steps by the cote to see how the babies were faring. I haven't been able to look at them since the dreadful time on Sunday when Sky abandoned them for nearly an hour in the cold (see my last gloomy blog if you missed it!). So I am relieved to be able to report that they looked much more robust, bigger, definitely more alert and very much alive! Summer was back in less than a minute and I had no time to get my camera, but they are adorably fluffy and yellow - probably about 6/7 days old.
By 3.30pm the doves have usually left the garden, and possibly two or three pigeons remain to try to scrounge some more food, but today September - one of Sky and Summer's last lot of squabs - was hanging around and looking a bit sorrowful. I threw him/her some extra food which she ate, and then she flew to the cote and attempted to get into the old nestbox! Summer was most affronted and saw her off! So then she went back to the hedge and eyed the cote again.
Eventually she put herself into the side compartment, where October used to stay and only vacated recently.
I was surprised about this, as the young doves once they leave the cote never usually come back - in my experience. I gently put some more food inside for her, and waited to see what would happen.
Despite the cold and the gloom there were also two other white doves about - very strange. September came out, flew to the ground, had a drink from the water bath - and flew back up again. I don't think she is 100% well - she had to do it in stages - the ground, to the table, to the hedge, to the cote. When she was inside, and it was very much dusk by then, I blocked her in with the half brick, like I used to do to October (or even both of them when they were younger and stayed together). This was partly to keep her from changing her mind and going off into the dark, and also to keep her a little warmer. I also half-blocked Summer and the babies in -for the warmth reason. If you remember I said there were two other white doves around late - one of these flew off, and the other also stayed in the cote. Truly this is most astonishing, as the doves hardly ever or never do this unless they are nesting there - so maybe I will find out more in the morning.
Thurs 13th Dec - Very frosty and cold again this morning. The random dove came out onto the frosty roof, but I couldnt see any rings, and still don't know if it was a dove I know.
September emerged from the cote, and did fly to the roof but by early afternoon she was on the patio near the cottage door, so I brought her in and hand-fed her. I always think there is hope....
Here she is in the kitchen, sitting on my fleece, while small grandson and I made cakes. She looks ok, doesn't she? but I knew she wasn't. There have been so many deaths recently that I recognise the signs.
The babies are now roughly a week old, and I managed to get a photo today - back view!
The babies are now roughly a week old, and I managed to get a photo today - back view!
The random dove again spent the night in the cote, and September spent the night in a box in the kitchen.
Friday 14th Dec. 12 - Here's September being poorly. This was taken in the afternoon and in the morning she seemed happy enough - eating what I fed her, drinking, even walking out of the box and onto the table..... but by 4.30pm she had died. She hatched in the cote around the 25th September this year so only about 81 days old. I wish I knew why a seemingly healthy bird sickens and dies so quickly but unfortunately, my 'bible' says that pigeons are more susceptible to disease at about 6-10 weeks of age than any at other time. September would've been about 11 weeks old.
It poured with rain but Happy spent a long time on Jose's table, sitting quietly on her stone. I found it quite comforting seeing him there. He certainly considers the hutch and table his territory - I wonder if, in the spring, he will try to tempt a female to nest there? I hope not, as it was inconvenient trying to protect Jose and the eggs/baby last summer.
Below, an unknown happy couple on the frosty roof
And the unknown dove again spent the night in the cote but from it's attitude today I reckon it is also poorly.
Sat. 15th Dec 12 - In the morning, I could see the babies near the entrance to the cote. Sky was on the nest, and as he obviously has touchy feelings, I had to take the next three photos from a distance, although I was standing on the step ladder to give me height.
Mr. Sunshine, who was injured at the same time as Autumn, quite often perches near the cote. You can see his tummy is healing well.
He had a good look round the inside - possibly sussing it out for a nest box?
Later, when Summer was on the nest, I got a close-up, but as you can see although Summer is tolerant she did fix me with her beady eye!
Poor Cloud has symptoms of paramyxo. The only way I can be sure she gets some food is by putting down a deep dish of grain, so her random stabs achieve something. I hate to see her like this, but I could tell that if I tried to catch her with the net, she would fly off in a panic without eating anything at all, so I felt it best to leave her.
