Friday, 28 February 2014

Big Boy returns!

Sat 22.2.14 – I saw Big Boy for the first time since his release on Thursday morning. He came down with the morning early-birds and I thought I must observe him closely to make sure he can pick up food ..... and he could! I am overjoyed! He can’t pinpoint small grains like the others, but I targeted him with larger grains and peanuts and I think he got enough. Gradually, I hope, he will get more used to whatever funny way he has to eat and adapt as necessary.

 Above - Big Boy arrives with some pigeons (he is far left)
and below you can see his crossed over beak
 and here you can see 'my' ring!

Sun 23.2.14 – Big Boy was again here this morning, and stayed a while, coming down several times. Sometimes he struggles, and other times he picks up several in a row with no problem. You can see from this photo that his beak is still crossed over. There is a sweet little scruffy white dove that comes with a posse of pigeons – it has difficulty in picking up grain, and does it with an endearing side-ways movement. I try to target it with the kind of food that it can pick up easiest, but I do wonder if I will be seeing it for many more days. I told you that I don’t see Sugar now, didn’t I? It’s sad to lose these little doves, they do try so hard.
Monday 24.2.14 – Big Boy – tick. Sweet little scruffy dove – tick. I targeted them both with the kind of food they can eat best. I tried to put Cissie in the hutch with Cloud again as it was sunny, but this time Cloud wouldn’t accept her, and made vicious swiping movements so near Cissie’s head that I was concerned and felt it best not to leave her in there. It’s annoying because I was hoping that keeping Cloud and Cissie in the hutch would be an option for the spring and summer. Another option I have been wondering about is whether Echo and Cissie would get on well enough – even pair  up – so I could keep them together. Pigeons don’t reach sexual maturity til 5-7 months of age, at least, so if I am right about calculating Echo’s age now at about 14 weeks then he wouldn’t be getting a twinkle in his eye til about May time. And I don’t know Cissie’s age – she didn’t seem as babyish as Echo when I first brought her in.  You may be thinking what on earth is she thinking about to consider pairing up two handicapped birds.... well I am not thinking that they would be able to rear babies, or even have eggs, but just be a little bit more than companions on either side of a grille! Of course, the ideal scenario will be that both Echo and Cissie recover totally and are able to be released. Echo had a bath outside as it was so sunny – here he is drying off in the garden, and trying to fly. Cissie isn’t allowed on the grass  yet as she is still infectious so she had a bath in the kitchen. Both pigeons find baths a little stressful, so once every 2/3 weeks is plenty at the moment. I have to hold their heads up while they are in the water or they would probably drown.

Tues 25.2.14 - Went to Wisley RHS with my daughter and grandchildren to see the butterflies. The atmosphere in the glasshouse didnt suit my camera and it seized up and had to spend the night by the aga to recover. It's an old camera but I would hate it to 'die'  as I need it for this blog and for my ebay!!! - luckily it was ok!

Wednesday 26.2.14 – I came home with my 2 year old granddaughter especially to feed the birds this lunchtime, well particularly the little sweet one. There was a bunch of pigeons on the roof but no little one, and I wondered what had happened to it. Every day it had been finding it harder and harder to pick up the grains so I thought it might not have had the strength to get back here. By the time I came home alone again though it was here, but really struggling now. Hubbie and me both observed it and he seemed to think there was something wrong with its beak and one of its feet. I managed to pick it up without netting it at first try, and that’s not a good sign. I brought it in to examine and hand-feed, but it struggled out of my hands and banged itself against the window, poor little thing. It weighed 247g so not impossibly small (thought it seems tiny) – Echo was only 211g at first pick-up. Firstly I thought it might have some sort of canker in its throat, but after offering a weak sugar/salt hydrating solution, it washed it away so must have been just seeds or something Then I fed it about 30 grains, and gave it another drink before settling it in Big Boy’s old box which was standing clean and ready. I did think that its beak seemed slightly open and one foot was definitely a bit crumpled up – which is also a bad sign as some of the pigeons ‘turn up their toes’ before they die. I will consider what to do with it in the morning – but, if alive, I will spray it as it is covered in visible lice.  Echo went out this afternoon again, and he really enjoys it and is beginning to get quite mischievous on the lawn – running away from me like a naughty toddler when it is time to go in! It reminded me of having to chase Jose (my flightless dove) around the lawn when it was time for her to go back in the hutch. I had forgotten how fast they can run! He is also getting better at flying – rising up from the lawn to a height I wouldn’t be able to reach and somersaulting down. I will have to be careful he doesn’t flutter over the fence and into the river because there would be no hope of rescuing him! For the first time EVER since I brought her in over a month ago, I have seen Cissie drink on her own – since the 19th January I have been offering her a drink at least twice a day, so thankful I can cross that care chore off my mental list now. Especially as I have a new patient!

