I went to the Poultry Farm again. Have you got through that bag already, the man asked - in one week? How many birds are you feeding? Oh, I said, quite a few! More photos from there -
Crazy hair day for these Poland chickens
Above and below, hen and cockerel - neither can walk, but they keep them anyway, which is kind
2 week old ducklings - all say...ahhhh!
Today something quite special happened. We were adopted! It was about 8.30am, Hubbie had just left the house, leaving the kitchen door open, and I was on my laptop in the sitting room when a cat walked in! Hello, I said, and it came over to me - a little anxious but disposed to be friendly. Now this cat was obviously not the cat we took on when our neighbours moved abroad about 15 months ago - that cat is called Loopy and we feed her, but she doesn't come in and we hardly ever see her.
This one was a young male, very lean - even skinny I felt, so I offered him a meal and he ate it all, stayed around a short while, then wandered in the garden, going over and sitting on top of Cloud's hutch - not good! But when I called him he came running back to me, though left after a while.
At 2pm he came back, and as you can see from the photo, he made himself mightily at home. He had some cat biscuits, a nice sleep til about 7pm - didn't mind being shut in while I fed the doves and Cloud had her walkabout - and then had some more meat, and left.
I wonder if we were just today's meal ticket, or whether he will be back? I went to my neighbour to see if he had got a new cat, but no. I suggested to hubbie that we call him Slocombe and see who got the joke* but I wasn't serious! If he's staying with us, I want him to have a nice name. Hubbie suggested Henry, but I've a great-nephew called that, so we've named him Bertie which we both like. If he comes back tomorrow I will make enquiries - We are happy to have him but don't want to be feeding someone else's cat!
I usually feed Cloud about 4pm and then she has her walk on the lawn. It wasn't a terribly nice day, bit blowy and a few spits in the air, so I was feeding her quickly so she'd get her walk in before it rained, and then suddenly, amongst all the ordinary pidgies on the lawn, there was Pandora! With her red ring and damaged beak - alive! Fantastic! You can't imagine how pleased I was! I dumped Cloud unceremoniously on the grass and rushed inside for peanuts. Pandora managed to eat some - I think! - but I noticed she couldn't pick up ordinary small grains. I felt she maybe ate enough to keep her going, and without me needing to try to catch and feed her. It's amazing isn't it? Pigeons are so brave and resilient, which is one of the reasons I like them. The photo weren't very good....
Sunday 18.8.13 - Harlequin and Columbine are doing well. They stay on the roof all day, coming down only once or twice to the lawn. I saw Columbine drink from the water bath today, and also saw Lucky feed her, but not Harli. They do pick up small grains themselves, but there is such a lot of competition for the food.
Portrait of Harlequin, and below, Columbine, left, with daddy Lucky
At the end of the day, Harlequin and Columbine went back to the cote and I helped them get in!
Pandora turned up again for the afternoon feed and this time I decided to catch her to make sure she got enough to eat. The only other way would be to throw down vast handfuls of peanuts right in front of her, which is not an economic way to try to feed one bird! I caught her at first try and brought her into the kitchen to feed. She struggled madly at first but I wrapped her up in a cloth, and in the end managed to get 34 peanuts/grains (but mainly peanuts) into her. Pigeons don't need that much to drink but obviously some, so I did try to get her to drink from a shot glass and hope she got enough. Before I released her, and because it was warm, I also gave her a quick bath and a cuddle in a towel (and a kiss on the head for my brave girl!). She is totally feral, doesn't like any of my attentions, but I hope I can keep her going until her beak repairs enough for her to be able to feed herself more easily. She is a female - here she is on the roof with two males. Can't they see she is not up for it?
In the photo below you can clearly see her shortened and tattered beak - poor Pandora
Bertie, the cat, didn't come back at all today, and I felt ridiculously sad, especially as I had bought him some special white saucers with golden crowns on them at the car boot (Queens Golden Jubilee) - 4 for £1! Still it was lovely to have him even for just that short time.
Monday 19.8.13 - At 6.45am when I was feeding the doves, Bertie turned up in the garden obviously wanting breakfast - pleasing me, but displeasing the birds! So today I made a few local enquiries - yes, someone who has just moved into a cottage in the village has a new young male cat, yes it's a tabby......but no when a photo was produced it was not Bertie. He came back at 1.45pm, ate biscuits and sat in 'his' chair all afternoon, the same at Saturday. He had supper, another snooze, and left to do whatever cats do at night at about 8pm (then I could feed our other adopted cat!) I put his details up on this site http://www.animalsearchuk.co.uk/ where, for free, you can report your own missing pet, or the details of a pet you have found. We hope he won't be claimed!
