Monday, 28 January 2013

Santa - the squab who doesn't want to grow up


It snowed all day!

Mr. Sunshine, and Miss Tina in the nestbox - they were the only doves in the garden. This is the back of the cote - Sky and Summer have the front.

Santa was cute - I had taken him onto the lawn to be with the other birds, but after a few minutes he must've thought it was too chilly, so turned and walked determinedly back to the door of the house, jumped up the step.....and straight into his box, where he sat down and wouldn't budge!

This is his current routine:

7-7.30am - I take the cover off his box (my old small dog carrying box) and open it up in the kitchen. I put little dishes of food and water nearby.
8.00 am - Santa usually out of his box by now, and 'peeping'. He often flaps his wings madly for a minute or two, exercising them I suppose. I don't give him much food as I am keen for him to feed himself now, but I usually give him 2 or 3 defrosted and warm (but def not hot!) peas. This is to help hydrate him, though he usually drinks well now.
8.30 -9am - Santa goes out on the lawn when the other doves and pigeons are there, but only when I can supervise him and not for longer than an hour as it's so cold. Sometimes I
10.00 - midday - Santa stays in the kitchen. He stands on his brick, or on another low box I put for him. He pecks around or preens himself. Sometimes he pecks at inappropriate things like his bedding so I do have to keep an eye on what he's up to.
Around Midday - Out again in the garden for a while, then back in the kitchen. If he's tired he puts himself into his night box. If not, he just stands on his brick. Doesn't he poop on the kitchen floor, I hear you ask - well, yes.....! But never mind!
2pm - Maybe another quick time outside. Today I took him to see my elderly neighbour who is confined to the house in a wheelchair. In this weather I need to make sure E is ok, and that his carers are getting through the snow ok. I took Santa in a basket covered with a white cloth, with just his head peeping out - Little White Riding Hood! E used to feed my doves sometimes when he was fit, and enjoys a visit from one of them now and again, and hearing all the dovie news.
3pm - I give Santa a small hand feed of 10 or so grains and peanuts, and put him on the floor again with food in his dishes and sprinkled on the floor to try and make sure he eats. He still can't pick up big grains, and often drops even small ones.
4pm ish - He usually puts himself to bed in his box in front of the aga, and then later I put his box inside the big carrier and leave it under the kitchen table.
8 or 9pm - Invariably he wakes up and flaps about causing a big fuss, like a child having a nightmare and has to be reassured and settled.
10-11pm - When we go to bed, I move his box out of the kitchen and into the sitting room, and onto the sofa. Away from draughts, mice in the kitchen (currently being dealt with!) and the possibility of our adopted cat coming in through the cat flap - not very likely, as she doesnt like us very much and has never used it! Then I cover his box with a cloth - of course the wire grille front is already on and locked.
So that's his current routine, and of course I have to clean out his boxes, and put fresh bedding down.

Cloud is slightly less trouble - this is her current routine:

8-9am Breakfast time depends on when I've finished Santa and the other birds. I collect her from her night box in the spare bedroom and, first of all, offer her a drink of luke-warm water in a shot glass. Sometimes she drinks, but mostly she doesnt. Then I hand feed her about 30-35 grains/peanuts and a few moist green peas. Then I offer the glass again - she might drink this time, and when she does she puts her whole head in the glass and slurps it up. Because of the PMV her head is wobbly and trying to get the angle right is difficult - we often spill water!

Day - I leave Cloud in the dog crate in the conservatory permanently at the moment as it so cold outside. She has a box to sit in or she can walk around. The door is open if I am going to be in, but shut if I am going out, as occasionally she flutter-tumbles to the floor, and wouldnt be able to get back to base again.

3pm ish -  Another feed, same as breakfast. Drink is offered, of course. And she has food and drink with her all the time, during the day, in case she feels she can manage it herself.

4-4.30pm  or when it gets dusk. I pick Cloud up, wrap her in a cloth, offer her another drink, then carry her to put her to bed in a box in the spare room. She's locked into it so she can't get out during the night. It's currently covered with a big rug to keep her snug! The spare room is a lot warmer than the conservatory, which is icy, and not really the best place for her even during the day, but the spare bedrooms are not very light, and at least in the conservatory she can see the garden!