Thurs 27.2.14 -  The new little one survived the night. She is much more of a poppet than Poppet was, but I will call her Moppet. She drank thirstily and I hand-fed her but will leave the spraying for lice til a bit later on in the day. I was thinking about maybe releasing her – she can fly and wants to go and I haven’t really the facilities for looking after yet another bird. I know it sounds awful, but I can’t keep them all!  I had thought that we hadn’t seen anything of the hawk for at least a week, but when I went out in the garden there were feathers sprinkled all round the lawn which looks like maybe an attempt was made. Moppet was released at midday when it was sunny and what looked like ‘her’ posse of pigeons were on the roof. She flew straight up immediately. Unfortunately later it rained heavily and hailed, but she had gone by then, and all I can hope is that I see her tomorrow.

Thurs 27.2.14 - Lucky is driving Charm again – which means he is chasing her (apparently it keeps the hens away from other cocks during the mating period) – and this is prior to laying eggs. Fine! But the dovecote is  grubby and has a greenish tinge. I really need to scrub it, but I hate that task because I have to do it on the steps, and the water runs up my arms.... but unless I am quick they will start laying again and I won’t get the chance!

 Above - Lucky, centre, with Grace behind him, and a racing pigeon to the right
And below - Grace, now a year old
 And Lucky again, looking very determined

Echo was seen playing with his wood and bell dangle toy today. He is a lively bird and it will be a shame if he doesn’t recover from the PMV but it is 10 weeks since I picked him up from the lawn and he is no better.  And neither is Cissie – she star-gazes now and I suppose that is the progression of the disease.

Friday 28th Feb - Moppet made it back again.... see the line up below (sorry the photo is so small) and you can just see a little white figure away from the rest on the far right - that's Moppet!

 And below, poor scruffy little Moppet
 But she came down several times, and got something to eat. Of course I regretted letting her go and wished I'd kept her.....but I couldn't pick her up today. Echo came out for his playtime and here he is running away from me down the path.

It was sunny mid afternoon so I bit the bullet and scrubbed the dovecote. It really is a most hated chore, teetering on the steps that are sinking into the soggy lawn, wearing rubber gloves that have sprung a leak.... but in fact it only took three-quarters of an hour. The cote is not persil white of course, it needs repainting, but at least the greenish tinge has gone. Lucky is still chasing Charm, but we are apparently due for a cold snap, so that will put them off nesting, and I'd prefer they didnt for now.

I have ordered something from Australia - perhaps my RL friend Hari can guess what it is? More about that when it arrives!

Before I go, a special hello to my blog reader Harvey Hedges who made himself known to me on my last blog's comments as a long time silent reader of my blog. Welcome Harvey! and thanks to everyone who reads about my little dove/pigeon world, it is much appreciated whether you make yourself known or prefer not to.

One last thing (I have to mention my shop!) - if anyone needs real birds feathers for craft or lifestyle do please have a look at my Groovycart shop 'Real Birds Feathers' - thank you! I have just added some lovely partridge feathers.

Real Birds Feathers on Groovycart

To be cont....

Friday, 21 February 2014

Big Boy's Release - and I think more about Echo and Cissie's futures

Sat 15th – Sugar was with the morning flock – well done little Sugar, it’s been a dreadful few days with wind and rain but you have managed to keep up!
Sun 16th – Still no Lucky, though Charm was here again. This afternoon hubby cut off Big Boy’s racing pigeon ring with wire cutters – the metal was pretty tough!