Pandora came back again with the afternoon flock, but she was very wary of me and it was hard to get close. I caught her at the third attempt and brought her into the kitchen for feeding. Soon I was aware that her beak was bleeding....I'm not sure if me trying to feed her started it off again, or whether it was already bleeding. Oh dear....I washed her beak off with water, carefully fed her a bit more, then washed her beak again, before making sure the bleeding stopped by dabbing on cornflour. I got this tip from http://www.pigeonrescue.co.uk/welcome.htm I have used this site before and the web-host lady has given me personal help so I may message her and hope for some advice. Obviously I have kept Pandora for the night, and realistically think I will have to keep her for a while. Everything I said before about Pandora still stands, but I can't just leave her to her fate. I must keep her until I see how her beak heals and whether she will ever to be able to feed herself. According to some posts I read on Pigeon-Talk many pidgies with damaged or part beaks do manage or learn to feed themselves by somehow scooping up the grains, but need a deep dish, and of course leisure to eat without all the other birds taking over, She won't like it but she'll have to stay with me - I can't release her, can I? I am looking in to what I can do to help her - I've just thought the poultry-farm people may have some ideas.
Lucky didn't seem to want the squabs in the cote tonight - they are six weeks old today. But they managed to get in and I shut them up so he couldn't rout them out. He has stopped feeding them, as is normal, and I try to make sure they eat enough by putting a little tray of grains in with them.
Tuesday 20.8.13 - This morning when I was putting Charlie's dish of grains on the hutch, I spotted an eggshell in the hedge near the cote. I had forgotten it was hatching day! Oh goodie, we have one new baby at least!
Bertie came back for breakfast, then went into the garden. Here he is checking out the mole hills.
One minute he was under the roses, next minute I could see he had something he was 'playing' with - possibly a mouse. I went to see and as I got closer I thought no it's just a bit of fluffy moss.....but it wasn't, it was the tiniest feathered bird I think I have ever seen. Oh no! Is this what it's going to be like with you, Bertie? But cats will be cats. He ran away with it in his mouth but came back when I called him. I thought the weeny thing must be dead but Bertie gave it up to me and, cupping it in my hand, I could feel the beat of it's tiny heart. I brought it in and made it a temporary nest in a bowl lined with a bit of old, thin towel - then I made a hot-water bottle (to keep it warm in case of shock) put than in a box with towels on top, and made a better nest. My first thought was to take it to the Wildlife Aid at Leatherhead, but after about ten minutes it clambered out of the 'nest' and started to fly round the room, so obviously not hurt. I took it back into the garden, where it was found, and put it in the lower branches of the bush. I kept Bertie in for a while, and just hope that the baby bird will be found by its parents and be ok. I didn't even know what it was, but guessed a wren - and having looked it up am sure it was.The cutest little thing I've ever seen.
Bertie also discovered Cloud and Pandora. He quickly realised he'd never get to Cloud, but had an attempt at Pandora, panicking her a bit, but eventually just settled down on the warm top of the back of the run. I expect it is inevitable that eventually he will catch an unwary or poorly pigeon, but not much I can do about it.
There were a couple of white doves on the roof, sitting close together, preening - how sweet I thought, then I realised one was Lucky - and who was he sitting with? Charm! Goodness, both of them off the nest!
I grabbed the camera, moved the steps and had a look. Two new babies, how lovely! But I do think they are a bit little to be on their own.... only a day old, if that! But Lucky and Charm are always casual about their babies. Already one looks like it will be a dove/pigeon mix as I can see a little dark beak - actually quite a big beak on such a little thing!
|White dove/pigeon mix squabs - no more than 24 hours old|
The big siblings to the new babies, Harlequin (left) and Columbine, sit on the roof together in the sun. As far as I am aware they have never ventured away from the world of this garden.
|Six week old squabs with guardian pigeon!|
And some random photos....
Below, Charm, top, is not pleased to find the newly ringed intruder dove sitting on the doorstep.
Lucky guards his domain - beady eye outwards!
Below, Harlequin and Daddy Lucky
Destiny has a bath, and won't let the pigeons join in...
She pecked at them til they went away......
Ahh, now I can bathe in peace!
Wednesday 21.8.13 - I was out for most of the day, but hubbie was clearing our sitting room and taking the carpet up as we are redecorating and having a new carpet. Bertie apparently was not impressed at the removal of 'his' chair.... and then the carpet! Oh no, are you moving out? he says 'just when I've decided to keep you!' In the afternoon, while I fed the doves, I let him sleep on the spare room bed - all my good intentions of keeping him out of the bedrooms have gone, but it's only temporary and we are pretty sure he doesn't have fleas. But will have to get some Frontline or similar anyway to be on the safe side! He seems to want to sleep between 3-6/7pm which suits me very well as that fits in with general dove feeding time. He is in a routine already!