Her stuff needs more cleaning than Santa's as PMV poops are not very pleasant! Hubbie asked if I felt she was getting better, and the answer is still no. I'm hoping that another month or so may bring improvement.

22.1.13 - Oh no, guess who's in the dovecote together - Summer and Sky! Now is really not a good time to start those kind of shenanigans! An online friend, who also keeps, dove has told me that her mummy dove has laid eggs - due to hatch in February.....she wasn't sure what to do, and I couldnt advise. I always think they should all have a chance, but Feb is a bit early in the year. What do these doves think they are doing? I mean..... this is the garden first thing this morning.


 Yet despite the Narnia conditions, the doves are cosying up ....

 Sky looks tiny as he tries to push past Summer

Poor old Limpy, the pigeon with a dragging leg AND symptoms of paramyxovirus is still struggling on..... he can cope, just about, if there is food in a deeper dish....Here he shares with a female blackbird.

I wish I could do more for him, but as I think I've said before, if I try to catch birds in this situation  (with a view to giving them a hand-feed) often it frightens them off, and then they don't get anything to eat at all. In the photo below, the bird on the right is one of those sweet gentle light brown collared doves.


I did catch another pigeon today - like Limpy this one has been showing signs of PMV for a while. It's so distressing to watch. I caught it by throwing a lot of peanuts down in one place, all the pidgies clustered round and I just picked up the poorly one, so that was quite easy. While I had it, I hand-fed it a good lot of peanuts, ringed it with one of the new pale pink rings that the racing-pigeon lady kindly sent me at Christmas (in a goodie bag for pigeons!) and then set it free again. I couldn't really cope with another resident patient! I'll call her Florence and just hope she can keep on going, like Limpy. There does seem to me to be varying degrees of severity in the PMV symptoms that I see - Limpy and Florence are 'better' than Cloud. I really don't think that Cloud would've survived in these snowy days if she was free. Santa (who doesn't have PMV, thankfully) would definitely have died if he hadnt got me to care for him as he can't fly. Hubbie moans daily about having him inside - I think having a pet in the kitchen is homely and fun, whether it's a dog, cat or dove! - but he doesn't agree and think it's unhygienic. I think Santa is so clever - when we are outside, he sits on my shoulder or wanders about the lawn, but as soon as the others fly off, he knows where to come, and walks back into the house again. Today he gave himself another bath (his third) - remembering where the blue water bath was and doing it all himself. I brought him in though to dry off and get fluffy in front of the aga.
Wed. 23rd Jan. 13 - I took Santa with me today when I went to look after my 14 month old grand-daughter. She calls every bird 'duck', so Santa was also 'duck' and she was fascinated by him. Not sure if the feeling was mutual, but Santa took the new surroundings in his stride.

My grand-daughter
my youngest

Sorry about this box
and this one!
Blogger went mad!
Friday 25.1.13 -  Santa's attempts at flying have improved a little. He can't take off from the ground, but if I throw him up into the air he can fly for a short distance before coming down. Yesterday, he was in the hutch for a while (he didn't like it as he now considers the house is his home!) but I am trying to get him used to the fact that one day that's where he will live - anyway, when I opened the door he flew out and made it to half way across the lawn. I wonder if he gets stronger whether he will ever be able to fly?
I think Santa is female - here's Mr. Sunshine courting him ... her I mean! But I will call him 'him' for now as I'm used to it.


50 day old white dove squab
Santa was approx 50 days old yesterday. He still looks and acts like a younger squab, flapping his wings when he sees me, so I will feed him (though I am feeding him much less than I used to) and still retaining his 'baby' yellow down on his head. He should be called Peter Pan, as he doesnt want to grow up! Young doves/pigeons of his age are now usually fully independent of their parents but don't become sexually mature until about 6 months old.