I suppose it may well be against the law to remove a racing pigeon’s identification ring but as his owner didn’t even care enough to send an email or make a phone call to find out how his pigeon was, then I feel justified. As far as the owner and RPRA are concerned then pigeon number GB13XXXXXX has died – and you and I know he has been born again as Big Boy, my pigeon and a free agent (when I can release him). His bit of ‘wobbly beak’ was there at the morning feed and gone by the afternoon one. I plan to hand feed him up to the day of release, but from tomorrow will also put a bowl of food in the hutch for him to see how he gets on. I really do think his beak is a lot better, it looks much cleaner where the infection seemed to be – but it is still skew whiff and I don’t know if he will actually be able to feed himself or not. Today, for the first time I saw him take a long drink from his water bowl which means I no longer have to attempt to give him drinks.
Mon 17th – Lucky’s been missing long enough for me to wonder if something has happened to him – especially as I see Charm at least once a day. Bertie keeps visiting - here he is eating a bit of potato on the lawn that I'd thrown out for the birds.

 I am soooo looking forward to being able to release Big Boy – he is so patient and good, he really is. We are both counting down the days now. I put a bowl of grain in the hutch with him today, and it was strewn everywhere so he must have been having an attempt to feed himself. I try to vary his temporary boring existence – he is in the hutch for part of the day, then I bring him into the kitchen to perch loose above the aga for a while, then he goes in his night box to be with the others in the conservatory, before they all go to bed in the spare room. I can only have him with the others as I am assuming as a former racing pigeon he was inoculated against PMV. Today I decided to give him a bath – in my actual bath – but after he’d paddled a bit and I’d splashed him all over, he wouldn’t let me take a photo but flew up to the door frame, as you can see. 

Then he went – or rather I took him - into the kitchen to dry off. I bought the pidgies, Echo and Narcissus, some presents – a mirror each, and a wood and bell toy for Echo who is more curious and active. They’ll get them after I release BB and clean/sort the cages out.

 I have an idea in my head, to try to get Cloud and Cissy living in together (in the hutch outside), as they seem to like each other but so far have only sat each one side of a metal cage so I am not quite sure how they will react if I put them in together. I am still considering Echo and Cissy’s futures of course – with them in mind I drew out an Angel Card – and it was this one.

 It says 'Adriana - I am leading you towards the answer to your prayers. Please listen to and follow the steps I am communicating through your intuition, thoughts and dreams'. Very appropriate I thought. My blog reader 'Hopeinparis' suggested that I could make a decision to run a small bird rescue/sanctuary but a main reason against this would be that we don't own the cottage and garden, we rent it, and I don't think our landlord (let alone my husband!) would like the idea. Another of her suggestions was to send the birds to other sanctuaries, and I have been looking into this. My search took me to  Save the Trafalgar Square Pigeons and although they cannot help me, they pointed me in another direction to some ladies who might be able to do so. Please do spare a few minutes to look  - it is a super little interesting website, and if you have wondered about the fate of these iconic pigeons after Ken Livingstone waged war on them, you will be able to find out. And if you ever enjoyed feeding the pigeons when you were a child (or an adult!) then please consider making a small donation (via paypal so very easy!). I will certainly be doing so myself. And I have put my email address down to receive their newsletter. I enjoyed looking at the photo gallery there - I must search my old photos and see if I've got any of my children in Trafalgar Square, I remember taking them and how much they enjoyed it. I was there last October, and it just isn't the same without the pigeons - made me sad! Any time I go to any town I am always looking out for the pigeons. I'd rather look at and photograph town pigeons than window-shop. The following was sent to me by Hopeinparis -  At artist Zina Saunder's "Overlooked New York" cool website visit
Click on the thumbnail art portraits to read about each profile of keepers of pigeon racers and homers in New York - fascinating! And Hopeinparis herself has some gorgeous photos of pigeons and doves on her pinterest board plus she has recently put the following on Youtube - a video of Hope the baby wood pigeon being fed by her father, set to Debussy's "Reverie." 
Something I meant to mention a blog or two ago was that I had these two beautiful little characters knitted - as a present to myself! The clever knitter was Beki Wetherall from 'Clicking Pins' - have a look at her website - she doesn't just knit pigeons! Knitting projects undertaken

