Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The eggs.....the roof...... and an interesting new baby to look after.....

Tuesday 18th June 2013

All is reasonably calm here - we are awaiting the hatching of the new eggs tomorrow or the next day in an atmosphere of quiet anticipation. Fennie and Dolly are still going to bed in the cote, together, and so is Liberty in her own side. So we have F and D, Libby and mummy Charm on her two, soon to hatch, eggs - that's more than usual in the cote!

We now think it is unlikely the roof drama will happen. The guys working on the building came in and cleaned out the gutter (removing the grass which made a nice day bed for the little dovies!) and stripping off the ivy - which was a habitat for small creatures and insects. But it is not our building and we have no say in what happens. I am just grateful that it looks like the whole roof will not be replaced as I was dreading it.

Here is Cassidy (who has only one leg) keeping company with Cloud - who is suffering from the results of paramyxovirus, and will probably never be able to be released.

The squirrels keep attacking the grain bins (metal) so I know have to put on a barricade of shovels, bricks and anything I can find to keep them from pulling the lids off and helping themselves - here is one of the culprits on top of the telegraph pole. The peanuts I have moved to the bottom of the aga in the kitchen (we don't use the aga in the summer so it makes a good food hutch!)
 Fennie (dark) and Dolly were hatched at the same time to white parents but couldn't be more different. They know they belong together though, and here they snuggle up to each other and act lovingly - very sweet!

 Below - Grace, white, also hatched in the cote, and Cassidy perch together. Some of the birds, like Grace, are kind and tolerant to one legged Cassidy, and others are aggressive, but he is getting far more used to the flock and to me. He stays around the garden and the roof for most of the day.

 Now I have got used to the idea that he has only one leg - I can be calmer about it. At first I was horrified and thought he had just suffered the accident and was bound to die, but whenever or however it happened, Cassidy is coping well with his disability. In the next pictures I sat on the grass to try to get a close up of his stump....

 In the next one you can see the leg has been lost below the top joint and is perfectly healed. I read on the internet about a wood pigeon seen in a garden with a broken leg, and some days later seen again with the leg dropped off! Perhaps that is what happened here.

 Dirty Ricky, left, and Bianca are seen in the garden together again. For a while it was only one or the other, making me think they had a nest. He is 'driving' her again, so a new nest is obviously on his mind. I can't understand why his feathers are so grubby and hers so clean, if they are nesting together.

 His grubbiness doesn't really show in the photos, but honestly I have rarely seen a dirtier white dove!
Hubbie told me he had seen white doves flying under a local road bridge, so I went to investigate along a nettled path....
 To discover some interesting graffiti under the bridge. I like street art as long as it is art not just rude words!
 I did spot one pigeon - whitish but not pure white
 It was a whole new world under the bridge. I have lived here 10 years but never been under there before.
 When I came up and crossed the road, I spotted one of the green Surrey parakeets in a tree. We have hundreds of them in this area.
 Then down the other side of the bridge, to see two more pigeons. Very pretty actually, though my photo didn't come out well. They were white and mottled, with brown faces. I didn't see any eggs shells or many feathers though, and wonder if this is a new roost for them. It should be a nice safe one unless the council find out and decide they can't stay. I didn't recognise any of the birds, though I thought that every dove or pigeon from miles around came to my garden!
 More street art on this side

 One whitish pigeon under the bridge
 Young Fennie - far right - has been out of the nest for over a week and is very confident. He is quite small still, with a small beak, but can hold his own with the other birds AND eat whole peanuts which is more than Dolly can do even though she has a large beak! Destiny, can't eat whole peanuts either, though Liberty can.
 Below, Cassidy is a little ballerina
One leg pigeon pirouettes!

Below, Bianca with blue ring, and Dirty Ricky again

I have discovered that Patience and Sally-Anne are both males! But their names will remain the same. Sally-Anne can now put pressure of his crippled foot.

Afternoon - I was driving down our little country road when I saw a black bird fluttering along in front of me, and I thought it was a blackbird, low flying as they do. It kept fluttering then stopping, then scooting along again, so I suspected something was wrong. I stopped the car and went to catch up with it, and it flutter-flew into the side of the road, and down into the ditch, which was half full of muddy water. I must say I heaved a bit of a sigh as I don't really want a bird to look after, other than Cloud, but I went home, got the net and a box and brought the bedraggled little thing home.

