Friday, 26 April 2013

Sparrowhawk in the kitchen!!!!

21st April 2013

I came home on Friday afternoon (19th) to find that hubbie had coped very well with feeding Cloud by hand - which was nice of him as he doesn't like touching feathery things! He left Cloud in the conservatory at night and I have decided to keep that routine going as the weather is warmer now. I intend for her to spend her days in the hutch outside when the weather is suitable.

We were sitting having afternoon tea in the sitting-room and catching up, with the kitchen door open as it was so warm when we heard a suspicious thump which I immediately recognised as being 'sparrowhawk chasing pigeon'. I thought it was on the patio outside the door, but when we got up we found the sparrowhawk in the small pantry area off the kitchen, fluttering at the little window and the pigeon on the floor. Hubbie went out to get the net - as a hawk is not the kind of bird I want to pick up with my bare hands! - and I took a couple of quick not very clear photos!

Sparrowhawk in the kitchen!!!!

The hawk gathered it's wits, wheeled round and flew out of the door as hubbie came back in with the net. The pigeon who had been frozen to the floor in a fright flew up to the top of the boiler, and was easily rescued and released. It hadn't been touched by the hawk at all and was fine. Obviously if we had had to net the hawk to get it out of the kitchen we would've done so, but we wouldn't have harmed it. Sparrowhawks are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act as I expect you know  and although they are my least favourite visitor to the garden and I hate them attacking my doves and pigeons, they are of course beautiful birds. The whole surreal incident was over in a flash and I said to hubbie that I hoped it would put the hawk off coming into the garden. He said 'bird brain..... it will have forgotten by tomorrow' ...... I do not consider that birds have such short memories - in fact I know they don't, but hopefully the hawk will be deterred anyway. I am reading a book about an amazing bird - Alex, an African grey parrot - now sadly deceased - but you can see him in action on youtube where he lives on. The book is called 'Alex & Me' by Irene M. Pepperberg. What an incredible bird - every bird lover should read it. If you haven't, then get a copy straight away.... I won't spoil it by relating any of it.
Pharos, my lady of the light, died suddenly at midday on the Sunday before I went away. I was surprised as I hadn't expected her to just drop down dead, but she was poorly, and couldn't eat by herself or fly so I was somewhat relieved that I wouldn't be worried about her while I was gone. Here she is in the morning, hopefully enjoying the light and air on her last day.
And here's the very last picture - her neck feathers were very pretty and iridescent - RIP Pharos.
So before  I went, I cleaned Cloud's crate, and even gave her a pretty pink bath..... that I knew she was as clean as could be before I went away, and I was pleased to see that she was still pretty clean when I got back - though hubbie had just laid clean papers over the dirty ones in the crate!
The new babies were expected to hatch the day before I got back, but hubbie hadn't seen any shells or evidence. The day after I got back, on Sat. 20th April, Summer came out of the nest when I was feeding the flock so I nipped up the steps and saw two tiny weeny shadowy little babies in there, just for a second, before Mummy wanted to come back. Since then, I haven't seen them, but I am very happy to know they are there!
On Sunday morning Cloud had threads wound round her foot. I think this must have just happened as I'm sure I would've noticed if it had been like that when I got home. I do use cloths in her crate, some old towelling and tea-towels, mostly covered with newspaper and kitchen paper, and this is where the threads must've come from. Obviously it is dangerous for birds to have threads round their feet as it can eventually get so tight that it cuts off the blood supply. Also, it would attract other threads/rubbish/fecal matter to get caught up, effectively hobbling the pigeon.

I wrapped Cloud up and carefully cut the threads off using small nail-scissors. Then I washed both of her feet and rubbed some of the special skin-cream (suitable for birds and animals) into the affected foot. If ever you were to find a pigeon with threads or wires around its feet, then this info may be useful  but briefly, if both feet were tied are together, causing the pigeon to have to drag itself around with its wing, then cut the linking threads first as if the pigeon was to get away before you had finished, at least it would be that bit better off!
Later on, when she was in the hutch, she attracted an admirer.... but poor Cloud will never be allowed to be free, or even have as much freedom as Jose did (new readers - Jose was a flightless white dove who lived in the hutch, now sadly dead). I doubt Cloud will recover fully now, but she will continue to live with me and enjoy life as best she can.
 Autumn (ringed female bird on the right) hatched in my cote, and now about 9 months old, is also being courted.

