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...


CAMILLA said...

Goodness Faith, that was a close shave.! Hope Sparrow Hawk stays away from your Doves.

I have only seen a Sparrow Hawk up close once, earlier in the year when one swooped down and picked a Sparrow up outside my window in the gardens. I rushed out and clapped my hands to shoo the Hawk away, Hawk then dropped the little Sparrow into the bushes and flew away. I probably did the wrong thing as the Sparrow Hawk was wanting his meal, but I was worried for the Sparrow.

Sorry to hear about Pharos, I know you will have done all that you could for her with your loving care Faith. RIP PHAROS.

Hope the babies are doing alright and Cloud is too since you kindly untangled the netting from her feet.

Fennie said...

After you tantalised me with tales of Rosie returning I am still awaiting Fennie Dove's return, though your story of the hawk reminds me that life isn't so easy for those of an avian persuasion.

Birds in a house are a problem. I remember when a friend was away and I was keyholder to their house, the police arrived following the house alarm sounding. A jackdaw had fallen through the chimney and was cruising about the Georgian living room banging against the windows. I remember the young policeman caught it in his hands and released it outside the house. It flew up into the trees unharmed. All part of a day's work, he said.

hopeinparis said...

Hi Faith,
Your mention of previous generations made me realize how interesting and helpful it would be to have a family tree made of the doves who have nested and raised families in your garden. :-)