Thursday, 30 January 2014

We move on - with plenty of nursing needed!

The early morning flock - or some of them!
Thurs. 23rd January 2014 – I weighed both Narcissus and Echo today. Cissy has gone up from 243g on Tuesday to 304g. Echo weighs 360g, Both doing well in that respect. I put them in together – in Echo’s cage to see how they got on..... not well. So I won’t try that again for a while. Photo shows them pecking at each other.

I last hand-fed Fennie on Monday, but he is still managing. Emerald has only been fed once by me – last Sunday – but she was here too. I didn’t see her manage to eat much, except a bit of bread. I hate to see them, but I can’t catch them. There’s also more birds with PMV – I think this damp mild weather hasn’t killed off the ‘bugs’. Here's Fennie in the middle of the photo.

I felt really low about the dead babies today, and had a little cry (my first tears for them). I feel I will just have to see how this coming year goes, and if it’s too stressful maybe I will consider taking the cote down, reducing the flock and starting again in a couple of years.

Friday 24.1.14 – I spent some time this morning trying to catch a big pigeon that has been part of the flock for quite a while. It is a racer or was once til it joined the feral flock, and wears a green ring with letters/numbers on. It doesn’t seem to have PMV but maybe something wrong with its beak as it can’t pick up food. I tried the usual grain, peanuts, granulated peanuts, dry bread, wet bread...with no luck, it can’t pick up anything, and I couldn’t catch it either, despite it being reasonably ‘tame’ and willing to be near me. Please trust me, I said to it, I will be able to help you if you let me pick you up!

Racing pigeon with damaged beak

Hubbie was out all day so I gave both Echo and Narcissus a splashy bath  – Cissy’s first with me.

They both seemed to enjoy it, and then spent the next hour in the aga-warm kitchen to make sure they were thoroughly dry. Echo sat on the biscuit box on the table, suitably covered and Cissy, who can balance better, sat on top of the door.

I saw both Fennie and Emerald this afternoon, and tried to catch both – and the big pigeon again – with no luck whatsoever. I can’t believe I managed to catch them before – how did I do that? Maybe they were less wary. I suppose Fennie and Em must be getting some food, somehow – and I do put out the deep dishes for them, but neither seems in a good way.

Sat 25.1.14 – I caught the big pigeon today at the early feed – he came close to me and I just put down my hand and grabbed him very firmly indeed. He must be getting desperate for food as it’s been at least two days. Then what to do with him? I bundled him into Cloud’s empty hutch for the time being as she had not been ‘got up’ for the day yet, and he was struggling furiously. I have rarely handled such a big strong pigeon – he felt almost as large as a wood pigeon. Bertie had annoyingly arrived, so I was trying to juggle everything – keeping him out of the way of the birds, feeding the flock and getting Cloud, Echo and Cissy up for the day. Having my breakfast is always last on the list! I needed the hutch for Big Boy so Cloud had to go in her night box in the conservatory – I left it open without the grille up so she didn’t feel confined, and positioned so she could see the other two. I had nowhere else to put BB as the run in the garden needs a lot of attention before it can be used again.
After I’d done my homies, and had something to eat, I got everything ready to examine and feed Big Boy in the kitchen. I was so relieved to have caught him – it’s been such a stress the last two days knowing how desperate for food he was and not being able to help. I wrapped him very firmly in a cloth, with part of it over his head, to carry him into the house – having got him, I didn’t want him to struggle free. If you ever have to pick up a pigeon then unless you can see they are obviously badly injured or can’t fly then do be bold about it, they can be very strong!  His beak was not ‘glued’ in any way – by dried blood for example – and I was able to open it. Definitely damaged but not in some ways as badly as Pandora’s was – and she survived and I saw her yesterday actually. I would’ve liked to get a photo of inside the open beak to show you but it’s impossible without another pair of hands to help. Pandora’s beak was broken off at the tip i.e shortened, but this one’s is sort of skew-whiff.