 He is very sweet with his big beak and blue eyes, and as yet unnamed. I had one a couple of years ago - Hugo - that had fallen into oil at the farm, and he survived, but I think he was older than this one. Now I am facing the same problems as Fennie (blog reader, not baby dove!) did when trying to feed Squawk, baby magpie. My baby spits out his nice soaked mealworms, but did drink very well from a little shot glass. Unfortunately Fennie's Squawk has died - which often happens to baby birds that humans try to rear. I'm so sorry Fennie, I know you did your best.

Later - The baby jackdaw has now been named Huckleberry Finn - Huckleberry for short, or Huck as hubbie is calling him. He likes jackdaws and reared one as a boy.


Baby jackdaw rescued from a muddy ditch
 We got on a bit better at later feeding times. I chopped up the mealworms quite small and mixed them with the Kaytee product that I keep in case on need with the squabs. The Kaytee is a powder that you mix with water and is a complete food for baby birds, then I added the chopped mealworms and made little balls. I am hoping Huckleberry will soon learn to open his beak for me - he did sometimes! - but mostly this afternoon I opened his beak and put the food inside, on top of this long flicky tongue. Sometimes he ate it and sometimes he spat it out. As I didn't know when he had last eaten, before I found him, I tried to give him something every hour. The last time I went in at about 8.15 he had tucked himself away at the back of his box and gone to sleep, so obviously I left him. I decided it would be best not to keep checking him, but leave him for the night - I know he is safe! and hope he survives the night. I am looking after my baby grand-daughter tomorrow at her house, so it looks like little Huckleberry will have to come too!

Wednesday 19th June 13 - Huckleberry survived the night, and having read up a bit, and with cat food to hand, I decided to try him with that. Cat food is smelly and rather revolting at the best of times, but at 6am when you are picking it up in your fingers and trying to feed a struggling baby bird it's not the best start to the day! But Huck copped on a bit, and realised this is the way he is going to be fed.... and accepted it! He would not take pieces of soaked mealworm from a pair of tweezers and I found the only way to get food into him was to gently open his beak (with my nail) and place the pea sized amount of squished up cat food into his mouth. If I put it at the front, near the end of his beak, he spat it out, but when I put it in the middle, he seemed to swallow it - mostly anyway. I was out the door before 8.15am with the flock fed, Cloud fed and in the hutch, me fed, Huck fed and everything I needed for him in a bag. He of course travelled in the cat travelling box which is his current home. My house-proud daughter wasn't specially pleased to see him, but my grand-children thought it was fun! Today Huck was fed at roughly 6am, 9am, 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm. Yesterday he had gone to sleep by 8.15pm, but tonight he was being very active still at 9pm and trying to get out of his box, spilling his water and making a mess, so I fed him again. Although he is eating, reasonably well, he struggles at every second mouthful, escaping out of the cloths that I am using to swaddle him up in for feeding. I have discovered, with the baby doves, that it is easier to feed a bird that is swaddled up, with just it's head poking out, as it gives me a bundle to hold, rather than a skinny little bird that slips out of my hands! Huckleberry feels soft to the touch, but bony, and he thinks he knows best, escaping whenever he can.

Today's photos of Huckleberry Finn

Jackdaws fledge at around 4 weeks old, so I assume that is roughly how old he is. He will of course be released back into the wild when I am satisfied that he can feed himself and fly properly. I looked back at my blog to find out about the other jackdaw I reared - two years ago, June 2011, how time flies. If you are interested here's the link for how Hugo jackdaw came into my life -   He came on June 7th and was released on the 17th so we had him for ten days. After the release I never saw him again - I had ringed him so I would recognise him. Huckleberry will not be short of mates as there are huge numbers of jackdaws around here - many coming into the garden to rob the doves of their grain!
Today was hatching day for the new eggs, but there was no sign of egg shells in the garden and though I mounted the steps and had a look at both Lucky and Charm - whoever was on the nest at the time - I couldn't see a baby. Lucky and Charm, like Sky and Summer before them, have become pretty tame, and don't mind me looking at them close up while they are sitting.
I am worried about Cassidy as, this afternoon, he had his beak open and seemed to be panting. I have seen this before in birds and it's not good news. I won't be surprised if he is not there in the morning, but I will be sad as he is such a plucky little bird - coping with one leg, and seemingly ok up to now.
Thursday 20.6.13 - I calculated that the eggs, or at least one of them should've hatched yesterday but this morning at the early feed I saw the cote was empty so I ran up the steps to have a look. Both eggs were there, but not even cracking. They felt warm to the touch. Charm went back to them so I am still hoping that there is nothing wrong and they will hatch today or tomorrow. I checked back on my blog and there was 1 egg on Friday 31st May and 2 eggs by the early evening of the 1st June - incubation is usually 18 days from the laying of the second egg. I will be disappointed if they don't hatch - all that sitting and taking turns for nothing....
Cassidy was there, not panting and ok. I read last night on the internet that pigeons do pant sometimes in hot weather or after a flight, so obviously it can be normal and not a sign of illness or distress, and it was pretty warm yesterday.
Huckleberry ate his cut up cat food and chopped mealworm mixture - with me still putting it in his beak. I left some food in with him, and when I looked again it had mysteriously vanished, so I'm thinking he can feed himself!  He was introduced to Cloud, who was not impressed!

