Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sad, then happy news - or even Happy's News!

19th July 2012

Mon 9th July 12 -  Jasha seemed ok at the 4pm feed, and I put him back in his nest box in the crate in the garden. When I checked him about 6pm, he was listless, with his beak slightly open – always a bad sign. I immediately took him out and he felt less warm than usual, and his beak was slightly bubbling. My heart sank. I really thought I could rear this bird. I put him in the larger carrying box in the conservatory, with an extra towel wrapped round his sitting on towel to make a nest shape, that would be warmer. I’d already got his little supper ready, but could tell he wouldn’t be able to eat it.  As the pessimist I am, I don’t expect him to last the night. Later in the evening, when it was dark in the conservatory, I checked him with a shaded torch. I couldn’t tell for sure but I thought he was dead, though his eyes were open and he was in a sitting position.

Tuesday 10th July – Jasha is dead. God knows I tried my best, but maybe I did something wrong. One thing I did that I wouldn’t do again, was put him in the garden, in the crate with the freedom to move out of the nest. Maybe he caught a chill, or maybe some of his feed got down to his lungs – I think that was probably it. I don’t know but I do feel responsible and sad about it. I’ve learnt a lot, but didn’t really want to learn something at the expense of a little life.
I'm so sorry,Jasha, it was not to be - RIP

One amazing thing cheered me up when I fed the doves first thing. Amongst the many many birds on the lawn, I spotted a dark, spotted head and thought ‘You’re new’ and then I saw the dark body, the white wings and the yellow ring – Olympia, my hero, has won gold and returned home! He’s been missing since before I went on holiday so about 12 days or so. Of course he was rewarded with extra peanuts!

Can you pick out Olympia from the flock?

Here he is!

And he was middle bottom row in the flock photo!

Wednesday 11th  – Summer stayed the night so she must be laying again – luckily I had cleaned out the babies the night before because now I won’t be able to do more than a bit of pooper-scooping at night or risk upsetting her. Lizzy2 and Pip are now approx 23-25  days old. Today I had to be out for a good part of the day – normally in these circumstances I put the wire box up and shut Jose in – this means she has the hutch, and her little door is open, but she can’t jump down from the table and is protected from anything that might come into the garden. Now Happy is spending so much time with her and is her true mate, I didn’t know what to do as I didn’t want to prevent him from being able to be with her but nor did I want to restrict his liberty. I decided that her safety was my priority and shut them in together, with plenty of food and water of course. They seemed perfectly happy when I got home, still cooing and billing in their funny little home.

Happy and Jose

Thursday – Again I had to be out and Jose and Happy were shut up for part of the day. Well before dovie bedtime the cage had been lifted off, and Happy chose to fly off. If he had stayed I would’ve considered leaving them together there for the night, though the fox problem is still a worry. I had thought that it was Happy staying the last week or so on the nearest building to the cottage, but now I’ve discovered that it’s another unringed white dove so I don’t know where Happy goes.

The dove that stays the night (she has a story later)

Friday 13th – Happy has brought more sticks, filled in the hole of the polo nest, and it’s quite respectable now. I brought another brick to the table so they can sit on them side by side, instead of squashing up together.

Sat 14th – I was rushing out to my Pilates class, with no time to spare at about 9.30am when I saw a very young dove on the hedge. At first I just thought it had arrived with the flock but then I saw the green ring and realised it was Elizabeth II – goodness, I thought the babies were too young to fledge! But Sky was with her, so I thought she’ll be ok and off I went. Before the end of the class I was worrying but luckily she was still wandering about the hedge when I got back, and Sky wasn’t with her, so I got the net, managed to trap her by kneeling on Jose’s table and popped her back in the nest. Not a moment too soon as the heavens opened and it poured without stopping for two hours. Lizzy2 would’ve got very wet if  she’d stayed out and might have caught a chill. She really was too young to fledge, probably by about a week, and if I hadn’t helped may not have been able to get back into the dovecote. After that little foray into the wet world outside the nestbox, she decided to stay nice and warm and dry with sibling, Philip.

As soon as the rain stopped, Happy was out collecting sticks again. He continued on and off all afternoon and I even saw him with a stick as late as 7.30pm. He usually flies off about 8 to 8.15pm, and by that time Sky has left too, and I collect Jose to put her in the conservatory. Tonight it was gloomy and several times I went into the garden to see if Jose was outside on the table, hovering and looking like she wants to jump – which is what she does if I don’t collect her in time, but she stayed inside the hutch. I began to get my suspicions that she might be laying an egg but the last time I went out, and softly approached the hutch, she came out onto the table. I quickly opened the hutch door to the nest part a fraction and sneaked a peek. There was an egg! Jose, my flightless dove, has laid her first egg!!! Wow! Now we really will have problems! She went back in and I quickly put her little door into the entrance slot and locked her in, and also put the wire box up for safety.