I realised I might cause pain by opening the beak and feeding BB but he had to be fed. I had prepared grains, peanuts and defrosted warm peas – each piece of food was dipped in water first to help it go past the damaged bits and down easier. He was co-operative as very hungry! Some food didn’t make it but I managed to feed him about 20 bits. Then I dipped his beak to rinse it, and so he could drink. As I said before he wears a green ring – and I took the number down, which started GB 13 – meaning Great Britain 2013. I think the 13 part means he was hatched in 2013 – he’s a big bird for only a year or under, but of course racing pigeons are different to my ferals and get better nutrition I suppose. I then reported him and hope to get a reply soon – you can report a stray/ill racing pigeon here, but you have to confine it first -  Actually I didn’t check if he has the owner’s telephone number stamped on his wings, which I should’ve done first, so will do that later just in case but I don’t think so.
After feeding he settled down in the hutch, and there he will have to stay until I get a reply. I always seem to catch racers at the weekends, when the organisation doesn’t work, so I doubt I will hear til Tuesday earliest. I will have to bring him in at night, but goodness knows what I will do with him. He will have to be kept in a different room to the PMV birds (though prob vaccinated against it) – and I haven’t got any more boxes!
Later – I took Bertie back home in the car – 4th time this week I think, then headed off to a jumble sale. I was hoping for find an animal travelling box – please, Universe, let me find a suitable container for Big Boy! This is a huge scouts jumble that they hold 3 times a year, with loads of stuff stacked outside as well as in the hall, and they always seem to be lucky with the weather – and I was lucky too because there was a larger size travel box, with grille, in good condition. Fantastic! They wanted a fiver for it, but worth it as new they cost £30-35. Thank you Universe! Amongst other things I also bought an old towel to cut up for the bottom of the box, and 3 medium size pottery pie dishes which are good and deep – good for water or grain for PMV birds.
When I arrived back from the jumble the first thing I saw was masses of feathers in heaps on the lawn near the house, and as I approached the hawk rose up with its kill in its claws and flew off. From what I saw it was certainly dead and a pigeon not a dove. I prayed it was not my Fennie.... and later looked round the back of the house, and the back of the nearby buildings and gardens, but the hawk had probably taken it off into the woods.

 At the back of the offices here, where there is an old mill, I found evidence of another hawk kill – all white feathers so obviously a dove, but no body parts for me to identify. Looks like the hawk is early this year.

Sun 26.1.14 – I have not seen either Fennie or Emerald today, and I can’t remember if I saw them yesterday morning or no, though def did on Friday – if they were the hawk’s victims then I hope they died quickly. The weather was blustery, rainy and grey. Again, Cloud stayed in the conservatory so Big Boy could have the hutch – she wasn’t missing anything by being inside, and walked about the table trying to intimidate the two young birds, Echo and Narcissus. Not sure if you can spot her between the two pigeons in the photo below.

 I usually do the RSPB Birdwatch in the morning, but didn’t have time so did it between 1.40-2.40pm – I had a very poor count this time – 2 robins, 5 great tits, 3 blue tits, 2 dunnocks, 1 female pheasant, 1 grey wagtail and a flock of feral pigeons of course! – but the weather was dreadful. A while ago I caught a poorly racer and now the nice lady takes an interest in blog – Big Boy is not her pigeon but she put me in touch with the local Ring Secretary, so hopefully now as I have reported him twice, he will be reunited with his owner. This morning, after the night, I was encouraged to see that his poops looked fairly plentiful and normal, though a little dry perhaps, but at least now I have him I can keep him alive and he has a chance of recovery.

Poops from pigeon with damaged beak being handfed
After the afternoon feed I attempted to weigh him and if it’s accurate then he weighs about 493g which seems enormous to me  and according to this article is more than the average of 425g.  If I get contacted by the owner, then I will ask if they are planning on trying to help him recover or if they will cull him (read the article!) If they won’t help him, then I will try to. I have had several owners take their birds back and I know they were going to do their best by them, but I can’t help feeling the article must reflect the truth with some other fanciers.

Mon 27.1.14 – A week since all those little baby doves died – I have managed to get it over it, but I will never forget them.  I now have 4 homies – Cloud, Echo, Narcissus and Big Boy – and I promised hubbie no more after Cissy, but he knows about BB and has accepted him, probably hoping the owner will come and collect him. But so far I haven’t heard anything. It has occurred to me that because BB has a damaged beak, he can’t preen himself. Maybe tomorrow I will see if he would like a bath. When I brought him in for the afternoon feed it was so gloomy and rainy that I let him stay in the kitchen on the drying rack above the aga.

No Fennie or Emerald again today so I have to assume that they were hawked or succumbed to the PMV. Now of course I wish I had kept at least my Fennie in – but truly I can’t manage any more birds to hand feed. Don’t think I don’t feel bad about Fennie because I do.

