Sunday, 21 July 2013

Lucky and Charm's eggs....... and some poorly pigeons.

Thurs. 11th July 2013 - Autumn is being 'driven' by a white dove. Either he is her regular mate, or perhaps this is her first mate....

 Porchie on top of the cote - Lucky was inside but he wasn't fussing - he seems to accept Porchie for some unknown reason

I caught and ringed a white dove today - it can be quite easy to catch them at this time of year. This one was a bold bird, coming up very close where I was sitting on the ground with Cloud, and throwing peanuts - I virtually just picked him up! I like to have ringed doves because then I recognise them. I called the bird Francis, and ringed with blue and pale pink rings. Three pigeons turned up at different times today, all limping. This makes me suspicious that someone might be doing something to 'my' birds. Then at the end of the day,about 6pm, a white dove arrived, dirty, and dragging it's wing slightly - with a wound on that side. It managed to fly back to the roof, so I wasn't able to get hold of it, and hopefully the wound is small and won't attract flies. (If you find a wounded bird in the summer, do check for flies' eggs - like tiny grains of rice - as when they hatch the m*ggots will eat the poor bird alive). Later it flew down again for a drink, and then, with difficulty, up to the roof where I could see it intended to spend the night (which was sensible). The little one I mentioned in the last blog was also there - so at least they each had company for the night.

The above photo was the one I took a day or so ago - here is Tiny on the roof with the injured one, this evening about 9pm.
 Friday 12th July 13 - One of yesterday's 'limpers' - Cassidy, on the right, has little sympathy. 'You're limping, mate, but I've only got ONE leg!'
 The injured one I will call Adam - as when he's healed, being an un-ringed white dove, I won't recognise him from Adam!

Saturday 13.7.13 - Hottest day of the year - 32 degrees C. Francis, the newly caught and ringed one, is being driven by Mr. Strong, so she will have to be Frances! That was a quick match, but maybe he was interested in her before.

At last Adam came down from the roof for food. You can see that the wound is quite slight, and healing.

Adam stayed on the roof for the night, again, with Tiny and a white dove friend. Later the two white ones moved round to the back of the unoccupied offices. I usually have a quick look round there in the evenings to make sure they are no pidgies in trouble. Tiny moved to the edge of the roof near the cottage door, and I saw he wasn't Tiny at all, but a similar marked small bird with a green ring - he'll have to be Tiny2. He doesn't look very well.

Sunday 14.7.13 - Still terribly hot. I could tell straight away that today would be a dovie day. Tiny2 was discovered on the ground under the garden table, miserable and poorly.
 So I picked him up  and found he weighed practically nothing. A little racing pigeon with no race left in him at all. I gave him sips of water from a shot glass, hand fed him, and had just settled him in the run and was heading back to the house when I found a little 'limper' in the flower bed!
Being looked after, Tiny2, the racer, in the gingham cloth
and Limpie, a feral pigeon
Here they both are, hiding away in the inside part of the run. I realise that I should preferably keep poorly birds separately, and that a racer shouldn't be in with a feral pigeon, but well I only have the facilities I have and can only do my best. The racer would be inoculated against anything the feral might give it anyway, I should think.

I arranged a feeding/giving water schedule and both the little poorly ones had several small feeds/water throughout the day. I contacted the Royal Pigeon Racing Association giving the number on Tiny2's leg ring.
At about 6.15pm I brought Tiny2 and Limpie in from the run, to the little 'single rooms' I had prepared for them, alongside Cloud's crate.. Limpie was first, and had some sips of water, but I could tell he wasn't very interested in eating after trying to give him a few grains, so I put him in his box. By the time I had fed Tiny, Limpie was slumped against his water dish, head down and likely to drown, so I gently moved him, but he was dying. Later on I tucked a tiny pink rose under his wing, and gave him a watery funeral from the island in the river. Back to nature, little one - 'All things bright and beautiful.... all creatures great and small.....' 
Monday 15.7.13 - The hawk flew through the birds at the early feed, scattering them of course. I had hoped that we had got past the reign of terror in the garden. With the eggs due to hatch tomorrow, it's worrying and not a good start to the week. Another bird that scattered the pigeons as it darted through to the river with a loud peep peep was the electric blue kingfisher - now that's a visitor I like!
Tiny, the racer, has survived the night, but has runny, yellowish poops, and some of her food has been regurgitated - I didn't leave any food in the box so it must have been coughed up! 

