Saturday, 19 January 2013

Santa grows up but can't seem to fly!

10.1.13 -  I felt a bit mean as I didn't give Santa breakfast today but I need to wean him off me feeding him, and see how he fares for himself. He came out onto the lawn, looking such a baby still!
And although I had seen him pecking before I wasn't sure he was actually eating, so was pleased to see him peck up and eat a little white grain from the grass - clever boy! So, can you pick him out in the photo?




Yes, there he is, fourth bird down from the top, in the centre

When they all flew away he walked determinedly to underneath the cote on his ownio, but didn't attempt to fly up - and when I picked him up and held him in my out-stretched hand he flew off - and crashed landed back down on the lawn again!
He can make the very short flight from my hand to the cote if I am standing on the steps, but that's about all at the moment.


Hello stranger! A white dove with a pink ring turned up today - and I am pretty sure it was Rosie who hasn't been seen for ages. Months maybe. I am always pleased when an old face turns up because then I realise how resilient the birds are, how they truly can fend for themselves and that there is always hope! Rosie was a 'contemporary' of Fennie's - so you never know Fennie blog reader - your Fennie dove may still return! Here's the top





Mr. Sunshine continued collecting nesting materials on the hedge for what must now be a magnificent nest! And doesn't the cote look white after my cleaning efforts?


And then canoodles with his mate. I asked my three year old grandson to think of a name for her - and he came up with 'Rudolph' - No, I said that's a boy's name.... think of another. So he said 'Miss Tina' - so Miss Tina she shall be! 



Mr. Sunshine is ringed with two yellow rings, so he's on the left
Fri 11th Jan - I had to go out early today, so left Santa in the nestbox and hoped for the best. When Hubbie fed the birds at lunchtime he texted me to say Santa was still in there - and when I got home at 1.30pm he obviously hadn't been out. When all the doves and pigeons were around, I got him out and put him on the table, so I could supervise him learning about the world outside the cote. Sky and Summer flew to join him - the light was already not very good for taking photos, but here is Santa on the right, Summer in the middle and Sky on the feed tray - with random pidge!

 Santa exercised his wings, and flapped about.



Possibly trying to get his parents' attention


I didn't see either of them feed him - though now at this stage it would be solely Sky's responsibility to do so - and when they flew away he pecked nicely at the little grains I'd put down specially for him


Gradually, I need to feed him less and less so that he continues to feed himself. At the moment I am only feeding him about 3.30pm, before dark and before he goes into the cote for the night. Later, Sky flew to the empty nestbox and sat in there, trying to encourage Santa to fly up to him - Come on Son, you can do it! While Mummy Summer sits on the hedge...... but Santa doesn't even try.....


When they give up, I take over to give Santa flying lessons - still unsuccessful. He can only fly the shortest distance of about 12 inches!!!! Any longer and he plummets to the ground.

37 day old white dove squab - immature and can't fly well


Blogger have changed the way I can upload photos to my blog, making it less convenient and easy, so I am currently using jpegbay - see details below - I'm not sure if it will come out as a link. I must credit and thank them for this, and I use them for ebay listings too. They are TOTALLY free, with no catch whatsoever, very easy to use - and I (and you!) can have as many pics as necessay - even hundreds! - all FREE! - free eBay image hosting

Mr. Sunshine and Miss Tina mate on top of the dovecote
White doves mating on top of dovecote

And I saw a woodpecker on the telegraph pole behind the cote -see him? - how on earth do they cling on in that position?


I am pretty sure that the woodpeckers we get in our garden are Great Spotted Woodpeckers as they are about the size of a blackbird, and the Lesser Spotted ones are only the size of a house sparrow.
Saturday 12th Jan was much the same for Santa, except there were dire weather warnings with very cold temperatures and snow forecast so I brought him in to the house for the night. Hubbie thinks I'm babying him, but I'm not prepared to lose him to frostbite!

Cloud sat on the bar of her open cage - most uncomfortable. She seems happy enough, but her condition is not improving, despite nearly a month of my care.



Here, in the photo below, she shows one of the classic symptoms of paramyxo - the twisting neck. Sometimes the birds with PMV take on a position called 'star-gazing' where they twist their neck completely round and stare at the sky.



Sunday 13th - The forecasters were wrong and the day started without being too cold. Santa took a step forward towards becoming an adult - he gave himself a bath! And it was his own idea!