Since the fox came and took poor Bobbie in the hospital in the early part of the year, I have never left Jose in the garden, but now I had no choice – she had to be with her egg! I have sometimes left other doves in the hutch at night – I left Cloud there for a week in April to recuperate while we were on holiday, but it’s not something I want to do as I don’t feel it’s safe, though the hutch being on a table would be harder to break into than the hospital run.

I did everything I could to make the hutch impenetrable. I draped pieces of blue plastic over it, and held them down with bricks, and put up other defences. I hope it will be off-putting to a fox, and also water-tight if we get more rain tonight. I’m not terrible optimistic for the chances of the egg – the hutch is not an ideal nestbox but we shall see. I am quite excited though – Jose’s got an egg, what fun!
Sunday 15th July – I was up early to undrape and un-barracade the fort knox hutch. Happy joined me to see his lady and egg, and then proceeded to get more sticks! Jose and Happy took it in turns through the morning to sit on the egg, and all was well. I was pleased, although it wasn’t a hot summer day – will we ever get them again? – that at least it was dry! Once or twice, I saw both doves together, and wondered what was happening but one or the other always went quickly back to the egg, and I also wondered whether Jose would lay another – as is usual. Happy days!.... but soon over....

By lpm the little family bubble was burst. Both Happy and Jose were on the table, I sensed something was wrong or different and I cracked open the nestbox section of the hutch a fraction. The nest was disturbed, and pushed over to the other side, and NO EGG! I then saw that Jose had blood on her breast....but she seemed to be ok, and so I left her as she was with Happy.I reckoned it might’ve been the jay, I’d seen it earlier in the garden. I was more angry than sad – how DARE another bird come and take my Jose’s precious egg!!! I gardened in fury, yanking up weeds. Jasha dead, and now the egg taken.....
Jose - her blood or the intruder's?
But within an hour Jose and Happy seemed to have forgotten their loss, and were billing, cooing and mating again. What on earth will I do now, if she lays another one?
Don't be sad, darling - here's another stick for you!

The afternoon was pleasant, and Happy and Jose stayed together, mating often. I worried about what to do. If she doesn’t lay another, then problem solved but I feel she will. She hadn’t by the evening, Happy flew away and I brought Jose into the conservatory. I checked her over for injuries, and hope the blood was from the other bird and it came off worst! Later on I had a proper look at the nest and found a jackdaw feather – the probable culprit. The jackdaws are always there in the garden, robbing the doves grain and I’ve several times caught one in Jose’s hutch – but that was earlier in the season and I’d forgotten about it and if I’d thought about it I would’ve assumed Jose and Happy would be able to defend their nest.
This is my thinking.... Nature will take its course, and therefore Jose will probably lay another egg. If I leave things as they are, then the corvids will keep taking the eggs, and Jose might get hurt, and will certainly get distressed.  I could confine both Happy and Jose in the hutch and wire box area, which would keep them and any eggs safe, but would restrict Happy’s liberty. And is that fair? Hubbie suggested dismantling the whole nest but I can’t have Happy bringing sticks all summer long... no, that wouldn’t be fair either. And I don’t want to use artificial eggs.... I wouldn’t want Jose/Happy sitting for hours on eggs that will never hatch. Though I’d like to see the jackdaw’s face when it stole and tried to crack a plastic egg!

Tomorrow I will just have to see what happens, and make my decision then.
Monday 16th July 12 – Jose went immediately to her nest when I put her in the hutch at 6.30am. Had she been crossing her legs all night?! I left the hutch open in the usual way, without the wire box up, fed the doves and went back to have a mug of tea in bed! When I went out again, I peeked and could see at least Jose in there, so I put the wire box up. I wasn’t sure if Happy was in there too, or not. Later on, I thought I saw him on the grey bath with a young female, but they both flew away before I could check it was actually him. Bandit, who I keep forgetting to mention, has two red rings, and it might have been him. A miserable morning, gloomy with persistent light rain, and Jose stayed on her nest all morning. I wonder how long it takes to lay an egg? I must try to find out.

Jose, on her egg - protected by the wire box - we're not taking chances this time!

About 10.45am Happy was hovering about the wire box, and I took it off to let him in. Jose was off the nest and I could see an egg, gleaming pearly white on the brown sticks! Hurray! Once Happy was in, I put the wire box up. What I’m thinking today is.... I will keep them shut up together if I have to be out, but if I know I am going to be in all day then maybe I will let Happy out when he’s done his nest duty. I am going to try to keep a log of the times they change places. Sky also came to his nestbox and relieved Summer at almost exactly the same time.

