Thursday, 6 June 2013

Fight for the cote - and the impending doom

Wednesday 29th May 2013 - The squabs, Destiny and Liberty, had spent their first night in the hutch, and again spent the day on the roof and around the garden. I am pleased with the way this pair have developed - there was a bit of a hitch when Sky didn't come back, and I had to give them a few feeds along the way - but now they are lovely strong young birds, with a good chance of survival. Here they are on the porch roof with Summer who is still spending time with them. Sky has completely disappeared - I never see him now.

 Doves and pigeons on the roof - see the two cuddling close together at the far end?
 That's Lucky and Charm
 Summer, on one leg, eyes up the dovecote from the raised bed. It's mine, I want it! she thinks

Again, at bedtime, I was able to catch Dessy and Libby and put them in the hutch for a safe and peaceful night. As Summer was still trying to regain her nest-box from Lucky and Charm, and kept going in there, I was able to catch her too, and again put her in with her babies. This time I could see she definitely wasn't going to feed them, and when they begged she gave them a few angry pecks, so I released her out after a very short time. The squabs settled in happily with a dish of small grains and water. One perched for the night on top of the partition and the other on a pile of bricks I'd put in for them.

In the evening a friend came round with an injured wood-pigeon that seemed unable to fly. One of her cats was watching it in the garden, huddled in a corner, so she managed to catch it and brought it round to me. She named him Aragon, and though wood-pigeons are not my favourite birds of course I am happy to try to help, so I boxed him for the night in the conservatory to assess properly in the morning.

Thursday 30th May - Summer was losing the fight for the cote, though I have never seen such determination as she showed to keep it! I couldn't help but be proud of her, but I hoped she would give up soon as I knew she had no chance of winning and it was quite distressing to see her - again and again - try to enter the cote only to be dragged out by Lucky. By the afternoon she held up the white flag, and Lucky and Charm are the new residents in No. 1 The Dovecote.

Their nestlings, Fennie and Dolly, in the back of the cote, are about 21 days old and due to be ringed. I knew that Lucky and Charm would build a nest asap in the front, making it difficult for me to drag out two resisting, loudly squawking squabs for ringing, so I thought I better do it today. There was no opportunity as either Lucky, Charm or Summer were always there, so I just grabbed my chance when Charm and Summer were fighting noisily inside the box, and took the squabs anyway - but one at a time. I did it so quickly and my memory is so bad that I can't even remember the babies ring colours! - Will have to check and let you know.. I am running out of colour combos and rings - I must get some more! One of my blog readers did send me some rings, but I really prefer to use colour rings rather than number ones. I told you this back nest is pretty wet and smelly, though I do my best with the nappy paper to keep it clean, but when I took the babies out I found a quantity of tiny writhing m*ggots (got a phobia about these!) at the entrance, where flies eggs had obviously hatched. How revolting! I hope I managed to clean them all up, as I don't know what these wriggling things would do to find more food - would they make their way towards the babies to feed on them! The thought is appalling, so I will have to try to check the babies regularly but this is hard to do if the parents start a new nest. Here are the babies, on their Ringing Day - Fennie, dark and Dolly pure snow white!

It looks like Dolly will be completely white, but it will be interesting to see Fennie's plumage when he is a bit older.

Here is the wood pigeon, Aragon. He only had a very slight graze on his size, and by the afternoon was trying to get out, so I released him and found he could fly well. I hope he finds his way back to my friend's garden.

