Monday, 20 May 2013

Mis-matched twin squabs, a fight at the cote......and Destiny fledges

13th May 2013

This new blog starts on the same day as the other ended. If you remember, I ended with a photo of Lucky and Charm's new babies - aged about 2-4 days. After I took that photo, I know I saw a parent in the nest, but by late afternoon/early evening, the babies were alone. I was very concerned as really as this age a parent should be with them most of the time, if not all of the time, but I hoped that around 6.30pm when I had seen Lucky leave and Charm come back on the day before that the same thing would happen. And sure enough a white dove appeared alone on the roof. Charm is not marked or ringed so I can't recognise her, but I truly hoped it was her! The dove sat there for ages, then came down for some food, then sat again on the roof for ages - with me making the supper but trying to watch at the same time.... and then eventually it flew away. I have no idea if it was Charm or just a late dovie looking for supper.

I checked the little babies and they were still warm. I debated about what to do.... what would be best to do? I didn't feel that bringing the babies out of the nest would necessarily be the best thing to do - even if I planned to put them back before light. If it was March then I might have thought otherwise but surely May is warmer. The thought of putting them in with the big babies crossed my mind but seemed a more dangerous solution than leaving them on their own - the squabs might peck them or trample on them or something. I decided to leave them in the nest, and put things in to keep them warm. I've done this in the past, but never had such young babies left at night before.... I don't know why they have been abandoned......everything seemed to be going so well with them. Now you understand why I want to shut up the dovecote - it is endless stress for me!

So I found some more of my cashmere gloves and also heated a stone in the oven. I stuffed one of the gloves with feathers (pheasant - I had a bagfull!) and tied up both ends. It was very well filled and a good 'mummy' shape. I wrapped up the stone hot-water-bottle so that it wouldn't burn the babies but hopefully would retain heat for a while, and put both these in the nest. Then I three-quarters blocked the entrance with more gloves to stop the draughts, and put the half brick up that I often use to make sure no predators can get into a nest box. Baby birds don't get fed at night so they don't need food yet, and I am praying that if they are warm enough they will survive the night, and one of the parents will come back in the morning. Maybe it was a blip? If not....can I rear the babies on my own? I really doubt it as feeding would be so difficult at this young age. It's my birthday tomorrow .... the best present would be the parents coming back and looking after the babies themselves. I doubt I will sleep very well......

14th May '13 - I got up at 4.50am - yes that's right, ten to five! I needed to be up before the doves arrived, so I could unblock the babies and know for sure if the parents came back and fed them. First of all, I quickly checked the big babies, Liberty and Destiny, and changed their nappy paper. Then, somewhat nervously I removed the brick/glove barrier and put my hand behind the stuffed 'mummy' bolster to see if the babies were still alive...... and they were, thank God! I was so relieved to touch their slightly fuzzy little warm bodies and feel them moving under my fingers! It is hard to know whether they would've died if I had not taken steps to keep them warm. Dove babies are not left alone during the day even for short periods until they can thermo-regulate which is not til 7 days old at least, and are not left at night until they are 14 days old or more, so I think it is very likely that they might have got very chilled indeed and died if I hadn't looked after them. I warmed up the stone again in the oven, wrapped it up and replaced it, but I left the 'mummy bolster' in to keep them warm and intended to remove it when the first pigeons/doves appeared on the roof.

By now it was 5.30ish and I popped in to tell a sleepy hubbie that the tiny babes were ok, but when I came out again..... whoops! A white dove was on the ledge of the back nestbox.... Charm had got there before I removed the stuffed mummy!!! She was probably a bit bewildered - why was this peculiar thing in her nest, stopping her getting to her babies. I approached gently - threw a few peanuts onto a handy dish which I popped onto the hedge, and when she moved away, quickly grabbed out the 'mummy'! She came back again almost immediately and went straight inside.

All the other doves and pigeons had arrived, and Summer came and fed Destiny and Liberty - no Sky though. What on earth does he think he is up to?

Now all the babies were attended to, I could take tea back to bed and properly relax. Nightmare over!

Later - I was out til 3pm but pleased to see a parent on the back nest when I came home. I did not dare go anywhere near the cote, or check the big babies/change their nappy paper..... or practically even breathe near the cote, in case I upset Charm or Lucky. All continued well, and Charm stayed the night as she should do. So what happened? - why did Charm abandon her babies for that one night? I really don't know...... I am guessing that possibly something happened to deter her coming home - the sight of the hawk perhaps? or maybe she is a young dove with her first nest and she just 'forgot' (like when my aunt with her first baby pushed him to the town in the pram, left him outside a shop - you did that in the 40s - forgot baby in pram when she came out and caught the bus home!!!!). I am just grateful that it was just a blip or a moment of madness and she and Lucky are back looking after their babies properly again. I am unlikely to be able to get a photo of them for a few days, and the wrapped stone is still in the nest! As are the two eggs in with the big squabs - doomed never to hatch.

