Friday, 16 August 2013

What happened to Babe.....Harlequin and Columbine fledge.... and Pandora2

Friday 9.8.13 - It was so lovely and sunny at 11.30, and of course there were pigeons around - there are always pigeons around! - that I got Babe (little dark rescue pigeon) out of the run to be in the sun. She could if she wished move about in the sunlight in the run part, but instead was choosing to hide away in the upper indoor part, which is rather dank, dark and has been used by mice. I resolved to clean it out! First she went and sat on the water bath and had a long drink, as if I had been depriving her.

After a while my gender-selection proved correct as a male joined her and started giving unwanted attention. When the birds flew to the roof, she went and stood on the stump under the cote, and I thought that was a good place to be. If she doesn't survive I wouldn't want her last day to be spent in the dark, but in the sunny garden.

But she didn't stay on the stump and was trying to hide under the hedge, obviously feeling vulnerable, so back to the run it had to be! And I didn't get a chance to clear out the top part.

Harlequin and Columbine are beginning to peck, so I put a few little grains on the ledge for them to experiment with.

If you were reading last year you might remember a white dove named Bandit (for robbing food in the hutch which was then Jose's). He has a red ring on either leg, and is special to me just for the simple reason of having been around for a year! Today he took it upon himself to try to take over the cote - a young female was involved too, but I don't know if she is Bandit's mate-to-be or just jumping on the bandwagon. Lucky was having none of it - he was on the eggs, but quickly swapped with Charm and then took both birds on, fighting Bandit on the hedge and chasing them away from his territory. In the photo below, he's after the female.

Columbine peeks out nervously while Lucky looks sharply around, making sure they have both gone.
 Here, Lucky is checking round the back of the cote and you can just see Charm's tail as she sits tightly on the eggs during the kerfuffle.
 Later, Charm, below, gets a chance to stretch her legs, enjoy the sunshine and visit her big babies.

I went up to again. It's like a mini holiday for me, walking around in the sun meeting such interesting and varied chickens! I met the lady owner this time and she kindly allowed me to take photos, which I now share with you.

There was one 'disabled' pen with several chickens in it - one of them can't walk and can only shuffle about a little. I told her about Cloud, and we agreed that if a bird still has a reasonable quality of life - can eat and enjoy the sunshine, then there is no reason to put it down if you are in a position to care for it. This particular chicken was even still laying eggs! I brought back half a dozen free range eggs - how lovely to be able to choose your own six eggs from a big basket. I chose one white, one cream, two smooth light brown, a deep brown and another brown speckly freckly one. I don't know much about hens but I think the dark brown one came from a Buff Orpington.

Later - At the afternoon feed time when Cloud has her perambulation I do things in the garden so I can keep an eye on her. I clean and fill the water baths, pick up feathers, clean the hutch, dead head flowers, water the pots etc. Today I got Babe out too - hand fed her and offered water - then put her on the table.

She stayed there for quite a long time, seeming dispirited and with no inclination to try to fly, and then jumped to the ground. She did peck around a bit, going off on her own to secret places, but I don't have much hope she will live, poor little thing.

My three day rule will apply - for those who don't know I always reckon that if a poorly one lives for three days after I've found them, then there is hope! Babe is on day 2 today, and I won't be surprised if she doesn't survive the night - but let's hope, there's always hope! If she survives I will change her name to Pandora!

The end of the day - Lucky preens his distinguished self before giving the babies their last feed, and leaving the garden. When he goes it's my cue to stop feeding - then the lingering pigeons tend to leave!

Sat. 10.8.13 - When I have a poorly one that I think might die, I always go to them in the morning with a bit of dread in my heart, but Babe had survived another night - maybe she will be Pandora after all! I never saw such a pile of poop as was on her brick next to her. I probably have been feeding her too much, but I wanted to feed little and often to try and build up her strength. It has changed from very runny green to more bulky but still loose yellowy-buff colour, and certainly smells a lot better! (More yucky photos below - sorry!)

Poorly pigeon - pile of night poop!