;Last night, I had cleaned the hutch a little. Put down newspaper for ease of cleaning the floor, and took away the branch that normally provides a perch. Instead I put 3 bricks, to make a step – two together, and one on top of the back one. I try not to leave feed inside the hutch at night as the squirrels gnaw the wood to try to get in, but this morning I have put in food of course, and a little bowl of water, as well as the bigger bowl in the outside part. I hope all this will be ok. It seems to me to be the only solution.
Later – The arrangement worked well for most of the day. The birds changed places on the nest at various intervals and seemed content – the one not on the nest either eating, or sitting on the bricks, in or outside. At about 3pm Happy seemed restless and I opened the door to let him out, knowing I would be around to let him in when he came back, and trusting him to do so! He came back ¾ hour later and was duly let in. First I opened the main door, as if he went in and out of there it would be easier for me, but though I propped it open and stood well back he didn’t seem to understand and was looking for a place in through the wire box, so after a minute or two, I lifted it off, he went in, and back it went.

As if all this wasn’t enough excitement for the day, just after 4pm both squabs, Elizabeth II and Philip were out on the hedge. They are only about 28 days old, and I’ve never had babies fledge so early.
Pip, two purple rings, on the hedge

Soon Lizzy2 was on the roof with Sky, but Pip, who I think is the younger sibling – he still has baby fluff on his head – stayed on the hedge.

Sky, on the roof with Lizzy2, tries to encourage little Pip to come up

It was such a miserably rainy day that after half an hour I caught Pip in the net, and put him back in the nest box. He did come out again later, and at about 5.45pm I caught him again, and again put him to bed!

After another half an hour, I popped out to the garden to check what was happening, and found little Lizzy, on the ground, in the flower bed. She looked enchanting and it was a great photo opportunity, but I thought if I went to grab my camera, she might disappear in the undergrowth, as the bed is packed with plants (and weeds!) high and low. I tried to catch her but she moved away to hide instinctively, but luckily I could still see her, and brought my hand down upon her. Rescue complete, she went back to join Pip, and thankfully Sky didn’t consider that the babies should be out, and he left them alone.

Happy had been on the egg (or eggs maybe!) since 3.45pm. We ate our supper at 7pm, me looking out of the window every few seconds. Both Happy and Jose are pure white, but I can sometimes, not always, tell the difference between them at a distance. Luckily both are ringed, but I suppose as Jose is ringed it wouldn’t matter very much if Happy wasn’t, though it’s helpful to be able to distinguish him when he’s out in the garden. Anyway, he emerged at 7.10pm and I let him out of the hutch. He stayed around the garden for 20 minutes, then flew away for the night and was gone by 7.30pm. This is earlier than previous nights, but the weather’s so bad, there were no other doves or pigeons around by then, Sky had already gone and Fennie had put himself to bed.
We’ve got through the first day of the new egg/s and I think we managed pretty well! I was impressed with Happy – what a great husband for a disabled dove he is -  he really seems to understand the difficult circumstances. Now, I have to make sure the night passes without incident. When it got dark, I did all the draping of the plastic sheeting, fixed with bricks again. The hutch is as safe as I can think to make it but I am still worried it wouldn’t be effective against a determined fox. What a nightmare! I doubt I will sleep very well.

Tuesday 17th –  All was fine in the garden, thank goodness, and I saw Happy was in the garden for the early morning feed but he didn’t go near the hutch. I was meeting my daughter and grandchildren at a local farm park so was hoping he would go in earlier than yesterday. Sky and Summer swapped places at 10.22am, and just before 10.30am Happy came to be let in, and I was free to go out. As I drove into the farm park I found a dead pigeon. It had obviously just died as it was still warm – poor little thing, how sad. It had a GB12 ring so this year’s bird. If you find a racing pigeon – dead or alive – then you can report it here as long as you can read the ring which will have a number like GB11 D 12345 on it – and if it’s alive it’s owner will make arrangements to collect it. There’s also care details on the site too. I would always make a report, even if the bird is dead, as I think it’s owner would like to know what’s become of his/her birds.

I was a bit worried about being out so long – for Happy’s sake - but when I got back just about 4pm he was sitting and Jose was off the nest. Three quarters of an hour later. I let Happy out and Jose went to sit. Happy came back 20 mins later, and I didn’t have to remove the wire box as he understood to go in and out of the main door. At 6.30pm he asked to be let out for the night, and flew off. Sky didn’t leave til 8.15pm –I’d already popped Pip back into the nest box and Lizzy2 sat in the carry box I’d left on the hedge, so once Sky had gone I was able to easily pop her back too. The dove that sleeps on the building round the corner was on the ground, so I picked her up and put her in the crate in the conservatory for the night. Lucky I found her!
Wed. 18th July – This morning Jose got off the nest to have a stretch and I saw the two lovely eggs!


The dove in the conservatory was taken into the garden and set free. She flew from my hands to the roof, but later on I saw her in her night time place, pressed up under the gutter and she stayed there all the rest of the day. I think she will soon pass away. I did ring her and name her Faith3 but I don’t think she’ll survive.

