Summer left the babies for the first time on the night of Sunday 5th May - and this is usual when the babies are about two weeks old or so, but on Wednesday night she was back with them again, and I wondered if she was going to start laying again before the babies had fledged. There was no egg in the morning, and she stayed Thursday night too.
|Summer with her babies - she's thinking about laying again!|
I found an egg shell in the flower bed - possibly from the back nest? though a day or two earlier than I calculated. Lucky and Charm's nest will be very difficult to peep into - and they are not 'tame' like Summer and Sky, so I will have to let them get on with it and hope all is ok.
There was a small poorly-ish pidgie around today - I tried to make sure he got food but they have to be so quick and spry to survive that I doubt he is long for this world. He's the hunched up tiny one in the middle of the photo, poor little poppet. The one in front of him with the white wings is of course my Charlie - still going strong., despite finding it more difficult to pick up grains than the other birds.
Friday 10th May - Summer didn't come out of the nesting box for the early morning feed, so I took her up a pot of small grains and peanuts. I couldn't see if there was an egg or not as it's so crowded in there with two big babies as well. I was able to wipe up the poop from the 'doorstep' but didn't want to annoy Mummy Summer by doing any more. Sky wasn't in the garden as far as I could see - sometimes he is not there first thing - and I don't think Summer will feed the babies if she has eggs (which is usual). I think the hawk has been doing her rounds as after the first flock of early birds, none of my usual crowd turned up.
I was busy in the first part of the morning so I don't know if Sky came back or not, and whether Summer fed the babies or not, but around midday Summer had left the nest so I peeked inside. There were the two babies (about 22/23 days old now approx) and an egg! You can see my glove which has now been incorporated into the nest!!!
|Clutch overlap - Two squabs about 23 days old with egg newly laid by their mother|
I quickly decided to grab my chance to ring the babies, and took one out of the nest, hoping that I wouldn't be disturbing Lucky or Charm on the back nest. This was the first chance I have had to properly see these babies and check them over. It seemed perfectly ok, though a bit 'snall for dates' - I don't know exactly when they hatched but I saw them both, tiny weeny, on Sat 20th April and it is unlikely they were more than 2 days old at most. Anyway, I ringed the baby with a blue ring on her right leg, and red on her left, and named her Destiny. I also fed her about 15 grains, just in case Sky hadn't fed her. Summer came back to the cote so I wasn't able to take the other baby for ringing - in fact she came back while I still had baby Destiny but I posted her in through the door, and Summer was fine about it!
Later Summer left the nest and I was able to ring and feed the other baby, with green on left and pink on right - she's named Liberty. I've decided to keep a Ringing Book so I know what colour combos I've used!
Bianca - who was interested in the nest Mr. Sunshine built t the back that is now being used by Lucky and Charm - seems to have lost Ricky and is now being 'driven' by a new male - one of the two 'dirty' birds that turn up. I'm calling him Dirty Ricky!
Saturday 11th May 13 - I decided I must get up really early so I could be sure to see if Sky feeds the babies.
5.30am - I got up and there were 2 grey pigeons on the lawn. I changed the babies' nappy paper!Summer on the nest with the babies and her egg.
5.45am - Now there are 6 white and 9 mixed colour pigeons.
5.50am - 28 birds now, but still only the 6 white ones. I put food on the lawn and the birds came down to eat. There were no ringed or special birds, not even Charlie
5.55am - My Beautiful Stranger arrived.
6.15am - More birds arrived, including Grace, Charlie and Sky. Summer came out of the nest and I could see there are now 2 eggs!
6.25am - Sky fed the babies, and while I was making tea for me and hubbie, he went up and fed again.
So I was pleased that all seemed well, but the rest of the day was more stressful. At 9.30am ish I saw a small but ominous pile of feathers of the lawn - looking like a strike had been attempted, and Summer was not on the nest and in fact Sky should've been sitting on the new eggs during the main part of the day, but he wasn't. I have no hope at all for these new eggs - I didn't particularly want what they call a 'clutch overlap' as I like the babies to be brought up and fledge before a new family is started, and I did think about removing the first egg and replacing it with a plastic one, but I like all potential babies to have their chance, so I let things be.
I went out at and midday when I came back, there was no-one on the nest (though there was on the back nest) and a small line up of pigeons on the roof, with one white dove on the telegraph pole. Eventually I realised it was Sky - he came down to the nest box, poked his head in 'You lot ok? - keep those eggs warm!' and off he flew back to the roof to join the pidgies. Here he is on the end of the line.
Regular blog readers know that I don't rate Sky as a good father - he seems to leave the eggs/babies whenever he feels like it or at the first sign of difficulties. Looks like I will be feeding Destiny and Liberty - I can't let them starve, poor little poppets. Shortly after this there was another strike, and the hawk brought a pigeon down in the yard, but it got away. Sky flew off with the rest of them, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be seeing him again for a while.
Poor Cloud had an unpleasant experience. The hawk giving up trying to catch a fast-flying pigeon, thought he saw an easy meal.......
|Hawk thinks he's seen an easy meal!|
I took the photo as I knew Cloud was safe - but she of course didn't know that, and was hunched up and scared, so I then removed her to the conservatory for the rest of the day.