I offered a drink from a little shot glass and she drank thirstily, then I left her with a dish of seeds while I fed the flock and sorted Cloud. I also weighed Cloud - as a guide - and she is approx. 338g. Babe weighed in at 222g approx which is terribly light. I wish I'd weighed her in the beginning but I didn't think of it. I hand fed her and she stood on the garden table awhile, with no attempt to fly, and then back in the run for now. I think she is probably a very young bird, not long fledged, and hasn't been able to find enough food after her parents stopped feeding her. Somehow she made it here to the garden but the effort has exhausted her. I truly hope that she will pick up, start feeding herself and grow strong. She does feel a lot warmer than she was, but not really toasty like Cloud does. My 'Feral Pigeons' book is not very helpful when it comes to weights but does give a simple chart. According to that, a squab at fledging - 28 days - should be 300g. I looked back at my own blog and my
hatched-in-December squab, Santa, was 252g on Christmas Eve aged 18 days, so on this reckoning, and even allowing for inaccuracies with the scales and ages of the squabs, you can see that Babe is way too light for a pigeon that must be at least 31 days old and probably/realistically several days or a week or more older than that.
Later - I don't know why I didn't think before that Babe could do with complan-for-pigeons to build her up  i.e. Kaytee hand rearing bird food mix  - so I made some for her, and left the little 'peas' to dry off in the sun (covered with one of those little net umbrella thingies - I don't want flies on my baby's food!).
Kaytee Exact hand rearing food

She is eating whatever I give her perfectly well, and always drinks thirstily, but is taking very little interest in life.... in fact, the life force is draining out of her. In the afternoon when Cloud was on the lawn, and the flock were there, she did have a walk on the table, and even jumped down again to the grass but I saw no point leaving her to just stand there, especially as there was a light wind, so I picked her up and cuddled her in a cloth.

5pm - I brought her into the conservatory earlier than Cloud, and noticed that the toes on one foot have curled up. The beginning of the end I think, sadly. I remember when I had a beautiful white dove I called Spirit that she curled up her toes before she died. Babe can't stand comfortably on the brick, as last night, so I put a small folded towel in the back of the box for her.
Pigeon often curls toes prior to death

8pm - I went in to offer Babe another drink - which she took. She seemed more uncomfortable so I got a couple more small towels and made them into a nest shape, so her head, neck and body are supported while she sits. I don't expect her to survive the night, so I got my Pet Prayers and Blessings Book by Laurie Sue Brockway and Victor Fuhrman and read her a prayer for the Highest Good - the same as I read to my darling tiny weeny baby Snow. I won't disturb her now for the rest of the night, and hope if she dies it will be easy and peaceful for her - my little Pandora Baby.

Sunday 11.8.13 - 6.00am - Death came in the night and closed Babe's eyes. She was exactly as I had left her, in the propped up nest, just looking like she was asleep. I felt a bit wistful as she was such a quiet sweet delicate little thing - like a leaf blown in with the flock; like a feather drifting away on the breeze. I will have the funeral later, and just cover her box for now. Sometimes I find it hard to let them go.
The next series of photos - sorry not very good - show Charlie having his 'secret' pot of grains. I didn't shoo the other pigeon away, as he is a 'limper' and I wanted Charlie to share!

 Mr. Strong grabs a peanut on the patio

 The Spokespigeon eats from my hand
L to R - Winter, multi-pigeon, and the Spokespigeon
 Bathing (and drinking the bathwater!)

 A white dove chose to bathe in the small round dog bowl - go away, I want to be alone!

 When she flew to the roof, all white and fluffy, I saw it was Grace.....
 and a little, hop, skip and jump at the end!