Saturday 26th Jan. 13 - Hubbie moaned so much about all Santa's little arrangements in the kitchen, that I have no choice but to move him out (Santa, not hubbie - but honestly the way I felt it could easily have been the other way round, ha ha!). I had already decided last night that the kitchen wasn't the best place for him in the evenings as whenever we go in there, or put the light on, he wakes up and starts 'peeping' thinking it is morning - but I was quite happy for him to be in there during the day for as long as he liked - but hubbie isn't so I had to think what else to do. In fact today, being pleasantly sunny. Santa spent time in the hutch while I was out. He doesnt understand why he shouldnt be free, as he is totally innocent and unaware that he can't fly properly, so he doesn't like the hutch, but usually settles down after a while. I have fixed up a corner of the conservatory table for his box and bits - as far away from Cloud's as possible. I don't want him to catch PMV from her, and not sure how it is transmitted anyway. He won't usually be in there - only if the day is too wet or cold for him to be in the hutch. At night, currently while it is still chilly, I will put his box in the spare room - the other spare room, not the room where Cloud goes at night. So Santa has had to grow up a bit more today and it probably hurt me more than it hurt him! Also today, when he was out on the lawn with the other doves and pigeons, something startled the birds and they all flew up together in a flurry - and Santa flew up too! He has never taken off from the ground before - so I am hoping that eventually he WILL be able to fly. You never know, it's not impossible. He didn't fly to the roof of course, just across the lawn and then fluttered down.

Sunday 27th Jan - What a change! We woke up to a green lawn - all the snow had melted. The sun came out and the dovies minds turned to love. The billing and cooing was so loud we could hear it inside the house! I put Santa on the hutch table, but he just jumped down and came to find me in the kitchen! It's so cute to see his little head peeping round the door, but once in, all he wants to do is hide under the kitchen table which is not giving him any fresh air or teaching him about being a bird. I shut him in the hutch for a while, and he just observed the garden while I gave Cloud a bath in the kitchen. This was her first bath since she's been ill though I have washed her feet once before. She accepted it well, and then I put her on top of the aga for a while to dry off, like I used to do with Faith. But Cloud is sleek and plump, not the poor drowned little thing that Faith was, so she was soon dry and back in the conservatory.

Then as it was so pleasant and sunny, I thought I'd give Santa flying lessions in the few minutes I had before hubbie and I were due to go out. Santa scrambles out of the hutch, along my arm, to my shoulder, and then to my back - where he knows I can't reach him. But eventually I had him in my hands and tossed him up into the air, where he flies for a few seconds and comes fluttering down. I picked him up again 'Look at Santa!' I said to hubbie as I prepared to throw him again. But whoops, either I was too near the low roof, or Santa's flying suddenly improved because there he was.... on the roof for the first time in his life! Probably 20 days after another dove of his age would've got there!

There he is - at the bottom, on the low slate roof.
Wow! He can't believe it!


 From the low roof, he easily walked his way right up the ridge....


And here he is .... centre stage! For the very first time, seeing life from beyond the garden! For him, it was climbing Mount Everest!

It was obvious he was enjoying himself, and little doves have to grow up sometime, so we went out as planned, and when we came back an hour or two later, he was still up there, it was still sunny and the other birds in the flock were still there too. I tried not to worry about my little baby, way up there on the top of the roof, but as the afternoon wore on and the other birds came down to eat, I hoped he would too - but he didn't! Gradually it got later, and the birds started to leave.... Santa came down to the low roof again, and on the step ladder I could almost....almost reach him, but not quite! I threw a few of his favourite peanut nibs to encourage him to come within catching distance, but though he ate a few (and some opportunist pigeons ate the rest) I still couldn't get him.


Eventually, it was past four and there was only Santa and the last four lingering pigeons.... it was getting gloomy, I was getting worried, and still he didn't come down!

To be contd




Anonymous said...

Poor Santa, I hope he begins to realize that he was meant to be a bird! They sure keep you busy.

Lesa said...

You are kindness itself! I know how much you'd like to care for all the sick ones, but I think you're making the right choices. Santa is too adorable. I hope he does well and I'm cheering for him until you next write.

hopeinparis said...

Now this is quite a cliff-hanger, or roof-hanger in the case of Santa. I think she is turning into a delightful scallywag. Loved hearing about the daily routines. Can't wait to find out if or how you got her down from the low roof!!

Faith said...

Thank you ladies, lovely to hear from you all and have your reading my blog! Update on scallywag Santa very soon!

CAMILLA said...

Poor Santa, I do hope he comes down from the roof soon Faith, have you seen him since you last wrote this post Faith? Know you will be worried for him, you are so caring with your darling birds.