Knitted pigeon and white dove from Clicking Pins

Real white dove with knitted one!
 Above, Cloud with the knitted white dove and below, Narcissus with the knitted pigeon

Beki suggested I also credit the pattern writer - well I don't know exactly who created the pattern, but I bought it from madmonkeyknits on ebay. To find the pattern, search for 'My pet pigeons knitting pattern'. I hope all these links work!
You will probably be getting the vibe that I have no intention of taking Echo and Cissie for a one-way trip to the vet - I just can't do it. Hubbie, despite moaning sometimes about the pigeons, doesn't think it would be fair either. Below is Echo relaxing in his box in his crate - when I talk to him he still flutters his wings in the babyish way that young squabs do to attract the attention of their parents. Since he was so very young (I think!) when I first took him in, he has assigned me the role of 'mummy', and how could I have my 'baby' put down?

Tues 18.2.14 – 3pm another attempted hawk strike but as I just happened to walk out of the back kitchen where I was mopping the floor at that moment, the lucky pigeon got away. If the hawk and it’s babies are hungry then another won’t be so fortunate. I re-ringed Big Boy with a plain light green band on his right leg – at the moment I would recognise him but if in the future his beak mends enough to look normal, then with the band I will always know.

So yesterday was a bath, today was re-banding, and tomorrow I will give him a spray against lice before his Big Release Day on Thursday. The weather is forecast poor on Thursday but I think I will release him anyway....unless it is appalling. He is so desperate to go!

Wed. 19.2.14 – Just one more day Big Boy, one more day! I was out for much of the day so didn’t have to endure seeing him hunched in the hutch. I didn’t get a chance to spray him against lice, so will have to do that in the morning before he goes. Guess who was at the morning feed? A very hungry Lucky! I was pleased to see him as I don’t have any issues with him (just with his mate, Charm, for leaving the babies).

Thursday 20.2.14 – Big Boy’s release day! Only mizzling a little bit. I gave BB the last of his medicine, fed him 60 grains/peanuts/defrosted warmed peas instead of the usual 40 per feed. I didn’t anoint his beak with honey this morning as obviously I didn’t want him to be leaving with a sticky beak that might cause problems – so the only thing to do was a quick anti-mite spray under the wings, on the back and breast (with his head lightly covered) and a few photos....

To make it easier to see if there is any improvement - the first photo below is of Big Boy on the 11th Feb and the second one is today, 20th Feb. I definitely think his beak looks better, don't you agree?

The flock had already had some grain when we went into the garden, but were still around. They seemed settled, and I hoped the hawk wasn't nearby. BB knew, he really knew, that he was allowed to go at last. I kissed the top of his head – God Speed Big Boy! Then he quivered and flew straight up to the roof. You can see him here - back row, in between the brown pigeon and the white dove.

 And here - having a little jump of glee!

The homies had a more interesting afternoon than usual. Now that BB had gone I wanted to have a big clean up, so I  washed out his box and put clean bedding in – ready for anyone who might need it. Then, as the sun was shining with a bit of poke in it, I took Cissie out to the hutch to see if Cloud would accept having her in with her. Cloud always sits near Cissie in the conservatory, and they seem companionable so it was worth a try, especially because if Cissie can eventually NOT be released then having two birds in together, outside, is far less work for me. (The hutch gets messy of course, but it can be hosed out).... and I’m thinking, surely it is better for them, as pigeons are flock birds. So, I said to Cloud, please let Cissie come in with nice! 

I kept one eye on the hutch outside while I cleaned out the crate and boxes in the conservatory – having moved Echo to be loose on the table where he watched me with interest. Although Cloud was making her semi-aggressive head swiping movements towards Cissie, she didn’t physically attack her, and I am hoping, little by little, to integrate them together. Eventually she (Cloud) got bored of head-swiping and moved to the outside part of the hutch to get some fresh air and sun.
I’m not sure what Cissie thought of it but she didn’t seem perturbed. Then, for the first time since I brought him in on December 19th, I took Echo out into the garden, and put him on the lawn. I have carried him out a few times, wrapped in a cloth, in my arms but now he is over the 6-8 week period that the virus takes to die (according to what I have read) hopefully he is not infectious any more (unlike Cissie who has another month or so to go).