 Happy went in to do his nest duty at 10.24am. Though I was around he didn’t seem to want to come out before 6pm. Then he wanted in again at 6.30pm, ate some peanuts, and off for the night at 6.40pm. There’s a rough pattern emerging and I think I will be able to cope with the routine. At the worst, both doves will have to stay in the hutch/table area locked in all day.
Thursday 19th July – I shopped early and was back by 10am so as to be ready when Happy wanted to go to the nest. The usual time of 10.30 ish went by and I was getting a bit worried when 11 o'clock went by. I had to stay somewhere where I could get on with something but keep an eye on the hutch, so the kitchen has never been so clean! Eventually at 11.26am Happy went in, and I was free to get on with other things! I didn’t see Sky and Summer change over either, but they may have done, and I don’t need to worry about them. Summer first stayed the night on 11th July so these new eggs should hatch about the 28th. All these babies! Isn't it lovely!

In the late morning Faith3 emerged from her hidey hole and sat on the roof with the others in the sun, but I haven’t seen her on the ground to eat.

Pip was sitting in his day box on the hedge from early morning. He seems much more immature than Lizzy2 who flies from cote to hedge to roof quite easily.
Little Elizabeth II dove with daddy, Sky
 Sky is still feeding them both, but I put a dish of little seeds and a pot of water in the day box, and Pip can certainly eat on his own. I don’t know exactly how old they are because I’m not sure when they hatched but they are about 33 days old now. When it looked like there was a rain storm coming, I put Pip back in the nestbox in the cote where he will be more protected.
Pip (squab about 33 days) making himself comfortable in the day box
Later Faith3 came down to eat but couldn’t get the energy to fly away up from the ground. I used my new net to catch her, that I bought from ebay (poultry catching net from durham_hens_poultry_supplies - that's their ebay name) as my old net has just about had it.I put her in the hospital and she immediately went into the dark quarters. I have taken her out a few times, and she has had some little sips of water. Now I won’t release her, but will keep her in the hospital or the crate in the conservatory at night, until she either dies or gets better.

I let Jose have an hour and a quarter on the ground this afternoon, chillaxing with the other birds, rooting in the flower beds and generally having fun away from nest duty. I also thought she might need a bit of greenery for vitamins, or little stones for minerals or something!
Jose, flightless dove and mum-to-be, pecks around the lawn
While the naughty pidgies get into the kitchen garden!

I also took baby Pip out of the day box and put him on the ground so he would get used to it - with me there to watch him of course. I then gave him flying lessons from my hands to the hedge. Putting the day box on the hedge was a brilliant idea of mine, because both babies go into it at bedtime, and I can easily transfer them from there to the nestbox when Sky has gone. He is doing the same thing he did with Lizzy and Lympy - blocking the entrance so they can't get in at night.
Young squab (Pip) on the ground
Sky came off the nest at 5pm, but Happy didn't leave the hutch til 6.27pm. Then came back to eat, and leave again, at 7.05pm. And yes, I have to keep an eye on the hutch and let him in and out. But it will be so worth it for Jose to have babies! We can do this thing! 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Jasha's progress

9th July 2012

Tues 3rd July – Jasha seems well – bright eyed and alert. After another messy and largely unsuccessful attempt with the rubber glove finger feeder, I made the mixture drier and formed it into pellets.
Jasha - rescued squab - photo 6th July '12
These were about 3.5cm long, and were too big, and a smaller, rounder shape, like a medium sized pea worked better.
Too big and wrong shape!
I fed him at 7am and then again put him in the crate in the garden where he could observe the other birds. He has his ‘nest’ of a towel inside the carrying box, and the end of the crate is draped with a plastic sheet and towels against wind/rain. I was well sorted for the 10am feed, with the little ‘peas’ ready made. I dipped each one in tepid water before I put it in his beak. Feeding him means gently prising his beak open with my fingernail and also gently but firmly pushing the feed down his gullet with my finger. He seems to accept it. I’m feeding him 3 hourly to the routine – 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. After the 4pm feed I noticed that there was a lot of ‘brown stuff’ on his bedding. First I thought it was poo, then I realised it was probably regurgitated feed. I thought I was maybe feeding him too much, so I only gave him a light supper! It’s trial and error, but I think I am doing quite well considering I have never done this before in my life! I could have taken him to the local wildlife aid, but felt he was old enough for me to give it a try myself – one to one attention can’t be bad! I don’t recommend anyone does this unless they are prepared for the commitment and ongoing feeding schedule. Preparing the food, giving it, and clearing up afterwards takes quite a bit of time.

Wed 4th July ’12 – The Kaytee Exact mix I had ordered for Jasha came before the 1pm feed, but I decided to use the mix I had already made and experiment before the 4pm feed. I ordered it from ebay from Garden Feathers Poultry Supplies (gardenfeathers is their ebay name) at a cost of (£9.99 + £2.20 postage and was pleased with the quick delivery. I didn’t in the end get round to it by the 4pm feed as I was blogging! And I also had feed I’d made already to use up. I keep it, covered, in the fridge, but warm it before I give it to him, by placing the little dish the pellets are on in a larger dish of just boiled water. After this feed, I opened the Kaytee mix and found it to be a tan coloured substance, finer than the chick crumbs.

