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...


shirlw said...

You done the right thing with big boy
If his owner did not want him he should go free

hopeinparis said...

I'm chuffed to have been mentioned so many times in this post, Faith! Thank you. Of course, I didn't really expect you to start a bird sanctuary, was just offering an alternative in the general interest of blog readers, and I'm pleased that you've looked into other places which will take in your rescuees...because there will be others in the future :-) It sounds promising! Also thank you for mentioning my Pinterest board and latest video. So glad you released BB - his beak has definitely improved. Methinks you'll see him again and one day he'll be giving you a big grin. xx

hopeinparis said...

PS You really did a great job with BB. Your care and devotion are impressive, Faith. xx

Fennie said...

So glad Big Boy seems to have recovered though I was wondering whether trimming the ends of his beak might help - (but too late now I suppose!).

I agree about the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Paddington station is another place where they make war on pigeons - but there were a few flying about on Wednesday. Every possible landing surface is covered with spikes, but somehow they manage.

What's the betting that Lucky and Charm will have a nest by the next blog?

Faith said...

Shirlw - I am so glad you think I did the right thing. I was worried that as a racing pigeon owner yourself that you might think I was wrong - but the owner did have plenty of chance to claim BB if he'd wanted to!

Hopeinparis/Fennie - thanks for continuing to read my blog and comment. I know lots of people read but so few comment! About Lucky and Charm, with the weather warming up it is possible!

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harvey Hedges said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Harvey Hedges said...

I am a ling time silent reader of your blog and think what you do for all the birds who need help is amazing.
I keep a small flock of doves and have a pair who cant fly because of wing injurys
Doves and pigeons are wonderfull and i love reading your blog.

Faith said...

Thank you SO much Harvey for being silent no longer. I really do appreciate people reading my blog, and making comments. I totally agree with you that doves and pigeons are wonderful!