Friday, 21 December 2012

Babies' progress, Cloud's illness + Happy Christmas!

Wed. 12th December 2012

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 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
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 -  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....... 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  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

Monday, 10 December 2012

A Very Gloomy Blog

Fri 30th November 2012

Faith and Beauty2 were put to bed together in 'bunk beds' in the spare room and in the morning, Faith was still with us and Beauty2 was not.

When I first started looking after the birds, I couldn't touch a dead one with my naked hands, but now it doesn't bother me. Well, the touching doesn't bother me, but the death is still a little sad, and much more so if I know the bird. But as my husband says, you don't know what's wrong with them. Beauty2 could've been very old or sick, and it was his/her time to go, so RIP little grey pigeon.

Sat. 1st December '12 - With bird deaths on my mind, I get worried about Faith. I used to say she was 'poorly' but  now I don't think she is. She no longer has diarrhoea and I consider her 'stable'. I rarely know how old the birds are - except the ones hatched in my cote - and I have no idea how old Faith is - she might be very old, and she gets treated like a little old lady with hotwater bottles and tlc! This morning she gave me a fright - I pulled aside the little towel I use as a curtain for the front of her night box and she wasn't there! I looked inside the other box which Beauty2 had used, in case I'd had a 'senior moment' and put her in the wrong box.... but no. Then I panicked and wondered if I'd left her overnight in the conservatory..... had she frozen to death in there...... I ran in, no Faith, so I ran back... and there she was on the floor of the spare room. I think she must've thought I was being too long in getting her up for the day so came out on her ownio!

My last blog prompted the nice lady, S, who keeps racing pigeons and who came to collect one of her birds from me to send me an email regarding Sky and Summer nesting again, and the birds with paramyxo. This is what she said, just as she sent it -


Have you not thought about putting the doves on pot eggs once they have laid 2 as the doves would sit for longer and they
would not hatch out over the winter when they could get cold and die this is what we do with the pigeons until we are ready to breed
between boxing day and valentines day.

This bit you wont like we have to kill any birds that have paramyxo as it is a killer it could spread or the bird will starve to death ,we inject
our birds once a year against it ,but not our stock birds as they are prisoner's and never go out. i know it sounds cruel but that's what we
have to do speak soon.
I have thought about fake eggs, and think I might get some so I am ready in case this happens again, but I am hoping these babies will be ok. I will be terribly upset if they die.
As far as paramyxo is concerned, I can see why S feels it is necessary to dispose of the ill birds - to protect the others from disease, but, here, the
Earlier on today, a beautiful speckled dove fed from my hand. This is not so very unusual as I still have Baby Royal and Bandy coming to my outstretched palm for peanuts, as I stand - and a few others will eat from my hand if I have it on the grass. So the speckled one ate and I thought no more about it until this evening.
My instinct again prompted me to go out 'poorly pigeon hunting' this evening. It was 9.45am, we had a roaring fire going and were very cosy, so I rebelled, but my feelings wouldnt be quashed! Reluctantly, I got my hat, pulled on my furry boots and set out round the back of the old mill, armed with torch and net. The frost was already making the roofs sparkly - it's quite refreshing to go out in the cold knowing you can come back in pdq! At first I couldn't see anything in the usual places I look, but I shone the torch all around including down into the old wheel of the mill and the water below - and then to my dismay I saw the speckled dove down there, sitting in the shallow water!
The area where the mill water used to run is partly grassed over, like a grassy moat. That in itself is easy enough to get down, though not great at night. Then I was able to clamber under various metal bits..... The speckly one looked up at me - there are security lights there so I could see it quite well - it was awake and seemed alert enough, but I couldnt imagine why, if it could move at all, that it would sit half in, half out of water on a freezing night? Maybe earlier on it had flown down for a drink and couldn't get up? How to get it up was now my problem. My husband doesnt like me messing about down there as the water in one section is quite deep, but luckily the bird wasn't in that part. I leant over and the net was just long enough to reach - I don't know what I would've done if it hadn't been! I carefully and slowly positioned the net over the bird, so it was trapped, and then even more carefully dragged the net up, holding it against the slope so it couldnt flutter out. I took the photo several days later, and you can't really tell how awkward it was for me but you can see what a dank, gloomy place it was to be stranded in, and worse at night.