Kaytee Hand Rearing Food (left) and chick crumbs
I made up the following recipe – this was my own idea, and I have no idea how nutritionally right it is, so please bear this in mind if you decide to use it!
1 level scoop of Kaytee Exact (scoop was in the tin and is approx 4 rounded teaspoons)
1 level scoop of chick crumbs (bought from my pet shop)
1 level scoop of tiny grains/seeds –( taken from my usual pigeon feed which is Natural Granen made in Belgium by de Scheemaecker Bros.)
A couple of pinches of crushed bird peanuts – very fine
A couple of pinches of grit (Bob Martin Avia grit)
I sprinkled the top with vitamins (Natural Antwerp Vitamix – a pink powder)

Then I dribbled in cooled boiled water and mixed until I had a medium-hard paste that I could roll into ‘peas’. This made enough for several feeds.
Mixed up squab feed
When I feed the squab, I will dip each ball of mix into water just before I gently prise open his beak with my finger nail, and gently push the food down his gullet. As I was crushing the peanuts in my stone pestle and mortar and stirring the mix, it occurred to me that in times gone by I would’ve been ducked for a witch!! Jasha ate this mix for the 7pm feed so I will see how he is in the morning.
Not my regular readers, but some people might wonder why I am bothering to do all this for a pigeon which may well not live long anyway. Having seen it, and recognised its plight, I wouldn’t have been able to forget about it very easily, so I suppose I am doing it for my own peace of mind, plus the fact that I get pleasure out of all the doves and pigeons in my garden. I like to have pets, and pigeons have helped people survive in the past – read the heartwarming story of Cher Ami - so I’m just returning the favour in my own little way. I know of course that young birds shouldn’t be taken from the wild but this one wouldn’t have survived without human help.

I left Jose out a bit longer tonight as it was reasonable weather and Happy was with her. At about 8pm hubbie called from the kitchen to say there’s a dove tapping at the window – I went in and it was Happy. I thought it was odd, until I went out and saw Jose was the ground – I truly believe he had to come to tell me so I could pick her and put her on her table again! Not long after that though I took her into the conservatory for the night. I noticed that a pigeon that I’ve seen round the garden for the last couple of days with a curled up foot, and bad wing, is roosting near the kitchen door so I put some newspaper down – I am sick of cleaning the patio up after the pidgies! Then of course, the pigeon moved on – but stayed the night on the building round the corner.
Thursday 5.7.12 -  Same thing happened this evening – Happy came and sat on the top bit of the open stable door to the kitchen – wish I’d got a photo! Hubbie again called me, and again Jose was on the ground. Happy seems to realise her disability and comes to get me – or do I just imagine it to be so?  I brought her into the conservatory about 8pm and Happy stayed the night, under the gutter round the corner. Fennie is in his usual place. I took the babies, LizzyII and Pip out of the nestbox when Sky and Summer had left for the night. No particular reason except for my own pleasure. Sooo sweet, white and fluffy, I adore them at this age!

Friday 6.7.12 – Happy brought sticks to the hutch, and a new but so far rather scrappy ‘nest’ has been made. I had to turn out all the sticks he brought before we went away as I had put Elizabeth in the hutch, she had had diarrhoea and I would’ve cleaned it out for Jose after her use even if she hadn’t!
Jane, one of my blog readers, emailed me with suggestions for Jasha’s feed so on her advice I added a scoop of ground almonds to the mix next time I had to make it up, and also fed him a few de-frosted (but not cooked) green peas – petit pois no less! He still seems to be thriving. Like all squabs of his age, he just sits quietly in his nest on the folded towel, watching the other birds in the garden. He is nest trained! - he doesn’t poo on the towel but over the edge onto the paper. I judge that I am feeding him ok by the fact that his poos are a brown firm but not hard dollop with a white top. Sorry if TMI but there you go!
Saturday 7th - I tested Jasha's flying ability in the corridor, with all doors closed off, and just the linen basket in the area. He can flap and fly a little, but is certainly not ready to be released yet - besides the fact that I haven't seen him peck at grains either!
Sunday 8th – Jasha learnt to drink out of his little shot glass at the 4pm feed today! I have always dipped his beak before and after each feed, but this time, he reached in and slurped! I’ve had him a week today – wow, pleased with myself for managing to rear him – so far I have given him 28 feeds! Today I put his crate on the lawn, rather than the table, so he can observe the other pigeons close up.

