Thursday, 21 February 2013

Hawk attack! Eggs abandoned!

Tuesday 19th February 2013

(WARNING - blog contains distressing pictures)

My last blog was a quiet one. Things change in a blink of the eye. Santa was reluctant to leave my arm when I opened the door to the garden this morning, and none of the doves or pigeons were on the ground, which was odd. Suddenly, the flock on the roof flew off in a panic and Santa jumped off my arm, and flew to join them. Was it my 'early morning eyes' or was that a hawk? Oh my god, Santa is flying straight into the path of a hawk!

The flock wheeled round in the sky for many minutes before they eventually settled on the roof, and it was much longer before they came down for a feed. I couldnt see Santa but hoped she was on the roof .... or at least safe.

I hadn't actually seen a hawk I convinced myself, so maybe it wasn't.... but when I came back from shopping I found a pigeon lying on her back in her own feathers and blood. And then I saw she was still alive! The eye I could see was open and watchful, and she was breathing heavily. Dropping my bags on the path, I carried her in for examination, and it wasn't looking good.

Pigeon, still alive after hawk attack

It also wasn't good timing as my husband was bringing the land agent's man in for a meeting/rent review in one hour's time! There had been blood on the gravel, and there was blood over the pigeon's eyes, face and beak. One large area of feathers had been plucked away and there was some grazing. Another area was a bloody wound...... I gently wiped her face with a clean piece of old pillow-case dipped in tepid water. She felt cold to the touch and was obviously in shock, so I settled her carefully in a padded box which I put on top of the aga for warmth while I had a look at this page of Pigeon Rescue for advice

Pigeon, in shock after hawk attack, on top of aga for warmth
I had not got a sterile saline solution and not knowing whether it was the best thing to do or not I cleaned the wound with a tepid weak salt water solution. Then, knowing I couldn't have bowls of water and bloodied rags around and not being able to do anything more for the present, I tidied up and moved the boxed pigeon right at the last moment to the quiet of the spare room. As soon as the meeting was over, I went to see if Patience, as I call her (ot him!) was still alive. Thankfully she was and I brought her back to the kitchen again, and mixed up a rehydrating solution (I have got sachets of that). I dipped her beak a few times, and wasn't sure if she actually sipped or not. All this time, she had been lying on her back, with her feet up, and her head to one side. I had arranged her so that she was on a slope, to raise her head slightly. Suddenly, she perked up, struggling, and turned herself over so that she was standing - hopefully this is a good sign. I decided to offer the rehydration solution every half an hour and keep her in the quiet under the table between times.


Feral pigeon offered rehydrating solution after hawk attack

The dark patch above her beak that you can see in the photos turned out to be a bit of leaf, stuck on with blood.... the vet removed it.

I don't usually take pigeons to the vet, as I am not in the postion to be able to afford treatment for feral birds, but I have taken a few, and they know me there as that's where I used to take my little dog, and the vet himself is a wonderful man. They were in theatre all afternoon and the first appointment they could give me was 4pm! So now the only thing I can do is wait.... and blog! My only other alternative would be to take Patience to - this is local but I felt they would probably just euthanize her as not a single pigeon I have taken there has been returned to me. I'm not saying it's not a marvellous place because it is, but I don't think they would've given her a chance.

About an hour after I discovered poor Patience, and just before the men turned up, I had another horrible shock! The dovecote was empty! Had Sky heard or seen the hawk attack and abandoned the eggs? Was he off them when I came home? When had he left them?  Oh no, this is really too awful - they were due to hatch on Friday! I felt them and they seemed to me to be cold....... Oh Sky, surely if you had just hunkered down and kept quiet in the nest, the hawk wouldn't have even seen you!  There was nothing I could do, but keep the one little hope that Sky or Summer would come back, and maybe, just maybe, the eggs would be ok. Sky and Summer have both left these eggs, and other eggs, for a very short time, while they have a quick drink, or feed, but I have no idea if it is possible for cold eggs to be warmed up, and the chicks inside still be ok. I am so sad about this......

The birds are always spooked after an attack, and it takes them a while to get back to normal. I couldn't see Santa anywhere....... I hoped she was safe, my poor tender little bird. I don't think my readers will think I was selfish in being thankful that the hawk's victim was not Santa. I don't think she would've survived an attack like that.