 Monday 22.4.13 - Here's Patience (top left, with 2 blue rings). She is totally recovered from the hawk attack now - and very quick!
 and on the roof below - bottom middle
 The woodie ducks come every day. They are far more tame than they were, and I throw them soaked wholemeal bread and grains in the evenings while they wander about the lawn after the pigeons have left for the day.
Tuesday 23.4.13 - I got the first photos of the new babies that are now around 6 days old. Well you can only see one baby and I couldn't get too close because it was Sky on the nest, and he's fussier than Summer.

 The black dish you can see in the foreground is the little plastic one I put peanuts in for Summer's breakfast first thing.
Wed. 24th April 13 - The nest built by Mr. Sunshine at the back of the cote was abandoned by him and Miss Tina - and I haven't seen him for weeks. Then Bianca and Ricky toyed with the idea of using it, but now it seems that a new pair have taken it over. The male I call Lucky as he has a roughly horse-shoe shape smudge on his breast - he took to sitting in the nest box and I wondered if he actually had a mate, but tonight a white dove stayed the night, and I presume is laying eggs! How exciting! I have never had two pairs of doves with nests at the same time in the cote - though last summer Jose had a nest in the hutch - read the start of Jose and Happy's nesting experience here It was far more awkward for me than for them! Anyway, back to now.... I do not know who is Lucky's mate - it may be a bird I have already ringed, but if not then it is going to be hard to distinguish her. I'm pleased I can at least recognise Lucky, but as the nest is at the back of the cote, it is harder to see the comings and goings.
Friday 26.4.13 - I was able to get a photo of the new babies today. Summer and Sky will now be leaving them for very short periods as they are about 8/9 days old. Their little tiny white feathers are already starting to show - they grow up so quickly!
 In the late afternoon, I was with Cloud in the conservatory when there was a loud bang against the glass which made us both jump! Looking out, I could see a pigeon on the ground, so I went out and picked it up and put it in the hutch to recover. Possibly it was being chased by the hawk, or just wasn't watching where it was going, but it must've had a severe shock.
 You can just about see the white powdery 'ghost' mark that it left on the window
After about half an hour, when the last of the pigeons were leaving the garden, I opened the hutch door to see if it wanted to leave........ but 20 minutes later it was still there, so I brought it in for the night, and will see how it is in the morning. I'm sure it will be fine after a night's rest.
To be cont...

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A poorly pigeon

Friday 5th April 2013

Autumn was in the garden today, being chased by her pure white mate. For any new blog readers, Autumn is one of my babies from last summer, and an older sibling to little Valentine and Grace. She is the only surviving 'baby' and is now about 8/9 months old (so fully sexually mature). Of course it's possible that some of the other summer babies may have survived but they are no longer visiting the garden.

The poorly or old pigeon sat on the light again to spend the night. Here it is in the late afternoon; the guardian of the door.

Sat 6.4.13 - A sunny day. Cloud was able to spend time in the hutch - but the poor thing is not getting any better. Sometimes I wonder if she is worse.... she has fluttery fits, where she has no control over herself, shuffles backwards with her head bent backwards onto her back, and yet at other times she is quiet and contented, with her head upright. When I brought her in, I gave her a bath (in our bath, don't tell hubbie!) and then put her in the warm conservatory to dry off.
Here's Sky with Grace (female). I always thought Valentine was the older one of the two - and he* may well be (*I don't know what sex he is yet) - but Grace acts the oldest, comes out onto the lawn more frequently and is generally more grown-up. I am going away for a few days in just over a week, so I am trying to get the babies to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Sky doesn't appear to be feeding them any longer - and there is no need as they can feed themselves, though only small grains. I have been putting a small pot of small grains in their own compartment of the cote, and they like to eat from that, but really I am going to have to stop that before I go away.
Sunday 7.4.13 - Another sunny day - which is blissful after all the bitter cold. The poorly one that sits on the light at night has been named Pharos by hubbie (old word for lighthouse). She spends the day on the roof..... can you pick her out here?

Yes, that's right, she is second from the left - I can always recognise the poorly ones as they stand in that hunched up manner. Here's a close up....

Tonight, the forecast said it would be above freezing all night, and part of my new regime for the babies will be not to block them in at night, so I am glad it will not be too cold. The birds are in the garden very early in the mornings by now.... the first ones are arriving before 6am, and I have been getting up to unblock the babies but from now on I will be leaving them unblocked. They were both in together tonight which is good for companionship and warmth.
Tuesday 9th April '13 -  Grace put herself to bed as usual in the dovecote, but Valentine was not there, and I searched for him with no luck. I'd like to think he will be there in the morning, but I doubt it. These poor little young dovies - they are just nature fodder and a very very high percentage don't survive. It was sad to see Grace all alone........
Wednesday 10.4.13 - Valentine was not there in the morning and I don't suppose I will ever see him again. All these babies that just 'disappear'........I'm so sad about it..... in particular Santa, and now Valentine. Grace, at the moment, is sensible and stays close to the cote. It's the only way for these babies to survive. I am still giving her her little pot of grains at bedtime, and think I will continue and persuade hubby to carry on when I'm away. He'll have his work cut out looking after all the dovies!
Thursday 11.4.13 - Patience is here nearly every afternoon. I think she looks fantastic! - what do you think? Her feathers have grown back so well, far quicker than I expected.