Happy has added more sticks and spends a lot of time sitting, cooing, on the ‘polo’ nest he has made (nest with a hole!) but Jose still stands on her brick. She says she has always stood on her brick, and she is still going to stand on her brick, despite being married!!!
The nest Happy has made for Jose

Happy on the nest
Happy is now tame enough for me to put a dish of grain down on Jose's table without scaring him off.
Fennie is so much better as you can see from the photo below....
Fennie, pretty well recovered
Fennie with injured wing, as he was at the end of May '12

Summer and Sky are continually mating, and Sky has brought a lot of sticks to the new nestbox – this is the front one, most favoured by all doves, past and present. I must make an effort and clean out Lizzy2 and Pip tomorrow evening, before I don’t get the chance again. Mummy Sky might be laying new eggs. I don’t know if Jose ever will – she and Happy do mate, but maybe she is barren. Eggs for Jose would be a big problem for me anyway. Nature will take it’s course, and we will see.
Sky 'driving' Summer - part of the mating ritual
Mon 9.7.12 – Summer seems to be sitting in the nest box – I may have missed my chance to clear out the babies, if she stays tonight.
I asked my husband to take some photos of me feeding Jasha this morning....first he has a little drinkie... then I pop the mixture rolled into 'peas' down his throat.
Hand rearing a pigeon squab

Hand feeding a pigeon squab

Jasha now - a more mature shape
Jasha - when he first came a week ago

To be cont...

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

LL, new squabs, Happy and Jose....and a new arrival

Sunday 17th June '12
By the early evening, both young birds, LL  (Elizabeth and Olympia) had put themselves to bed together in the old nestbox. Sky didn’t like these cosy arrangements, and routed Lizzy out. Then he sat on the ledge blocking the entrance. Happy, who had taken a shine to Jose, flew back and forth to her, roof to table. He’d spent the afternoon actually inside her hutch with her, sitting, cooing and generally making himself at home.
Happy (male, red ring) & Jose (female, two rings)
This is quite unusual. Many males try to court Jose, and some she accepts, but they are not usually invited in! Even ‘her’ pigeon, a grey speckled bird that she likes and mates with, doesn’t go inside the hutch. Birds do go in to steal the food, but once they’ve eaten they always come out pretty quickly. That’s how I caught Happy in the first place, robbing food!
Sky and Happy had had a few minor fights in the afternoon. Sky hasn’t appeared that interested in Jose before, but now Happy wanted her, he did too! Even Jose put her oar in here, pecking at Sky! She obviously likes Happy or she wouldn’t tolerate him for long in her space.
Sky (blue ring) fighting for Jose

Lizzy wanted to get in the cote, and was trying different boxes, but Sky kept getting her out. This is not unusual behaviour as it seems to me that soon after young birds have fledged their daddy doesn’t want them around any more. The little ones that they have caressed and fed so attentively only a few days before are suddenly rivals for the cote, and forced to move on. Poor Lizzy didn’t understand, and kept trying to get in – Lympy wisely staying still and dark in the original nestbox! Eventually the kerfuffle forced Summer out from her nest at the back, and this I didn’t like to see, as I had found an eggshell that afternoon and presumed at least one baby had hatched. I went to the cote, Sky flew to the roof, and I managed to block Lizzy in with wire. It was a warm sunny evening, but by 7.30pm both Sky and Happy had flown away, Summer was back with her baby/babies, LL (Lizzy and Lympy) were in the front of the cote, Jose was in the conservatory, and Fennie was in his usual roost under the gutter, and peace reigned in the garden.
Monday 18th – After a few minor fights, Sky accepted Happy in the general area of the cote. Happy happily got on with courting Jose, and soon I could see that he was more than a boyfriend! Jose has had several boyfriends since she’s been with me – the latest is her grey pigeon, and Flash was a great favourite with her – as he was with all the ladies! Happy is different – he obviously considers himself marriage material! He spent lots of time today with Jose, inside the hutch, kissing and canoodling, but also flew into one of the nestboxes of the cote (when Sky was safely in the other side on babysitting duty) and obviously seemed to be saying to Jose ‘Here’s a lovely home – come and join me!’ Jose fluttered her wings as she always does when she wants to fly, but of course she can’t, and eventually Happy came back to the hutch and was content to stay in it with her.

Then he did something that no other male dove has done for Jose before – he brought a stick back to the hutch and carefully placed it inside. Jose was impressed! A stick to a dove is like a bunch of flowers to a lady! Happy was pleased with himself, and went to get another stick! This was in the early evening, and shortly afterwards I collected Jose to take her into the conservatory for the night. LL both went into the old nestbox, I blocked them in and that was that.
The first two sticks! Small, vertical, either side of centre -
you can hardly see them - sorry!
Tuesday 19th – Delightful sunny June day. Happy spent the whole morning bringing sticks into the hutch. My heart sank a little – although I’d love Jose to lay eggs, and raise some babies, with her disability it wouldn’t be easy. But it was the worst possible timing, as we were going away for 8 days on the Friday, and though I was having someone to come in to feed the doves, Jose was going to my youngest daughter’s house for the week! These dilemmas always happen to me when I am going away – if you remember I had Cloud injured just before I went to Skye, and a baby starling just before I went to Spain. I decided to let Happy and Jose get on with it for the next day or so, and see what happens. Jose seemed quite content with the new arrangements, but when Happy left sticks in the entrance doorway, she picked one up and removed it, like a proud housewife who squeaks ‘Don’t put it there!’ when someone puts their kit down on the nearest available flat surface. I removed a few myself.
Proud Happy with a lovely stick for Jose
How the 'nest' looked by the end of the morning
The nest building stopped in the afternoon as my husband decided to cut the hedge and do some strimming. This all took about two hours, and the noise kept all the doves away. Summer stayed in the cote, with the new babies (hopefully two of them!) and I shut Jose in the hutch, but the rest of them flew to further, quieter roofs.
Doves and pigeons hate change – even the hedges being cut unsettles them. They were nervous about coming back, and I didn’t see Happy again that day. Lympy, alone, put herself to bed in the old nestbox – presumably Lizzy had gone off with the flock back to wherever they roost. They have to grow up sometime! There was no need to block Lympy in – I was only doing it to stop Sky, and other adult doves routing the babies out.
Wed 20.6.12 - It looks like Lizzy is roosting with the flock now, but Lympy still stayed the night. He (or she) but  instinct tells me he is a he! He's a big strong distinctive bird now. I can easily pick him out on the roof.
Olympia on the roof
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 Jose's pigeon turned up for a bit of the other...
Grey pigeon and Happy fight, while Jose stands on the brick, watching
and below, Jose and pigeon tussle and Happy removes himself to the wire box