By the afternoon, there were a few sticks in the front nest box as Lucky arranged his new home. One or the other of the pair stayed in there constantly to give Summer no chance to re-possess.
At bedtime, I wondered if I would be able to get the 43 day old squabs in the hutch for a third night, but if they flew off with the flock there is nothing I can do about it except hope they get back in the morning. I now know from their movements when they want to go to roost so I was hovering! When Destiny flew to one of the side windows of the cote, Lucky and Charm peered out crossly, but I steadily climbed the steps so as not to frighten anyone and did manage to catch Dessy but only just! So I had one.... and now what would Liberty do? She seemed in no hurry to go to bed but sat on the roof for a while..... I tried to be patient knowing she would want to come in soon... and when she flew to the hedge I thought I might be able to net her gently. This didn't happen, but she seemed to understand that the hutch was the new home and came over to perch on the table (I had put Cloud to bed early so I could organise all this). I then gently opened the big wire door and held it open - but alert to shut it or somehow prevent Dessy flying out if he tried to do so! Goodness, what a palaver! Liberty, looking enquiringly around, walked slowly to the door, with many pauses, peeped in, saw Destiny and walked through. So clever! In only three days she has learnt to come to the hutch at night. Of course, they do get fed in there at bedtime so that is an added incentive, and they have the opportunity to eat peanuts without the other birds robbing them first! They can manage big peanuts now, but rarely can eat them on the lawn as they are just not quick enough. By the time they have seen them a pigeon has eaten them first!
Charm stayed the night in the cote, but I don't think the nest is complete enough for her to lay an egg. Of course now my main concern will be that this pair still continue to feed their first babies. Hopefully Lucky is a more conscientious father than Sky - he could hardly be worse! There is still no sign of Sky, by the way, and yes I am rather sad about it. I now know for sure that the blue ringed dove IS Bianca as I saw a white male making up to her the other day, and seeing her directly next to a male I can see that she has the more slender neck of a female.
Friday 31.5.13 - In the morning Charm stayed in the cote til 10.30am and I was able to get a peep. There WAS an egg, but no nest!!! The egg was laid near the entrance of the nestbox on the plain hard wood floor! Even one of the two pieces of newspaper I had put down to line the box had been chucked out. The egg looked most uncomfortable and in such a peculiar position, right near the entrance - and right where the jackdaws could possibly see it. I wondered why Lucky and Charm hadn't finished making the nest - well it hardly looked started. Literally there were about four sticks in the nestbox. I decided I would make a nest out of hay and feathers and put it in the nestbox. Pigeon owners provide little bowls filled with nesting material for their pigeons to lay eggs in, so I didn't think it would be interfering too much. If you remember, Lucky and Charm didn't actually make the nest that they are bringing up Fennie and Dolly in - it was built at the beginning of the year by ringed white dove, Mr. Sunshine and his mate Miss Tina but they disappeared and after Bianca and Ricky had toyed with the idea of using it, Lucky and Charm then took over. Musical nests!
 I used the red bowl to make the shape, and obviously wasn't going to put it in the nestbox. I felt that if I just left the egg in the cote, a jackdaw or jay would take it before Charm came back. I know for sure that a predator took Jose's first egg out of the hutch - though that could've been a squirrel, and a jackdaw/jay certainly took one of Summer's unfortunate eggs out of this very nestbox so I felt justified removing Charm's egg and replacing it with a plastic one. This is what they look like:

Charm came back after a while and before I had made the nest - she obviously sat on the plastic egg and seemed to notice no difference. I wasn't worried about the real egg not being incubated as they don't start sitting properly until the second egg is laid, but I obviously wanted to return it to her and put in the nest I had made. I had the idea of taking Charm out, but next time I looked Lucky was in there with her, so I thought I better not! Later, they both left again and so I put in the nest I made, removed the plastic egg and put the real one in the centre of the nest. When Charm came back I wondered if she would chuck out my nest, but she didn't.
Summer is still staying with her young doves, Destiny and Liberty. I know they go off flying now as they are not always on the roof.
Nothing to do with doves, or birds, but I saw a snake in the garden this afternoon. I was in a flower bed, peering to see the back of the cote - and there was a movement near my foot (bare, in clogs) and I saw a snake slithering away. I've seen it, or another, around here and I know it's a grass snake so non-venomous. It gave me a start though!
It was bath day today. Lucky and Summer chose the pink bath....but didn't bathe together. Well, he is married to Charm!