Monday 12.8.13- Bandit and co. continue to fight for a space in the cote, but Lucky is not prepared to let a room. Due to his unreasonable behaviour - they only want one space, Lucky! - he has to spend all his time routing them out. There seem to be two pairs now and they are very persistent. Lucky gets no chance to come down to eat, and therefore I worry he can't feed the squabs. I put some food in one of the bottom nestboxes for Lucky, and that worked well (for one day - til the others discovered it!)
The squabs are four weeks old, and were composed and beautiful for their photo.
4 week old dove pigeon squabs

Harlequin and Columbine share some little seeds I gave them 
 Columbine peeking out

Tuesday 13.8.13 - I was out all day today leaving hubbie to do all the feeds - which he does do of course, but not as carefully as I would. I came back well past 5pm with crowds of doves and pigeons around and about, white doves still causing Lucky trouble round the cote, Charm off the nest and nowhere to be seen and Cloud still unfed. I quickly started giving some grain to the birds, searching all the time for a green ring on a white dove (Charm) and trying to give all my special birds some food. I noticed a green ring on a cute white dark flecked dove on the lawn, and thought 'You're young' and wondered who was using the same type of rings as me. Then minutes later I saw the same bird stuck half way up the hedge, so I quickly retrieved it and because by then Cloud was wandering on the lawn, I put the little one in the hutch to be safe for now. I decided as it was late-ish I would keep it overnight and release it the next day if I found it could fly properly. Once things were more in order, and I was sure Charm had returned to the eggs, I had the chance to get up the steps to see my big babies.....there was only one in the nestbox! Columbine! .... Oh my goodness, I am truly going bonkers, the sweet little white spotty bird in the hutch, with the green ring, was my own Harlequin! In my haste to sort everything out, I hadn't recognised him!

My plan had been to put the unknown bird in a box in the conservatory as I usually do. Of course, Harlequin, being Harlequin could go back to Columbine in the nestbox, so I took the wire box off, and he promptly ran away down the side of the hutch.
When I caught him, I thought I might as well give him some grain in case Lucky hadn't been able to do much feeding, so I hand-fed him about 15 grains and then popped him back in the nest. I had expected Columbine, as the eldest, to fledge first and maybe not for a few days. Harlequin, I would guess, is only 28 days old.
Wednesday 14.8.13 - Since I was out much of the day, I asked hubbie to check that the squabs were ok, and when I can home both were in the nest box. Harlequin seemed to be spending the most time hovering on the ledge, squeaking for food, while Lucky was still spending his time defending his territory. This morning before I went out I had blocked 3 of the 6 nestboxes - obviously I wasn't blocking the squabs' one and Charm's one, and I left one open for Lucky to rest in, but the other three I blocked as best I could. A whole brick, I felt, would be too heavy on the ledge so I couldn't use that, but I blocked one with the half brick, the high one with a feeding tray that would prop under the top piece of the cote, and the other with an old sponge and cloths! I felt this would give Lucky more peace as the other doves wouldn't be able to get in, and hopefully would be deterred. But it wasn't stopping them when I got home, and there were white feathers near the gate as if several fights had occurred.
In the photo below, the unknown white dove, probably a female, perches on the blocked off nestbox, while little Harlequin watches quite boldly, and Lucky paces up and down the hedge below.
 Columbine fledged - not a good time of day as about 5.30pm - and made a soft landing on the hedge

 In the next photo, Bandit and mate are on the wire in the background, and the spare female as she was. Lucky is on top of the cote, watching Columbine make an attempt to get up to him.

 And even a random pigeon joins in by sitting on the top of the steps. The white thing in the bottom right nestbox is my attempt to block it, with cloths - that the birds had pulled out!
Shortly after this, the adult birds flew to the roof and I rescued Columbine from half way up the cote, and put her back in with her sibling for the night.
Thurs. 15.8.13 - I thought the squabs might be out on the lawn when I got up this morning but by 9.00am they were still in the cote. Despite all the ins and outs that are still going on, Lucky managed to feed them, and Charm stayed calm on the eggs. Here's Bandit on top of the cote -