15th May '13 - A quiet and normal dovie day. All babies fed, and Sky did his share too - Don't put yourself out, Sky, will you! I don't know why he disappeared for that period of time, but I truly believe he didn't want the tedium of sitting on more eggs, and the responsibility of feeding the big squabs alone - in other words he didn't want the clutch overlap so he abandoned the eggs so that Summer would too.

He is quite happy to be mating again though. Here's Sky and Summer on the roof this afternoon, with a voyeur pigeon!


I looked back on my previous blog, to see how long it was that Sky left the babies without feeding them when he was having his protest about the new eggs. He fed them on the 11th May at 6.25am and then not again til the morning of the 13th. And of course Summer wasn't then feeding them at all because of the eggs. How would they have fared without me feeding them? I think they would've survived but it would've been a long time to go without food and water, and they might have got very weak. I fed them 4 feeds each - 5pm on the 11th and at 7am, 3pm and 5.45pm on the 12th.
There is a pheasant hanging round in the yard - I've seen it for several days. He's a handsome chap so I took him out some peanuts, and he came running!

Thursday 16th May 13 - A bright morning for a change! When I feed the birds in the early morning - about 5.45am at the moment - I often throw a few torn up slices of bread into the yard to appease the jackdaws. When I was doing this today, Charm peeked out of the nest-box and came down - she obviously fancied a sandwich! I had the pot of grains in my hands so I threw her some of that too, and then she flew off to the garden so I took my opportunity to rush in, get the camera and take the little babies 2nd ever photo! |(and whisk away the hot water bottle stone).

I noticed when I took the first photo of these little ones that one is blonde and one is dark! This happened before with Sky and Summer's first lot of babies, Elizabeth and Olympia - but in their case I think Summer had been playing away from home as they are both pure white doves. Charm is also pure white, but Lucky has some pigeon-y genes as he has a dark horse-shoe shaped smudge on his breast, one black feather in this tail, and two pairs of cute little 'bird footprints' on his neck. I must try and get a photo of this - it's quite handy to see them when I am throwing grain as I can't see his chest in that position, but the little footprint marks ensure he gets extra peanuts! Anyway, it may be his darker genes coming out in his little offspring
Charity, the pigeon that recently flew bang into the conservatory window was there this morning - I haven't seen her for a little while and glad to see she is doing well. She was too quick for a photo though.
I took Liberty and Destiny out of the nest to have a quick look at them today. They are about 29 days old but showing no interest in wanting to come out of the cote. I discovered that there is only one egg left in there - the other was probably nicked by a jackdaw; they are always looking to raid the nest.

Liberty - white dove squab about 29 days old

Destiny - white dove squab on my hand

And here is their big sister (or brother - I don't know yet!) - Grace, who is now about xx old. She is very pretty! and now very confident, and can eat big peanuts with the best of them! Their even bigger sister - who IS a sister! - Autumn - now hasn't been seen for a while, but as she was being courted by a male just before she left, I am hoping she is off nesting somewhere.

Late afternoon/early evening - Charm was not in the nest around 5.30-6pm and a man had parked his car right in her view in the yard (how I hate other people in the yard!!!!). He was pacing about, obviously waiting for someone and after a long while I went out and explained to him that he was probably keeping my mummy dove away from her babies, so he moved away and waited at the other end of the yard. Charm then came in, but at around 7pm she came out again and sat on the roof for a while before flying away - leaving the babies alone for the night yet again! At the most they are only a week old - and not very feathered up. They really should be with their mother at night until they are about 14 days old - so another week yet! I didn't feel as bad about them being left as I did the first time, as I am pretty sure she will come back in the morning - and I had everything ready to tuck them up with. It does mean I have to get up incredibly early though so I can sort them up before she gets there. I felt them and they were toasty warm and had full crops, so with the 'mummy bolster' inside the nest, and the other bits, they should be ok.
Friday 17th - Lucky was in the garden by 5.30 am and Charm flew to the nest just afterwards. I had removed all the stuff as soon as I saw the first pigeon arrive on the roof at 5.15am. Once the babies,  the littlies and Liberty and Destiny have their parents, and I've fed the flock, I go back to bed!!!
Again, the babies were left for the night and I tucked them up to keep them safe and warm, and will continue to do so if Charm leaves them.
Sat. 18th May 13 - Hectic morning at the cote!..... In the early morning all was ok with the little and big babies being fed by their parents - although Summer is, I think, getting a bit fed up with Destiny and Liberty and trying to encourage them out of the nest.
At around 9.30am when all was quiet in the garden, and there was no parent on the back nest to be disturbed, I took Dessy and Libby out to be photographed, and to check them over. They look bewildered as all young birds do when first out of the nest..... what is this big wide world?