I hand fed her at 6.45am but her feet seemed a little chilly, so put her back in her box in the conservatory until the day warms up. Unfortunately, she doesn't look like a recovering bird, but I'm not giving up hope.

Later - Tiny couldn't cope in the run as she can't even walk properly so I put her back into the box after giving her some defrosted warmed peas and a drink. I would be amazed if she makes it, but I'll be checking her every half hour.....I haven't heard from the owner yet.
Later again- When I came back from an hour's shopping, Tiny was dead. Two birds in two days, so sad. Another funeral. RIP poor little racer whose owner doesn't care about you... but I did.
There was an egg shell on the edge of the low roof nearest the house..... but the eggs are not due til tomorrow, so it could be from another bird. I did see a pigeon with an egg shell still attached to her body, but by the time I'd got my camera it had fallen off onto the lawn.

In the afternoon, I sat on a rug sorting out some boxes, to give Cloud a chance to have a wander about. She does enjoy her little half hours out on the lawn and as long as I am able to rescue her from unwanted male attention, then she is ok. She pecks at the lawn, and the gravel - and even the other birds if they come too close!
White female dove (didn't recover properly from paramyxovirus) with normal male pigeon

Today was the first day I didn't see Roly Poly since I first noticed him/her ... days ago. I don't really want another Cloud to look after, but rather that than have poor Roly die. Porchie also isn't around - I hope he has moved on to find someone who can be the mate to him that Cloud obviously can't.
Tuesday 16th July 2013 - This morning I am a bit sad as for the first time since Cassidy arrived in the garden, she wasn't there. Sometimes she was a bit late but she always turned up... I know I was calling her him before, but now I am pretty sure she is female. Cassidy is one of my little favouites, and I will be very sorry indeed if I don't see her again. Hubbie said 'Well she came out of nowhere and now she's gone back to nowhere'. Well, she must be somewhere and I hope it's not inside a hawk's belly!
When I came home this lunchtime I was very eager to see if there were any eggshells around....... no, there weren't... but it WAS hatching day, so I decided to have a peep in the cote. Lucky was in the nestbox but both Lucky and Charm are pretty used to me now, so I gently and quietly climbed up the steps. Lucky looked back at me calmly, and I could just see....I think! least one fuzzy little yellow thing! I am so happy and thankful that these eggs have developed and hatched ok, after the last disappointment. Later, I got my camera and crept up the steps again. I decided I would take one photo only, whether it was a good one or not, as I didn't want to upset Lucky and the baby or babies. I can't tell if there is one or two, but I'll have another peep tomorrow. Congratulations to Lucky and Charm! Little siblings for Fennie and Dolly - who are both doing well, by the way.

There are lots of lovely pidgies around at the moment - I call these two my 'ginger twins'

 In the photo below, top left, you can see one of the 'limpers' - altogether about 5 or 6 birds came in over a couple of days, all limping. I can't think what has happened to them all.
 You can just see the ginger twins resting in the gutter, one at each end, with a brown adult, possibly a parent, and a grey pigeon.
 One ginger twin is sleeping
 the other is awake

Two beautiful and 'new to me' pigeons are another brown one with the most beautiful mauve breast - I am afraid the photos don't do justice to the unusual combination and iridescence, and a stunning black and purple male. I do enjoy this time of the year, seeing all the different birds as they come and go (I just don't want my favourites, like Cassidy, to go!)

