Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Santa' story continues....

Peace to you! ~ Karen

Thanks to my blog-reader Hari and good friend in RL for the above pic - love it!-  and the beautiful one at the end of the blog.

Wed 2.1.13 - Today I was looking after my baby grand-daughter but fed Santa at 7.30am before I put him out in the cote. I was pleased to see Summer arrive in the garden before I left at 8.15am but no idea how many feeds Santa had during the day. Hubbie had put some food down for the birds before he had to leave at 11.00am and by the time I got back at 2ish they were starving again. I saw Sky first, then Summer feed their baby, and the last feed was 2.30pm - and that was it for the day. I brought him in and fed him again at 3.30 and 5.30pm. In the mornings and late afternoons I feed Cloud too, but I am very careful about washing hands, keeping food separate and wear separate aprons for her and Santa as I don't want little S to catch paraymyxo!

Although it was still light-ish when I brought Santa in, I am pretty sure that S&S will not return. There is something about the way they leave which I recognise is them finishing for the day - they fly off with a purpose! At four it was very gloomy, but a white dove arrived - Mr. Strong! The last bird, as is his current habit. If I see him, he gets peanuts!

Thurs 3.1.13 - All is much the same. Here are some photos of Santa - see the fluffy yellow down still on his head and back.

Santa baby dove squab with his Ty beanie baby!
After Snow died I washed the beanie toy (Ty 'Honks'  the grey goose) in the washing machine and gave it to Santa!

My blog reader Fennie who is a member of Purplecoo (a place for like-minded souls) as I am -  asked me a few questions via private message so I cut and pasted them - How did you start? Do you buy a pair of doves - or do they just come if you put food down? And do you need a dovecote?  The answer to all of them is in my first blogs - to start you off, here's a link to the very first one -   Briefly, in case you don't want to read it - I started with the dovecote that I bought from Kootensaw - and I bought four white doves that were delivered by special carrier once the cote was up. I named them Pax &Persephone and John &Irene (the second pair named after my parents) - I also had a homing net initially until that first four were 'homed'. My dovie life has continued and developed since then, but I don't think I was ever happier with the doves than with my first four .... soon afterwards six doves, when Pax & Persephone had babies - Columba & Lily. One of Fennie's questions is not quite answered - do they just come if you put food down? Well, pigeons probably will....either quickly or eventually depending on where you live, but you'd be lucky if white doves did! Though if you observe feral flocks of pigeons you will often find a white or partially white dove-pidgie amongst them!

Fri 4 - Sun 6th - I continue to give Santa a couple of extra feeds a day. I feed him in the mornings about 7.30am before the doves arrive, and again in the late afternoon after they have all gone, but he is staying in the cote at night to 'harden up'. The weather is mild for January, but if we get the cold snap that is promised, I may have to bring him into the kitchen again at night. I will also have to re-think Cloud's arrangements as the conservatory might be too cold even during the day. I wondered if she might be improving a bit as the other day all her grain was tossed about the cage, as if she had been trying to feed herself. This is the first time I've noticed this since I brought her in (date). I say 'cage' but if I am around during the day, the front of it stays open - Cloud is a guest in my nursing home, not a prisoner! But if I am going to be out for a long period of time, I fasten the door as I don't want her tumble-flying out and then not being able to get back to the cage and her safety box again.

White pom-pom dove

Other than having PMV she looks very healthy with deep pure snow white feathers and bright eyes. I have discovered someone who writes about pigeons on Wordpress and am following her as she treats her birds with natural remedies. I am hoping to pick up some ideas to try on Cloud and for the next poorly one.  The article about carrot juice is extremely interesting -  The only thing other than the usual grain + peanuts + a few defrosted and warmed peas that I give Cloud is called Magic and comes from a company called Stocknutrition but I couldnt seem to find their correct website and can't remember where I got it from now. It is a soluble formula of seven strains of live protected bacteria and says 'use daily to repair and re-establish the optimum natural gut flora and create a natural barrier to harmful bacteria in the intestines'. The amount is half a gram per 5 pints of drinking water daily, but I just dip the tip of my finger in the white powder and mix that tiny bit in Cloud's little shot glass of warm water. I don't know if it's helping or not!

The doves are very interested in the cote, so I am trying to clean it off the 'green' before they start nesting as I doubt I will get the chance to take it down and paint it as I intended. I have to do it when they are not around, so am doing it section by section. I hoped in my last blog that neither pair of doves - Sky and Summer or Mr. Sunshine and his mate would be nest-building as yet, but today - Sun 6th Jan - I noticed a twig sticking out the back of the cote, so got the steps round and had a look. I haven't seen them do it, but there is the start of quite a respectable little nest in there - oh dear.... that cold snap is due to start on Wednesday according to the weather report....

I've seen Mr. Sunshine and lady mating on top of the cote....

and being very pleased with themselves......


I haven't named the female yet. I told my 3 year old grandson he could choose her name, and am awaiting his pleasure!

Sky and Summer are trying to entice Santa out of the nestbox - he's about 32 days so well due to fledge, but I still think he looks immature and hope he doesn't just yet!


In the few days before Christmas Eve quite a few of my named white doves went missing. I have not seen Happy, Lesa, October or Pearl since then, which makes me a bit sad as they were all special birds. I was also missing Bandit but he came back on Boxing Day and I have seen him a few times since then, with a female. So what has happened to Happy and the others? It is possible they were all roosting somewhere and got eradicated by whoever owned the barn/place (this has happened before) or it is also possible that they have flown off together, or individually, to somewhere else. I'd like to think this is the case.....