I caught a white male? in the cote and ringed him with green and pale pink rings - which he didn't like. Haven't named him yet. I was around when Charm came off the nest at 11.15am and swapped with Lucky, so was able to make sure she had a good feed with lots of peanuts and nice little grains, and only a few pigeons were there to share it with, so now Lucky's fed, the squabs are fed and Charm's fed, I can stick to my no feeding til 3pm earliest plan! - and maybe even string it out a bit longer.
The squabs didn't come out of the nestbox at all today, so they haven't really fledged properly yet but only 32 days old.
They are shooting on the farm today - I've heard the bangs all day and I hate it but nothing I can do. Hubbie says the birds, not just pigeons of course, are decimating the crops. They won't shoot my white doves will they? I asked. No, he said. But that was probably just to make me feel better. By ten past three, I was out in the garden feeding and almost immediately noticed a 'funny' pigeon. If the birds have anything wrong with them, they are easily spotted. This dark pigeon had what looked like wet down it's front and something wrong with it's beak. I knew it was not water, and mostly likely dried blood and it's beak looked short. It was hungry of course and crouching down while I threw the grain I could see that it couldn't pick up the seeds, large or small. I threw down a large handful of peanuts; they all crowded round and I easily picked up the odd one from the melee. She fought like mad but I took her into the conservatory and closed the doors so I could examine her. Can a pigeon with a badly damaged beak survive? Is there hope? We have a new Pandora! Had her beak been partly shot off? - what a dreadful thing! I can't really describe how the beak looked - it certainly didn't feel hard, smooth, sharp and pointy like a healthy beak. I did wonder whether I should just take her to the vet to be put down but she was so feisty - flapping around in Cloud's crate and trying to escape while I made my arrangements that I thought I must give her a chance. And putting a bird with a chance down is totally against what I believe to be right. She was warm and lively so I hand-fed her some peanuts and hard peas, trying to be gentle - and held the shot glass but I don't know if she got a drink or not. Then I gave her a little bath in warm water to make sure it was just dried blood that had dripped on her chest from her beak and she was not injured in any other way. Afterwards I wrapped her in a warm towel, gave her a bit more food, and she was calmer. She is now in the run - though not happy about it - until I bring her in for the evening. She must stay with me for the night at least so I can think about and assess her. I tell you, I won't be going out walking on the farm, I don't want to see dead pigeons and other birds in the fields.
Photos of Pandora below - I suppose she ought to go to the vet but I can't afford to pay for feral pigeons to be treated - it's as simple as that really. And what could he do anyway?

One legged Cassidy - I thought Cassidy's 'injury' was so dreadful at the time, but now, seeing Pandora2, I realise having one leg is not so bad at all - especially as it makes the susceptible lady who feeds give you extra peanuts! Possibly he was born like that anyway.
 Fennie, below, usually only visits in the afternoons now (when I am more likely to be taking photos) while Dolly is an early bird.

 Cloud, and friend, during her afternoon 'free' time
 The white dove I caught in the cote, and ringed - as yet un-named