 Above - Echo is put on the lawn - looking very small next to my big shadow! 
 He looks normal for a while, til he goes into star gazing mode below
 Here Echo looks coy!

 and now he's curious!
 I assumed that he, like Cloud, would not be able to fly - until he surprised me and took off, turning somersaults and landing in the pampas grass! (Better that than the river!!!) The fact that he wants to fly, and can fly (albeit all twisty-turvy) gives me a glimmer of hope that he might possibly spontaneously recover - as some pigeons have been known to do
 Here he is on the lawn with some of the flock - he's next to the white dove
 And just as my nice My Hermes lady comes up the path, Echo goes all floppy in my hand again
Then it was Echo's time to go inside, and Cloud's turn to walk on the lawn

 Back inside the clean cages, I show Echo his new toy - which he ignores
 And Narcissus takes no notice of her pretty little self in her pretty little mirror either!

I have realised what is 'wrong' with Cissie's eyes now - and the answer is probably nothing much except that they are odd i.e. mismatched. This is her right eye - which doesnt appear quite so light and bright in ordinary daylight....

and this is her left eye, which is browner and slightly hazier...but not as cloudy as the photo - and I think she can see perfectly well.

Friday 21st Feb 14 - Cissie has another hour out in the hutch with Cloud this morning, and much the same happened - so far, so good (if not perfect). I haven't seen Big Boy since his release and hope he's enjoying the freedom, the sunshine and managing ok. I also haven,t seen Sugar for quite a few days, and I'm afraid a little dovie like her probably might not have survived, which is a shame as she is such a sweetie. One day in the week Dolly (Fennie's white sibling) arrived with straw wrapped round one of her feet. I wasn't too worried, though string/threads etc round birds' feet is extremely dangerous, as I thought it would soon drop off, and it did, but it shows the pigeons and doves are accessing farms and hopefully finding a proportion of their food elsewhere.

I don't want to bore you but mentioning my little feather shop on Groovycart on my blog brings it up on Google so I will try to remember to mention it every blog (sorry!) - see Real Birds Feathers on Groovycart. I have also just started a mini-blog there too and written my first (about the uses buyers have found for my feathers). Real Birds Feathers - Groovycart shop 

To be cont...

Friday, 14 February 2014

Poppet and Big Boy - and my dilemma for Echo and Narcissus

Friday 7th Feb – Definitely a bird day today – bad....and good. First thing I found when I stepped outside, still in semi-darkness, was a nuthatch on the ground under the feeder. I took a photo, and watched to see what it would do.

It seemed happy enough eating little morsels on the ground, and then hopped away into the winter flowering jasmine until I could no longer see it.....but when I went out again, there it was, not making any attempt to fly away, so I picked it up and popped it into the hutch with a fat ball, crushed peanuts and water, until I had time to deal with it. I then prepared Poppet for her release, making sure she had a drink, and managing to hand-feed her a few peanuts for energy - which she resisted as always. The flock didn’t seem jumpy, so I hoped the hawk wasn’t about and they settled down on the roof, just as I released Poppet. She is the pigeon lower on the roof than the rest.

Within half an hour as the flock was feeding on the ground, I was suddenly aware that the hawk had brought a pigeon down to the flower bed.....oh no, I couldn’t see the ring in the flapping tussling pair but I knew it would be Poppet. Unerringly the hawk had picked out the smallest, weakest bird... I was holding Cloud but I quickly thrust her into the doorway of the shed kitchen and rushed over....the hawk dropped the pigeon, but picked it up again and flew down over the hedge to the yard.....I followed and it flew off, with the victim flapping weakly on the ground. It was too late this time, the shock and the hawk’s claws had done their worst, and Poppet died in my bloodstained hands before we reached the house. I felt dreadful – why oh why hadn’t I waited and released her at lunchtime.....but when she was caught before it was the afternoon.....I’m afraid Poppet’s destiny was to be caught by the hawk. I felt so guilty that I nearly didn’t put this episode into my blog, but what is the point of writing it at all, if I am not honest? The flock of course had scattered, not to be seen again for hours.... 