The last couple of mornings, when Pharos has come down to the lawn, I have picked her up and hand-fed her, as she can't seem to eat very well (1 grain to another pigeon's 10!). I know I am only prolonging the inevitable, but I can't bear to see a pidgie starve to death. She gets unwanted attention from the males, and one tried to get on top of her today, til I shooed him off, but if they get too much for her she goes to her roost on the porch above the kitchen door and they seem to get the message.. She doesn't sleep on the light any more - I think she finds it too precarious, and I noticed one of her feet is a bit curled up sometimes. Here she is in the raised bed (which still needs digging over!) in the afternoon sun. She can still fly so I haven't felt the need to take her in or put her in the hutch. She doesn't look too bad in these photos, but is a very slow old lady.

By 6pm she was up, dozing, on her new bedtime roost
But little Grace was still on the roof with the last two pigeons..... and I was worried that she might fly away with them, and not come back like Valentine.....

Grace at 6.30pm
But thankfully she put herself to bed in the cote, and was rewarded with her little pot of grains.
Friday 12.4.13 - Pharos didn't come down to even try to eat this morning...... at all. So I got the steps, carefully netted her and gently pulled her down the little porch roof to my hands. I gave her some peanuts then put her back, but later it poured and poured and she sat there, all hunched up and miserable looking, and when the thunder started, I could bear it no longer and brought her down again - fed her and put her in the hutch.
It cheered up considerably later, but it seemed silly to put her out again and I won't, unless I absolutely have to, leave a bird in the hutch all night (because of the fox), so I brought her in to the conservatory for the night. It doesn't surprise me in the least that I have a poorly bird to look after just before I go away on holiday, because it always happens! |(Mind you, you could say I always have poorly ones anyway). I hope she will be able to feed herself as hubbie is geared up for feeding Cloud, but he won't hand-feed another one.
Charlie - a pigeon rescued by me last year from a tussle with the hawk - has found himself a lady love. I call her Charlotte to be easy - and I'd never recognise her if she wasn't with Charlie. I don't know whether they will find a place to nest and start a family.... Charlie isn't really good daddy material as he finds it hard enough to feed himself, let alone a couple of hungry squabs. This is because he can't pick up grains very quickly - it usually takes him at least 2-5 stabs where another bird gobbles it up straight away. But it's great to see him in love!

Charlie and Charlotte - he's on the left with his distinctive white edged wings.
Saturday 13.4.13 - Pharos spent the day in the hutch. When I was at home I left the wire front open, but she didn't try to fly out. I don't think she has the energy to fly now, poor old thing.
In the early evening, all the last doves and pigeons flew away, little 'Gracie' among them and while I wished her luck as I waved her goodbye I was worried she would find new 'fields', but she was back and in bed by 6.30pm with her usual little pot of grains. So maybe now is a good time to finish this blog, and leave all the flock to hubbie while I'm away.
To be cont.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Babies fledge..... but don't go far

Tuesday 26th March 2013

Bitterly cold March weather. The babies are due to fledge as they are now 31 and 30 days old - as I presume the younger one is a day behind. They peek out of the nest box and Summer does her best to entice them out but they are staying put!

Another courting couple have taken over Mr. Sunshine's nest at the back of the cote - the brazen cheek of it! Mr. Sunshine still has not managed to win Miss Tina, and I do wonder if something happened to January's Miss Tina and he is now chasing a new female. One of the two new ones is a white dove I ringed ages ago - last summer probably. I named her Bianca2 as I must've caught her not long after I named one Bianca (who obviously died). I made a mistake and ringed her with a blue ring on the same foot as Sky - so sometimes I confuse them, but Sky of course is definitely male and Bianca2 is definitely female, luckily! Anyway, she and her partner seem to be spending much time in the garden and in the back nestbox and when thinking of a name for him there was only one name it could possibly be....... Ricky! So I'm dropping the 2 and she's Bianca and he's Ricky! Both pure white doves. I know there is a nest in that back box, so I don't know if they will be happy to use it - like us moving into a furnished flat! or whether they will add to it, to suit themselves. I also wonder what will Mr. Sunshine do when he realises that he left his 'home' for so long that he now has squatters!

