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..


Fennie said...

Another fascinating instalment, Faith.
What will you do if Santa acquires a mate?

Where though do doves come from? Although they interbreed with pigeons, they are almost a separate species, aren't they? But what advantage is there to being white, unless you live in snow.

CAMILLA said...

Phew.! I am so pleased to hear Santa is safe and well Faith. Do you think Santa was in the gap in the hedge for most of the time, perhaps just flying back there now and then.

Faith said...

Fennie, the male dove chooses where to make a nest. So it would be up to Santa if she went off with a male to a nest place of his choosing. She won't be sexually mature for another 4 months or so at least. I don't think they are separate species, or even almost a separate species - just a different colour. And no advantage to being white, except looking beautiful.

Camilla, I think Santa was only in the hedge that one time. Hope so anyway, as the roof is a far safer place than the ground!