 When I was able to reach the bird, I kept it in the net til I was able to untangle it safely and pop it inside my fleece. I was relieved that it wasn't too wet and felt warm to the touch. My husband finds my 'instincts' spooky but is used to me, so wasn't surprised to see me come back with a bird. I put it in the bunk bed above Faith for the night, and hope it will be ok. Hubbie pretends he doesnt care but asked 'Do you think it will be warm enough?' - we decided a comfortably padded box in our spare bedroom has gotta be warmer than the mill water on a frosty December night! BUT by 11pm when we were in bed, glasses on, reading our books, we both suddenly came to the conclusion that the speckled one would be better off in the kitchen so it could benefit from the warmth of the aga - so I got up and moved it.

Sunday 2nd Dec - I woke up thinking 'Let my bird be alive!'.... and it was. My Minty had survived sitting in the freezing water, the haul up the side in the net, and the long night! I dipped her beak in a pot of warmed water, and after a few tries, she had a good long drink. I wasn't sure what would be best to do with her, so while I thought I put her in the hutch outside with food and water, but she just kept flapping and banging herself against the wire to get out so I thought I'd give it a go and opened the door. Minty flew to the frosty garden table and perched on a water dish.

Having mainly ignored the nice pot of warmed water I'd given her in the hutch, she now tried to get a drink from the totally frozen water in the dish. But she stayed there while I went to get water to pour on top of the ice.

 A few other doves arrived - Cloud and Happy together, October, who had come from the cote, and some others. You can see how frosty the garden is, and it stayed like that all day, except for the spot round the hutch which is the only place that gets the sun's rays.

When the birds flew away, Minty was gone and for a second I thought she'd flown off with them, til I saw her down under the cote.

 Obviously at the moment, she is not as well as she thinks she is! So I scooped her up, decided that the crate in the conservatory would be the best place, and she settled on a warm hot-water-bottle and stayed there all day. Faith is on top, as you can see, but later I moved her to the hutch while it stayed sunny.

I wasn't sure if Minty was eating because although she had pecked at some peanuts first thing, she didnt actually eat them so I thought it best to hand-feed her for today at least, and assess the situation again tomorrow. I fed her three times - morning, noon and afternoon- she rejected most of the peanuts from her beak, but I was able to get the smoother peas down her without any trouble. She seems to have watery diarrhoea...... But Faith had diarrhoea and got over it. Minty spent a second night in the kitchen.

Monday 3rd Dec. - This morning Minty walked out of her box in the kitchen and inspected the pantry. I can't have a dove with diarrhoea wandering about in the kitchen so I took her outside. Today was damp and mild, Minty had a little walk on the garden table but when she tried to fly she plummeted to the ground again and tried to squeeze herself under the hedge so I had to rescue her and she spent most of the day in the hutch. I saw her drinking by herself, so that's one good thing, I won't have to try to get her to drink, but I still didn't see her eat, so I hand-fed her again morning, noon and mid-afternoon. In a previous blog I said I'd read that pigeons can survive on 13g of feed a day. I measured that out in grain, peanuts and dried peas - and gave her a combo of 14 of those each feed. A bird that can't fly and can't feed itself doesnt have much going for it but I'm giving Minty a chance. She is an amazingly beautiful bird with soft plumage and a nice nature. I ringed her with a green ring in the hopes that she might recover and need to be recognised - I do have a few other speckly ones visiting.

I had to bath Faith again today. This is a reluctant chore because although she is 'good', I know she doesnt like it, and I hate getting her chilly. Her breastbone seems almost totally exposed, and she has a little sore place which looks like a bed sore, if a dove could have such a thing. I anointed both places with my special cream. After the bath she stayed in the kitchen to completely dry off before bedtime.

Tuesday 4th Dec 12 - Minty seemed ok first thing this morning and I hand-fed her breakfast at 8am, but when I next checked her about 9.30am her head seemed a bit floppy, so I brought her into the  kitchen. Within a short time, I could see she wasn't going to make it, as she'd fallen over so I laid her down with her head slightly raised and covered her up.

She just lay there taking a breath now and then, and died about midday. What a shame, poor little thing, she was an exceptionally beautiful bird.

I do worry when I hand-feed the birds that maybe I do something wrong and that contributes to or causes their death, but I know that I've hand-fed several who have gone on to recover and be perfectly ok. Out of the two recent birds who appeared to have paramyxo symtoms - Mixie and Trixie (both of whom I gave feeds to) - Mixie is no longer seen and may have perished but Trixie seems to be managing really well on her own. So it's not all doom and gloom here AND the eggs are due to hatch this week. Tomorrow or Thursday maybe!

Wednesday 5th Dec - First snow!


