I had a busy morning ahead so had to start with the home birds early – well not that early!. I crept into the spare bedroom, where all three are currently housed at night, in the gloom before 8am to collect Cloud, so she could be fed and walk on the lawn while I was feeding the flock. I could see the shadowy shape of Sneezy but couldn’t tell if he was alive or dead. So I dealt with Cloud and the flock, then having put her in the hutch, I came back to see Sneezy – and he was still alive, though very lethargic.
I brought him out of the box into the kitchen to give him a drink – luke-warm water mixed with a tiny amount of honey from a friend’s hives – and he roused himself and drank thirstily. He also had a few defrosted and warmed peas, but Bertie came bounding in exuberantly at that point, so I had to give him some food to keep him quiet, and give me the opportunity of shutting him away for a while.
I put his plate on a piece of paper in the sitting room and then shut him in – so there I am, in my dressing gown, holding poorly Sneezy wrapped in a cloth in the crook of my arm, and trying to dispense cat food out of a foil sachet with only one hand, and Bertie trying to eat it before it’s even properly done! Having sorted Bertie, I could then feed Sneezy and he did eat the grains I gave him, but he does seem proper poorly! Then there was Echo to do! Having three birds, all needing hand-feeding, and needing their own cloths, own little ‘cups’, bowls etc and cleaning out three night boxes is a lot of work. But not grudged I assure you! Sneezy was cleaned up, then back in the warm comfortable bed I have made for him. It’s the lid of a cardboard box with a hot water bottle in it, then a nice padded little quilt thing, then small towels topped with kitchen roll. He does have food and water in the carrying box too, but so far just stays where I put him. I check him every 1-2 hours depending on what I am doing – not during the night of course. He survived through today; ate three meals of 20-30 grains each and drank his sweetened drink. I settled him down for the night, with the other two birds in their boxes at just before 4pm when the natural light is beginning to go. To keep him warm through the night, I put one of the microwave Snugglesafe pads right under the box lid that is his bed – they are very useful, and worth buying for pets. I pray he will be alive in the morning, but I won’t be surprised if he’s not. Here he is today at one his feed times, he has lovely purple and green iridescent feathers on his neck.
Charm of course stays the night on her egg or eggs, but I noticed tonight that Snow White or Rose Red is in the cote too – perhaps they have an egg? Or perhaps they are both together, but I could only see one when I flashed the torch over the cote. But if so they haven’t got enough nesting material in there! I will see if I can check it out tomorrow. I have to be very very careful about going to the cote, with Echo to look after, as I don’t want to spread the paramyxo virus. If I did peep into the cote it would be just a peep and before I had done anything with Echo. One thing I can do is put out some hay round about so they can take it to the nest – if it’s not raining which it always seems to be at the moment!
I weighed Echo today – stupidly after I’d fed her and not before – but she weighed in today at 300g. Hmm I wonder if I’ve got that right, as it’s a big increase from 273g on the 29th, even taking into consideration the weight of the grains I’d just fed her. I’ll weigh her again soon, BEFORE feeding! I am pretty confident that Echo will survive now – but how she will be affected by the paramyxo is anyone’s guess. She might recover well enough to be released in the Spring, or be like Cloud – unreleasable, but I do hope not!
1st January 2014 – Good news and bad. First, the bad.... poor Sneezy didn’t make it into the New Year but died sometime in the night. At least he was warm, safe, fed and watered. He had hardly moved from when I placed him in the box at bedtime, so I hope had a peaceful death. RIP Sneezy – I feel I did too little, too late but maybe he was old anyway, who knows. He’d been ill for two weeks to my knowledge. I gave him an early morning river burial and with the absence of flowers, some bright rosehip berries tucked under his wing. Back to Mother Nature, sweetheart.
The good news is two-fold. Firstly, when Rose Red and Charm left their nest-boxes to relieve themselves after the long night duty, I grabbed the camera and had a quick look. Two eggs in both nests! I added a little hay to Snow White and Rose Red's though they had added more sticks since I last looked inside.