6pm - I brought Pandora in before Cloud, and gave her some warm defrosted peas which will give her extra moisture, plus a few more peanuts. She seemed to be calm and accepting of my evening arrangements for her. The injury, however caused, must have been a shock and she has lost blood - she is certainly in no fit state to be released just yet. I looked up beak injuries on the internet and the outlook is not very good. I'm not sure if she will ever be able to eat properly on her own, but it doesn't seem fair to imprison her for the rest of her life. If I set her free so she can enjoy flying, will she come back so I can feed her? I am over-thinking now as she may not survive. I left water and a pot of grain in the box for the morning - with exactly 3 peanuts on top. The birds will always eat the peanuts so I will see if any are gone in the morning
Friday 16.8.13 - Pandora was alive and alert sitting on her brick - there were an adequate amount of fairly normal poops behind her but maybe a little dry. She had obviously been trying to eat as the grain was messed around, but all 3 peanuts were still there. I hand fed her and put her in the run for the day - the S.E. is due heavy rain so if we do get it then it wouldn't be a suitable day for release.
9.15am - Before I went out I checked the 'home' birds - Cloud, inside her hutch - tick! Charm, on the eggs - tick! Pandora, sitting on the slope of the run - tick! Up the steps to check the squabs, and oh! only Harlequin is inside! I looked around and could see young Columbine on the roof - properly fledged! Later, she came down to the lawn with Lucky but I didn't see him feed her, though he flew to the nestbox to feed Harlequin before swapping with Charm to do nest duty. If I don't see Columbine fed later, I will give a top up feed if I can. This is a tricky time for the squabs as daddy tails off feeding but the little ones are very low in the pecking order on the lawn and usually stand, looking bewildered, on the side-lines while the pidgies gobble it all up!
1pm - I have a difficult problem with Pandora as you can appreciate. She has had a bad injury and lost blood - it may have been yesterday or well before, but is feisty and wants to be released. I know she can fly so I don't really feel I can keep her against her will. Damaged beaks can mend, according to what I read, but it is more likely that she will always have difficulty eating. The alternative of keeping her, and hand feeding her means that she will never again get to be a free flying bird - and that's pretty grim..... (but so is starving to death) The small amount of rain had ceased, the day is warm, so I brought Pandora into the conservatory, ringed her with a red ring, and fed/watered her again..... then I released her. Better a short life, free, with the other pigeons, than stuck in the run in my garden day after day. I am hoping that I will be able to catch her for a top up feed of nutritious peanuts every day or so, but if not, then so be it. I hope you are not tut-tutting about my decision - it is very difficult to know what to do for the best. Pandora looked rather less bedraggled than before as she had had a bath to remove some of the blood from her feathers. But they are shooting on the farm again today - bang after bang, it's very depressing.
A sweet little blue tit flew in the house, and had his photo taken before I gently cupped my hands round him to put him out - these tiny birds always peck you when captured and they have sharp little beaks!

Harlequin hovered on the ledge while I took his photo - he seemed to be wondering where Columbine had gone .....

then suddenly he was off, straight to the roof. I just hope I can get both my sweet squabs back in the cote tonight!

 Later -  Lucky had left the garden by 6.15pm, leaving his babies to work out their bedtime arrangements by themselves. In some ways this makes things easier, but it is rather unfeeling of him. The squabs started to make attempts to get into the cote - fluttering on the top, then flying to the hutch, to the hedge and back again.

 Which way is in? asks Harlequin

Columbine got stuck on the side of the cote, and I thought I might be able to get her there so I mounted the steps. As my head reached her height, she jumped on to it! I put my hands up quick, and I had her! I hadn't seen her eat or be fed by Lucky all day, so I gave her a top up feed and some water, and she was in the cote by 6.35pm. At 7.30pm Harlequin was still on the roof, sitting, with one white dove next to him, and a pigeon lower down. I pray they don't fly off taking bubs with them - he's too young for the flight to wherever they might roost. I kept popping out and eventually Harli was left alone, and making a big effort to get into the cote. Eventually he flew into the hedge and I managed to grab him there - good! I fed/watered him too, and blocked both babies in, just in case one or both decided to pop out again. I will unblock them before I go to bed, when it is properly dark so I don't have to get up extra early. As always, I was grateful that my newly fledged babies were safe back in the cote after their first day out.
To be cont....


Fennie said...

Gosh that is a long one. And full of drama! Do hope Pandora survives. So fascinating reading these tales. Is your flock of ferals getting smaller?
I suppose at this time of year there will be a lot of food out there in the fields. Mercifully you don't seem to have the hawk around at the moment. I wonder if you can't get one of those automatic feeders like the ones they use for pheasants - so you wouldn't have to feed the birds by hand so much.

Faith said...

I enjoy feeding them Fennie - that's my pleasure.

hopeinparis said...

I'm sorry about poor little Babe, Faith. Her parting as as gentle as it could have been, thanks to you. I loved the dove bathing in the dog dish! xx Jane

CAMILLA said...

So sorry to hear about little Babe, Faith. RIP Babe.

Do hope Pandora's beak heals in time, she is producing poops so is obviously eating food, with your wonderful care I know you will be feeding her by hand.