After a while I put Poppet’s body on the low roof of the shed kitchen for the hawk to find. She was dead now so he might as well. Poppet and I hadn’t bonded, but I didn’t want it to end like this.....though somehow it seemed like I had always known it would.... RIP little thing, fly again in heaven.  I checked on the nuthatch – it was now crouched in the darker part of the hutch, and not looking good, then I had to leave for my dentist appointment. I obsessed all the drive about how I’d let Poppet down, until a Beatles song came on the radio and I decided to ‘Let it Be’.
The dentist has an upstairs room with a big circular window on the landing, and as I passed, the cutest tiniest bird was peeping in and popping about – I didn’t know if it could see me, or maybe just it’s own reflection, but it was a bird I didn’t recognise.  When I looked it up later I found it was a Goldcrest – Britain’s smallest bird. Such a little bundle of fun, seeing it cheered me up! Apparently it’s widespread but in all my nearly 57 years I don’t think I ever saw one before.
When I came home, the nuthatch was dead. Maybe it was just at the end of it’s natural life – or maybe it had banged against the window, but there wasn’t a mark on it. Another little life ended. The rest of the day passed uneventfully, thank goodness.
Sat. 8.2.14 – So unfair to the unlucky Poppet that the hawk didn’t put in an appearance at this morning’s early feed – why couldn’t that have happened yesterday? Why couldn’t Poppet have had at least one day of freedom and flying? Big Boy arrived and seems to have difficulty eating again. Possibly the damaged beak is growing out in such a way that makes eating awkward – like a damaged nail that grows bent. He flew off with the others, but hopefully if he really can’t eat I will be able to capture him again.

I have had a revival of interest in my little feather shop on Groovycart with a few orders coming in recently - if you'd like to have a look then go to  and find me at Real Birds Feathers (but sorry I don't post feathers outside the UK) and if by any chance you want to open your own Groovycart shop, selling crafts or whatever, then see the link to click at the top of my blog - underneath the header photo.

The hawk had returned to Poppet’s body yesterday but today I removed it from the roof, and had two little funerals, with flowers – one for her and one for the nuthatch. It doesnt matter how damaged or soggy the body, they still get a respectable funeral. The nuthatch looked sweet, wrapped in a white piece of kitchen paper with it's head peeking out, not looking dead at all - what a shame!

I weighed the pidgies – Cissy 324g – down 1g – and Echo 351g – down 4g – but I think they are both reasonable weights now and will fluctuate a little, and  I don’t think I need to keep weighing birds that are over 300g.

Sun 9.2.14 – All through yesterday – when it rained incessantly – I could see that BB couldn’t eat again and I was getting worried about him. Today he kept turning up, oblviously very hungry and puzzled why he couldn’t eat, and after several tries, I determined that the next time he was there I would only throw the food, including lots of tempting peanuts, at my feet – and did so, and thankfully caught him about 2.30pm – so a week and a day after release, I had got him back again. It seemed strange that although I had seen him daily in the garden and on the roof, I had no idea where else he’d been, how far he’d flown or where he had roosted at night. Wrapped firmly in a cloth so he wouldn’t flap, I had a look and the swelling that my blog reader Fennie had noticed had got bigger and was obviously making it impossible for him to pick up any type of food.