It's not been a good year for Cloud, as she was the one injured just before we went on holiday in the spring with a badly scraped tummy and a limp (see photo) from which she recovered well. If only I could catch her and look after her, I'm sure she would recover from paramyxo too, like Flash did.
By mid afternoon, the only birds around where Cloud and the one who has been sleeping in the cote.
The little lump at the top left of the roof is Cloud. I hoped she'd preserve her strength and stay the night, and I assumed the other would put herself into the cote for the night as usual. At about half three I saw Summer peeking out of the cote, so I grabbed my camera and got a photo of the babies while she went to get a drink.
Eventually, Cloud flew away, but the other one moved to the little porch above our kitchen door. I knew it was there and while sitting inside wrapping Christmas presents I thought about the hawk that I have seen sitting on the roof in the early mornings, and not wanting to find a pile of gory feathers on my patio, I decided I'd see if I could net her and bring her in. I first prepared the box - it seems like as soon as one dies, another is poorly.... and then I gently brought the steps as near as possible, and in the same manner I caught Minty, I popped the net over her and dragged it slowly down until I could reach the bird. She felt warmer than most poorly ones do which was a good sign, but I was pretty sure she had had very little to eat, so though it was past her bedtime, I hand-fed her a few dried peas, gave her a drink and then put her to bed in the spare bedroom.
Sunday 16th Dec 12 - The new poorly one had survived the night and seemed very perky indeed. When I opened the box in the kitchen, she flew out and crashed against the window - not a very good start. I hand-fed and watered her again and decided as she could fly maybe I should release her and see how she went. I ringed her with September's colour rings - blue and yellow - and named her September2. Out in the garden, she decided to just sit on the hedge, but she had so much unwelcome and aggressive attention from one particular male that I put her in the hutch, and she stayed there most of the sunny day, sitting inside or standing on the stone. I will now keep her in until she either dies, or totally recovers. It has seemed to me that most poorly ones live only about three days at most after me bringing them in - Sept2 had 3 nights in the cote, and now this will be the 2nd night in - so we shall see.
A full week has passed since Sky's blip, and as you can see the babies are big, alert - rearing up when I looked into their nestbox - and beginning to get their white pin feathers! They are about 9/10 days old.
Cloud managed to get back to the garden again today, but I feel she is getting little to eat and may soon be too weak. I made one unsuccessful attempt to catch her in the net. It's very tricky because if I even have the net in my hand the doves get nervous - they hate anything at all different. The only way she can eat at all is to eat from a pot - and the other doves and pigeons don't hang back saying 'You first, Cloud'!
Mon 17th Dec - Hubbie was first up, and when he brought me a cup of tea he said that he could hear September2 fluttering in the box which was under the kitchen table. I got up straight away and went to see, and she must have just died. They often move about or flutter just before they die. I think hubbie was more upset than me, he kept saying 'but she was alive a minute ago!'. Yet another death, and I am getting hardened to it. At least September2 spent her last day on this planet standing outside in the fresh air, or sitting on the warm hotwater bottle enjoying the sunshine - what more could any of us ask on our last day?
I went Christmas shopping and was late back, and hubbie was also out, so the lunchtime feed had merged into the afternoon feed and there were many doves & pigeons on the roof. I was relieved Cloud came down with them but now she was far more dizzy and disorientated than yesterday. It's very upsetting to see a favourite bird - or indeed any bird - almost crazily stabbing the ground with almost no chance of picking up a grain. I felt if she was to have any chance of survival I must really catch her today. One way that works for me is to throw a huge lot of grain, with many peanuts, down into one small area so that all the birds crowd together, eating. This seems to give the one I want to catch the security of flock, and I usually manage it - and thankfully did this time. Cloud was captured, and brought into the house for a hand-feed. She was desperate, my poor angel, and readily took to me giving her peanuts and peas, opening her beak for them. It was far easier feeding her than it's been for the poorly ones recently - and of course feeding them has made no difference, they have all died anyway. I am very much hoping that with feeding and nursing Cloud will recover from this horrible illness, like Flash did. After she'd eaten, I put her in the hutch for a while - she will definitely not be released until I am totally sure she has recovered - I think it was 60 days or so for Flash. An hour later it was getting chilly, and I brought her back into the house for a few more grains and to spend the night. We decided the kitchen might be too hot because of the aga, so as the weather is currently mild I put her in the spare bedroom.