Thursday 22.8.13 - Bertie had used the cat flap (that we put in for Loopy), probably because it was pouring with rain and was waiting in the kitchen when I got up this morning. I had put a few folded rugs under the kitchen table just in case. We wonder what is his history....Don't worry my dove blog is not going to turn into a cat blog! (but having a cat when you keep birds has got to be relevant!). Did he just wander away from a loving home, and get lost? Or, dreadful thought, was he dumped? We get quite a lot of fly tipping in the road up to the farm as it is fairly secluded - perhaps some awful person decided that now he wasn't a tiny cute kitten anymore, they would just abandon him. Here he is making the best of the new temporary arrangements in the sitting room.
Harlequin was definitely in the cote with Columbine last night, but I couldn't see him this morning, either on the roof or the ground. I hope he hasn't gone flying and got lost already.
Pandora is dreadfully awkward in all ways. Feeding for a start is tricky, as I not only have to hold a struggling feisty bird wrapped in a cloth, but at the same time I also have to open her broken beak and feed her grains. I always give her a drink before I start, and she splutters, and I always wonder if I am drowning her! The grains I also wet before I pop them in her mouth, as I feel that will make it easier for her. I went to see the poultry people again today and asked advice, but the only hen they had in that situation died - she didn't belong to them and when she went back to her owner they felt she wasn't cared for properly. I have been dabbing on a diluted honey/water mix on Pandora's beak as a natural antibiotic but luckily it doesn't seem to have become infected, though doesn't look good at all as you can see from these close-ups - taking them was near impossible too!
|Pigeon with badly damaged beak - has to be hand fed|
Pandora after her bath
Pandora's poops are getting more normal looking - so at least I can be sure she is getting enough to eat and drink.
|Poops from hand-fed pigeon with damaged/broken beak|
Later - Thanks goodness Harli is not lost, and he and Columbine were both seen feeding on the lawn today (with Bertie shut in for a while!). I caught them both at different times - they are so innocent I can just pick them up from the lawn - and gave them a top up feed of about 12 big grains/peanuts each. They can only eat such tiny little grains, and I don't think a bit extra does them any harm at all at this crucial stage of their lives, when daddy has stopped feeding them and they have to manage on their own, at the bottom of the pecking order.
A pigeon that I recognised as a regular turned up today with an egg attached to her. I have occasionally seen this sort of thing before. She was finding it awkward to walk with it dangling between her legs, and had obviously flown straight from the nest to the garden.
|Pigeon with egg attached to it's body|
Very shortly, it had partly smashed and started to ooze yellow yolk - obviously an infertile egg.
6.30pm - Charm came off the nest and flew to the roof for a breather, then the lawn for a snack. I knew she'd be quick, so I grabbed the camera and the steps and managed to get just one photo of Dolly, Fennie, Harlequin and Columbine's little brother and sister aged about 2 days old.
Together they walked over to the water bath
Harli jumped in for a splash, while Columbine just had a drink
Afterwards they flew away, but just circled round and returned to the cote for the night. They can easily get themselves inside now, and Lucky has left before their bedtime the last few nights, so he's not trying to stop them using the cote, so all is calm for the squabs and me. Probably when the new babies are 2/3 weeks old, Lucky and Charm will start again, and that's when Harlequin and Columbine may have to move out.
Friday 23.8.13 - Another week gone so fast! One small bit of dovie news today - Autumn, hatched last summer in my cote, has been missing a few weeks, but came back today. Lovely to see you Autumn - have some peanuts! I wish I could say all is nice and quiet but the shooting on the fields continues - probably all the corvids, wood pigeons, feral pigeons etc - will there be any birds left..... I hate hearing it.
Charm left the new babies again on this warm sunny afternoon and on impulse, after taking their back view photo, I took the chance of taking them out of the nest. I would never have risked that in the past, but now I know that the parent doves are tolerant if they 'catch' me - this time though I took the photos and had them back in just before Charm came to check on them.
|Dove squab approx. 3 days old|
Bertie likes lounging in the warm conservatory but I was a bit concerned at first as that is where the birds go from about 6pm - but he seems to ignore them, though I know he knows they are there. Spot Bertie in the photo below.... the place is piled high due to the redecoration of the sitting room.
* Slocombe - if you don't know the reference, look up 70s/80s sitcom 'Are you being served?'
To be cont...