There was a palpable feeling of relief surrounding him and me as I fed him peanuts and grains dipped in water – poor Big Boy! Thank you for trusting me again. Then I removed Cloud from the hutch and brought her into the conservatory, so I had somewhere to put him til bedtime – and now Poppet is so unfortunately dead, he can go back in his usual night box. The Royal Pigeon Racing Association – RPRA – had said in their letter that if BB’s owner failed to contact me, then to contact them again so that they could make alternative arrangements. At the bottom of the letter they gave the name and number for my nearest pigeon fancier – I thought about it for a while, as I am unsure about how I feel about giving BB up to anyone other than a concerned owner – but I decided I could at least phone...... the number proved to be ‘not recognized’ .....back to square one! then I went back to my emails from the RPRA strays team where I’d been given an email address for a local club. Do I email or not? What are my options? – BB obviously needs help, maybe antibiotics – I may well contact the vet tomorrow and deal with it myself because this will mean when he gets better he can be released back again to the wild (which I would prefer) as opposed to being given to a pigeon fancier who may well decide in the end to destroy him or keep him forever shut up in a loft. After I’d fed him, I weighed him – should’ve been the other way round really – and he was 491g – down from 493g the first time I weighed him on 26th January, but that’s not too bad at all really.
Monday 10th Feb 14 – The hawk dive-bombed us during the morning feed – if it caught a bird it wasn’t in the garden or yard outside. I saw a few favourites briefly – Grace, Bandit, Mr. Strong....but the hungry birds hardly got a few mouthfuls before the hawk scattered them. I was pleased to see plenty of poops in Big Boy’s night box – a bit dry though. I rang the vets and got an appointment for him tomorrow morning. I won’t be contacting any pigeon fanciers until I have seen what I can do – I can’t see that they would do more for him than I would. Last year when I took Patience to the vet, I very quickly received 2 x £25 from the premium bonds – almost the exact amount I’d paid out! So I am hoping that the Universe will be generous again this year to help to cover BB’s costs! He is a magnificent pigeon and trusting of me so I have to do what I can for him.
Later – The inside of BB’s beak is pretty swollen and feels slightly heated – there is just enough room for me to gently push defrosted warm peas, grains and peanuts down. I’m not really sure how well he is able to drink, but I am doing my best til we see the vet. I am determined he will get better. If I could remove his ring I would do so as I don’t feel his owner deserves to have him if he ever returned there, but obviously they are not made to come off easily (will speak to hubbie about this)
Tues 11.2.14 – Big Boy was very calm even when the vet manipulated his beak. He confirmed that he has an infection and prescribed him antibiotics for 10 days. He also said that the damage was probably due to a trauma but couldn’t rule out the possibility of a tumour. He hopes if the infection is brought under control then the beak might heal well enough for BB to be able to adapt to eating alone somehow – unless it is a tumour of course. The antibios are given with a little syringe and I gave it to him as soon as we got home. Cost of visit £33.82. I talked to the young lady assistant when I paid the bill about racing pigeon owner's. She said she found a racer that couldnt fly at her boyfriend's and contacted the RPRA, being given the owner's number. He told her to 'just release it' ....'but you don't understand' she said 'it can't fly'.... 'Oh just release it' said the owner 'it will be ok'.....'but don't you think I should look after it for a few days?'....'if you like' said the owner, obviously not caring. So she did, and it died within a couple of days. The people up at the poultry farm say they have given up reporting stray racers to the RPRA for this reason - they have a huge barn there and obviously there is grain around for the poultry, so there is food and shelter, and sometimes a pigeon will stay awhile but they can't do any more for them.

Racing pigeon with damaged beak

The afternoon was sunny so he was in the hutch, and I opened the door so he could go into the outside part for the first time. He investigated it but soon realised he wouldn’t be able to get out, so preferred to sit inside At least he gets some fresh air and sun (when there is some sun!)

Some white doves turned up bringing a blue ringed one with them –  for a silly second my heart stopped and I thought it was Santa, until I remembered that he had two blue rings (and almost definitely didn’t make it) so I have to assume it is Bianca who I haven’t seen for ages, but she has gone before for periods of time and then come back. Excellent!

I gave Cloud a bath - here she is drying off in the kitchen. She has a dirty wing, probably from fitting in the garden when I take her out in the mornings. It didnt wash off, and you can't scrub a dove!

Bedtime for all the homies is around 4.30-5pm, with Cissy going to bed first, as she tends to zonk out earliest. I like Big Boy to be in bed before Echo and Cloud as they usually make a noise and I feel this is reassuring to him – to know he is with his own kind. Cloud and the pidgies have their boxes in a row on the shelf, but Big Boy is high up in a box on top of an upturned bed frame (that we need to burn when the weather is better)

 Left to right - Narcissus, Cloud and Echo - with Big Boy below
 Bertie the cat is currently visiting but is not allowed near the birds of course

Wed. 12.2.14 – Dreadful gusty rainy day and I kept all the homies inside in the conservatory.