Tue 28th Jan – The Ring Secretary texted me about Big Boy – apparently his owner is a young lad who lives in Oxted – which is about 30 mins drive away from here – BUT the lad is not responding to phone calls and the Secretary says he will keep on trying – so looks like BB is staying here for a while. I gave him a bath in the kitchen this afternoon – he didn’t seem to like it very much, but while he’s with me he will be getting one every week or so. As soon as he could he flew away from me to the window, and then settled up high on the dresser. I left him there for the rest of the afternoon with a little pot of water.

The others were fine in the conservatory – Cloud has the run of the table as I don’t like confining her in a small box all day, it’s not fair, now that BB has her hutch.See if you can spot her in the photo below!

Wed.29.1.14 -  And the rain it raineth every day! The garden is a slippery muddy patch, with very little grass.  I was out most of the day, and Bertie was there when I left. I can’t keep taking him home so just left him in charge, with the homies locked away in the conservatory and Big Boy in the hutch. The flock was ravenous when I got back and Bertie was still in the house, so I quickly shut him in the sitting room, and then started throwing down the grain. They were all fighting over the food, and straight away I saw a very muddy probably young white dove in the middle of them. I could see that it could pick up food, so I just carried on feeding but when the flock started leaving, it just walked down the path and into the flower bed. I followed it to see if it could fly, and it fluttered, with not much energy up to the hedge. I got the net, but missed and it had another attempt for the roof, but didn’t make it, ending up before the oil tank where a pool of water was collecting. I plunged in with my leaky boots and rescued it to bring into the house. This is bird number 5!  I rang Bertie’s ‘owner’ and she said she’d come and collect him – which she did. I showed her the little white dove, and explained about the others and told her I really didn’t want Bertie, but I don’t think she believes me, though now it is the absolute truth. She told me to throw a bucket of cold water over him to deter him next time he comes!!!! I would be totally unable to do something so cruel! With Bertie gone, I was able to attend to the little dove – my My Hermes parcel lady turned up and I asked her to suggest a name. She told me all the names she has called her white rabbits, and I picked Sugar – so little Sugar was all wet, muddy and bedraggled and as it was already well after 3.30pm I decided I would definitely keep her for the night at least. I knew she could eat, but I weighed her (280g so not too low) and hand fed her some grains and peanuts anyway to top her up. She flew up to the plate shelf (not very hygienic but hey-ho!) and I put one of the warm aga mats under her to help warm her up, and left her there. The photo makes it look very bright, but it was taken with flash, and in fact, the shelves in the kitchen are quite dim at that time of day, with just the light on over the aga. And she was settled so I left her there for the time being.

I had about an hour before hubbie was due home – I had only fed BB and the other 3, Cloud, Echo and Cissy also needed feeding, and I had to decide what on earth I was going to do with Sugar for the night! I do not have another box, so I was running other possibilities through my mind. The main thing was keeping her safe, warm and away from the PMV pigeons, Echo and Narcissus. I thought about putting her in the dovecote for the night, suitably blocked in, but she had got pretty chilled from being on the roof (I assume) for a lot of the day in the rain, and then falling in the water behind the oil tank, so I decided that .if possible I would prefer to keep her inside the house. I ended up putting Big Boy in the dovecote, blocked in, and putting her in his box inside. He hasn’t got PMV and the box had fresh paper down etc so hopefully ok. I felt BB would be ok in the cote as he is a big bird with a lot of weight, and the weather, though miserable, isn’t that cold. In the morning, after feeding, BB will go back in the hutch for the day but I have had him confined for five full days now, and although his owner has been found I have not heard any more about it today. Why is the Universe sending me all these birds? I could hardly leave sweet little Sugar shivering on the hedge could I? I will see how she is, and how the weather is tomorrow – perhaps I will keep her a few days to build up her strength.

Thurs. 30.1.14 – I got Big Boy up first – out of the cote – and he was none the worst for it. Then I went to see how Sugar was – she was nicely warm and I noticed she had pooped ‘normally’ in her night box, though some grains  had been regurgitated.

Poops from small young white dove
As I knew she could eat alone I only topped her up with  few peanuts, then I put her down in the kitchen to see what she would do, and she immediately showed that she would be ok to release as she started flying around! I had no reason to keep her and it wasn’t raining or otherwise unpleasant so I took her into the garden and released her from my waist height. She flew to the hedge, looked around and then flew easily to the roof. A male joined her, proving her femininity, but she resisted his advances.

