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
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.......