5.45pm - my day was made up - both Roly Poly and Cassidy arrived back safe!
Wed 17.7.13 -
This evening at 7pm there were still quite a few doves and pigeons around, so I threw down some more grain - they really do get fed well here! - and Charm came out of the nest so I quickly threw her some peanuts and rushed for the camera. There are two babies! Both seem blonde - not one yellow, one dark like Dolly and Fennie were (maybe Fennie did have a different Daddy?). Charm didn't leave them for long, but I got this photo. I can hardly make head nor tail of it! But the typical orientation for this age baby dove is to lie with heads facing opposite ways. I'm not sure what the dark patch is - maybe that part of that baby will be dark feathered, not white. The babies eyes are not open and they are still too little to lift their heads up - they are only 1-2 days old. It is so hot - I do hope that it's not too warm in the nest box for them. I remembered that Charm started leaving Dolly and Fennie when they were only one week old - I hope she doesn't do that with these two, as I always block the babies in, so predators can't get them before the parents come back in the morning, and that means I have to get up very very early!  Today I put out two more water baths for the doves and pigeons - making five in all, plus four smaller/shallower dishes/bowls. The birds get through vast quantities of water for drinking and bathing, and I'm always topping it up.

Thursday 18th July 13 - After the early morning scrum for food was over, and I was just topping up the water baths and generally pottering about, Charm emerged out of the nestbox for food. I got her some grains and peanuts then had a look at the babies. They are so sweet, both sitting up nicely now, having matured in the night! I used to take Summer a little pot of food to eat in the nest as she wouldn't leave til it was Sky's turn to take over later on in the morning, but after a while this attracted the jackdaws to the cote and I determined it was bad practice and not to do it when new birds took over. I was glad I was able to watch the babies while Charm was eating - I don't want a corvid taking them, and we have a fearsome jay in the garden.
Bianca and Dirty Ricky (not so dirty now) were in the garden and kindly posed for some close-ups. I ringed Bianca ages ago - last year I suppose, because she was poorly with I can't remember what! But as you can see, both are healthy and happy to be together. Now Sky is no longer around I don't get her blue ring mixed with up his any more.

Later - I had another look at the babies about 6pm when Charm grabbed a snack to see her through the night. I swear they are enormous - they look a week old already! It does look like one of them won't be totally white, but it's a bit early to tell, and the darkness could just be it's eyes which are not open yet.

Roly Poly hasn't been seen the last couple of days - I really think that's probably the end of the road for poor old Roly - he was coping well with eating but flying was getting to be all over the place and maybe he couldn't get back here to this good source of food.
Friday 19.7.13 - Another glitteringly hot day. I've been watching a poorly white dove on the roof for a couple of days. She keeps herself apart from the others, as ill or old birds so often do.

She came down this morning after the others had left, and had a drink, but didn't eat very much. After struggling back to the roof, she sat in the gutter....can you just see her there? The rest of the flock are pigeons.

..... until a male dove started harassing her, and she flew to the ground, and got cornered by him near Cloud's hutch. I went out to rescue and found the naughty culprit was Lucky. The little female was picked up and put in the run where she hid in the inside part, with food and water, until I took her out at 4pm. She seemed listless but when I offered water in a little shot glass she drank thirstily and I hand-fed her about 25 hard peas, grains and peanuts. This seemed to perk her up and when I put her back, she sat on the slope, seeming to enjoy the sun. I will keep her for a day or so and see how she does. Have to think of a name....

 I've had quite a few little looks at the babies today. Maybe as it is so hot Lucky and Charm don't feel the need to brood them all the time. You can see from this photo that the one on the left has a mauvey darker skin-tone to the other and will probably be more pigeon than dove looking. I love having odd babies, so interesting and cute!

And here the little darker one is facing forward - they haven't opened their eyes yet.

 Roly Poly resurrected and came back!
 Sat. 20th July 13 - Today is my late father's birthday. and if he'd made it he would've been 100 today. I always imagined the family celebrating his Hundredth Birthday, but it was not to be. The poorly one is also now in the spirit world - she was alive when I came home from my evening out, but dead by morning. Obviously not a hundred but maybe she was old - I have no way of telling the age of a bid unless they are one of my ringed ones or still a squab.
The blonde baby is just opening it's eyes this morning, so must be the oldest of the two. Lucky left the babies and sat on the roof, so he must consider them able to thermo-regulate even though they are not a week old yet. I'm getting lots of baby photos!

You can just see that the tiny white feathers are beginning to come - already!