Then he escaped to sit on the back of the chair where he observed the garden
Til I caught him and put him back, where he promptly went to sleep

 But I think it was only forty winks, as you can see his eye is open!
The men started work on the roof, but it looks like it will just be the back roof of the building adjoining ours, and that won't disturb us or the doves very much.

At the 9am feed, I offered Huckleberry whole soaked mealworms from tweezers and he took them - so much easier and cleaner for me!  The pictures are not so good, as I was holding the tweezers with one hand and the camera with the other!

Feeding baby jackdaw with a soaked mealworm, offered on tweezers

Cat food from the tweezers was rejected. Cloud is in the hutch outside, as usual for the day, so I cleaned out her crate, put fresh paper down, and moved Huck in there, with his box. So he's got more room to move about, but can go in his box if he wants to. Fennie, my blog reader, told me that these fledglings need water to bathe in from an early age, so I put in a shallow dish of water for him too. I was concerned as there wasn't any poop after the night, but now he seems to be doing it. It's a bit runny, but other than that little Huckleberry seems in good health. He now makes ca-aak noises occasionally.
Later -  Huckie has been very chatty this afternoon - 'occasionally' has turned into' a lot'! The conservatory doors are open - as the crate is shut - and he can probably hear the jackdaws outside. He's on roughly the same feeding schedule as before, but any left overs from the last feed are chucked outside when I bring the next, so he always has fresh food. I have given him grain too - different sizes! - as the jackdaws here eat the seeds, peanuts and grain. Soon I will have to teach him that meals don't magically arrive in little dishes, nicely prepared. Although he can feed himself I will not be releasing him until he looks an awful lot more like the jackdaws outside - he is still immature and not even fully feathered. Well, he has feathers all over, but they are very soft baby ones. He soon learned to feed himself from his dishes, but I offered him mealworms from the tweezers to see how many he would eat - one by one I picked them out of the pot and offered them to him, and he gobbled up.....well how many do you think? less than twenty-five!!!! But then he spat three out! He has also learned to climb up to the top of his box.
 Quite a little character!

Still no hatch announcement from Charm and Lucky. I mounted the steps to see if I could see anything - there was poop on the entrance which is unusual. The parent birds usually wait til they are not on nest duty in my experience. It was attracting flies so I tried to wipe it off, but Charm was very cross, pecked me and puffed herself up hugely - see photo! - Maybe she is sheltering a little tiny new yellow hatchling in there? I hope so! I could see one egg and it wasn't the one I had marked with a felt-tip - which would be correct, as the marked one should've hatched first as it was laid first.
Here's my beautiful Liberty, who is very much a home bird - she stays around for most of the day, while Destiny only turns up for feeds. She's sitting on the top of the hutch.