The photos are Bianca and Ricky .....

This is Ricky below



Sweet pair aren't they?

Sky and Summer have been seen mating a few times, and I get the impression they are keen to get the babies out of the nestbox so they can start yet another family. But here are the big babies, Valentine and Grace, who don't want to fledge yet!

Wed 27th March 13 - It's so dreadfully cold still. Here's my 16 month old grand-daughter who adores feeding the 'ducks' as she calls every single type of bird. You can see from the swathe of grain on the lawn that she hasnt got the hang of sprinkling the feed all around yet. She also likes putting it in the water baths!

Below Sally-Anne (left) and friend on the raised bed (the weather is too cold to dig and plant it yet)

Sally-Anne copes well with her injury and can now balance easily on one leg. She's has stunning plumage in the sunlight.
And here's the 'Beautiful Stranger' named last Summer and still visiting regularly - he is a ringed bird (both legs) and a loss to someone but a gain to me. He's the one nearest, a white bird prettily marked with brown, and presumably his mate, pure white.
Pigeon parade with Sally-Anne in the middle
Inside the house, Cloud sunbathes in the warm conservatory
Thursday 28th March 2013 - I had a feeling the babies would fledge today - they would, wouldn't they as I was going to be out for most of the day! I hate not being around when baby doves first fledge as sometimes they get into difficulties and need me to rescue them. I was up and in the garden before 6am as I am still blocking the babies in at night, and need to unblock them before the parents arrive, though Summer is tolerant and just waits for me if I am late. But this morning we were all early, and Valentine - the oldest baby - had ventured out for the first time and was on the hedge by 6.15am, and here he or she is with Mummy Summer.

And not long afterwards little brother or sister, Grace, came out too. She is shown in the photo on the hedge, but actually she tumbled out to the ground and I quickly popped her on the hedge. Soon both babies, seeming to understand that Mummy and Daddy don't want them in the nursery any more, put themselves back in the cote but in the bottom left pigeon-hole. And Mummy and Daddy, having got rid of the teenagers, jumped straight back into the nest-box and started cosying-up together.

I had to go out and the babies were in the cote but hubbie said he saw them out on the grass in the afternoon and being fed by the parents. By the time I was home at 5pm ish both babies were back where I had left them.
Good Friday 29th March '13 - Sky gave Valentine and Grace what looked like a very perfunctory feed early this morning, and after that he busied himself with collecting sticks for the new nest. That job done, he and Summer took themselves off and I didnt see them again for hours. I put a little dish of small grains in the box with Valentine and Grace so hopefully they could help themselves.
I was pleased to see Patience today as I had missed her yesterday. There's not much to say about her now - she still looks very scruffy and will do until her feathers grow back, but other than that I think she is perfectly ok.
Hubbie had suggested I weigh the babies for my records - weight at fledging. I brought the scales into the garden and took Valentine out of the cote. He wouldn't stand still and I couldn't get an accurate reading, so I put him on the hedge and got Grace out. Valentine straight away fluttered up to the cote. Grace did stand still and weighed 297g. I think they have probably both lost a bit of weight as the parents are not feeding so much now - trying to get them to be independent. It was midday, there were a few pigeons around on the lawn, and as I put Grace on the hedge, suddenly in my peripheral vision I saw the hawk! Grace crouched instinctively and I, equally instincively, grabbed her up and stuffed her to safety in with Valentine. Only then did I look round the garden and the yard, but apart from two feathers on the path, there was nothing to see, but I think the pigeon got away.
Sky and Summer didnt come back til the late afternoon, about 4.30pm - I wonder where they go? I saw the babies being fed again, and then Summer entered the nest-box and Sky stayed on the ledge, guarding his lady. Later on, I realised Summer was staying the night ..... here we go again!
Saturday 30th March '13 -  When Summer left the nest to eat and drink, I had a quick peep. Yes, she has laid again and we have an egg for Easter!
The dove/pigeon I call The Beautiful Stranger is 'driving' a white female. He is a ringed bird that has been visiting my garden since last summer (so not so much a stranger now!). 'Driving' means chasing with a view to mating! (sort of!). He alighted on the window sill with his lady-love and I took the photos from inside the house.

