Friday, 9 August 2013

Harlequin and Columbine are ringed, and will the new little rescue survive?

Thurday 1st August 2013- how the months slip away! I was up at 5.20am unblocking Harlequin and Columbine, and today Lucky and Charm were the first birds to arrive (5.25am - whew, I was just in time!). I wondered if my stricter regime for feeding was paying off and the other birds didn't think it was worth getting up early? Or maybe Lucky and Charm made it their business to be first to get whatever was going! Certainly today they flew straight to the lawn, whereas some days they have dillied and dallied about on the roof - when I want to get back to bed. I was pleased to be able to feed them alone so they could eat their fill and feed the babies properly, but two minutes later 8 or so others arrived, including Charlie and Cassidy, who also seem to be early birds. I popped into the house to go to the loo and when I came out I was concerned to find that Charm had disappeared - my imagination always goes wild and I wondered could a hawk possibly have swooped while I was gone and captured her? I looked in the yard and the back nestbox, but no Charm...... then I saw that the only other white dove apart from Lucky was Dolly, his daughter (or son as she may turn out to be!). Could I possibly, in my early morning befuddled state, thought that Dolly was Charm when they first arrived? I went round to the yard again, and properly looked into the cote - there was Charm getting cosy in the nestbox! I expect she will start laying again.... maybe today....oh dear I haven't ringed the babies yet and it will be difficult to get them out without upsetting the parent on the nest at the back. They are only 17/16 days old.

Later in the morning - Charm came out of the back nestbox to eat - so had to break my 'rules' but I threw down grain for her quickly - and of course the few waiting pidgies on the roof flew down too - and then I grabbed up my towel lined box and unceremoniously grabbed the babies out for ringing. I like to enjoy doing this,  and usually take photos, but Lucky was on the roof and I knew in a minute he might come back so with heart thudding I ringed Harlequin (who will be quite recognisable anyway with his markings) with a single green ring on his left leg (Charm's green ring is on her right) and Columbine with a single red ring - also on her left. The only other bird I remember with a single red ring was Happy, Jose's mate from last summer, and he is no longer around. While I was doing this, fumbling in my haste, Lucky came back to the nestbox and looked inside - no babies! I was having trouble with Columbine's ring which was faulty and wouldn't do up, and I had to take it off and put on another.....then it was done, and I rushed the babies back to Daddy. Lucky, cross, was sitting inside the nestbox. I showed the babies in the box to him, in an effort to pacify -  'Daddy, we were kidnapped!!' -  but he pushed past me rudely and flew off. Oh dear! I popped the babies back in, and retreated back to the house to watch, but Lucky stayed away. I felt really guilty - sorry Lucky! Charm returned to the back nestbox but later came out again, so I thought I might as well take a photo of the babies and see if there was an egg. The babies are now quite big taking up a lot of space so I couldn't get a good photo, and also was trying to be quick again.

 Then I moved the steps round so I could see if there was an egg......Oh no! Lucky was inside, guarding the egg, but he came out and flew off..... and I'd upset him again! I felt terrible this time, I'd assumed that he was on the roof when Charm came out and hadn't checked his whereabouts. Never assume! Well, he'd gone off so I took a photo of the egg anyway. The nest they are using is the same nest that Fennie and Dolly were reared in. I checked it a week or so ago, and added a bit of dry hay but I don't believe they have added a single stick to it! And they never built it in the first place - Mr. Sunshine built it for Miss Tina, but they have both disappeared.