Item Photos

Before the bath, he had been on the big table - he tumbled-jumped down, as he can't really fly, and walked around til he spied the bath.... then he took it from there. I was so surprised, and proud of him!

Afterwards he looked ...... adorable!


Get a towel, son!

It was cold though, and Santa started shivering and shaking, so I brought him in to sit in his box in front of the aga, to dry off, while we had lunch. When he was completely dry he felt as soft as if he'd been washed in Fairy Snow!

Afterwards, he went back into the garden when Sky and Summer were around, and I saw Sky give him several feeds, and he even begged and got one from Summer. But though this was a good day for Santa with some new experiences and plenty of inter-action with his parents and the other birds, I am beginning to think that he will never fly. He doesn't attempt to take off into the air, and any 'flying' he does is initiated by me, and is more long jumping! He's about 39 days old, and most of my previous squabs have fledged at 28-33 days old, and were capable of flying short distances from the first or within one or at most two days. Again, bad weather was forecast and I brought him into the house for the night.
Monday 14th Jan '13 - Woke up to a light snowfall

Doves and pidgies on the snowy roof

As soon as the birds arrived, I put Santa out on the garden table and his parents found him
Sky is with Santa, but Summer flew up to reclaim the nestbox!

Left - Sky feeds Santa. Right - Family portrait - left to right, Summer, Santa, Sky

Today, being Monday, I wasn't able to stay home all day watching out for Santa. I could've put him back in the cote, but I had no guarantee he wouldn't fly-tumble out or possibly be chucked out by Summer. And the mystery bird of a blog or two back has been seen again a few times, as recently as yesterday. I'm still not sure what it is - but it's some sort of bird of prey. I never get a clear photo before it flies off. What do you think?
I can't leave little Santa to be an easy target.





So, I made arrangements in Jose's old hutch, and Santa settled very quickly into his new quarters. This will now be his day home, and the wire cage will be fixed on when I have to go out to keep him in. Sky, if he wanted to, would be able to feed Santa through the wire, but daddy Sky seems to feed him in a very haphazard way - sometimes he gives him several feeds, and some none or one. And how much is in a feed anyway? - one grain or several? I have no idea. I am still giving him one hand-feed a day of at least 30 grains, and he does feed himself too but only tiny little grains.
Tue. 15.1.13 - Santa seemed to be eating a little more today. Like all squabs he sometimes pecks up inedible things like stones and sticks, but soon drops them. I give him as much time as possible on the ground with the other birds, and he wanders around the garden without fear when they are around. But as soon as they fly off, he walks, extremely quickly, back to the ground underneath the hutch, and looks up, waiting for me to replace him. He has already learnt that the hutch is home! I did experiment by putting him back into the nestbox in the cote when the other birds had gone, but Summer soon came back and I heard dreadful squeaking..... I couldnt see what was going on, but I am pretty sure Summer was pecking Santa not feeding him! It's not worth the hassle - Santa is just another dove as far as Summer is concerned and this is her nestbox! Sky did give Santa a feed or two today, but as Santa can't fly around with him, in the normal manner of young squabs following their parents, then he gets ignored most of the time. I suppose there is still a chance that he might fly but I'm not counting on it. If he can't, then he will take over Jose's hutch and be my special pet. That's lovely, of course, and I adore him, but it was never my intention to have him so tame. When I pick him up and hold him at my waist, he scrambles up my fleece, perches on my shoulder and then works his way up to my woolly hat!

Santa in his new home - Jose's name still on the door.....

41 days old and can't fly, poor little thing
Obviously there was something seriously wrong with tiny Snow, Santa's sibling, or he would have developed properly, and maybe Santa, though not obviously ill, has something wrong with his wings ..... maybe?

Santa baby!


I can't resist kissing the top of his still downy fuzzy head!

Wed. 16th Jan 13 - I knew I'd be out for at least two and half hours this lunchtime, so although Santa had time with the flock first thing, I felt it best to keep him in the kitchen while I was out, rather than the hutch, as it is bitterly cold, and I read an article on how badly the cold affects young doves.... scared me! I want to keep my little Santa baby warm and well! Later, when I could supervise I let him out again.

Oh, Mummy and Daddy have arrived!


Peeking out at Daddy in the hope of a feed!

More doves turn up to keep Santa company

But when everyone flies away.....

