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...


hopeinparis said...

Big Boy could be called BBB because he is surely a beautiful bird! Why is the Universe sending you all these birds, you ask. Well, Faith, the Universe knows an angel when it sees one. Thank you for a lovely blog. xx Jane

Fennie said...

BB seems to have some sort of growth on his beak and if so perhaps this is pushing the lower bill out of alignment. I am thinking you will need to build a sort of indoor aviary or dovecote to hold all these birds.
Sorry about Fennie - but that's the second Fennie to be attacked by a hawk, so perhaps you had better give the name a rest in case it's a bad omen. Wish though Fennie 1 would turn up and prove you wrong about doves having short lives.

Faith said...

Thanks Jane, you are sweet.

Fennie, how could your lovely name be a bad omen? but I see what you mean... I'm afraid hubbie wouldnt wash an indoor aviary! Doves/pigeons can live 30 plus years in captivity but outside it's a hard knock life!

Harvey Hedges said...
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