I have never seen him quite so close-up before - I thought he was white, lightly flecked with brown, but actually the plumage on his neck is as if someone has drawn lots of short lines with green and purple felt-pens. He is a beautifully marked bird - very special.
Easter Sunday 31.3.13 - Clocks have gone forward. I was in the garden before 7am to unblock the babies. There was a light frost overnight, which is why I am still blocking them in - it's so cold!

Summer was not in the nest and the solitary egg was cold. I had expected she would've laid another egg by now but the fact that the egg was cold didn't worry me as I now know that this doesn't seem to matter, and the eggs can develop and hatch even if left for periods of time - and incubation doesn't start til the second egg is laid.  Summer came back to the nest by 7.10 and Sky fed the babies in their new little home. I didn't see Patience, Sally-Anne or Charlie at the early feed, which was a shame but I hoped to see them all later - I was a little bit worried about Charlie as he is always there!
I went back to bed for a while, but got up half an hour later to see what was going on. Grace had taken herself off up to Mummy in the nest box and was standing in the entrance, leaving Valentine in the new nursery.

And the photo below is Grace looking out of the top right (with Mummy Summer on an egg or eggs behind her!), Daddy Sky looking out of the top left, and Valentine's tail in the middle bottom. The ones on top are Bianca and Ricky.
Below is Mr. Sunshine with his cheerful yellow rings

and Patience turned up later (far left) with two mates

 She has now been free for two weeks and is doing really well

1st April 13-  Grace on the table watching a pigeon eat....

And Valentine on the hedge
 The white dove on the table below is Sky - he is being a good daddy now and taking care of the little ones when he is not on nest duty.
 Here he is, bowing and cooing, before Grace - which makes me think she must be female

 Valentine begs - and gets a feed

And here are both babies with Sky in the middle

Tuesday 2nd April 13 - Lovely sunny day for a change! The babies enjoyed it. Here's Valentine on the roof - you can still see the wispy down on his head.

Below, Winter (ringed a while ago with red and pink rings) brings her mate to the garden

It such a glorious spring day, that I let Cloud have an hour outside in the hutch. Due to her condition she will always have to be confined. I doubt if she'd be able to fly any distance at all, but other birds might hassle her if they could reach her.

Typical 'star gazing' pose for pigeon with paramyxovirus (or it's after effects). She seemed to enjoy being in the garden and as the weather gets better can spend more time out there.

We had a visitor stroll by on the other side of the river, in the wooded area

And the woodie ducks (Mandarins) were in the trees - see how well the female is camouflaged

I always love to see them in the garden, though they are shy and I have to keep my distance.
 Mr. Woodie says 'Where are you, dear?'
 and Mrs. Woodie replies 'Just under the table, darling, I'm going to have a bath!'
And she did! though I didn't manage to get a photo. I was surprised that she would want to have a bath in the dove's bath when she has the whole river just beyond the garden - why would she do that I wonder?
Wed. 3.4.13 - Valentine and Grace are 40 days old today - or 40/39 for the younger one. Sky is still giving them a feed or two a day but they can eat on their own and I've seen them drinking from the water bowl on the table.

Not a good photo but here's Valentine looking up to the cote
preparing to fly up
 I am pleased that Sky is tolerant with this pair and allows them to sleep in the dovecote. A ruffled looking pigeon was in the garden in the late afternoon and decided to spend the night on the light near the kitchen door. It looked like it might have had a tussle with a hawk, or maybe it is just feeling it's age and doesn't feel like flying back to the roost. I saw it have a long drink of water before choosing it's perch (under which I put newspaper to save me having to wash the patio in the morning!).

Thursday 4.4.13 - I've just seen Sky feed the babies. The good thing about this pair is they stick together quite well, so neither gets left out and they seem strong and healthy. I did give them a few hand feeds a while ago, but now, though tempted sometimes, I tell myself that they are not Santa, although they look the same! - and they must learn to be independent. I do give them small grains and peanut granules in little pots in the late afternoon when they are in the cote - mostly now they choose separate pigeon holes - but I can't keep doing that either as I am going away for a few days on the 15th and hubbie won't be pandering to them! They hide in the cote when no other pigeons/doves are around and also when Sky is on the nest or it is gloomy/chilly, so they are good at looking after themselves. I looked back at my notes and my poor lost (probably perished) little Santa didn't fly to the roof til he was 54 days old - he was backward by more than two weeks. I feel bad when I think of him - so I try not to think about it - but I don't see what else I could've done, except keep him in captivity, which wouldn't have been right or fair.
The pigeon on the light came down, albeit slowly, for breakfast, and then joined the others on the roof. Charlie was there, but Patience seems to be an afternoon bird now, and Sally Anne seems to come more around midday.
To be cont.......