Little Santa can't fly off with them.....
I bought some peanut granules or 'nibs' today in the hope that Santa would like them - and he did! He can't eat a whole peanut, or even half a peanut (unless I feed it to him) but peanuts are very nutritious for him, so I'm glad he enjoyed them. He is also now drinking very well on his own - without me holding him and dipping his beak - and this is a relief and saves time! Today proved to be the day Santa had his last feed from Sky - aged 42 days.
Thursday 17th Jan 13 - Frosty in the morning. I took Santa out into the garden and surprisingly the only bird to come down was his big sister, Autumn, who joined him at the water bowl. Autumn is also Sky and Summer's squab hatched in the late summer, and the only surviving/visitor off-spring.

Santa (blue rings) with big sis, Autumn

Santa seemed to want to have another bath - in the small bowl above - flicking water onto his face and having a 'lick and a promise' so I put him in the blue water bath, and he happily splashed away. Sky and Summer came to have a look .... they do seem to recognise him as theirs....but are not fussed about looking after him particularly!


Left to right - Santa, Sky, Summer

   I picked up a poorly wood-pigeon near the road, and brought it home to look after ....I can't pass a bird in distress. Here's Martha .... but she's didn't last long, and was dead within a few hours. Although wood-pigeons are not my favourite birds, they do have beautiful subtle colours in their plumage.

Santa stays in the kitchen in the mid-afternoons. He learns to eat better - and quicker! every day. His bedtime, decided by himself, is usually about 4pm. The trouble is he often wakes up again about 9pm and starts 'peeping' and has to be re-settled. He is very vocal, 'peeps' a lot when I'm around or when he's eating in the kitchen, but though he spent time with Sky and Summer today, he didn't ask for, or get, a feed from them.

Friday 18th Jan '13 - Heavy snow!


Dovecote in the snow
 The pigeons turned up at the usual time in the morning - and I fed them of course, though it was never my plan to feed large numbers of feral pigeons! Mr. Strong was with them, but  only one or two other white doves. The doves did arrive eventually about 1pm, but I didnt see Sky and Summer all day, though they might've been there, so it's lucky Santa is not relying on them to feed and look after him! Of course a squab of his age - now 44 days - shouldnt be needing feeding anyway. They normally fledge by 32 days and then maybe are given supplementary feeds by their parents (mainly the male) for about 6 days more. The pigeons/doves hate any change - and snow is a big change! It took me a while to tempt them down to feed, but I'm not too worries about them as they are all well fed and would survive a two or three days without much food anyway, I reckon.... I hope!!!
The snow fell all day - the pidgies stayed on the roof, and shook themselves occasionally to remove the settling snow from their backs



I took Santa out in the afternoon to have a look round. He stayed on my arm, as I couldn't see it would be good for him to sink into five inches of snow on the lawn!


The snow makes Santa look a bit grubby! His front is still dirty from being in the nest box and feeding from his parents. A few more baths and he will be sparkling!
Saturday 19.1.13 -  I could see that the garden birds had been up before me!


And our adopted cat had plodded along the path to get her supper....


The pigeons and doves arrived en masse today - some of them missed out yesterday so they were all hungry


The cote had been ignored in yesterday's blowy blizzard, but today Mr. Sunshine and Miss Tina came back to stake their claim, and look beautiful!

Mr Sunshine (right) and Miss Tina
Doves on snowy dovecote


And Summer also came back to check that her nestbox wasn't filled with snow!


Santa was allowed to spend some time on the lawn where I'd cleared the snow to make a feeding ground, and on his table - which will always be Jose's table really.... And he made a friend! A little white dove, about the same size but obviously more mature, came and kept him company for a bit

Santa and his buddy

And later on, when Santa had been walking on the snow, he came back to the open kitchen door to be let in.......Clever boy! (or girl!)

To be cont.......


Fennie said...

All this is lovely. What will become of Santa? But I always said that Fennie dove would arrive back in the spring and with all those doves arriving Fennie may be among them. That would be good, wouldn't it? I like the idea of Santa being your pet and sitting on your shoulder when you go out. Pity you can't teach doves to talk. Practice now, Santa: 'Pieces of Eight, Pieces of Eight.' I had a friend once who had a Minah bird that used to say 'Pay Your Bills, Pay your Bills,' whenever it heard the telephone, and 'Walk-ies!' whenever it saw a dog.

Deborah Celtic Heart said...

So pleased to have found your blog again, for I'd somehow lost contact with it. There is much for me to look back upon. Oh, I do hope Santa finds his flight soon. I especially love the photo of him and his new friend atop the dovecote in the snow. DebC♥