In the end Jose went inside the hutch, and stood on her little branch; the pigeon looked in
but didn't follow, and I went out with a tea-towel and flapped him away!

Thurs 21.6.12 – Had to take Jose to my daughter’s to be looked after while we are on hols. I could leave her in the hutch, but it leaves her vulnerable to foxes at night. I hated splitting Jose and Happy up - the doves are wringing my heart all the time as I try to make the best decisions for them. One good thing was that I noticed Summer AND Sky with the early morning flock for the feed, so grabbed the opportunity to look in the nest with my camera – TWO lovely babies, both ‘blonde’ this time and about four days old. If all goes well they will be about 12 days old when we return and quite big.
White dove babies (squabs) about 3/4 days old -
baby siblings for Elizabeth and Olympia
Friday 22nd June ‘12 – I have not seen Lizzy for the last couple of days, but hope she’s around when I get back. Happy was still on the hutch today, waiting for Jose. God bless my doves while I’m away!
Two pigeons, plus Lampie (left, purple ring) and Lesa, yellow ring

We came home from holiday at 3am on Sunday 1st July '12 extremely tired – Fennie was in his place under the gutter on the roof -  thankfully one bird ticked off my list! I didn’t look at the cote – I didn’t want to know if it was bad news. I set my alarm for the 7am feeding time and crashed into bed!
At 7am I got up reluctantly and fed the doves/pigeons. I didn’t really notice who was around, but there was a dove wandering & poorly on the patio – oh no, green ring, slightly fan tail – it was my young one, Elizabeth who had been missing before we went away. I caught her easily, tried to give her a drink by dipping her beak in water a few times, and locked her in Jose’s empty hutch with food and water and went back to bed.
Later in the day I was able to see that most of my regular flock seemed to be around – Sky, Summer + the babies in the cote, Happy, Rosie, Fennie – much improved and nearly healed, Lampie, Lesa, Bianca2, Bobbie3, Cloud - only the slightest limp now, Charlie and many others that I recognise by sight. Olympia was missing, and hasn’t been seen since. Moonshadow hasn’t been seen for quite a while. Elizabeth, in the hutch, seemed thin and very poorly indeed. I wondered if she had managed to get back here but hadn’t been able to find enough to eat on the way. It’s such a shame I was away as I might have been able to do more for her if I’d been at home. I dipped her beak again in water, but she wasn’t drinking or eating and I didn’t hold out much hope. Also, according to my book pigeons aged 6-10 weeks are more susceptible to disease than at any other time.
I had a special party to go to that afternoon, and had arranged to pick up Jose from my daughter on the way home. Driving there I went underneath a modern railway bridge – mainly smooth concrete, but I noticed some pigeons had found a perch. I’ve never ever seen any there before, and it’s somewhere I pass through occasionally. As I drove through, I saw a pigeon on the ground. I realised from the shape of it that it was a young one, so at the first convenient place, I turned round and drove through again. The pigeon was still sitting still near the road, so I drove out of the tunnel, parked, leaving my hazards on, and went back to it. I always have plenty of junk in my car (mobile skip my hubbie calls it) so had a towel to hand which I took with me. I could see that there were some nests, or at least some pigeons sitting, way high up. There was absolutely no way I could ever have got this bird back to the nest, and it was much too young to have fledged. It must have tumbled out of the nest, and was doomed to die if I did nothing. Although it’s possible the parent pigeons might have fed it on the ground, it is more likely that they would not, as pigeons go back to the place (nest) where their babies are and don’t look much beyond the immediate area. I read this somewhere in my book I’m sure, but couldn’t find the reference (Feral Pigeons by Richard F, Johnston and Marian Janiga). Therefore, this squab would die from starvation, or more likely would be run over, or eaten by a fox/cat. I didn’t really think twice, but dropped the towel lightly over it, and cuddled it up in a nest shape in my car. I named him Jasha (combo of my great-nieces names for whom the party I had just been at was for). At home, I briefly examined Jasha – he (or she of course) was warm, had a full crop and seemed healthy. Perhaps in the excitement of being fed, flapping and reaching, he had leaned too far out of the nest, and fallen down. I’m surprised he wasn’t killed when he hit the ground. I judged his age from my own experience, and used this site and reckoned he was about 20 days old, and therefore approx 8-10 days or more from properly fledging, and several days longer before he will be able to fully feed himself.
First photo of Jasha - squab rescued from under railway bridge
Mon am 2nd July '12   When I opened the hutch this morning I found Elizabeth dead. Poor thing, she was only about 7 weeks old. I laid her gently on the ground underneath the hutch, awaiting her watery grave, and cleaned it out thoroughly so that I could get Jose out to start her day. Faithful Happy was there within seconds of Jose being put on the table. This was literally seconds, no exaggeration. ‘ Hiya mate, I’m glad you’re back! And they mated!
White doves mating
They stayed together throughout the day, with Happy only flying off if I came right up to the table. Jose’s pigeon arrived again, had a short scuffle with husband Happy and departed.
Of course it had dawned on me properly that Jasha was used to being fed and needed to be fed. I looked on my saved favourites on the pc and found the following - (no need to read unless you are interested!)  They recommend porridge oats so no problem there and I mixed some of the smaller grains into it, with water to make quite a sloppy mix. Feeding a squab proved to be much harder than spoon feeding my 7 month old granddaughter. Food ended up on the towel I’d wrapped Jasha in, my top (mental note to wear a pinny next time) and the floor. I don’t know how much he ate. I felt his crop, but I still couldn’t tell if he’d had enough. Afterwards, I wiped him up a bit, especially round the eyes, and dipped his beak in water – partly to clean it and also to give him the idea of drinking on his own.
Jasha, pigeon squab, after first hand feed!
He spent the day in Jose’s crate, outside in the garden, with the small box inside, padded with a towel, positioned so he could see the other pigeons.