Very, very cold...... and no egg news yet!
This evening, I had to go into the spare bedroom where Faith is put in her box to spend the night. I usually avoid going in so I don't disturb her, but I had to find something, and I got another of my 'spooky' feelings. I never look inside the box - the end of which doesnt have the wire grille on, but is draped at night with an old tea-towel, but something made me peep inside. I couldnt see Faith in the box - which is a pet carrying box and of the smaller type, so no place to hide. I could hardly believe it - where could she have gone? The light was off as I was just using the passage-way light to see by, so as not to disturb her, but now I turned it on. The room is choc-a-bloc as we have stored a lot of stuff in there and for a minute or two I couldnt see her, but there she was crouched on the hard floor in the corner of the room! Poor little poppet! I picked her up, and put her back to bed, and we've decided now that she better sleep in the kitchen where it's warm. She felt a bit cold, so I hope she will be ok - I put her to bed at 4pm and found her at 8pm so she could've been on the cold uncarpeted floor for 4 hours - which makes me feel very guilty. I could of course use the grille and lock her in - not quite sure why I don't. By the way these spooky feelings of mine alert me to the doves, but don't help me pick the lottery numbers!
Thurs. 6th Dec - Faith was fine in the first thing, but later on she retreated to the back of her box and just lay there. 'I think Faith's dying' I said to my husband sadly. I propped up her head with a cloth to make a pillow and give her a good airway, but later on, she decided not to die, and came out of her box to help me decorate the Christmas tree!

Friday 7th Dec - No egg news in the morning, but when I came home from shopping at 2pm there was an egg shell on the lawn - it definitely hadn't been there earlier, because I'm very observant about that sort of thing. Here's me, in my turtle-doves again! - with the egg!


Later, when I knew it was Summer on the nest (not Sky, who is more easily upset) and she was turned round with her tail towards the nestbox entrance, I crept quietly up the stepladder and could just see a tiny yellow fluffy thing underneath her! Wonderful! The egg was chucked out today, but the baby or babies could've hatched yesterday, or even Wednesday.

When the doves had all flown away, I found a white dove in the flower bed - obviously another one that can't fly. I popped it in the hutch for the night, and sheeted it all up with the plastic sheets, against the fox and the frost. It looked ok, but they all seem to look fine, then they die. Except for Faith, who looks slightly dirty, bedraggled, hunched and old, but still carries on, day after day. Bless her!

Sat 8th Dec '12 - Today I was having my three sisters to mine for the special Christmas event we have every year, and it was my turn to host it, so I was very busy. But first thing, I unsheeted the hutch and found the new dove still alive, so I named her Peppermint (she couldn't be Minty2 as Minty was so very beautifully special) and opened the hutch up to see what she would do. She flew from the hutch to the table, and then to the ground to get a drink from the water bath.

But afterwards it was obvious that she couldn't take off from the ground, and was getting unwanted attention from male doves, so I put her back in the hutch with food and water. Although I was busy preparing a special lunch, I hand fed her as I didn't see her eat, and wanted to give her a chance.

Faith was put in her box on the floor of the conservatory. This is where I'd laid the table, and my sisters were warned she was there in case she decided to toddle out and they tripped over her. But today was Faith's last day. She was alive when we started lunch, but passed away some time during our festivities. I was saddened and so too was my eldest sister who also loves birds - she kindly stroked my poor little dead Faith. Looking back on my blog, I read that Faith was actually Faith3 (Faiths 1 and 2 must have died very quickly as I don't really remember them, and I thought my Faith was Faith2!) and came down to the ground on July 19th, having spent about a day up on the roof without sustenance, and then had no strength to fly up again. She lived 142 days after that, sitting on the support sticks for the runner beans during the sunny summer days, as the photo below shows. I will give her a special funeral tomorrow with as many flowers as the garden can provide in December. Rest in peace little sweetheart - fly again in heaven.


I felt another pang of loss this evening as October - for the first time since hatching - oh must be about 10 to 12 weeks ago  now - didn't spend the night in the dovecote. I hope wherever she goes to roost is safe and warm, and she comes back tomorrow morning with the rest of the flock.

Sunday 9th Dec - Peppermint was hand fed again and put out in the hutch. She came out into the wire box area and looked around and had a drink, but very soon she too had succombed to whatever was wrong with her, and died quickly. Faith, old and dirty scruffy, but a real little trooper and very special, and Peppermint, young, snow white, beautiful but obviously not meant to live. A double funeral and a sad little occasion for me.