 I also removed the remaining egg........ very dirty by now.

And cracked it and found just what I expected.........

The drama happened a bit later on around 10.20am - a few white doves came to the roof, and proved to be all four parents - Sky and Summer + Lucky and Charm - so I fed them though I don't normally feed before noon if it's just any old dove or pigeon! Sky actually roused himself to take some food to his big babies.
A couple of pigeons arrived, and one decided to check out the cote.....

Charm immediately flew into her babies - it's funny that she is quick to protect them from perceived danger during the day but seems to think it is ok to leave them at night to the cold and possible winged predators in the early morning! Sky went to stand on his ledge, blocking his wife and babies in, and Summer went to hers. Sky in his usual desultory way stayed on the roof.
Here's the pigeon, looking to rent a new home, but not receiving a warm welcome from Summer and Lucky. The pictures tell the story.....


 Above - Lucky peering round from his back nest, and below on top of the cote. I, he says, am king of the castle (because Sky can't be bothered to be!)

 Lucky looking severe
 Then more pleasant!
 The intruder trying to be king of the castle
 Well, he says, do you mind if I have this pigeon hole then?
 Err, well yes we do actually!
In the end, Summer had to give him his marching orders! And where was Sky? On the roof ALL the time this was carrying on - and it took about half an hour! Flash would've seen off the intruder in 2 secs flat! How I miss my feisty, intelligent and unusual daddy bird - sigh.

After this, my parent birds all settled down and sat on the roof - with the pigeon to the left.
Henry the pheasant has now decided I am his new best friend and comes to the door for food! I don't really want to encourage him on the patio as it gets enough poops from the pigeons!

Sunday 19th May 13 - Henry decides to visit in the conservatory - sorry Henry that is NOT allowed! He couldn't find the door so I had to wrap him up in a cloth, struggling and kicking, and chuck him unceremoniously OUT!
I am adoring my mis-matched little twins - they are sooo cute! and getting so big (about 8 to 10 days old now). They get left quite a bit, although a parent is usually on the roof but at night when I tuck them up I feel their crops and they are very well fed.
Odd twins for pure white doves!

Of course Lucky is not entirely pure white - he has his horseshoe on his breast, and the little marks on his neck that look like pigeon foot prints.


 May, coming into June, is usually a lovely time for the doves - the weather is more pleasant, hopefully the threat of the hawk as passed, and different birds turn up as they emerge from other nests or pursue a nomadic life style.
A beautiful white dove, with a black fan in it's tail has been a regular for a few days. I call her Domino.


And in the last picture she's seen with a stunning black racing pigeon. I hope he comes back - I love a smart black pigeon!

Monday 20th May - the big babies, Destiny and Liberty, are about 32 days old and due to fledge. Are the mad feeding frenzy on the lawn, the flock flew away but my 'homies' arranged themselves on the roof - without seeing their rings I can only recognise Lucky on the far left.
 Sure enough, later on a baby flew out of the cote and landed plump on the hedge.
 And it is Destiny, who is the bigger and probably older of the two....
 Sky, I was pleased to see, came and sat on the box I put on the hedge in case the babies needed a shelter....
He is going to watch out for his babies......
 Destiny flies - a bit wobbly but pretty well - to the roof for the very first time. Well done sweetheart!

 And then to the top of the cote, while Sky blocks Liberty in for some reason.....
Who's king of the castle now?!
To be cont....


Fennie said...

What a lovely and charming account. You have spo much dedication. I wouldn't get up at ten to five for doves, at least not if I couldn't go straight back top bed. You don't suppose the unidentified white dove could have been Fennie, do you? I look forward to the next instalment to see how young Fennie and his sibling develop.

hopeinparis said...

Faith, initially I was very surprised and saddened to read that you were thinking of closing up the dovecot. When I thought about what you wrote about the stress, it made me realize and admit to myself that my own situation with my pigeons is also a lot of stress. I worry about my neighbors complaining and having me fined, or worse. I worry about the pigeon "regulars" who seem to have disappeared.

When I was forced to stop feeding the flock last year, I was devastated to realize how by creating dependency I had also created suffering. So you have my complete understanding and support if you decide to close the dovecot, and my sympathy as well, because I know it wouldn't be an easy decision.

Even if you close the cote, there will be birds flying into your garden and into your life, and there will still be stories... Your blog is a great gift. Thank you, Faith. xo Jane

PS I Just love the babies and Henry!

Faith said...

Fennie, I'm sure would get up if the cote was in your garden! Readers, I told Fennie via Purplecoo that the new dark baby would be named Fennie. The white dove Fennie is unlikely ever to come back, but you never know.

Hopeinparis (Jane), thanks for your lovely comments and I know how much you understand as you secretly feed a few birds! I would hate to close the cote as I love the doves so much and it was a present from my parents (RIP) but we shall see - I struggle on!