I fed him approx every two to three hours. I wasn’t happy with the porridge mix, so I ordered some Kaytee Exact from ebay - never used it before, but I've heard of it - and then went to the pet shop who advised me to buy some ‘chick crumbs’ which I hadn't though of.
Chick crumbs
There are various suggestions for getting food into squabs on the internet. None that I attempted were terribly easy or successful.I tried just using my fingers, then using a syringe with the nozzle cut off. I then thought that the finger of a rubber glove with the tip cut off might be good. It wasn’t bad, but not much better than the other ways. The chick crumbs I felt were more nutritious than porridge, but I mixed some of the smaller seeds in with it too, and of course mixed up with water. The mix was still sloppy at this stage.
Chick crumbs mixed with water, and small grains
Jasha went into a box in the conservatory,, where he could see Jose in the crate, in the evening. I fed him last at 7pm and hope he will be ok til the morning. Of course I left a shallow dish of water in his box, and some small loose seeds, and unsoaked chick crumbs.
Sky and Summer’s new squabs are now approx 12 days old and when we came home from holiday I realised they were being left at night. They looked healthy but the nestbox was disgusting, so I decided to clean them out. Sky and Summer were again playing mummies and daddies in the front (first) nest box again, exactly the same stage Elizabeth and Olympia were when they started these new ones.
So after feeding Jasha and doing our own supper, I scooped both squabs out into a padded box. At this age they can make little resistance so it wasn’t too hard, and I put the box into Jose’s hutch, shutting the door to keep them safe. As when I cleaned out the nestbox at the same stage for Elizabeth and Olympia, there was an abundance of m*ggot infested poo., probably even worse as I had been away so not 'pooper-scooping'. I loathe those wriggly things, they make me feel sick. I can’t even write the word! When I’d pulled all the old nesting material out, and cleaned up, I lined the nestbox with newspaper and made a nest using some of the contents from our paper shredder! I ringed the babies and named them – Elizabeth II (in memory of the first Elizabeth dove) and Philip (what else? – but Pip for short). Elizabeth has one green ring, like the first Elizabeth, and Philip was given two rings in princely purple. I couldn’t give him just one ring, as all the colours have been used for current doves/pigoens, and Lampie has one purple ring. After examining and ringing them, I replaced them in the nestbox, and checked them after 10 mins to make sure they had settled down away from the opening. They had had very full crops which made me worried about Jasha. Hopefully I can feed him up a bit more tomorrow – if he survives.
Elizabeth II and Philip baby white doves after ringing -
approx 12/13 days old
White dove squab wing (12/13 days) - very delicate, like lace!
Squab 12/13 days old and still not totally feathered up

Jasha, and Lizzy2 & Pip's story will continue asap - your comments are always welcomed.  Please scroll down for the comments box if there is a big gap., thanks.