Since October 2010 I have always had a dove needing looking after and attention, as that was when Jose came into my life. When she died, I still had Faith to look after, and now I've got no-one. Her bed, her crate and all my little arrangements for her comfort and security will have to be dismantled and put away.

And then I realised that neither parent dove was in the cote! I hurried up the steps and had a peep - two very small yellow downy babies! But I shouldn't have been able to see them! It was Sky's time to be on the nest, and he wasn't there. I went to get my camera and took a quick photo.

White dove babies - about 3/4 days old

Five minutes went by, and then five more. I was beginning to worry and checked my 'Feral Pigeons' book to find out what I knew already - pigeons are brooded continuously for the first 6 to 7 days. I started to panic but what could I do? Hubbie, when asked, thought I better leave it to nature.... but nature can be so cruel! Then he went off out, leaving me alone to fret. I threw down grain, even though it was about 10.15am and not the normal feeding time, to see if the parents were there. Summer was among the birds that came down, but I suppose she assumed Sky was on the nest as it was his time, and he appeared not to be in the garden. I was really panicking now as it was half an hour since I'd noticed his absence so how long had the babies been alone, uncovered and getting cold? I didn't know what to do..... I went up the steps again, looked at them and touched them gently. They didn't feel warm, and I had no idea how warm they should feel anyway. They looked dead, and I assumed they were as why else would Sky leave them? He never has to forage for food as I always make sure he and Summer get well fed so he really had no excuse whatsovever not to be there. Then one baby moved slightly and I made a rapid decision - I'd bring them in to the warm. I ran back to the house, pulled off some kitchen roll, folded it over treble or more and came back to the nest. I put my hand in meaning to bring one baby out at a time, but both came together - so small, so fragile. I put them both in the paper, folded it over the top of the them and ran back to the house. I put the paper on top of the aga - not directly but on top of three aga pads, one on top of the other, I gently examined the babies. One seemed to be alive, one dead. The alive one opened his beak, and I wondered how long it had been since they were fed. At the very most, these babies couldn't be more than five days old, and it was much more likely that they were only three or four. I knew I had very little chance of rearing them - I felt quite sick I can tell you. All this time, I had continually been checking out of the window to see if either parent had come back to the nest. 40 minutes had gone by now since I had noticed they had been left. After a while, I moved the aga tops, with the paper + babies, from the aga in case it was too hot.... to the kitchen table. Then the 'dead' baby moved! Oh my god these poor little tiny things were both alive, needing their mummy and daddy! Oh Sky, how could you do this?! I didn't know whether to try to feed them or not - I still have the Kaytee powder mix which I bought for Jasha and which is an acceptable substitute for cropmilk, and a little syringe but I knew it wouldn't be easy to do and getting it wrong might kill them..... but if they weren't fed they would die anyway....lord what a horrible situation to be in. 50 minutes had now gone by....... I was practically wringing my hands with worry! The babies moved weakly and opened their tiny little beaks. They were about the size of a 50p piece - I wish I'd taken a photo now, but at the time I was too distraught. I prayed for them to be ok, and then I saw a white dove looking in the nestbox - Sky! I wrapped the babies in the paper and flew over the lawn to put them back in the nest. Within a minute or two, he came back looked in again and then went in to settle with them - thank God, thank God! It was a full 55 minutes since I had first noticed he was missing and maybe they would've been alright for that time without him, and maybe I saved their lives by bringing them into the warm. As well as the threat of them catching cold, there is also the very real risk of a jay seeing the nest was unsupervised and taking them! There are at least two jays round about as I see them both together in the garden.

It was now after 11am and Sky stayed in with the babies until the doves did a changeover at about 1pm. I was relieved when Summer was on duty as I felt she was less likely to leave them. At the afternoon feeding time, I made sure the undeserving Sky had plenty of grain and peanuts, and I gently put the usual little pot up for Summer filled with small grains, the blue peas she likes best and peanuts, and was pleased to see her eat from it. I didn't really relax until darkness fell and I knew Summer would be staying all night. Then, when it occurred to me, I started to worry that he would leave them again when it was his turn tomorrow.

Monday 10th Dec '12 - The very first bird I saw on the roof this morning was..... the sparrowhawk! Oh no! Could this blog get much worse...... Be gone with you! flapped my hands and it flew away.

The day was uneventful - I was out for a couple of hours in the morning, but all seemed well for the rest of the time. Spring (Autumn's sibling) and Pearl (Jose's baby, now grown up) are both missing though.

I'll bring this blog to a close now, and hope the next one will be more uplifting!

To be cont.