Above is Snow White and Rose Red's nest, and below is Lucky and Charm's
I must try not to get too excited, especially about Rose Red and Snow White’s as these are the first eggs laid by them in my cote, and they might just be ‘practice eggs’. Rose Red seems a nervous mother, possibly she is young. She didn't go back to the nestbox as quickly as Charm, and didn't settle properly down on the eggs for ages. At some point the male birds would’ve changed with the females but I didn’t see when that was.
The second part of the good news is that my Grace is back – two weeks after going missing. Wonderful! She is a beautiful strong white female, hatched in my cote nearly a year ago, with her sibling Valentine. I’m afraid that Fennie, Cassidy and Charlie are all still missing though.
2.1.14 – Echo was carefully weighed and is 295g – she’s a good weight now I think and not the fragile skinny little half-starved baby she was two weeks ago when I brought her in weighing 227g (she’s gained 68g wow!). I have now seen that she can help herself to water when she needs it, like Cloud does, so that is one chore off my list. She responds well to me and I try to spend some time each day with her. She reminds me of Santa (which is probably why I called her Echo) and tries to scramble up my chest to my shoulder like he used to – I wouldn't mind but as she has an infectious disease which can affect human’s eyes if you are not careful, I don’t let her. Although she does have paramyxo, and does star-gaze and turn round and round – two of the symptoms – she is otherwise ‘well’.
Some of the flock this morning - and below Echo - looking pretty good!
The river is nearly as high today as it was on Christmas Eve and if we have more rain it will flood. Today has been nice and sunny, but I think will prove to be one day of sunshine sandwiched between lots of rainy ones. Bertie has been visiting the last couple of days, but I decided to take him back to his other mummy today before the flooding happened as he showed no sign of leaving on his own. She was pleasant and offered me coffee – it would’ve churlish to refuse, especially as I had the time, so I accepted. We seem to have called a truce in the Bertie wars. She now has a posh cat flap for him that only opens to his microchip – previously and all through the cold of last winter and the snow, she left an upstairs window open, and he climbed up the roof. I am glad he can now get in to hers more easily, though Bertie is a boy who could blag himself in anywhere, just using his charm and good looks!
SW and RR don’t seem as careful with their eggs as Lucky and Charm so I am not thinking about it, and leaving them to get on with it.
A little grey pigeon spent the night on the roof – it may be one of the young ones. Originally there were about four I think, including Echo – now there is only one outside, I think the other two had paramyxo and haven’t survived. Echo was a lucky one, as I have taken her in, and I do hope will recover completely.
3.1.14 – Nothing much to report except the little grey one spent the night on the roof again – through a horrible windy rainy night, but was ok in the morning.
4.1.14 – Fab news! Fennie is back! My lovely totally ‘pigeon’ pigeon – born of two white doves (unless Charm was playing away and he had a pigeon daddy which seems likely). He (or maybe she) was hatched last spring, and has a green and a mauve band so very recognisable. So happy to see him! Also saw Dolly today – Fennie’s sibling – pure white, and she may be male! Autumn and Bianca both there too – excellent. Dreadful murky day with driving rain though – I kept Cloud in the conservatory with Echo. Not in the crate together, but Cloud in an open box. Mostly she sat quietly peeking out of the box, but at some point had a flapping fit and ended up on the floor with one of my tree baubles (broken). My fault for not putting them away when I removed them from the tree!
5.1.14 – Mid afternoon, raining again, and when I was thinking about bringing Cloud in soon, I found a pigeon by the grain bins, obviously unable to fly. He hurried away from me and jumped up the step in to the back kitchen – well, you can’t stay there, love, that’s where I feed my adopted cat! I picked it up and settled it in a box with food and water. It may well have come to the end of its natural life and I don’t intend to hand feed it, but will make sure it is protected from predators. I hand feed Echo because she is a young bird that I want to give a chance of recovery – and Cloud I feed as I have accepted the fact that she is a ‘homie’ that can never be released. I fed Sneezy as he was ill, but I thought might recover but this pigeon can’t seem to fly and is probably old, so he will just get care for the elderly! I will assess him tomorrow – if he is alive. Echo weighed in at 305g today – wow! She was 227g when she arrived, and I’ve had her for 17 days.