And at one point, quite a few of the birds, joined her there, which Cloud didn't seem to like, so she retreated inside. From left to right they are - Porchie (probably), then Liberty, Dolly and Fennie

Later again - By 6pm ish it was obvious that things had changed. Lucky and Charm both left the nest to feed. I had a quick look at the eggs, both there and warm, but nothing doing. Afterwards Lucky went into the old nestbox at the back of the cote and sat in there cooing. To me it was a sad day, nothing to coo about! Charm returned a few times to the eggs, and peered at them, or sat on them for a few minutes, but by 7pm they had been totally abandoned with both parents leaving the garden. Fennie and Dolly went to bed in their usual compartment, as did Liberty, and I gently went out and blocked them all in, so that I was able to have a look at the eggs without frightening them all off. The oldest one, with the felt-tip cross had a crack in it, and for a second I was hopeful - hey, maybe they will hatch after all!.... but really, deep down, I knew they wouldn't - they should've hatched yesterday. I wondered if Charm had pecked at the egg and cracked it - I don't think any predator had had a chance as I had been watching the cote, and doing things in the garden.  The eggs were cold, and the one with the crack smelt unpleasant. I cracked it open - much to hubbie's disgust - but I told him I like to see, and maybe learn something. It's not a great sight, so if you prefer not, scroll down quickly over the next three photos.
The contents of the first egg, and then a close up of the embryo - it was about 3.5cm long

Abandoned white dove egg, with embryo

Embryo from abandoned white dove egg

Contents of second egg - you can see the embryo is less advanced but I didn't separate it out

Ok, I'm not devastated, but I am sad, as I do feel a pang at every loss in my dovie-world. Those poor little unformed things, never to be. Returned to Mother Nature in the river. Why didn't these eggs develop properly? I don't know..... I think maybe they got cold at the beginning.... I just don't know. What a waste of the last eighteen days! And poor Summer lost the fight for the cote for this. Now I am worried that if they start again it will be the same story. After the removal of the eggs, I cleaned up the nestbox a little, but otherwise left it as it was. I had not been able to clean out the back nestbox since Fennie and Dolly fledged, as Charm was sitting on the eggs and I hadn't wanted to disturb her. Now I had the chance, but decided against it. I had a look at it and any faecal matter had dried out and set, and the nest had done Fennie and Dolly well, so I thought it best to leave it. Lucky and Charm had just taken over that nest, built by Mr. Sunshine, and when they 'built' their own, at the front, they didn't make a very good job of it, and now the babies hadn't developed, so I thought the other nest better stay there in case they decided to use it again.
I don't feel it is fair that Cloud should have to give up her crate in the evenings, and though I don't like all this hot bunking, as I don't have endless suitable crates/cages I have to do it - so I moved Huckie into the arrangement below and that's what he'll be in for the nights.

Friday 21.6.13 - Lucky and Charm didn't come down for the early morning feed, but sat at the end of the roof staring at the cote, in mourning. What a shame! But some things are just not meant to be. I've noticed in the past if things go wrong that it takes the doves about 24-48 hours before they 'forget' and go back to normal. Trouble is, I never forget all the losses. By 8.30am Lucky and Charm had had a look round the cote, but then flown away. Or so I thought..... til I went shopping, and found them in the back of the cote, in Dolly and Fennie's old nestbox, together. Looks like they've got over their troubles quickly! I hope they don't start again too quickly.

The men have come into the garden to repair the wall where they stripped off the ivy - needs cleaning out and repointing. I don't know how long it will all take - it's not even our wall but we have to have the inconvenience of them trampling on our flower bed. Although they were banging about, a few stalwart doves and pigeons stayed on the roof. Fennie and Dolly fly off with the rest of the flock now, and Cassidy - strengthened by the peanuts I always throw him - does too - and now Charm and Lucky are not on eggs it doesn't really matter.
Fennie, my blog reader, advised me that jackdaw fledglings need water to bathe in, so I put a shallow dish in the day crate (Cloud's night crate!). I didn't see Huckleberry having a bath - though I wish I had! but when I went in I could see the little puddles everywhere....

 And Huckie was preening his damp and fluffy little self!

 I love the fluffy bits on his sides!

In the afternoon, I took him in a carrying box to see my wheelchair bound and house-bound neighbour. He loves birds, and used to feed the doves for me before his stroke. Huck looks very small in his hand - don't worry he isn't being squashed!
 It got so warm in the afternoon that I moved Huck in his crate into the garden to get some fresh air and a different view.

I also gave him an over-grown pot of grass to give him something to do!