7pm - there are nine birds left on the roof, three of them white doves. I'm hoping that one is Charm... surely she won't be leaving the babies at night yet? It says in my book that the parents should brood the babies continuously til they are a week old, and other parent doves I've had have never left them at night til they were at least two weeks old. These babies are only about 4 days old!!! Haven't you read the book, Charm? Well, the three white doves proved to be Eve and two others - Lucky and Charm have left the babies, so I am in charge. About 8pm I put in the mummy substitute (a cashmere 'turtle dove' mitten) stuffed with feathers, and blocked the entrance with a wire mesh feeder. Later, before I go to bed, I will remove that and put up the half-brick. It's not been so hot today but I'm not sure how much warmth they need. I desperately hope they will be ok - I don't understand why Charm wouldn't stay with them, but she left Fennie and Dolly at about a week old - and the weather wasn't so good then as that was way back in mid May. People would say well she's the parent bird she must know best but that's not always the case as I know from Sky and Summer, particularly Sky!
I discovered that Adam is female - so changed the name to Eve. She has been abandoned by her white friend, and I don't know what happened to Tiny, so she is spending the night alone, on our little porch roof.

Sunday 4.30am - Last night I discovered from the website I use, that sunrise would be 5.09am, so I set my alarm for 4.30am so I would be up before whatever time the doves came back to the garden. It was light-ish in the garden, and the dawn chorus is lovely but not a good time for me to be up! I made myself some tea, and decided to get the doves grain ready..... and found a mouse in the grain bin as I hadn't put the lid back on properly last night.

 5.20am - I am sitting here catching up with my blog, and checking the roof at intervals - still no white doves or any pigeons. I just surprised three jays and a magpie on the lawn who flew off noisily - now you see why I don't like to leave the little babies unprotected! Eve flew from the porch to the roof while I watched - it must be morning! Then a small dark pigeon popped up - I think maybe this is the original Tiny who must've been roosting nearby; i'm glad he's still going. Two white doves appeared in the sky, coming this way and instinct told me it was Charm and Lucky.

Left to right, Eve, Lucky, Charm (Tiny is out of the photo)

One benefit of being up early was that I was able to feed my parent doves alone (except for Eve and Tiny) and make sure they got plenty. In fact they all benefitted as Eve has her bad wing and Tiny needs building up! This is what I wanted in the first place - a pretty dovecote and a few doves. Not ravenous hordes of pigeons that have become a problem and a huge expense.
 The babies this morning - so pink, squidgy and plump I want to give them a little pinch! Below - close up of Charm, coming to the edge of the roof nearest the house, asking for food!

Charm went to the cote at 5.37am precisely and I went back to bed!
The cartoon below came to my attention on Purplecoo - brilliant isn't it?

Uploaded Image
To be cont...


hopeinparis said...

Hi Faith
Wonderful post and photos, and congratulations on the new arrivals! I'm so sorry that for the deaths, it's so hard to let our little angels go. You give them a truly lovely and touching send-off.

hopeinparis said...

PS - about the expense of feeding the pigeons: a friend of mine here gives cat food kibble to a flock of about 75 feral pigeons which he feeds daily. It's much cheaper than peanuts or seeds, and he says they're thriving. A bonus for you: the wood pigeons don't like cat food and will shop elsewhere :-)

Fennie said...

Yes, you have got quite a flock of birds. Still no sign of old Fennie though. Is your flock growing? Or is the size stable? I don't suppose there is a way you could incorporate a magnet or some device like that which you could incorporate in the rings they wear on their legs and which would trigger a gate to open a measured portion of food. That way only your ringed doves would get fed and you could program the device so that the parent doves got more. The pigeons you ring could be given a short term ring that would expire after a couple of weeks so then they wouldn't get any food. Don't know how such a device might be arranged but it works on cows who wear collars which tell (electronically) a feeding machine how much food they ought to be given.

Brilliant pictures, especially of the squabs.

Faith said...

Thanks for the cat kibble tip Jane, I might look into it. Fennie, you do come up with some strange ideas... it would be much simpler for me just to feed them all less - which I do try to do!

Orchids & Observations said...

Hi Faith
I have thoroughly enjoyed and grieved while reading about your Doves.
I stumbled upon your blog while researching keeping Doves and Dovecotes.
I have ordered a Dovecote which I cant wait to arrive.
I was wondering which rings you use to identify your Doves as this is something I would like to do?
Looking forward to the next Instalment ...