After the main flock had dispersed, she continued to sit on the roof - here on the right end, away from the others.

 Above, Sugar alone and below on the right end, looking smaller than the others

 And stayed there all day until at 4pm when I checked, she had gone. Hopefully, the warm dry bed, the respite from flying back to the roost and a few peanuts have helped her. God speed Sugar, I hope to see you again soon!
This afternoon I had a huge surprise. Emerald, the green ringed white dove with paramyxovirus turned up! Wow! hello Emerald I thought you were dead!

The last time I had seen her was last Friday – 6 days ago! I saw both her and Fennie on Friday 24th, and then the hawk came on Saturday and I presumed that either the hawk had got them, or they had died from lack of food due to being unable to pick up enough grain (because of the PMV). I had kept a little paper chart of when i’d seen them both and had been about to throw it away thinking they were both dead but doesn’t this show that there is always hope! I wonder how she has been managing? I made sure I filled the deep dishes. for her -which I hadn’t been doing as there were no birds currently suffering from PMV as far as I was aware.
I contacted the RPRA again about Big Boy and they hadn’t got my previous notification but are now dealing with it (I hope!))  I had an afternoon weighing session:
Big Boy – 474g (down from 490g if I had weighed him accurately before)
Cloud – 409g (don’t know what she was before but that seems ok)
Echo – 345g (also down from 360g last Thurs)
Narcissus – 307g (up 3g from 304g last Thurs)
Sugar was 280g when I weighed her yesterday

I think BB’s beak is improving. It seems less out of shape and closes more normally. I have been treating the sore patch inside with dabs of honey (from a friend’s hive so I know it is good stuff!)

 Above Cissy on my hand with BB on the drying rack, and below, a close up of BB. I bring him in with me in the afternoons as he seems depressed in the hutch, and it's so damp in there.

To be cont...

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Difficult times.....and not a good start to the dovie year

Warning! -  Unfortunately, this blog contains distressing photos so don't read if it will upset you.

Tuesday 14.1.14 – Echo weighs 329g... surely not? That’s a jump from 309! Big growth spurt if that’s accurate but I will weigh her again in a couple of days.

 I put Cloud next to Echo - see the naughty glint in Echo's eye?
Then suddenly she turned and pecked Cloud hard! Woo! I didnt expect that - thought it would be the other way round! - and Cloud ended up on the floor!

16th Jan – I was putting Cloud in her hutch after her perambulation with the flock on the lawn this morning, when I noticed Lucky push an egg to the front of the nestbox and then fly out of the cote with it in his beak He landed on the ridge of the roof, dumped the egg and it bounced down to the flowerbed. My first thought was ‘Is the egg no good?’ and then I thought ‘Wow, it must be hatching day!’ Normally I know exactly when the eggs are due to hatch and wait anxiously for a sign, but I forgot to mark it on the calendar. I will look back at my blog...... I found the egg in the flower bed – it was only the shell, so hopefully all is well with the hatchling.