 The pigeons had a communal bath
And Porchie had a snooze with Cloud. He's not ringed, but I recognise him by a few dark specks on this wings, and his behaviour. I think he'd like Cloud as his mate, but will have to settle for best friends!
It's the longest day today - three years since my little dog died, and he is still much missed. I put a white rose on his stone and lit a little memorial candle. He was poorly in this photo - June 2010. My sweet little boy - Your loving spirit will be with us forever, darling. (His stone is engraved with those words - if you need a personally engraved real stone pet memorial then I can't recommend this guy highly enough - search ebay for stoodley_jones_workshop)
Huckleberry escaped out of his bedtime arrangements and flew to the supporting rod in the conservatory roof. Before I could take a photo of the naughty thing, he had crashed down to the window sill and was easily picked up and put in a smaller more secure box for the rest of the night.
My homies return to the roof at the end of the day - I am always so pleased to see them. Left to right, Liberty, 65 days old, and Dolly, and Fennie, approx. 43 days old.

Fennie - little maverick - obviously realised that Charm was no longer there because, instead of going in with Dolly, he perched on the ledge outside the front nestbox. In this view, you can just about see the shadowy figure of Liberty in her chosen bedroom. He was still there, hadn't gone in, when I went to bed.

Sat. 22.6.13 - Lucky and Charm are so absorbed in popping in and out of the different compartments of the cote that they didn't come down to feed. I really do hope they don't start a new nest before the hedge is cut! But by 10am Charm was sitting in the back nestbox and Lucky was on the roof. Surely she can't be laying?..... I haven't even seen them mating!
I went out to top up the fat balls in my feeder - visited by great and blue tits, woodpeckers, nuthatches and even the robin sometimes and found to my distress this nuthatch on the ground below. I remembered hearing a thump earlier, so maybe he crashed into the window. I hoped he was just stunned, but unfortunately he was dead. Such a terrible shame.and maybe he had a nest of babies, so I do hope his mate can cope. Later, I did see another nuthatch - I don't know how many pairs there are locally but not so many we can afford to lose one. Alive one minute, dead the next - nothing can be taken for granted.

My 19 month old granddaughter loves feeding the doves and pigeons.....she's holding a little bucket of grain (it gets dumped everywhere, including in the water baths, no matter how much I tell her not to!)
 Oh, where did they go!

 Sunday 23rd June 13 -
I give Huck different foods to try, as well as his mealworms of course....
 What's this?
 It's a blueberry Huck - try it!
 Mmm- he likes it
 And small grains too

 And even a bit of lamb chop - which he rejected!
 I think his poops look fairly normal
 At midday Huck was put out in the run outside. Even though it's plenty big he was still looking for how to escape out of it! I brought him in for the evening of course -( after Bobby was killed by a fox in the indoor part of the run I have never, and will never, leave a bird in the run at night)

 This evening both Dolly and Fennie took over the best room in the house - the coveted top floor of the dove cote.

 Monday 24.6.13 - The hedge has at last been cut - now I don't mind if Lucky and Charm start nesting again! They would've been seriously upset by the hedge cutting if they were sitting on eggs.
When I brought Cloud and Huckleberry in tonight, they both went to sleep straightaway - how sweet! A white angel and a black one.... well he is when he's asleep!

Tuesday 25.6.13 -  When I drove home at lunch time today there was a pigeon sitting in an odd place near my neighbour's cottage, so I stopped the car to have a look. I got pretty close, but she got up and flew away, and I saw she had racing pigeon's rings. Later she came down to the lawn, but seemed to walk slowly and be generally tired. Maybe she had flown a long way and was generally exhausted.

 When she flew to the roof, first a brown pigeon took advantage of her.....

 Then immediately afterwards, a white dove did......
 Poor little lady..... but the white dove hung his head and seemed sorry....
 But soon got over his shame and started courting her (you should've done that first!)
 Huckleberry Finn has been with us one week today, and isgrowing to be a handsome little chap, don't you think? I expect to be releasing him in the next few days.
 Charm and Lucky got lovey-dovey on the newly cut hedge - Lucky is the lower one of the two
 I never really thought about it properly til today, but Charm has lovely liquid brown eyes....
 While Lucky has beady amber eyes! Bit too starey for me, I prefer Charm's! 
 A different view of the cote - the back (where Fennie and Dolly were reared) and the doves and pidgies congregating on the roof. Dolly, in the front nestbox, was the only dove to stay the night tonight, but she seemed a little uneasy.
Wednesday - 26th June 13 -  No photos today, but good news, Charm is staying the night! And she seems well tucked in to the nestbox - the favoured front one - so fingers crossed for this new clutch!
To be cont.