A while later, possibly as long as an hour, but I don't know as we were having the meeting, I saw Sky come back and enter the nestbox. He settled down on the eggs, but again, I don't know if he would know if he'd left them too long......I pray those poor little chicks inside the eggs will survive.

Later - I took Patience to the vet as planned and had to say that she was just a feral pigeon and I was hoping he would do what he could for her today, but I wouldn't be making return visits. He is a very understanding vet and he didn't even suggest that he should just put her down. The damage seemed to me to be worse that when I had looked earlier but he didn't think it was beyond healing.  Patience struggled a bit, and when he weighed her (so he knew how much antiobiotic to give her) she walked off the scales, so she has some spirit and zest for life left. The vet gave her some oral antiobiotics and the rest for me to administer for up to 10 days, twice a day, and some gel to put on her wound. He applied the first lot to show me how. This deluxe treatment cost me over £49 and I was glad hubbie didn't ask how much when I got home. Should I really spend more on one ordinary pigeon than it costs to feed the whole flock for more than a week? I don't know.... but I did. The universe will repay me somehow!

At home, there were still a few white doves and pigeons left on the roof. I couldn't tell if Santa was among them as now she is getting bigger and less easily picked out among others. Hubbie, very kindly indeed, had left the back door open for her to come in, and he said she HAD been down with the others when he threw some grain down. Thank goodness! - it would've been a bad day today indeed if I'd lost my Santa baby too.

During the afternoon, at some point, Sky and Summer must've changed over. Summer obviously doesn't feel anything is wrong, and it would be easy for me to think that too as it looks so normal, but my fear now is that she is sitting on eggs that are never going to hatch. Well, said Hubbie, for all you know they were duds in the first place......I'd rather they were duds than those poor little things died in the eggs.

I offered Patience more of the rehydrating mix and this time she had quite a few sips.... more than that, a little drink, so I felt pleased and more positive about her chances of survival.

Soon, Santa came in and I was able to give her some peanuts, and when I snapped the door shut on her box knowing she was safe for one more night then I was relieved.  But will Patience survive the night? The pigeon rescue site recommend leaving the pigeon til the next day before trying to get it to eat. My vet suggested seeing if she can eat on her own before hand-feeding her.

My relief at having Santa in only lasted til I started to worry about tomorrow. I have to be do I keep her in for most of the day, or do I let her be free? Obviously one day in doesn't hurt her, but I do feel very strongly that these birds were born free and I shouldn't really be keeping a healthy bird in. I know that hawk strikes and other things can happen even if I am around...... Jose was caught by the dog when I was in the house; Glory was killed by the hawk when I'd gone back to bed for 40 winks..... I can't be watching the garden all the time, even when I am at home. Though some of my fantasies involve having someone sit in the garden all day keeping guard of my precious birds!!!!

Wed.20th Feb. 13 -  I went in to the spare room to Patience first thing - it was still semi-dark and I like the birds to have natural light so I didn't put the lights on. I could smell her.....not a sweet smell like Santa, but not unpleasant.....but in the gloom I couldn't tell if she was alive or dead. When my eyes adjusted, I was pleased to see she was alive. So Patience had survived the attack AND survived the night - amazing! I fetched her a drink in the little glass, and though I don't like handling her as I fear hurting her, I gently wrapped her in a cloth and she drank thirstily. I imagine she would be thirsty after losing blood and bodily fluids. The morning was very murky and misty, so it was an easy decision to keep Santa in. So Cloud was in her crate, shut in, and Santa was in her box but free to fly around in the conservatory - and Patience was staying in her box in the spare room, as I feel the conservatory is too cold, and I wanted her to have peace and quiet. I decided to follow the pigeon rescue advice of hand feeding defrosted warm peas, and not waiting to see if she ate on her own. I thought she was in need of a bit of a boost rather than wait and see! The hand-feeding went well, and hubbie helped me do the meds. So Patience was left alone, with food and water, for the morning.

Pigeon survives the night -  the morning after a hawk attack
I came back specially at lunchtime to see Patience, and gave her another drink and another small feed of defrosted peas.
Now, I must tell you this.... and I assure you it's true, and I know my RL friend, blog-reader Hari, won't be surprised as it is the sort of thing we believe in, but when I came home at lunchtime the post was waiting for me on the mat, and there were two envelopes with a Glasgow address on the back - and I know what that means! Ernie has remembered me! 2 x £25, so £50 from the Premium Bonds and pretty well the exact amount I spent yesterday on Patience's vet bill! Thank you Universe, I wasn't expecting to be repaid so very quickly!