Thurs.13.2.14 – Sunny and bright so BB went in the hutch today, though it’s lonesome for him, and he watched the flock wanting so much to be with them. I say to him ‘Big Boy as soon as you have finished your antiobiotics then you can go!’ (a week today that will be!) – and that is true.... even if his beak/swelling is not better I will release him so he gets some freedom at least for a while. Then if he can’t eat he will come back, and I will just stuff him full of peanuts and let him go again. Better to live that way for however long, than sitting in the hutch. There is a damaged piece just hanging on by a thread now, like a child’s wobbly tooth but I will leave it to come off naturally. After his meds and his food/drink, I am still anointing his sore beak with honey as that contains a little bit of magic! Sometimes when I collect him for feeding, he has a mouthful of feathers because he has been trying to preen – poor old thing, I must give him a bath in a day or so.

Big Boy with feathers caught up in his poorly beak

Cloud and Cissy seem happy in each other's company - making me feel that I am right in thinking that Cissy is another female. When Cloud is in the conservatory she often chooses to sit near Cissy, and definitely not near Echo!

Below Bertie enjoys the real fire - but I am planning to take him back home tomorrow morning early as his other mummy gets in such a state if he is away too long.

Fri 14.2.14 – Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the day the birds pair off, but though a few brave pigeons were billing and cooing on the roof, most of them sat hunched up in the rain as it lashed down. I brought Big Boy in from the hutch at 10am to spend the rest of the day in the conservatory. I think his beak is a little better – or am I imagining it? Below he is up on the drying rack above the aga and I climbed on a chair to take the photo. His facial feathers are wet as I had just given him a drink.

The hawk and the weather keep the birds away, and they arrive only in small groups. I haven’t seen Sugar or Lucky for a few days now, though I have seen Charm. We will just have to see who has survived at the end of this difficult time. I am very much thinking about all the homies futures. Cloud's is assured - I will keep her for her lifetime. Big Boy is being released as I said above, and I hope he will be able to manage. Echo doesnt look like he will ever recover enough to be released a - he is more unco-ordinated than Cloud and shows no sign of improvement. I've had him nearly two months now. He is appealing, has quite a cheeky personality, still flaps his wings in a babyish way when he sees me and I talk to him, tries to feed himself, drinks alone and moves about his crate a lot, making the most of the day. The trouble is - having 'another Cloud' means double the work, though it would be easier if they would agree to live together in the hutch. This is Echo - just before bedtime one day.

Narcissus doesnt star gaze and have fits like Echo and Cloud, but she is very very quiet - I have never heard her make one single little sound. She doesnt 'speak' when I get her out of the box, pick her up, feed her - ever! Mostly she stands or sits on her microwave hotwater bottle (snugglesafe) - occasionally I have seen her try to feed herself, but I have never seen her attempt to drink. She is 'other wordly' and I worry about her eyes, but I do feel that maybe she will recover enough to be released eventually - I've had her for about a month. I can't really cope with 4 homies, time wise....but what are my options for Echo and Cissy.

1. Keep them forever

Like I say I haven't got the time on a daily permanent basis, and if they don't recover they only have a limited quality of life, but that of course is the same as Cloud. The conservatory is not a suitable place in the summer either as it becomes like an oven. Also, next year there would be other pigeons suffering from PMV.... and so on. I can't keep them all!

2. Try to re-home them

I don't think it would be very easy to find homes for two special needs pigeons. And I would be very concerned that they would not be looked after properly - or someone might take them with the intention of using them for something awful (let's not go there)

3. Have them euthanised

This is something I shy away from thinking about as I am fond of both of them. Obviously I have had to go down this route a few times with pets who are suffering but this is different - the birds are not suffering, but they can't live properly as birds - they can't fly and they can't feed themselves properly.

If anyone has any thoughts on all this I would be pleased to consider them! I am going away at the end of March - just for a few days, but hubby will cope with Cloud, like he did last year, but he has not got the time, inclination or patience to look after 3 of them - and if he doesnt then I will have to pay someone to do it - and hand-feeding PMV pigeons is not for the general run of the mill pet-sitter - and I have no idea how much they would charge.

To be cont...