Below, the new pigeon - safe and warm for the night.
6.1.14 – The new pigeon was alive, and wanted to get out of the box. He scrambled out, fluttered a bit, and ended on the floor. I picked him up and he was very light, but his heart was beating more wildly than I’ve ever felt a pigeon’s before, so I just took him to the door and threw him upwards towards the low roof. I have no real reason to keep him but will check he’s not down on the ground, unable to fly, later of course. From the low roof he walked up to the high one – it might've been arranged for elderly pigeons! When the rain poured down, yet again, I did wonder if I’d done the right thing by him, but soon the sun came out and if it were my last few days, I’d rather spend them in company of my own kind in a sunny spot, than locked up in a box in some well-meaning lady’s conservatory!
|Doc, centre, poorly|
|Echo, poorly too, but in a different way, and hopefully, recovering!|
By 10.45am Doc was down on the lawn again, stumbling as he walked, so after a few minutes I picked him up to put him on the low roof again. At 2pm, he was back down so I decided I would feed him – I’m soft that way as you know – so hand-fed him a few grains, then as it would be dark within 2 hours, I put him back in his box with food and water. Keeping to the dwarves theme started by Sneezy, I am calling this one Doc. Tonight is due to be very windy with more heavy rain, so it wouldn’t do Doc much good to be out on the roof in it. . Tomorrow he can go back out again if the weather’s not too bad – I can’t see him living long anyway, poor old thing. Hubbie doesn’t know that he’s spending a second night in the conservatory, well doesn’t know about him at all actually..... too many pidgies inside get on his nerves for some reason!
Tue 7.1.14 – Doc was listless this morning and obviously wouldn’t have wanted to be out on the windy roof with the hustle and bustle of pigeon life. I gave him some sips of water, and he didn’t feel very warm, so I cleaned up his bed, popped a hot water bottle underneath the bedding, and quickly weighed him, for interest sake, before putting him back. Only 211g – he can only live another day or so, I reckon. I didn’t attempt to feed him as he isn’t up to it, though there is both food and water in his box if he wants some, and so I will just offer water now – palliative care. He has a warm box with a blanket half draped over it, and that’s all I can do.
Snow White and Rose Red seem to be taking a bit more care with their eggs now, though I did notice at the morning feed that they were both out of the garden table. I suppose they know that the eggs will be alright as far as warmth goes for a few minutes, but there is always the risk of predators which they seem unaware of. Lying awake in bed, I had a disturbing though about Lucky and Charm’s eggs – or rather the babies, if they hatch successfully.....in the past Charm has left all her babies at night when they were too young to be left, and if you remember I had the worst time ever with Alpha and Omega (my darlings Alf and Meg) when, despite me ‘wrapping them up’ at night after she’d left, they were still cold and seemingly almost dead in the morning, to my horror..... well, what I thought was... if she leaves the new hatchlings, I feel I would have no alternative but to bring them in every night (no real problem there) but by getting them out of the nest, I might then disturb Rose Red on her eggs! She might get upset and fly off into the night..... this is a big worry. I am hoping that as this is Charm’s second year of nesting – and at least her fourth set of eggs – that she might have learned something, but I doubt it.
At 10.45am I went through to the conservatory as I was watching Cloud, standing, motionless, in the rain, outside her hutch on her big stone, like a white sentry with no head! I took some photos but they came out so badly I haven’t included them. Then I had a peep at Doc.....dead. He must've just died. Looked so sweet, relaxed with closed eyes, I hope I helped him to have a more comfortable death – I think he trusted me on this the last day. I weighed his body – just to see – and found it the same weight as I had taken before 211g - RIP Doc who joins Sneezy in the big Hereafter.