 So.... what happened then.... well Charm went back to the egg, but seconds later, Lucky swapped with her, and she came out again, fed again, and then fed the squabs. I'd like to check that Harlequin and Columbine's rings are on properly but will now not go near for the rest of the day for fear of upsetting Mummy and Daddy again! It means I can't change the nappy paper, but the squabs are getting good at waggling their bottoms and pooping outside of the nest now..... though sometimes it goes on the ledge, and that of course is attracting the flies on this extremely hot day. I think it got up to 33 degrees at Heathrow, which is not so very far from here. I desperately wanted to see the babies and clean up any mess, but I kept away from the cote, except for checking to see if Charm was staying the night. She was still there at 8.30pm and as I type it is 9.10pm and getting dark. This is the first time I haven't blocked the squabs in, but I think they will be fine now and if Charm is there then the egg is protected. Hopefully I'll get the chance for a little clean up in the morning.
Cloud did something interesting - when I was feeding her, sitting on my lap, she suddenly reached into the pot of peanuts and helped herself to quite a few! I don't think this means she is getting better, just having a co-ordinated moment!
Friday 2.8.13 - I still got up early as usual even though I didn't need to unblock the babies but it's a good opportunity to feed my parent doves with less competition. The first thing I noticed was Charm sitting alone on the roof - good! I can clean up Harlequin and Columbine without upsetting her on the nest behind. Hello messy ones! Yes, they certainly did need a good clean up! Within minutes Lucky had arrived in the garden with the early pigeons - but no Charlie. I hope nothing's happened to him.
My new strict regime is going well, and I think - I hope! - is making the birds less dependent and encouraging some of them to either forage elsewhere, or if they are racers, complete the journey home! Certainly it seems there are less around, and they don't hang about hopefully in the early evenings. That doesn't mean to say there are not far too many!
I was wondering when I stopped feeding twice a day at regular times and started feeding 24/7 - ok ok not 24/7 but at all and any times of the day. I have created this feeding monster and now I have to take it in hand. These are my new rules - for the summer time anyway:
Early am (if I'm getting up extra early to unblock babies or whatever reason) - Target the important birds i.e. my parent birds, and just give them peanuts (easier said than done, but possible).
Morning feed - 6.30-7am - Try to feed lightly but again target my special birds - i.e. my ringed doves, especially ones that were babies in my cote (Autumn, Grace, Destiny, Fennie and Dolly) and any particularly special-to-me pigeons (Charlie, Cassidy, Patience). No peanuts.
Midday - If I am around and only if my parent doves are there - light sprinkle!
3pm - earliest. I am trying to get to feed just ONCE in the afternoons. Currently it seems I am feeding at 3pm and again at about 4.30pm when I feed Cloud, so I am aiming for one 4pm-ish feed. In winter this would be earlier as it would be pretty well dark by then. This feed is fairly substantial WITH peanuts but still targeting my special birds or birds that I think need building up! - cheeky and cute ones also get peanuts!
7pm - Just before we have supper if any white doves are around or any bird that looks desperate then I will throw them a bit more! Then I am shutting the kitchen door, the café is closed for the night!!!!
Another thing about having so many birds is the mess (not the poop which isn't too bad and just seems to sink into the lawn) but so many feathers when they are moulting, and poop on the patio. They create plenty of work I can tell you! And I have to clean out the water baths a lot at this time of year, in the heat too, as they get very green otherwise.
I found a new place to buy food, and although it is not so very much cheaper than the food I am buying, the stuff is in smaller pieces which means it takes longer for them to eat, and I
can sprinkle it round more fairly - it is also good for the younger birds that can't pick up/eat the larger grains. It contains the flaked maize that Fennie recommended. I will still be buying my usual grain as well, and mix this into it.


 I've passed the place a few times, but decided to investigate and was pleasantly surprised. They have plenty of open space, a variety of gorgeous chickens and other poultry enjoying themselves pecking around in the freedom and having dust baths. The man in charge was very nice and helpful, so let's give him a little plug here - so if you want to buy hens or  poultry feed near Cobham in Surrey, here's your place - COBHAM SURREY CHICKEN HEN DOVE PIGEON FEED
Lucky, king of his castle

 Lucky goes to get water for the babies
 and flies up to him - the black streak in his tail always reminds me of my amazing daddy bird, Flash
 Then he feeds them, or gives them water. I have no worries about Lucky, he's a good dad. It was so stressful when Sky was the daddy - as I couldn't be sure if he would feed the squabs or not - but I do miss him in a funny sort of way, and Summer very much so.
 Charlie, as I think I might have said in a previous blog, has learned to come to the top of the hutch for some private food. How he knows this, I don't know - but he knows and I know! He also knows this is for him alone, and though other pigeons come (though not the doves funnily enough) he will peck at them to say - leave my food alone! and if there are too many intruders, then I come and stand nearby, they will retreat and my Charlie can eat again in peace.

 Cloud doesn't mind just Charlie on the top of the hutch because he is quiet, but she doesn't like all the hungry hordes, stamping their feet.

I left the wire box a little open as I went to refill Cloud's water dish as she had messed in it, and when I came back she was escaping! - she appears quite normal in this photo....

 But this is what she is usually like....

The babies are getting interested in the world outside, especially Columbine, the oldest

Harlequin looks almost like Columbine's shadow in the photo below 

This afternoon I had the chance to peep in the back nest - having checked this time the whereabouts of Lucky and Charm! - and we now have two eggs! In the photo below, Daddy Lucky goes to feed his babies, while Mummy Charm peeps round the corner before she goes back to her two lovely white eggs.


Two white butterflies fluttered close together over the cote - they caught my eye as I was sitting inside and for a second I thought they were two little doves - how I wish I'd had my camera pointed just at that moment! I like to imagine they were the spirits of my first two parent doves, Pax and Persephone, come to visit!
Sat. 3.8.13 - A pigeon that used to fly to my hand - that I called Baby Royal - is coming to me again - having remembered this from ages ago. So is a big white probably male dove, probably copied Baby Royal. Grace is still eating peanuts from my hand if I lay it on the grass and so will other bold birds.
White dove eating peanuts from my hand