There’s no chance of course of seeing the baby or babies at the moment, as Charm and Lucky are guarding them well – as they should. Echo weighed 337g today – wow she’s really putting it on at the moment.
17th Jan – I had both my grandchildren this afternoon, and when we got back from a short local walk we found a dog just running out of the garden! It must have been rampaging round, maybe barking, and both my mummy doves, Charm and Rose Red were off their nests! Rose Red is so nervous, and she makes Charm jumpy too – and neither of them are used to dogs in any shape or form of course. (It wasn’t one of the 3 dogs that belong to the neighbours whose dog killed my Jose). I think we left the gate open – so my fault – but there are not usually dogs around here. I grabbed the steps and checked Charm’s nest – two downy yellow babies! Both obviously only a day or so old, and I only took the quickest peep and didn’t touch them. I shepherded the children back into the house in the hope that if the garden was quiet Charm would quickly return to them. RR leaves her eggs so often that I am thinking they may well not hatch anyway. I watched out of the window, and Charm went back soon enough I think – luckily it’s not too cold at the moment, but still these tiny babies need a parent with them all the time.
A bit later on, while the children were happily playing inside, I went out to feed the flock and the young pigeon with paramyxo was there again, trying to pick up grains out of one of the near empty little pots. I got the big net and stealthily crept up towards it, hiding the net as best I could behind my back, and this time managed to catch it! The poor thing was so hungry it just sat patiently in my lap, wrapped in a cloth, while I popped the grains in its beak. I weighed it quickly after I’d fed it, though it should have been before and it weighs approx 307g, which is not too bad. As I had the children with me, and had to take them home, I just made basic arrangements for the pigeon’s comfort and safety for the time being, and the night ahead, and will think about it all tomorrow.
Sat 18th Jan into Sun 19th  – The pigeon, who I fondly imagined might be a friend in adversity for Echo, was reasonably calm in the morning, but after a good feed, he couldn’t imagine why he couldn’t be free and started bashing about in his cage. Since he could hold his head up properly and as it was a fine lunchtime I decided I would let him go so I ringed him with a pink ring and named him Narcissus, and when free, he flew to the roof to join up with the rest of the birds. Paramyxovirus (PMV) is highly infectious but what am I to do? There is no way I could kill a bird (to help the spread of infection) and he still has a chance of survival anyway. It’s not good for the rest of the flock, but they have to take their chances too. Narcissus is not the only one with the symptoms – a white dove is also showing the signs, and so is Fennie, my pigeon born of two white doves last spring. Not long after releasing Narcissus, I caught Fennie. He has been a free spirit since fledging from my dovecote about 10 months ago and didn’t like being caught. Like most of the birds with PMV, they are so hungry that they readily accept a hand-feed, he sat in my lap but when put in the cage just, vacated by Narcissus he wasn’t a happy pidgie, literally climbing up the bars.  I weighed him  - kissed the top of his very soft head as he was one of my babies, born in my cote! - and released him. I will be watching out for both of them, Narcissus and Fennie, and will just have to re-catch them if necessary.

 Narcissus above, and Fennie - looking remarkably well even though he's not - below
And here's Fennie as the most adorable baby in May last year

 Narcissus and Fennie really need nursing care, but I just haven’t the time to keep too many birds in. It takes me about an hour in the mornings alone anyway to do what I have to do for Cloud and Echo, feed the flock, clean up etc – and that’s just the mornings! My favourite kind of nursing of course is when a bird recovers – like Patience with the hole in her chest made by the sparrowhawk, or Pandora with her damaged beak. I’ve seen Pandora fairly recently and it’s such a pleasure to know I’ve helped. I am hoping Echo will recover and be released eventually too – but if not I will just have to keep her, like I keep Cloud – and how many Clouds can I have?? But Echo is my little reminder and echo of Santa from last year – though he was just backward and didn’t have PMV – and now she is ‘coming along’ and a good weight I am feeding her myself slightly less and she feeds herself from a deepish pot. She also now resists hand-feeding making it very awkward but I don’t want her to lose weight so I have to do some feeding. I’ve now had her for a month today! – 19th Dec to 19th Jan – or 31 days. Weight today 345g (so in a month she’s gone from 227g to 345g that’s 118g in a month! According to what I’ve read, I believe a pigeon with PMV keeps shedding the virus for 6 weeks and needs to be isolated. They can spontaneously recover between 6-12 weeks but sometimes it takes longer. Cloud of course has been in for over a year and has not recovered and is unreleasable – obviously I couldn’t have too many birds like that, but how could I have her or Echo put down. They both have their own little personalities!
Charm flew out of the nestbox to relieve herself and grab a few grains, and I peeked at the babies again – blonde and plump! I am not quite sure when Rose Red’s babies are due to must be about now as there were two eggs in her nestbox on the 1st of January and incubation is 18 days. I will have a peep if I get a chance, but if Charm or Lucky are with their babies I don’t want to upset them. Sometimes it’s possible to set the steps up away from the cote and get a glimpse, but as I keep saying SW and RR leave the eggs so often that I wouldn’t be surprised if their eggs don’t hatch.
Narcissus was here this morning on the lawn, but I haven’t seen Fennie so far. The food I gave them yesterday will probably keep them going for a day or so anyway. Narcissus went back to the roof and hunched up, so maybe he is feeling worse. He's in the middle of the photo below.

 Later I managed to catch him to feed, and kept him in. He seemed resigned to it. I also caught a white dove with PMV and fed and ringed her (green ring – called her Emerald) I released her back outside as she didn’t settle.