After my brief visit at lunchtime, I had to go out again, but came back before 3pm and it was sunny, so I let Santa out to get some fresh air. Patience was given another hand-feed of defrosted peas and this time I added some of the smaller-sized peas picked out of the usual grain. Hubbie was out and I wanted to give her her meds on time so I managed to do it myself, but 'juggling' a wounded but feisty pigeon and filling a little syringe etc is not very easy, and in the morning I'll get him to hold her again for me.

I feel Patience's next milestone will be if she gets through day and night 3. Other ill birds I've had often seem to get through the first two days/nights and then die on day or night 3. Fingers crossed for Patience - I wish you could see her ' bloody but unbowed' - she's wonderful!

Thurs 21st Feb 13 - Patience was still alive - actually I didn't expect her not to be. At night I cover the box with a blanket - with just a little gap for air - but now I uncovered her and moved her to the side of the room near the window so she has daylight. She drank thirstily again, hubbie helped by holding her while I did her anti-bios with the syringe and then I hand-fed her with defrosted warm peas, a few hard peas and just a peanut or two.

Patience - second morning after hawk attack

Before I put her back in her box I have to do the gel on her wound. I wanted to take a photo beforehand but this is not easy as she doesn't want to lie down in the vulnerable position she was in with the hawk - but I managed it. Then I put the gel on, and left her alone, with food and water, to rest in peace and quiet.


I know Patience is digesting her food as she has pooped in her box - I put some on clean paper to examine and show. I don't think they are quite as moist as they should be, but not bad.
On the other hand, Cloud - who has paramyxovirus - has horrible messy unformed green poops - I thought I took a photo but I can't find it.and Santa who I assume is a reasonably healthy young bird has very neat little poops, almost likes she arranges them on the edge of the paper!

Later - My three 'home birds' - Cloud, Santa and Patience - are taking up a lot of my time! I just gave Patience her afternoon water, antiobios, feed and gel, plus a bit of cleaning up and that alone took 15 mins. I don't grudge any of it but it's hard to get everything done in a day. Really two home birds is as much as I can do - three max!. I found a brick in the garden and cleaned it up for Patience so that she can have a proper perch - pigeons like a brick in their box. I read somewhere 'if you save a pigeon's life, it will pray for you' - well Patience I hope you will pray for me if you live, I am certainly praying for you! Cloud should pray for me, but I'm sure doesn't, she isn't terribly grateful!
Santa usually comes in about 4.30pm. Here she is up on the roof with the last of the birds - there are two pigeons on the left, then a gap, and the next one is Santa.

You may not be able to see from the above but the last pigeon on the right has a stick in it's beak - it's half past four, not the right time of day for nest building!

And now they have all gone except that little speck which is Santa! - come in darling it's so cold!

As far as I am aware Sky and Summer have not left the nest unnecessarily since the hawk strike, and it's hatching day tomorrow! And day 3 for Patience. Que sera sera....
To be cont...

Monday, 18 February 2013

Santa's getting there.....Cloud isn't

Monday 11 Feb. 13

Another young pigeon turned up today, still with the wispy yellow down on it's head as you can see in the photo - it's the one in the middle.

It's good to see that this young pigeon has hatched and been fed through the last couple of months despite the bad weather. In the photo below, it feeds along side my Autumn (Sky and Summer's offspring and an older sister of Santa's). You can see the size difference - Autumn is approx 7 months and the young one probably newly emerged from the nest and maybe 30-40 days old.
My other new young one - Sparky - has gone up in the pecking order, and now dives straight into the food, picking up large grains and peanuts. He is very touchable-looking - fluffier than the one above - but I doubt I will get the chance to stroke him! I couldn't even get a photo today - he was dodging in and out like Georgie Best!
Santa did something new today..... when she comes in (when she decides it's the end of the outside day) she used to just walk into the kitchen and go under the table- and I'd have to get her out from there, and then she started hopping up the step from kitchen into the sitting room, and flapping about in there, as she can't remember her way to the conservatory, but today, she hopped up onto my arm and was regally carried to her box! Well done, Santa!
I was in the sitting room and took a photo of her coming up the step....

 Tue 12th Feb - Today I tried to introduce Santa to the idea that the wooden supports of the porch would be a good place to perch if she needed shelter and I wasn't around to let her in.