Tues 18th Dec - I didn't expect Cloud to die in the night, and she was making her well remembered grumpy noises this morning. I hand fed her again and that went fine, but it was hard to get her to drink - I didnt think she got very much, so I will have to keep trying. I found a very encouraging thread on a pigeon forum about the recovery of PMV (paramyxovirus) patients http://www.pigeons.biz/forums/f23/encouraging-a-recovering-pmv-pigeon-back-to-flight-61737.html
I don't think they would mind me putting up a link. Read 'Checkmate' s post dated 18 June 2012 10.05pm - that's a man after my own heart. He says 'I refuse to simply watch and wait for my birds to die'. Obviously I haven't got the time to look after many PMV patients, but as you know recently two birds had symptoms and I gave them some handfeeds - Mixie and Trixie - and both those birds are still seen and managing to eat. Cloud is a special dove to me - http://faithsdoves2.blogspot.co.uk/2012_04_01_archive.html Her story 'Cloud recovers' can be found on this link, and starts on the previous blog to that. Below, Cloud in happier days, when she had recovered from her two injuries and was back with the mate she first arrived with, Storm.
I don't know what happened to Storm - he waited while she was in the hutch and they paired up again, but then he probably died as after a while they weren't seen together anymore. These photos were from April this year.
I will do everything I can to help Cloud recover from PMV, and be released back into the flock. Here she is in her 'feeding apron' - which is a baby's t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
It is difficult to get Cloud to drink - her head is a bit floppy but not too bad but when I try to dip her beak into water she moves it to an unnatural angle. This is hard to explain, and of course I just have to keep on perservering. It is possible for pigeons with PMV to drown themselves if their floppy heads fall into the water, and they can't get out, but I don't think Cloud is that bad, and I am not worried that she will drown in the small water pot I leave in the hutch with her.
It was a gloomy afternoon and all the doves and pigeons had left the garden by 3pm. I brought Cloud in, fed her again, and by 4pm she was 'in bed' in the spare room and darkness had fallen. Summer was of course in the cote with the two babies, and I had no reason to worry....... UNTIL....at 4.55pm I decided I needed an onion for my cooking and was about to open the door to go out to my shed kitchen to get one, when I was horrified to just catch a glimpse of a white dove fluttering away from the cote! It was dark, except that our 'Narnia light' had come on near the gate, which is near the cote. This works on a sensor, so the dove may have set it off, or something else may have done. For a split second I wondered if another dove had been in part of the dovecote and was now leaving, despite the dark, but then I just knew it was Summer..... I grabbed the torch, shoved on my boots and went out. I couldn't see any birds at all, on the nearby roofs, or anywhere. I went back to the cote and checked the babies - they seemed fine, were warm and had full crops. Sky and Summer, and other parents doves I have had in the cote do leave their babies at night from about two weeks old, but it is unheard of in my experience for a dove to leave the cote after darkness has fallen. They just DO NOT fly at night! I am not exactly sure when these babies hatched but they could be about 13 days old so I would not have been concerned if Summer had chosen to leave at the end of the day, but an hour after dark is a bit worrying. I don't think anything could've startled her off the nest and parent birds with eggs or young are the last to leave a roost if disaster strikes - and nothing was happening anyway. I waited an hour until 6pm and she didn't come back - I didn't expect her to, and would've been surprised if she had. Now of course I had a dilemma - I could give the babies the 'feather bag' that I used to keep September and October warm, and also block them in but I was worried that the temperature might dip badly in the night, and they would be too cold, so I decided to bring them in. I prepared a deep medium size cardboard box and lined it with several layers of old towel. Towelling is good as it is slightly rough - especially my old towels! - which is good for the babies' feet to grip on to. I really don't want to interfere, but I wouldn't be able to sleep worrying that it might turn frosty and the babies would be too cold. They don't have many feathers yet. The box is in the darkness under the table, but not directly on the cold floor - I've raised it slightly.
