Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Harlequin and Columbine...... and how I'm NOT COPING with the huge flock

Monday 22nd July 2013 - Here are Lucky and Charm's babies - now approximately 7/6 days old. One squab will always be about 24 hours younger than the other. From my observations I should think the blondie one is the elder of the two. I decided that if these new babies were 'odd' twins, like Fennie and Dolly, then I would name them Harlequin and Columbine, though I don't normally officially name my babies til I ring them. Harlequin is of course the darker one.
Later in the day, when Lucky and Charm were out and about, I took the babies out of the nest for the first time. I always kid myself that it is to 'check them over' but really it's because I am dying to have a little cuddle!

I wondered how much Harlequin is like Fennie as a baby.....so I found a photo. Fennie is on the left in the photo below - aged about 9 days,  - and seems to me darker in the body than Harlequin, above, - so far anyway! But they both have a pale tip to their dark beak.
 I popped this photo in out of sequence so we can compare Fennie above and Harlequin below at roughly the same age
Cheeky, the squirrel in the garden - someone who is also after the grains and nuts!


An exceptionally pretty young racer has been visiting my garden for a few days and seems in no hurry to move on!

Tuesday 23.7.13 -
Autumn, beautiful white female dove, one year old

 In the photo below I am kneeling on the lawn - the two pink lumps are my knees. The birds are very hungry at this time of year and come very close - the grey racer on the left features later on in the blog.
They have similar markings, just different colours, but the one on the right is an ordinary feral. 
 Afternoons in my garden!
 I found an egg smashed on the patio - I reckon it was taken by a corvid from a local nest. Most likely a pigeon egg.
 As I've said before, there are so many birds I see regularly but don't have the time to mention. The dark one in the centre of the photo below has been coming for quite a long while. When I first saw her I wondered what had happened as she seemed to be oily, and had a problem with the feathers on her back - also a crusty right eye - so bad I wasn't sure if she had an eye or not.

 Her left eye is ok as you can see below, and she is very very quick to pick up the grains, not disabled by her poorly right eye at all. I hoped her eye might improve, and wished I could catch her to bathe it, but pigeons cope with all sorts of horrible things and don't like being caught. If I get out the net, they scatter!
 I haven't named this bird - any suggestions?
 Another of my most beautiful birds, my graceful Grace

Beautiful white dove, preening, aged 5 months

 Harlequin's bottom! and Columbine, both looking very spiky

Wednesday 24th July 13 -
 Alert chirpy little squabs

Thursday 25th July 2013

Today when Cloud had her little half hour of freedom on the lawn, she chose to go and sit in the shallow water dish. I like it when she does things like this because it shows that she has a mind of her own and can make decisions.

 Fennie, left, and another pigeon came up close to where I was taking photos of Cloud. It's not a very good picture of Fennie, but I took it for you, my blog reader, Fennie, to show your bird is still alive and well. Fennie, I have noticed recently has lovely iridescence on his chest - purple and turquoise green.
Friday 26.7.13 - I am still getting up early to unblock the babies before Lucky and Charm arrive back in the garden - I get up at 5.15am and they arrive on the dot fifteen minutes later. This morning, before them, Eve and Tiny were there, and when Lucky and Charm arrived they brought two white friends, the first time they haven't arrived alone. Hmmm please don't bring all your mates for early breakfast! In a hurry to get back to bed, and having already changed the babies night nappy paper, I wanted to throw down some grain and peanuts, but Lucky and Charm were taking their time on the roof mating! I've seen them mating before in the last few days so imagine they will be starting a new nest soon. I will have to check out the back nest, that Fennie and Dolly were raised in, and see what it's like. For those of you who may be interested, I have noted in the last few days when I take out the night paper, that there are exactly 16 poops - 8 for each of them!
The birds used to fly off after the morning feed and start straggling back from midday on - now some of them hang hopefully around, peering from the low roof into the kitchen window, making me feel guilty that I can't afford to feed them all!