She stayed up there for enough time for me to take the photos, but wasn't impressed, and flew off to the roof. Hopefully she would remember it was there, in time of need!

Wed 13th Feb 13 - I had a dilemma this morning as I was leaving the house at 8.00am and wouldn't be back til 4pm - should I put Santa out or not? I decided not to - I felt a day in the conservatory wouldn't harm her and would be a lot better for my peace of mind. I shut Cloud into her crate, but Santa was allowed to be free. I put things for her to do!!! - I left my two silver 'chime' balls on the table - as she likes shiny things (the angel chimes have been packed away) - and a few small plastic toys and bits for her to investigate, plus a pot of pink powder vitamins, as she enjoys those. I also put a bath on the floor in case she fancied a dip! When I got home, she was up on the metal rods that support the roof, and the room was still in one piece! She had knocked the roll of kitchen paper onto the floor but everything was otherwise ok. I couldn't get her down from the 'rafters' easily - she is getting more grown-up, more feisty and less baby-tame (which is a good thing of course) but she seemed cross that she had been enclosed all day. Eventually I managed to lay hands on her, and brought her down for a feed. Then she voluntarily went into her box. I usually put both her and Cloud to bed around 5pm, but by then she had flown up to the metal rod again. At first I thought well you can stay there for the night, and I arranged newspaper underneath to save me cleaning the floor in the morning, but after I had sorted Cloud out, it seemed very cold and I thought no, I'd rather you were in your box as usual - which would make it easier for me in the morning, so I stood on a chair and fetched her down, and she allowed me to do so. In the morning, I plan to give her a few peanuts as usual for brekkie, and without letting her go - I don't want her to fly up to the top in the conservatory again! - I will take her outside, as per the usual day, and release her there.
Thursday - The doves wish you a Happy and Loving Valentines Day! Someone sent me a truly lovely dovie Valentine picture (was it you S?) and I thought I'd saved it to put up today, but I can't find it - sorry! Here's another one instead.....ah, bless!
 It all went to plan with Santa first thing this morning, and she seemed very relieved to be out with the flock. Today is very pleasant, mild and sunny, whereas yesterday was chilly and gloomy so I'm glad that today's the day she is out and not in!
I forgot to mention that for the last few days an injured (un-ringed) white dove has been coming in the afternoons. May be the result of a hawk attack, but obviously I don't know for sure. It is coping well, and the injury seems to be healing. This is the only evidence of a possible hawk attack that I have seen this year - touch wood! Another thing I've been meaning to mention is that Santa seems to be having her first moult - there are lots of little baby feathers floating about in her box and on the floor, and one or two of the primary feathers. I'm assuming it's about the right age - according to my pigeon bible 'Feral Pigeons' - the moult starts at about 50 days old. Well Santa's over 60 now... must be about 66 days old or so.
It was a bit of a struggle getting Santa in tonight, but eventually she came through the kitchen door, and I shut it behind her. Hubbie had already come in, and when Santa flew into the sitting room and started flapping about, he got annoyed as he doesnt like birds in the house and out of control! Honestly, men! - it was only for a few minutes. I had to catch her with the net though, which probably stressed her out - but once I'd untangled her, I kept her wrapped in a small towel, gave her some food and water and immediately locked her in her box for the night. Lucky though, he will be away for the weekend so I will have 2 or 3 nights without him here at her 'in' time, so it doesnt matter if she flies around! But I think my best bet for getting her in might be to put her box just inside the open door and she could walk straight into that - then I'd carry her through to the conservatory. Seems like a plan!
Fri 15th - Today is also a fine day, and Santa took another step forward - quite a significant one! She actually picked up and ate a small pea! Now this might not seem much of an achievement but so far the only other things I have seen her eat - on her own - have been not much bigger than a dot - like this.....

She can pick up grain (and other things, like the angel chime pieces!) but she has always dropped them. Sometimes she will try again - drop it - try again....til she gets bored, but I've never seen her manage to eat them. I know she can swallow them of course, as I hand-feed her quite large grains, maize and peanuts. My aim is to get her eating proper food on her own before I go away mid-April, so... well done Santa, keep it up!
The size of pea she ate on her own......