At 5pm with no Summer and no Sky, I took the babies one at a time out of the nest and fed them. It's not ideal, it's not what I want to do... but I feel I have no choice. Here's Liberty (top) and Destiny.
Charm came back to her nest at 6.30pm, and Lucky left a few minutes later, after coming down to the lawn to feed. I do think their nest being at the back is a good thing, as they avoid seeing all the hawk-hassle. Neither Sky nor Summer came back to eggs or babies. The woodie ducks lightened my gloomy mood a little by brightening up the garden. We are seeing two males and one female now.
|Mandarin ducks on the fence|
Sunday 12th May 13 - At 5.45am when I got up, there were quite a few birds around including Bianca being chased by Dirty Ricky (you might as well give in now, love!). The babies were at the window of the nest box, watching. Ten minutes later there were10 pure white doves on the roof, including Lucky. I am so glad I can recognise him and give him extra feed. By 6am I realised that Summer was in with the babies! She must've come back very early in the morning. I took her the usual pot of grains and saw her eat from it, but she didn't feed the babies. By 6.30am Sky hadn't arrived, and shortly after that there was another hawk strike, frightening all the birds away. We were going out prompt at 8.30am for about six hours, so at 7am I decided I must risk Summer's displeasure and take the babies out for feeding. It seems ridiculous that she won't feed them, but that's the way the doves do things. As soon as the female is on a new lot of the eggs, the male feeds the older squabs entirely AND is supposed to do his turn on the eggs. Sky of course is currently doing neither - I hope nothing has happened to him. Summer didn't seem to mind me removing first one baby, then the other, which was fortunate. We left as planned at half eight, and I hadn't seen Sky.
Back at 2.30pm - Babies and eggs alone in the nest. The eggs are being kept warm by the babies, but they move around at will, so I don't suppose it is the same as a mother actually sitting in the proper way. I don't mind what happens to these eggs because they were only just newly laid and there wouldn't be much of a baby inside each anyway yet. I DO mind about Liberty and Destiny not being looked after or fed! There were 3 pigeon tail feathers on the lawn, all together - this indicates another strike! At 3pm I took the babies out one at a time and fed them. Destiny seems bigger/older than Liberty - they both ate well, but Destiny drank from the little glass of water I held whereas Liberty only wet her beak. I do feed them defrosted peas to give them some moisture. As I type it is now past 5pm and still no Sky or Summer...... I think of other nests, where no-one knows the babies are waiting and waiting.... don't think about it!!!! - at least these two have me to look after them if their parents can't or won't return.
5.15pm - it's so rainy and miserable, that I have brought Cloud in from the hutch to the conservatory, and of course fed her. I just saw Charm change places with Lucky - their eggs were due to hatch yesterday so for all I know there could be two tiny babies in the back nest.
5.45pm - a gloomy early evening. No Sky or Summer still, so I again fed Liberty and Destiny. When I first set up the cote -7 years ago I think it was - I didn't imagine that the hawk would be frightening my parents doves away, and that I would be having to feed neglected or orphaned babies. I do like feeding the babies, I admit that, but I hate the necessity for it. I also didn't imagine feeding a huge flock of feral pigeons. As soon as the cote is not being used by any parents or babies, I will either have it taken down or block up the holes, and gradually reduce feeding the flock until they disperse. I do have some enjoyment from them, of course I do, and I like feeding them (though not the cost!), photographing them and blogging about them - but it is terribly stressful and I could do without it. You may think oh she's just having a bad day but I mean it. Let's hope tomorrow brings Sky and Summer back again. I also pray that Lucky and Charm continue to be unharmed and can rear their babies safely. God bless my dovecote!
Monday 13th May '13 - I went into the garden at 6am and there were many doves and pigeons already there, pecking up any left-overs from yesterday. Bianca and Dirty Ricky were there, and Grace - and I was very happy to see Summer also on the lawn, and even happier when she flew up and fed Liberty and Destiny. She didn't stay to sit on the eggs and I am pretty sure they are abandoned but I will leave them in the nestbox. By 6.25am Summer had fed the babies twice. Sky didn't turn up - I haven't now seen him since midday on Saturday.
Later - 9.15am - Patience was on the roof with a couple of grey pigeons, then three white doves arrived - Lucky, Summer..... and my prodigal son, Sky! He ate and then fed the babies, who welcomed daddy back voraciously! And a few minutes later Summer fed them too. I went out and came back at midday and found Summer in the nest with the babies and the eggs, but she soon left them and joined Sky on the roof where they mated!!! Excuse me, Missus, but you have two babies and two eggs already! I decided to mark these eggs in case she lays more, so put a permanent felt-tip cross on each.
Summer comes out of the nest box
The only doves on the roof - Sky and Summer, together again
Then a grey pigeon joins them.... and it's Patience!
Patience - 'hawked' in January and well and happy in May
Later I noticed there was no parent on Lucky's nest so I got the camera and had a quick peep. Two adorable little new babies! I am not experienced enough to be able to tell exactly how old they are just from looking at them but I found the shell in the flower bed on Thurs.9th and I thought they might have been due on Sat. 11th so I am reckoning they are between 2-4 days old. Bless them!
We'll end the blog on a good note with their first photo!
To be cont....