I gave Echo her second bath – this is not just for fun and to pass the time but to help her be ‘normal’ and help her build up the powder on her feathers. Afterwards we stayed in the warm kitchen so I was sure she got thoroughly dry – she stood on a piece of newspaper on the chair and I washed up and talked to her. I bought a book called ‘Wesley The Story of a Remarkable Owl’ by Stacey O’Brien at the first jumble sale of the year (I am a very keen ‘jumbler’!) and part of it deals with birds’ emotions – so I have started to feel guilty about not spending enough time with Echo, who is a curious little thing – so that’s why I talked to her particularly, though I do anyway. And I fetched her ‘toys’ from the garden to put in her crate – some stones, a piece of slate and a stick! We talked about her getting better and being able to go back out in the garden with the other birds – she sat on my hand and watched the pigeons on the lawn out of the window But at present she can’t fly, and is still infectious with paramyxovirus.
Wed 8th Jan 14 – Pandora turned up in the garden today. For any readers who don’t know her, she was a pigeon with a badly damaged beak that I helped in the summer – and she manages extremely well now, with her slightly blunt beak, and comes back occasionally to see me (and get peanuts!).
When I was driving down our lane I stopped the car as I could see a bird lying in the road. It was a beautiful thrush and still warm – it must just have got hit! Maybe the car before me..... I cradled it in my hands willing it to still be alive, it was so perfect, so nearly alive I think it's little soul had just gone..... Careless driver! But as my hubbie pointed out maybe he or she just couldn't stop, if the bird flew out of the hedge straight in front of the car. Even at home I was hoping it had just been stunned, though I knew in my heart it was dead. What a shame and a waste of a sweet little life.
Thurs 9th - A sweet stock dove spent time in the garden today - though it could fly perfectly well. They are often probably mistaken for feral pigeons or wood pigeons.
|Stock dove in Surrey garden|
Fri 10th – Hubbie got up around midnight and told me this morning that he thought he heard the cat-flap go. A few weeks ago we had a weird thing going on with the cat-flap seemingly being tried in the evening, but nothing coming in and we did wonder if it was Loopy, as Bertie would just bound in and make his presence felt. Loopy comes for her food, in the open shed-kitchen when it gets dark, and today I actually managed to get a photo of her - albeit a very very eerie one!
Before I went to bed I removed the door mat and sprinkled flour on the floor in front of the cat-flap as an experiment!
Sat 11th – Like Santa Paws – there were little footprints this morning!
So she does come into the house and warm up by the aga! That’s quite interesting don’t you think? She eats the food we provide, and enjoys the warmth and comfort of the kitchen.... but doesn’t want to be with us – I wonder why? It could’ve been Bertie I hear you say – but I doubt it....Bertie is a people person and if he was coming in at night he’d be coming back in the morning to get his brekkie and attention. We haven’t seen him since I took him home just after New Year.
It was a sunny afternoon, so I allowed Echo a bare half an hour in the garden from one to half past. She flapped about a bit...... but then settled down. Cloud stayed like a snowman without a head the whole time.
There were several reasons for putting Echo out – the conservatory doesn’t get the sun in the afternoon and I thought she’d benefit from being in it – also, it was a ‘change’ (after having read the Wesley book, I am much more conscious of the birds’ feelings, and I was pretty conscious before! – and I don’t want her to forget she’s a pigeon, and the lay out of the garden, so will try to put her out when the weather is nice enough, but I do have to be careful as paramyxo patients have to be kept warm. I have now had her in for 23 days, and she weighed in today at 309g – she would’ve died if I hadn’t brought her in to look after as she can’t fly and can’t feed herself properly. She is probably only about 9/10 weeks old still.
Before I sign off, I'd just like to recommend the Wesley Owl book to you - truly it will touch you deeply - do put it on your reading list. The author is Stacey 0'Brien
To be cont....