It's bright and mild again, and I love to see her up on the roof, enjoying herself. Here she's on the left with either Sky or Bianca2 on the right - I can't tell which from the photo, though I can if they are on the ground. Both have one blue ring (which was silly of me)

When I think of the two poor little scraps that I brought into the kitchen when Sky left them that time, and my dreadful fear that they were dead, I think I can give myself a  little pat on the back for helping to rear Santa - and in fact, Sky and Summer, if it wasn't for me, both your little winter babies would be dead.
I went out shopping and when I came back, the bath water was dirty - again! - and I think Santa was one of the bathers. She was on the roof looking a bit wet .....

Cloud achieved something today too - for the first time I saw her drinking out of her water pot! Since I have had her in - 2 months now - I have offered her a drink 3 times a day - first thing in the morning, at the afternoon feed and just before I put her to bed, but I have never seen her drink unaided. She has two pots of water in her crate, changed daily - one a ramekin dish and the other a large jamjar with a fairly wide open top as I thought this might be easier for her - and that was the one she drank out of. There is no other improvement though, and there really should be by now. But I have read that some PMV patients never get totally well and are unreleasable.

White dove with paramyxovirus

 If this happens Cloud will have to live in the hutch in the summer months, with the wire box up. I would always bring her in at night as I will never leave another bird in the hutch or the run at night ever again -  after poor Bobbie was eaten by the fox (obviously the ones in the dovecote are safe).
Here, Santa is on the right and her mother, Summer on the left. From this picture you can see the difference between a mature female and a juvenile. I don't know how old Summer is, but she was obviously an adult last summer when she and Sky first set up home in my dovecote. The eggs that they are sitting on now are their 6th set!

Santa, on the roof, deciding if it is time to come in!

 At bedtime Santa didn't walk into her box as planned - she walked past it and came into the sitting room, then turned round and walked outside again. Hubbie wasn't here or he would've been complaining about the loss of heat from the house with the door open! Eventually she came in, and I was able to give her a hand feed, but this is getting harder now. I still feel I must feed her so she doesnt lose strength - she is still a skinny little thing. I've now decided the best thing to do is open the kitchen door, shut the sitting room door and catch her in the kitchen to carry her through.
Sat. 16th - I caught Santa easily in the kitchen at bedtime - carried her through - gave her a few peanuts - and she went into her box - but I forgot to shut her in so after a while she flew up to the roof of the conservatory. I really wondered whether I should just leave her there, as another step in the growing up process, but ..... it's still cold at night, the conservatory is ever so cold and I was going out.... so I stood on a chair and got her down, and as usual she went in her box, moved to the spare room.
Sun. 17th - Mr. Sunshine has abandoned the finished nest that he made in January at the back of the cote and has started making another in one of the side boxes. I don't know if he is still with Miss Tina or not as she is an unringed white dove. A pair of pigeons are also showing an interest in the bottom left box.

You can see the other one, probably the female, in the photo below, peeking out...

Although I don't particularly want pigeons in the cote, as I originally wanted to focus on white doves, I don't mind that much and if one makes a nest I would be pleased to have baby pidgies! Sky and Summer are very relaxed about all the comings and goings - Flash my daddy bird of 2011 would never have allowed it. The cote was his - all of it! - no matter than he was only using one room! He wouldn't allow anyone else to set foot on it. Flash was very much beloved by me, and missed (he died Jan. 2012). And where is Happy? and October? Lesa? Fennie? The doves come and go, and many must die away from the garden and I never know what has happened to them. But some do come back in the summer, and it's always lovely to see an old friend.
Talking about old friends, I saw a special friend of mine the other night, and she gave me a small dove ornament - it had been one of those 'I saw this and thought of you' moments. I will keep it to remind me of baby Snow.

I'm often given dovie things, and collect them myself in a haphazard way. I like dove jewellery and mother of pearl - not to wear, just to have!

 And doves on postcards and religious cards......
At Christmas, the lovely Laura, painted me a picture of my dove Faith, now sadly died....
I'll show some more of my dovie things next time.
Monday 18th Feb 13 - The friend who gave me the little dove ornament above put a picture on my FB timeline. I don't 'do' FB at all - even though I have a profile - but she sends me something occasionally - and here we are in tune, yet again, as it was exactly the same monkey cuddling dove photo that I put on this blog!
In the photos below, one of the pigeons I've mentioned before - Tricoleur, Tricky for short - has a bath in the early morning.

Tricky is very recognisable - with little 'snowflakes' on his head and a beautiful colour combination in his feathers.