Destiny and Liberty on the roof
 Portrait of Lucky - he has very beady eyes!
 When Dessy and Libby decided to have a bath, they chose the blue one!
 And put themselves in together
 Cute and content, side by side

 And here's Liberty coming out - I was pleased with this shot!
 Preening and drying off in the sun

 I wanted to get a shot of Lucky, but he turned away, but the pigeon's iridescence is so pretty that I saved the photo!
 Ah, that's better Lucky - and your eyes don't look quite so beady this time!
 And here's my lovely Patience, the picture of health

By 5.40pm Lucky had gone, and Charm fed Dolly and Fennie. I was quite surprised about this as normally the male does all the feeding of the squabs once the female has started a new nest.
6.15pm - Liberty went to the hutch like a good little dove but Destiny actually pushed her way in with Charm, and I had to forcibly remove him, which was tricky - and put him in with Liberty (I don't know the sex of these two yet!). I hoped that this hadn't upset Charm, and she settled down, so I was happy. My mummy doves was on her egg, my nestlings were tucked up, fed and safe, and my two young birds were secure for the night with a bowl of food. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world, and hunky dory! Until I happened to look at the cote at about 8pm and realised Charm had left the egg for the night!
The jackdaws and jays are in the garden before the doves and I knew it would get taken so I decided to remove it and replace it before she came back in the morning. When I mounted the steps to get it, I found it out of my nest and where it was originally, right near the entrance - OK Charm, it is your egg, so I suppose you can have it where you like it! You may wonder why I am so worried about one egg - well it is not so much the egg, but more the fact that if it got taken, Charm would lay another, which she would also leave as it would be the first egg again..... and so on. I don't want Charm to get a calcium deficiency or be upset/confused because she has no eggs!!!
Saturday 1st June 2013 - All went to plan and the egg was back in the nestbox, being watched by me in case of predators, before Lucky and Charm came back at 5.08am. Yes, I am getting up about ten to five! I went back to bed at 5.20 though once I had released Liberty and Destiny and made sure all was well. Summer was not there first thing - her duty to Liberty and Destiny is now over, I presume.
 Above - some of the flock on the lawn. I wondered if the dark one in the middle was my 'Black Joseph' from last year. June and July seem to be the months when my garden gets revisited by the nomads!

Below - Porchie leads Liberty and Destiny into mischief, through the pansies, to peck at the wall!

Then later he had a snooze in the porch that he has adopted as his 'day home'


9.30am - Lucky was bringing more sticks to the cote. Maybe he doesn't think my nest was very good! Surely it would've been better to finish the nest before the egg was laid, Lucky and Charm?
11am - The garden was sunny and I felt very happy with having just a few doves in the garden, like the old days when I had my original four, that quickly became six! Now I had Charm on the nest, Lucky nearby, Destiny and Liberty enjoying the garden, with Porchie hovering near them like a friendly uncle and Cloud sunbathing on the hutch table. Quiet bliss!
12.15 - Now Charm is bringing sticks to her nest!
3pm - I came home to find Destiny walking on the patio, and seemingly having difficult in flying. I tried to catch him but he managed a wobbly flight to the low roof. I hoped that my forcible removal from Charm's nestbox last night hadn't damaged his wings in any way... I don't need a new Jose to look after!
6.30pm - Charm came out of the nest to eat and I was able to have a quick look. Two eggs now! I wondered if Fennie and Dolly got fed but I try to remember that Lucky is NOT Sky! Charm stayed the night with her two eggs - both right plumb up to the door of the cote, and Liberty came to the hutch, was fed and shut in, but young Destiny was not around. I was a bit sad about this as I wondered if he could fly well enough to go off with the flock. Would he come back in the morning or like Valentine and Santa never been seen again?
Sunday 2.6.13 -  Destiny was there in the morning - thank heavens! I was so pleased to see him as I hate losing young birds so early and I know that Liberty would miss him as they spend all their time together.
I was pleased to get an opportunity to take Fennie and Dolly out and check them, because of the dreaded m*ggots. They both seemed perfectly ok. I love Dolly just as much but I take more photos of Fennie as he is more unusual.

Twin baby doves - one white, one black!!!