Out of all of Spring and Summer's offspring - Elizabeth & Olympia, Elizabeth2 & Philip (Lizzie2 & Pip), Spring & Autumn, September & October and Santa & Snow - I know for sure that Elizabeth, Pip, September and Snow all died. Olympia, Lizzie2, Spring and October disappeared/went missing and only Autumn (injured, but recovered) and little Santa are still with me. When you see dozens of pigeons in the cities it seems incredible to think that (according to my book 'Feral Pigeons') mortality for post-fledging pigeons in the first year runs between 43 and 56 per cent - and those are the ones that fledge - huge amounts of eggs fail to hatch and nestlings/fledgings die before fledging - like my darling little Snow.

Monday 7.1.13 - Mild for January. I gave Santa an early brekkie at 7.30am but I am very much aware that the parents are under-feeding to force him to fledge but also I don't want him to starve! Sky and Summer didn't turn up til 9.15 am and they went to Santa, but didn't feed him. At 10am just as I was leaving for my pilates class I realised Santa was on the ground! Ooh, he has fledged! (aged about 33 days). I took some quick photos - not very good ones - he looks very young and vulnerable on the ground! Then I popped him back in the nestbox and hoped he'd stay there til I got back, as it's unlikely he could fly back up.



I got back after two hours and he was still in the nestbox. Later, the doves clustered round the cote - below you can see Sky (blue ring) on the left and Mr. Sunshine (2 yellow rings) on the right, with little Santa peeping out. Sky and Summer are more relaxed about sharing their nesting site - Flash (last year's daddy bird, killed Jan '12) would never, never have sat calmly - he would've chased Mr. Sunshine away.



In the next photo, you can see Summer in there with Santa, and a fly-past by a random pigeon


I only saw Sky or Summer feed Santa once today, so I did give him a supper once the birds had gone. He accepted over 50 grains, peas and peanuts! I really do think he wouldn't fare very well without these extra feeds, and might even have died. I have stopped weighing him as it was worrying me. On the 4th Jan he weighed 308g which was the same as 31st Dec and far LESS than 26th Dec (331g). I'm just trying to work on the fact that he is alive, curious and seemingly ok! Then I left him in a box in the kitchen while I attacked another section of the cote with my scrubbing brush and Flash liquid! 

Tue 8th Jan 13 - I came back from shopping in the morning to find Santa, as below - see him?

It was mild, even a little sunny, so I thought I'd leave him while I put the shopping away and pottered about and see what he did, and whether his parents would find him there.
The birds all came down, and below the nearest white dove to Santa is Summer - can she see him?



Summer turns to look at Santa - I think surely she does see him!!!!
I also think that's Sky having a drink up there!



Here's Sky going up to Santa, and Summer jumping down from the table




Both parents go to their baby - and Sky feeds him



After the birds had flown off to the roof, or away, I still let Santa sit where he was for a while, but then I thought I'd better go and put him back in the nestbox. New readers might wonder why I didn't leave him there, to find his own way back. Well,  general experience and knowledge of this squab told me that he just couldn't and wouldn't. He can't fly well enough - in fact he can hardly fly at all - and if I left him he would probably stay there all night - and meet his end when Mr. Foxy made his rounds. So I went to get him, and couldn't see him anywhere! Oh, no, I'd left it a bit too long.... and maybe he'd wandered off, or hidden in the hedge..... I got the torch and shone it around under the table. He'd wedged himself in the pile of chairs - quite clever really, as fairly protected there, but hard for me to extricate him!




 Wed 9th Jan - Despite today being sunny in the afternoon, Santa didnt come out of the nest box at all. I saw Sky or Summer feed him once, though it may have been more. He pecks at little grains that I put on the ledge for him.


At one point, Summer went into the cote and sat with him. I don't know why..... was she having a 'it's time for you to leave home' chat or what?


Santa is about 35 days old today, and yes, in days he is overdue fledging properly, but in looks and behaviour he only seems to me like a 28 day old. He still has baby down on his head and back - so cute. But I know I must let him learn to be a pigeon, and fledge and find his own food. The following is one man's opinion :
Between 28 and 35 days is when you have to tough it out with the youngster. It needs to be weaned unless you want to feed it until it's ten years old or so. You needn't totally cut off a meal, but I always give only one a day. That is usually about 1/2 of what I've been feeding it before. A bit of hunger, not necessarily gnawing starvation, will force the bird to seek food from that flat dish, if it already hasn't found it. With luck, your youngster will be fully weaned by 30-40 days, though, it'll still often try to sucker you into feeding it, even if it's just finished stuffing fifty or sixty seeds down its own throat and can barely waddle. 
My book Feral Pigeons says that parents often feed fledglings for 6-10 days after they leave the nest and are fully independent of adults for food by approx 7 weeks of age, so I won't feel bad feeding Santa for a while longer, though doing all I can to help him grow up. He has had his first sips of water now, when I hold the pot! I was telling a friend about poor little Snow, and he said he thought it was amazing that even one squab had been reared in Dec/Jan, so I felt a bit better about the whole thing.
After Santa had been given his supper this evening, I took a photo before I put him back in the nestbox.  I also changed my mind about not weighing him, and did so - and he's put on approx 17g since the 4th.




To be cont.....

"There's so much grace in acceptance. It's not an easy concept.. but if you embrace it... you'll find more peace than you ever imagined." ~ Loretta LaRoche

artist ~ Jeane-Claude Dresse


Lesa said...

Beautiful! I loved reading about your doves again. My computer has had problems of all kinds, so I'm catching up.

I hope the missing ones turn up but, if not, I will continue to think they're happy wherever they are.

Faith said...

Nice to hear from you again, Lesa. Unfortunately Lesa dove is one of the missing ones.

Fennie said...

Thanks, Faith, for all the gen. We've no space here really for doves and I wonder what happens when you have to go away. So glad Santa is surviving.

Now, those big stone dovecotes with hundreds of cubicles inside. How did those work?