Late afternoon - the doves all flew off, Santa with them, and I took a photo of the empty roof..... but when I got it on the computer, I saw a little figure.... Santa had come back just as I snapped the photo!
And then she alighted on the lawn, near the back door..... and eventually came in.... but for how much longer?

To be cont.............

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Where is Santa?.......

Sat 2nd February 13

So, to continue from the last blog, I set off with net and camera to look for Santa. It was 9am and she was missing from the roof.

An old water mill and varied buildings (that are used for offices but are currently not let) adjoin our little cottage. I couldnt see Santa from our yard, so I went behind to the old mill. Regular readers will remember that I rescued pretty Minty dove from the dank water under the rusty old mill wheel. I looked all around, up on the roofs, down in the water and all the general area, but I couldn't see Santa. Then as I turned back, I spotted her standing in a tangle of undergrowth - in a sort of hole or passage-way through the hedge, probably made by a fox. Santa may have landed on the wooden bridge or steps area, and hidden in the undergrowth deliberately - which of course was sensible of her!


Santa, where I found her, in the undergrowth

Fortunately, Santa is tame and therefore didn't try to get away from me by moving further back into the hedge. If she had I may not have been able to reach her - though I would've spent ages trying!


Another quick photo, then I just bent down and picked her up

Poor little Santa.... I carried her home in my woolly hat. Then I left her in her box in  the conservatory to recover herself. An hour later, there were pigeons on the roof, so I took her out in to the garden again and put her on the low roof, but she immediately fluttered down, hopped up the doorstep and came back into the house! So it was obvious she wanted to stay in and I didn't ignore her wishes. She didn't go out again into later in the afternoon, and then only for a little while.
 Are you thinking what I'm thinking? That with all these mishaps, Santa is probably not long for this world? Will she ever be able to fly properly.... perhaps, I don't know. I didn't think she would fly at all, so any flight is an improvement on nothing. But her ability to fly a little is probably more dangerous than Jose's total inability to fly was. Also she is able to eat so little on her own that if she did fly off somewhere I doubt if she would find enough to eat. It is perplexing to watch her peck up seeds and grains, and then just drop them - why does she do that? Occasionally she eats the peanut nibs I throw specially for her, but if the others are around they just gobble them up and she just stands there looking bewildered. She will eat a little when she is in her conservatory box, but only enough to keep a mouse alive. She doesn't appear to like being hand fed now and always resists - when she was younger it wasn't a problem to feed her at all - and yet at other times, she will try to nibble my fingers or bite my ring as if she is seeking food. I manage to get a few grains and peanuts down her in the morning, and maybe 10 or so in the late afternoon so probably, at the moment, she does get enough to eat. I tried to weigh her but she kept getting off the scales! I think she weighs about 315g - and according to this site adult pigeons weigh 300-350g. Santa seems quite skinny and light to me, but maybe my other birds are overfed! I tried to weigh Cloud but she just tumbled off the scales due to her illness.
You may remember me mentioning a pigeon with PMV symptoms that I caught and hand-fed, naming Florence. She is coping quite well and I try to throw her peanuts as they are so nutritious, and always seem easier to pick up for birds in this condition. Here she is waiting on the low roof for me to come out and feed the flock.

Pretty grey Florence

Sunday 3rd Feb 13 - Santa is around sixty days old today. When I get a little down-hearted about her, I remember that she has actually made remarkable progress since hatching around the 6th Dec considering the poor care she received from her parents, and considering that her sibling Snow had something wrong with him and died at only 26 days.
Santa - 60 days - approx 2 months old - still some wispy down on her head
Today Santa had a normal day, but about 2pm when hubbie was going out to bring in kindling and coal, there she was like a little puppy dog on the doorstep, waiting to be let in. As the door swung open, she walked in and through the kitchen, through the sitting room, heading for the conservatory! She knows where her box is! Since the day was gloomy I allowed her to stay in for the rest of the day. Now to tell the mystery of the angel chimes! Yesterday when I checked Santa, I wondered what was the thing at the back of her box - at first glance it looked like a crumpled leaf..... but when I picked it up I realised it was a thin metal cherub - part of my angel chimes set that was still on the table, left over from Christmas and awaiting cleaning and putting away (not very organised, me!) Strange, I thought, it must've got mixed up with Santa's feet if she had been walking around the table. Obviously I removed it. Then, later on.... there it was again, and again I thought maybe somehow it had got caught in her claws so I removed all the angel chime pieces to further away from Santa's box on the table. Today, when she was outside I gave her box a thorough cleaning out, and laid a fresh pad of white kitchen paper behind her brick, where she likes to settle down at night. As I said, she came in at 2pm and the next time I checked her.... can you see in the photo......