I didn’t get a chance to peep at SN and RR’s nest, and when darkness fell both mummy doves were on their nests – I checked with a quick flicker of the torch.
Mon 20th Jan 14 – Ghastly dovie day......dreadful! Hubbie and I were up early – well before the first doves and pigeons arrive on the roof – and he left the house at 7.30am. It was a sharp frosty morning and I went out with the boiled kettle to de-ice the water baths. I saw that Rose Red wasn’t in her nestbox and it seemed pretty early and dark-ish,even for her – and then, oh god, I saw that Charm wasn’t in hers either! Neither bird was anywhere around. I grabbed the steps close to the cote and looked inside Charm’s first – the babies felt cold and floppy to my touch – I drew one out....dead! And the other, also dead.....and then I looked in Rose Red’s nest. A tiny baby had hatched, but it was dead too – lying next to its egg shell and the unhatched egg.  I carried them all in to the house and laid them down to look at. There was no doubt that all three were dead.

Dead white dove squabs - from two different nests
(abandoned by mothers on frosty night)
It wasn’t like the time when I found Alpha and Omega, cold and abandoned, but still with some flicker of life left that gave me hope – these babies were floppy with open beaks. I have rarely had a sadder dovie moment. What on earth caused my two mummy birds to leave their nests and babies during the night or early morning before light? Was it Charm doing her usual thing (but at night??) and taking the inexperienced Rose Red with her. Instinct tells me that RR is the younger bird, and these may be her first eggs. I am so upset with myself - I could've helped and should've been more cautious. Obviously I couldnt watch the cote all the time during the night hours, but if I'd only blocked Charm in as soon as I knew the eggs had hatched. I have never blocked the parent doves in at night - only the young squabs - and I don't know what a bird like Charm would do if she couldnt get out when she wanted to. I like to think she would just accept it and settle down on the babes - I hope she wouldnt turn on them! I am going to practice with the little grilles Hubbie made for me, stealthily approaching the cote and putting them up. Is it even going to be possible at all? Charm’s babies were no more than about four days old, and Rose Red’s baby up to a day old maybe – you can see the difference in the sizes below. There was a time when I wouldn’t have dreamt of touching a dead baby bird but now I only find it dreadfully sad, not unpleasant. I put the dead babies back in their nests as the doves and pigeons started to come into the garden. All four parent birds arrived – Charm alighted on the lawn. Oh you stupid stupid thing! I admonished her ‘Don’t you know what you have done!’  I don’t blame the daddy birds, Lucky and Snow White, it’s not their job to brood the babies at night. Obviously I fed them all as usual but I felt animosity towards Charm and RR.  My thought had been that if Charm had left the babies at dusk I would’ve brought them in for the night and replaced them before she came back in the morning – I never never thought she would leave them during night hours or in the early morning. Now I have learnt my lesson, and if she nests again I will block her in at night as she can’t be trusted. Why didn’t I do that this time....too late now. I am so sorry, little ones, I let you down.

The babies were dead but the parents still went in and out of the nestboxes

I had Cloud, Echo and Narcissus to feed and set up for the day, but I kept an eye on the cote and first Rose Red and then Charm went back to their nests and settled inside. I started to doubt what I had seen – was it possible that those babies had in fact been alive? Surely they wouldn’t stay with them if they were dead? I had to go out but when I got back at 10ish the day was warming up, the garden was bathed in wintry sunlight and if I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought all was well as both mummy doves were on the nests, seemingly quite happy. At the change-over when the daddy birds took over the duty, I saw Lucky enter the nest-box – and settle in! Surely he must realise the babies are dead? Charm acted oddly though – she went down to the ground under the cote and started collecting sticks! What for, Charm? To warm up the dead babies? To make a new nest? Goodness knows – I don’t understand her at all.

I kept Narcissus in as he seemed content to do so today. He and Echo can see each other in the conservatory which maybe helps them both feel less isolated.

Echo - showing her white bits!
Below - Narcissus' poops - looking normal for a bird that appears to have PMV

The parents were still on the nests after lunch. I researched on the internet and could find nothing about pigeons but read about a tiny baby born at only 26 weeks who was pronounced dead at birth – and visited 12 hours later by her parents only to find her alive in the morgue. Doctors seemed to think that hypothermia had made her to go into a type of hibernation causing vital signs to vanish completely – a harrowing story from 2012. Could this have happened to the baby doves?
Fennie arrived back in the garden and was caught without too much trouble, and fed. The green ringed white dove also arrived, and I failed on two attempts to catch him.
I had to go out at 4.30pm and this seemed to be around change-over time Lucky came out of the nestbox, but Charm didnt straight away go in as she would've done if the babies were alive. All four parents were on the roof, and I checked the nestboxes again - Charm and Lucky's babies felt warm to the touch - well they had been sat on all day - but they were still dead, and so of course was the other baby and egg. I went out taking my heavy heart with me. Back at 6pm, it was dark and all the doves had gone so I removed all the babies and the egg from the nests and wrapped them up to look at again in the morning.