 In the late afternoon, the birds and I had a shock as a large brown thing plopped down to the lawn just by me - it was a duck! See her in the middle in the photo above. Hubbie was quite pleased  but I said I don't want her to bring her friends!
Destiny and Liberty put themselves in two different side sections of the cote this evening, and Charm accepted the situation. I kept glancing at the cote from my seat inside the cottage but darkness fell with Charm still on her eggs - thank goodness!
Monday 3rd June 13 - Dessy and Libby were sweet today, cuddling up on the roof together as if they were a courting couple rather than siblings.

 Later they sat on the porch roof, with Lucky (far left) and Porchie, who is being the new Pharos on the light.
 And I had the most wonderful and welcome surprise - my Autumn came back! I haven't seen her for weeks, but hoped she had survived and felt she had been taken away by a male, and here she is again!
 With red and yellow rings
 And in the photo below you can also see Sally-Anne (brown banded pigeon on the left) who is injured and still limps, but copes pretty well.
Tuesday 4th June - I was out most of the day so the birds had to get on without me. There was a huge flock of hungry doves and pigeons when I got back. Again Destiny and Liberty put themselves to bed in the cote, and it's lovely to know that they are safe close-by. Every night that they spend 'at home' means they gain size and strength, with more chance of survival. Thank goodness Lucky leaves the garden fairly early and doesn't know what they are up to! I still put a little pot of grains in the cote for each of them for a bedtime snack!
Just before the birds left for the day, the duck turned up again with two drakes - I have to say I shooed them away. I don't really want ducks eating the grain and pooping on the lawn - we have too many birds already.
Wed. 5th June - All's well in dove-land plus it was another gorgeous sunny summer day. Fennie and Dolly have learned to poop right outside the nestbox so no more nappy paper is needed and less of the dreaded flies/m*ggots.  I saw my beautiful Autumn again, and here she is....with a bowing and cooing male behind her!

I looked back to last summer to find out when she was hatched, and it was end July/beginning of August so she is about 10 months old or so now. Here she is as a young squab not quite a month old.
I also remembered that she was hurt at the end of November '12 and here she is in my kitchen after I had looked at her injury.

She is the oldest of Summer and Sky's offspring that I am still seeing, and the only one from last year - and her younger brothers/sisters are Grace, and of course Destiny and Liberty. Autumn's twin was Spring.
I didn't block any of the babies in last night so I was able to have a lie in til 6am when I got up and fed the flock - then I went back to bed until 8.30! A very long lie in for me. The only thing that ruined the day was that we have now had notification from our land agents that the work on the adjacent roof (the doves roof!) will be starting next week. I am dreading it - the impending doom. Not so much for the main flock, who I presume will move and sit on our roof or others nearby, but I am so concerned that having men in the garden, putting up scaffolding, crashing about etc will cause Lucky and Charm to desert their babies and eggs. If they do, then I am confident I can rear Fennie and Dolly myself as they are now about 27 days old but it would be a great shame about the eggs. Please send my dovies good vibes to cope with the disruption. I will of course talk to the men and explain the situation - but I can't explain to the doves! I will start, from tomorrow, feeding the birds at the other end of the garden, but I can't move the cote!!! The roof as it is, with grass growing in the gutter, makes such a lovely day bed for my young birds, Destiny and Liberty!
To be contd....


hopeinparis said...

LOVELY blog and FABULOUS photos as always! I read EVERY word. And of course I love reading about your baby squab named Dolly!!!
Thank you, Faith!

Fennie said...

Yes, beautiful photrographs and so glad that Bianca has returned. Now we just need (the older) Fennie!

Young Fennie's colouring is very special, isn't it? In a week or two he will be flying around won't he? I had though he woas going to be completely black like an Indian Nightingale but his wings seem almost white. A two-tone bird then!

Good luck when the roof comes down.

Faith said...

Thank you Jane.

Fennie, it is Autumn who has returned, but I am not surprised you get confused with all the names! I have no real idea how Fennie's colouring will turn out - it will be interesting anyway. More charcoal grey than black I think.

CAMILLA said...

Another wonderful post Faith about your darling birds. Strange that the twin baby Doves are one dark one and one white - Dolly and Fennie, perhaps Fennie will remain dark colouring, is it a few weeks before you will know Faith?

Lovely photo's Faith.

Faith said...

I think he will stay more or less as he is now, Camilla.