Kleptomaniac dove!

 Yes, you're right, there's the shiny cherub in her bed for the third time. I think she is a little kleptomaniac - or maybe part jay or jackdaw!!!!

Mon 4.2.13 - At this time of the year I am often in the garden before the doves and pigeons, putting out some seed for the smaller birds plus fat balls and mealworms. I had a surprise when sprinkling seed near the dovecote, Summer popped her head out! I hadn't realised she had stayed the night.... or maybe she came very early. I popped a few peanuts up on her ledge for her, and later when the others came and I was feeding them, she emerged from the nestbox, giving me the chance to have a quick peep. Yes! the first pearly white egg of the new season has been laid! I can't help but be happy when I see an egg, and hopefully any bad weather would be over, before this squab or squabs came out of the nest. Incubation is 18 days from when the 2nd egg is laid, and then the babies don't come out for approx 30 days after hatching. By this calculation we would be into the third week in March by then and who knows what the weather would be like.

Santa went out as usual around 8am but before 9 when I was sitting on the floor in the sitting room wrapping a parcel, I heard the tiniest little noise which could be interpretated as a fairy knocking at the door...... so I got up to see.... and yes there was Santa baby on the doorstep, my fairy princess, waiting to be let in! I don't know why she wants to be in at the moment.... maybe cos the days are gloomy. Anyway, as I knew I'd be going out later for the morning, I left her in and she can go out at lunchtime when I feed the flock again. The flock get fed first thing, then around 12-1pm ish, and then later again depending on the time and weather - currently about 2.30 -3.30pm.  They have all usually gone by 4pm, but when the days draw out the doves and pigeons can stay in the garden til quite late in the evening.

Later when I went to get Santa to take her out in the garden again, I found one of the little rods for the angel chimes in her box. Like so many ladies, she obviously likes bright shiny gold things! Next time she was in, I spied on her to see if she did it again. She did walk round the table - here she is helping herself to the powdered vitamins in the bowl by Cloud's crate.


If you look at the photo carefully, you will see that Cloud is in typical paramyxo patient mode - head twisted upside down. At the front  you can see the tangle of angel chimes that Santa has been stealing. I don't really like Santa being so close to Cloud, but in fact, from what I have read, I believe that once the PMV symptoms show themselves, then the bird is nearer the end of the illness than in the infectious beginning part. BUT I don't want to take chances, and I would prefer to keep Santa away from Cloud and her crate if possible.

The cutest little pidgie arrived with the flock today - I can often spot a newbie, especially when it is young. This funny raggedy little one I reckoned was probably about Santa's age. He hung back when the others were eating, so I tried to throw grain directly in his path so he would get something to eat.

You can tell he is young by looking at his beak. I was heartened to see that he, like Santa, could not pick up large grains. Maybe this is a normal stage of development. Hopefully both this little one and Santa will eventually be able to pick up and eat the maize, big peas and peanuts that the 'big boys' eat so effortlessly.
At the end of the day, only the little one and a few white pigeons were left on the roof.... I hope he comes back tomorrow.
Of course, Summer stayed in the nest box... I expect there are two eggs now!
Tue. 5th Feb '13 - Santa was awkward today, wanting to come in only half an hour after she'd gone out. I left her in as I was going to be out all morning, but put her out again at lunchtime....and then of course when I wanted to take my grandson home, Santa wouldn't come in! Luckily Hubbie came home and agree to check the doorstep for vagrant little doves.....and that went smoothly so by the time I came back, Santa was in her box in the conservatory. Safe again!
In case you are wondering, today's haul was one of the gold angel chime cherubs, and a smaller silver piece from my dove angel chimes!!!!
 The cute little dark grey one was here again this afternoon, and not quite so timid today.
Wed. 6.2.13 - I shut Santa up in the hutch today while I was out til 2pm. I felt mean but the day was very blowy, very cold and I needed to keep her safe while I was out. There was no-one home to let her in, so the hutch it had to be. When I got back she was sitting on the stone, in the outside cage bit, and as soon as I took it off, flew to the roof in a huff. But she had some roof time, and then came into the house in the normal way. The cute grey one was here again - I hope he will be a regular. He dives into the food now, and seems to be able to eat big grains - unlike Santa. I call him Sparky, but he will probably grow up and be indistinguishable from the rest of the London pigeons, as Hubbie calls them.
Thurs.7.2.13 - Santa had a very grown up day today. It was fine and bright and she spent all day up on the roof, coming down with the others for food and seeming, I think, to be able to pick up a bit better - or am I imagining it? She joined some pigeons for a bath in the deeper grey bath - and I managed to get a few snaps - the first two were taken through the pantry window, then I went outside.
 Above Santa joins the pidgies in the deep bath, and below- struggles out!