21.1.14 –  I kept waking up in the night and remembering the babies were all dead – what a waste of those little lives and so unnecessary. What on earth is wrong with Charm? Why does she feel it is ok to leave the babies?  A sad start to the day as I opened the egg – I didn’t know what would be inside but if there was a baby I wanted to put it with its sibling ready for the ‘funeral’. The little thing inside didn’t seem very well formed, with one leg being adrift and its insides coming out, but that may have been because I removed it from the egg. You know of course that you must never ‘help’ an egg hatch as you can do much more damage than good. Hatching takes time and you must let nature progess in her own way. You can see from the photos that the egg baby was much smaller than the other.

Dead white dove squabs after being abandoned by mothers

Left, dead white dove hatchling and right, one removed from dead egg

I named Lucky and Charm's babies Hayley and January, and Snow White and Rose Red's Monday and Tiny. (Hayley after the character Hayley Cropper in Corrie who also died today). These are not the names I would've called them but I wanted to give them names to give them a bit of dignity and validity. It was sad to have to organise the disposal of 4 little babies – I placed them all in a little paper ‘boat’ sprinkled with yellow flowers from the winter flowering jasmine and gave them the usual float down the river.  RIP little sweethearts. Some people would leave dead chicks or eggs out for the corvids but I just couldn’t do that. Charm and Lucky both checked out their nest box but I didn’t see Rose Red go to hers – though Snow White spent quite a lot of time today in the cote – but not in his nest box. I wondered what happens to the mummy birds crop milk when the babies are dead and don’t need it – I suppose it just eventually dissipates like breast milk.
I weighed Narcissus (Cissy for short) first thing and she only weighs 243g (lost 54g in 4 days so it’s not looking good) – she’s a quiet little thing now, unlike Echo who has found her voice and ‘bree-bree’s’ at me, or is it ‘brou-brou’. Cissy and Cloud both sit quietly and let me feed them but Echo fidgets about and makes it truly difficult – I take this as a sign she might be getting better! I was unable to catch Fennie  for feeding or Emerald but put down quite a few little deep dishes and hope they got something to eat today. What can I do – I really can’t have row upon row of pigeons in boxes to feed and look after. Hubbie noticed Cissy’s box in the spare room last night and I had to say she’d be the last! We have an outside shed (which was the original loo for the house) and now converted to a small shower room plus kitchen/laundry room and that's where I feed Loopy. Hubbie came out of the loo part last night into the kitchen part about 10pm and was surprised to find a fox in there! Apparently it didnt seem that scared, and he wondered if someone at some time had made a 'pet' of it! He reckoned it was a vixen.

Wed 22.1.14 - This morning, while still dark, the fox was on the lawn. She didn't seem particularly scared of us, and I noticed she was limping.

This is why I will never leave any birds outside in the hutch or low run  if at all possible. When I came home mid afternoon, there were feathers on the path - possibly a scuffle with the hawk. What with two cats, a fox, the sparrow-hawk and all the other hazards, what chance do my poor birds have? Yet there are always birds.....
Cissy seems a bit low - unlike my jaunty Echo. Echo looks worse as she star-gazes all the time, whereas Cissy's head is always in the right position but something about her today makes me wonder if she will make it through.
I saw Emerald and Fennie in the morning, and Fennie again in the afternoon, but could catch neither. Fennie now understands about the deep dishes and I think was able to eat.

I am sorry that this is such a depressing blog and hope for better news next time, but thanks for reading it. Let's end of a pleasant note - today when I was buying petrol I noticed a nest  - with a pair of sweet collared doves. I said to the young lad behind the desk, you've got a nest above pump 2 and he said Yes they were there last year - it's safe and sheltered. Did they rear the babies last year I asked - Yes I believe so, he said. I plan to take my camera next time and see if I can get a photo for you.

To be cont....