 If you are reading this in 'now' time you will know that this is the hottest summer we have had for many years - seven years I think! Although I am removing and replacing Harlequin and Columbine's nappy paper several times a day, I am still very concerned about m*ggots in the nest box. I wonder what other dove-cote owners do? Part of my worry is, I know, because I am so squeamish about them.... though better than I was.... but I do wonder what would happen if they were just left in there - the m*ggots I mean - with ALL the poop, and there would be a helluva lot! - and how would the babies fare? Would the wriggly things gravitate towards them, as a source of food? Anyway, I don't intend to find out. Lucky and Charm are thinking of nesting again and are constantly around the cote, but I grabbed my opportunity when a skip-lorry arrived to take a skip in the yard away, clanking and crashing, and frightening all the birds away. I took the babies out and put them in a towel lined box - they are so heavy and felt so hot! Their proper new fluffy little feathers are now bursting out as you can see in the photo - they are 11/10 days old. You can also see their large ear holes.

I left them in the box in the shade under the cote, while I pulled out all the damp hay, sticks, and faecal matter. There were very many m*ggots in different sizes - absolutely revolting! I am doing this against the clock remember, as I didn't want Lucky or Charm to come back to the cote and find me meddling! I wiped round the nestbox and then filled it with a nice clean pad of hay. I also extracted some sticks from the nest I'd pulled out, made sure they were clean and then put them in too. Squabs need this sort of bedding for their feet to develop properly. I checked the babies over and replaced them, then put in the nappy paper. Job done! and I felt much better. My special babies deserve a nice clean dry nest, don't they? I felt they were a bit too young to ring yet, but I hope I get the chance in a week or so.

Later - the ginger twins rest on the lawn and peck whatever they can find around themselves.

 I read about a pigeon fancier who put lavender in his birds' travelling boxes to keep them calm, so I have been putting lavender in the hutch, and in the crate - Cloud's night quarters. Aromatherapy for doves!
The feeding problem continues as masses of birds arrive wanting breakfast, lunch, tea and supper! At about 3.30pm, I was sitting on my sitting room floor sorting out a drawer - the kitchen door was open, as it is mostly in this weather. Suddenly I heard a sound and looked up to see a big grey racer hop up the step from the kitchen floor to the sitting room and walk purposefully towards me - he was obviously the spokespigeon - Hey,where is our food?' This particular pigeon has been around for a week or so. He has green rings and is fairly tame, coming to the door and also pecking my shoes if I don't throw down the grain quick enough!

 Green-ringed spokespigeon
 Who walked into my lounge!

The end of the day, I have put some secret peanuts near the edge of the patio, so Charlie who finds it difficult to pick up grain at the first go, can eat in peace.
 The end of the day, Eve (who was Adam) is the last bird on the roof and is staying the night. You can still see the dark patch on her wing, but the wound has healed. She just doesn't feel strong enough for the flight back to wherever the doves' roost.

Saturday 27.7.13 - Charity, the pigeon who was (probably) chased by a hawk and was dazed and confused by banging into the conservatory window a while ago, chose to keep Cloud company today by standing on her wire box.
 Here's Cloud peering up at him (I called him Charity before I knew!)

Cloud preens, while Charity sits down, making himself comfortable

 Lucky and Charm devoting themselves to choosing which nestbox for their new nest maybe

Now even Charlie, a very mild-mannered pigeon has started standing on the kitchen window ledge to encourage me to come out and feed him (note to self - must clean windows!)

 In the late afternoon, I saw two tiny little faces appear at the nest box entrance - for the first time Columbine and Harlequin were looking out...
 Harlequin, left, and Columbine, right
 As I watched, Harlequin kept trying to kiss Columbine!
 Columbine is the oldest, but they are young to be looking out as this doesn't normally happen until at least two weeks old and these babies are only 12/11 days.
If you go back to the beginning of this blog, you will see how much they have feathered up in only a few days. They are very cotton woolly now.

Sunday 28.7.13 -  Two tasks for you here -1. Spot the odd one out ... and 2. Spot the returning hero

Well, how did you do? Did you spot the young jackdaw in amongst the pigeons? That was fairly easy! But did you see the grey banded pigeon on the far left? That's my Patience come back, and I am so pleased to see him (he was named before I knew he was a he) - it's now 5 months since Patience was badly attacked by the hawk and he is thriving. New blog readers might like to read the story so find the blog dated 21st Feb '13 and it's all there, but does contain distressing photos or try this link - hopefully it will work! Patience's story
Monday 29th July 13 - Harlequin and Columbine are two weeks old today - or 14/13 days, with Harlequin being the younger. I took them out of the nest again. Pure white Columbine is so sweet, of course, but I think Harlequin might be the prettier one - it looks like he might be spotted!