 Then Santa flew to the roof to dry off
 and preen herself

About 2.30 the doves and pigeons all flew off in a fright for some reason - Santa was startled and lucky I was there with the door open as she flew straight in and landed on the kitchen table! I kept her in after that, for a hand feed at 3pm and bedtime at 5pm! My little sweetheart!
A cyber-friend told me about a site to buy supplies for doves called I haven't bought anything from there yet, but I was interested in a little video of someone feeding a dove squab - have a look! I haven't seen anyone do it that way before!!!! It is something I would try if I was in the position of having to rear a little one again.
Here's a photo of Charlie - rescued from the hawk last year and has had a few probs one way or another since - but still happy and coping! He's so easily recognisable with the white flashes in his wings and a special favourite of mine.
Friday 8th Feb -  It was sunny and outside the doves and pidgies were bathing - so I decided to give Cloud a bath in the conservatory. She accepted it well, but afterwards, when I check her she'd gone into the back of her box...... surely not imagination thought....dying?? Maybe I shouldn't have bathed her!
Later though, she emerged from the box and was perfectly ok again.....well she still has PMV symptoms, but as ok as she ever is, at the moment! Below, Santa guards the door of the cottage. Below you can see the box I have left near the door for her - like a dovie-kennel in case she wants to cone in, but I am not there to open the door for her.
Sat. 9th Feb 13 -  Santa wanted to come in this morning, after only been out for 15 mins - so I put her back in the conservatory. By late morning, she was well bored and up to mischief! I heard crashing about, so went to look. She had collected quite a few bits of the angel chimes and put them in her box again, and now she had gone investigating into Cloud's quarters!!!  I took a quick snap, as my camera was in the room and then whisked her out of Cloud's possible germs.
It was quarter to midday so nearly time for a flock feed, so I took Miss Bored Santa outside, and she seemed pleased, fluttering off my arm straight away to join the others. Today, at least twice during the afternoon,  I noticed that the roof was empty, and all the birds were wheeling around overhead and when they all alighted, Santa was with them. So she IS doing more flying than that involved with just lawn to roof and back again. This circling flying is excellent as she will build up her strength but not fly off too far, to somewhere maybe she wouldn't be able to find her way back from. It is essential that she is as independent as possible by mid-April, as I am going on a short break then, and though hubbie will be here to feed the birds, he will hardly be fussing and hand-feeding like I do! Though if Cloud is still poorly I might have to persuade him to feed her!
Sunday 10th Feb. 13 - Today we had family coming for lunch, and needed to use the conservatory table, so I had to clear up and make other arrangements for the birds. Luckily Santa was happy to be outside, despite it raining all day, and I put Cloud in her crate, lock, stock and barrel, outside - but draped the top with plastic sheets to keep the rain off. About 2pm a little drowned looking dovie appeared at the back door, and I let Santa come in to her box in the kitchen. Cloud stayed out til everyone had gone, then came in for her feed and bedtime.
So this blog is titled -Where is Santa - and it seems that all week I have been concerned about her whereabouts, but as I write she is tucked up in bed, another week older, and all is well, so no cliff hanger ending this time.
Before I close.......a while ago a member of Purplecoo |(thank you FN!) sent me a lovely photo of a genuine rock dove (and some feathers) - one of the flock that nest on Eilean Ban (the island under the Skye Road Bridge) and one of the few remaining pure bred flocks still in the UK. In case you didn't know, Eilean Ban was the home of Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water. I wish I'd known about the rock doves when we went to Skye last year, as it would definitely have made my trip more enjoyable. I think I am right in saying that Darwin's theory that all pigeons, fancy and otherwise, are descended from the original genuine Rock Doves has been proved to be correct.
Pure bred Rock Dove - Eilean Ban island - and feathers
To be contd..