I've started calling him Phoebus


 Sunday 4.8.13 - I miss having more contact with my babies, Harlequin and Columbine, but I can't risk taking them out of the nest as their squeaking and flapping would alert whoever was on the nest at the back and I don't want to jeopurdise the new eggs chances. It's sweet when Columbine appears at the window - it's mostly her, she doesn't give Harlequin a chance!
 I took a quick photo today - Harlequin's eyes look fuzzy but I think the lens was blurry! He still has more yellow down on his head than Columbine.
 Patience, below

 and preening casually on the lawn, as if she has never heard the words 'hawk attack'!
 Fennie, very grown-up now and walking purposefully

 Oh stop it! he says Enough already!
Monday 5.8.13 -  Columbine let Harlequin have a chance at the window
 My sweet spotty little baby (you can see how they poop on the ledge, which I have to clear up!)
 Tuesday 6.8.13 - There was a dove on the roof with what looked like an injured breast, so I took a photo

It turned out to be Lucky, with a dirty breast from going in and out of the nestbox to feed the squabs. Maybe he realised he was grubby as, later on, I saw him take a bath, but wasn't quick enough to get a photo. Here he is on the roof after bathing (but still a bit dirty!). I find his one beady eye rather disconcerting!

 Butterflies in  my neighbour's garden - so pretty

 And here are Harlequin, left, and Columbine - posing nicely for their three week old photo. They could fledge in a week, but it will more likely be another ten days or so.
It was a beautiful sunny day and Cloud had a visitor - I thought it might be Porchie come back, but it wasn't
 Bianca - alone - but Dirty Ricky turns up at different times, so I think they must have a local nest together.
 SPLASH! Some of the pidgies have a bath!
 Autumn - serene and beautiful

Wed. 7.8.13 - A cute little dove turned up today - I've seen it before and remember thinking it was odd that someone would ring a white dove with two black rings. I suppose it looks quite smart. Talking about rings, the nice lady who collected her racing pigeon from me, and now reads my blog, kindly sent me a packet of yellow, orange, green, red and black and grey rings. They are a different type to the ones I currently use, but I'll give them a try, so thanks very much!
 Who remembers the 'limpers'? (the birds who all arrived limping within a day or two of each others). Except for poor little Limpie who died, the others are all coping - one is a pretty white spotted racer. The one on the left below can now put some pressure on the poorly right foot. I will never know what happened to them but it was too many together to just be a coincidence.
 Below, Dolly - who is so big I think she might be a male!
Thurs.8.8.13 - Today at the early feed - 6.20am - a little dark pigeon jumped into the water bath - maybe for a bath and maybe for a drink, but something startled the flock and she took off straight from the water and didn't make it to the roof, crashing down in the dank damp sectioned off place where we keep the oil tank. I've rescued other birds from there, including Santa. This one had landed on the tank, and was easily caught in the net.

She felt chilly (maybe from the water) and skinny so I decided to put her in Cloud's hutch (til I got Cloud up) on top of a wrapped hot water bottle. You mustn't attempt to feed birds until they are warm.
Later on, I hand fed her, quickly cleaned out Cloud's crate and put her in there - with Cloud going in the hutch for the day as usual.

 By 2pm it was so hot, I moved the little one out into the outside run, which is nice, cool and leafy with small paradise tree plants like mini palm trees. I've decided to keep her for 24 hours and see how well she can fly tomorrow. Of course, she came back into the conservatory for the night. I've given her four hand feeds today and she has had access to food/water all day. I'm hoping maybe she was just a little hungry and tired and will be ok tomorrow, but her first poops this morning were very runny/green - not a good sign.
The squabs are about 23/22 days - here's a close up of Columbine - still in the nest box of course. I can't stay long with the babies for fear of upsetting Lucky/Charm on the nest behind, so it is just a quick clean up and a photo. Harlequin was squashed away at the back. They both seem to be doing well.
Friday 9.8.13 - The little one survived the night but her poops were very green and acrid - bit bulkier than before though. Scroll down quickly if you don't want to see!!!

I gave her food in a little dish at 6.20am and went in again at 8ish to give her a good hand feed. I also ringed her with a pale pink ring - I intended to use the new ones I was sent and got out an orange one, but when I uncurled it to have a look, I wasn't sure how to use it, so ended up using my usual ones, which fix in a different way. Although it was lightly mizzling it wasn't too bad, and there were birds about so I thought we'd give the release a try. I put her on the garden table and she hopped to the chair, then flew across the garden, low, and landed near the grain bins.
 Getting her balance on the chair

She obviously is not fit enough to be released so I collected her and put her in the run for the day again.

To be cont...

1 comment:

Fennie said...

Thanks for more of these fascinating tales. Glad you liked the flaked maize suggestion. We always found it very nutritious and popular. Here in Cowbridge the seagulls have moved in, though we are some miles from the sea.
They shriek and poop over cars - I am sure deliberately. By contrast if you go down to the sea the cliffs are full of rock pigeons - so perhaps they have displaced the seagulls. Do you think your doves would eat fish? Or are they seed eaters only? Glad to see that Fennie II is doing well. Did you get the story about Fennie I (Colombe)?