This was on the pack of extra food I bought to tide me over til my delivery - hubbie didn't see the joke!!!!

Tuesday 30th July 13 - This morning, even before Lucky and Charm arrived at 5.30am, there were about 5 pigeons on the roof. My parent birds brought their eldest daughter (if she is a female!) with them - Dolly - which was good as it meant she got fed well too. Charlie was an early bird too, as was Cassidy - and it is so much easier to make sure Charlie gets his rations if there are no hungry hordes. By 7am the huge flock was there and the feeding nightmare starts again. I did try your idea of cat kibble, Hopeinparis, and after one shocked glance, the pigeons who are more adaptable or more hungry did start to eat it, but so far I haven't found it for sale in large quantities/cheap prices that would make it worth doing (but I am still looking into this!). I am trying to be firmer with the birds, and with myself. After the early morning feed, the new summer rule is that NO free-flying bird will be fed until noon earliest! Then I hope not to feed til 3pm earliest. I'll let you know how it goes. I have worked out a new (old) way to feed Charlie though - a long time ago I used to give him his own pot on the top of Cloud's hutch and stand close enough to keep the other birds at bay. Today when I was near the hutch he flew to the top, as if he remembered we used to do this, so I went to get a potful of grains, and he waited while I did so! Then he jolly well stuffed himself! Poor Charlie, it is so difficult for him to eat in the normal way, and for the first time in ages, he wasn't there hanging about in the early evening, so he must've had his fill for once. If only it was so easy to find a solution to feed all my other special birds. Mind you, today I got Grace to eat from my hand .... if any bird should be tame it should be her, as she or her sibling Valentine was hatched on my aga, and I had to do quite a lot of hand-feeding as my previous parent doves, Sky and Summer, weren't doing their duty.
To be cont..........


hopeinparis said...

Great blog, Faith. I posted some photos of Colombine and Harlequin on my Pinterest Pigeons board, with appropriate links, of course to show them at 6/7, 10/11, 11/12 and 13/14 days. Wow, are they beautiful and growing fast! Well, good try with the catfood. My own pigeon customers have mushroomed out of control and I need to cut back, which I tried to do last week...They ARE persistent, aren't they?

Fennie said...

How about 'Wouldn't I' as a name for the eye-damaged pigeon. It sounds like 'Wooden Eye.' No, well, you know me I just throw them out and let them bounce around. Thanks for the picture of Fennie 2, but I am still hoping that Fennie 1 will turn up, having come all the way from Timbucktoo. Have I your email? I must send you the story - an elaboration of the one I wrote before entitled 'Do they grow olives in Timbucktoo?' You have so many white doves that Fennie 1 might just have sneaked in without your noticing. Flaked maize now is nutritious and cheap and we used to feed our pigeons on it. It's nothing more than cornflakes and comes in big sacks. The chickens used to love it. Otherwise you will just have to ration the amount of food you put out. Well done with Harlequin and Columbine. Can I suggest Baltimore and Ohio for the next two and then perhaps Topeka and Santa Fé for something exotic. I suppose you could always solicit tourists and sell them pigeon food at £1 a bag. Trafalgar Square must be deserted.

Fennie said...

Sorry that should be chickens not pigeons - we've never had pigeons.

Faith said...

Hopeinparis - thanks for putting the babies on Pinterest - they are famous! I will have a look later, I love your board. I thought you weren't feeding? Thought you weren't allowed? Or were you sneakily feeding a few, and numbers have grown?

Fennie - Yes Fennie I think you have my email. I will look into flaked maize - never seen it anywhere local, thanks for the suggestion. Fennie1 will have passed away by now (except in your imagination), they don't live more than a few years in the wild. Wish I could charge people for feeding the pigeons - then I would have a tourist problem, so no better off - ha ha!

hopeinparis said...

Yes, Faith, I was sneaking - or as I prefer to call it "feeding discreetly" to just one feral hen named Daisy. I could recognize her because she had 3 albino toenails. Then she brought her husband. Then he told his friends, who had mutilated feet and I couldn't not feed them, and practically overnight I suddenly had a dozen wanting breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Now my dilemma is to feed Chieko, the released rescue pigeon who really hasn't left home, while cutting back. If I don't, she won't learn to forge. If I do, she'll go hungry. Does your new feeding schedule actually reduce the numbers, or is the flock hanging around impatiently and noisily between feeds? xox