A few years ago, my mummy dove, Hope was widowed when her mate, Glory was killed by the hawk when the babies, Victory and Purity, were only 2/3 days old. Hope reared these babies on her own to maturity, but she did leave them at night when they were 2 weeks old. This was April time and cold, so I brought them into the kitchen. I searched my blog archive and found the place http://faithsdoves2.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/part-3-night-in-kitchen.html but was rather startled to see how very much more feathered Victory and Purity were than Summer's babies. So, I will be up early tomorrow to put the squabs back in the nest, and as I have to leave early myself all I can do is hope that Summer and Sky come back to look after their babies. I won't touch Cloud until I have dealt with them, and of course I am scrupulous about hand washing etc.
As the nest was empty, with the squabs in the kitchen, I thought I might as well do a bit of a clean-up so I found the section of the nestbox that was being used as a latrine, and cleared it out. I've also laid some kitchen paper down, so it'll be easier to keep clean.
Wed. 19th Dec '12 - The babies were fine in the kitchen, and back in the nest by 7.30am. First I weighed them - you can see that one is considerably larger than the other. After deducting the weight of the bowl, the biggest one was approx 181g and the littlie approx 122g
I had to leave at 7.45am and not a single dove or pigeon had arrived in the garden by then, But Hubbie text me at 9.00am to say that a parent dove was with the babies, so I was much relieved. I saw both Summer and Sky at the last feed, then Summer fed the babies, stayed a while but had left them again by 3.45pm for the night. I brought them in just before 6pm and will continue to do so every night until I think they will be ok in the nestbox at night in this weather. Thankfully I do not have to get up extra early to make sure they are back in the nest before Summer and Sky arrive.
Thursday 20th Dec - Cloud is coping with her illness and confinement well. I feed her morning and before bedtime - her bedtime, which is dark, so she gets fed about 3pm, and I have seen her trying to feed herself during the day.
Today it was so gloomy Summer had left by 3.30pm and about 5pm when it was completely dark I went out with the box to collect the babies. To my surprise Summer was in the cote! Great! I thought she can look after the babies herself tonight..... and then I thought....Oh no! does this mean she is laying again!.....If she is, I won't get a chance to touch the babies again, or ring them, or clean out the nest box! Well Que sera sera, let's wait and see what happens. I'm sure I'll get a chance to ring them somehow, and I will be naming them Santa and Snow!
Roll Call - I wrote this list on 29th November, but didn't get round to putting it in my blog before. I want to see how many of these named doves/pigeons are still around in the New Year, so this list is probably more for my benefit than yours: Sky, Summer, Pearl, October, Spring, Autumn, Winter, Trixie, Bandit, Mr. Sunshine, Mr. Strong, Robber, Lesa, Happy, Cloud, Bianca2, Beautiful Stranger, Bobby3, Tricoleur, Baby Royal, Bandy. And now Santa + Snow. There are many more birds that I recognise by sight.
Friday 21st Dec - All is well. Here is Cloud, the paramyxovirus patient, in the rather squirrel-gnawed hutch.
And here is Summer with one of the babies....
And a close up of my gorgeous winter baby duo, aged about 16 days - Santa and Snow!
As it's nearly Christmas and this will be my last blog of 2012, I had a look at the stats that Blogger kindly provide for my blog. At the time of writing, my blogs have had 17,531 views - 900 in the last month. My readers live in the UK, United States, Russia, Germany, India, Canada, Netherlands, France, Australia and South Korea - wow! So many people reading my blog, in so many places around the world, yet very few leave a comment. So, if you generally read my blog or if you have just stumbled across it, I would be delighted if you would leave a comment - even constructive criticism is appreciated.
The doves and I would like to wish you a peaceful Christmas 2012, and hope that 2013 will prove to be enjoyable, fulfilling and prosperous for us all.
To be cont. in 2013