Saturday, 26 April 2014

Countdown to hatching day - Lucky makes it difficult

18.4.14 – Good Friday – I took Bertie straight home when he arrived at the reasonable time of near 9am. His ‘owner’ invited me in for a coffee. I don’t normally knock when I drop him off – just check no cars about and then open the door and off he goes! I also check no people about as I don’t want people to think I am dumping a cat! But today as I am dropping him home daily at the moment, I thought I’d knock and see how she was feeling about the current situation regarding him. She seems to be ok with it, and we had a nice chat.
Neither Big Boy nor Grace turned up for the morning feed, and I was missing them, but they were both there in the afternoon and Grace ate from my hand. Her rings are dirty, so I wonder if she is nesting somewhere..... it wasn’t Destiny after all, it was definitely Grace.
Cloud continues to do her ‘hovering’ flying and it is sweet to see her rise up from the ground, spinning like a baby angel learning to fly, but I do hope it doesn’t get more than that, or I will lose her like I lost Echo. She is not capable of looking after herself in the wild, and I’ve had her as a homie for 16 months now.
I decided to be a girl scout today and ‘be prepared’ in case of problems with the eggs/babies. I ordered a new tub of Kaytee Exact from ebay – this is hand-rearing food for baby birds. Sold for parrots but I believe can be used for any. My last tub had a third left in it, but it’s out of date so maybe not very nutritious now. I made up some balls of it though, so as not to waste it, but the pidgies wouldn’t eat it!!! I also ordered an electric hen! (will show it when I've got it) And lastly I ordered hand-rearing syringes and a pump. Once this lot has arrived, I will feel more confident if I have to take over looking after the little squabs. Once squabs are 2 weeks old then I am fine with hand-feeding them, but this is for babies younger than that. I hope it doesn’t come to that – the stuff is just to be on the safe side. Oh and while searching hand rearing a book popped up – can’t remember the title now but it was only a pound or so and I bought that too! Medihoney Anti-bacterial Wound Gel was another purchase (from Amazon) – I haven’t tried this before at all – it’s for humans but I might be useful for birds too. I will suss it out when it arrives. Snow White – I promise to do everything possible to keep your babies alive!

Easter Sunday 20/4 -  was a rainy day which suited me as I left both homies in the conservatory while I was out visiting my girls, and knew they wouldnt be getting too hot - the homies, not the girls!

Bank Holiday Monday 21.4.14 – Started misty but turned into a sunny day. All was going well until at about 9.30am when I was idly watching for the ‘changeover’ (when SW takes over nest duty and lets Charm go off), I saw the bird in the nest fly out and another go in. Thinking Charm was out I went out to feed her – as she misses the early feed which is now about 6.30-7.00am..... but Charm and SW were both on the ground......and it was Lucky in the nest! I assumed that one of the two parents would quickly rout him out, but they ate and then something or nothing startled them and the few pidgies that were around sending them all flying off.....not to return! Oh dear.... Lucky poked his head out, decided he didn’t want to babysit and flew off too! Oh no, my long awaited eggs now only about 8 days off hatching, have been left on their own! Luckily hubby had just gone off to his workshop so I could fuss and panic alone! I put the feather filled glove over the eggs and waited five minutes but no parents. It is difficult to know how long to wait – possibly they would be alright if left for a while, but I have no idea how long. I removed them from the nest and put them in a tub on the aga with various cloths (and even a beanie baby that a judged a suitable pigeon weight) over them. Then I put 2 plastic eggs in the nest so that a returning parent not spotted by me, would have an incentive to go into the nest.

 Real eggs above, plastic eggs below

As I had the chance, I experimented with putting up the grille for blocking in at night – and Fennie my blog reader’s ideas -  but I was distracted and couldn’t work out a good solution.
I kept watch, remembering how Sky used to leave the eggs.... and near 40 mins later two white doves appeared on the roof. What are you worried about, they seemed to say, it’s a nice day, we just went for a fly together! I dashed out with the eggs (carefully!) and grabbed out the plastics, and replaced the real ones. Seconds later a parent flew in, and settled down. Thankfully! The other stayed on the roof - It was Charm, so SW in the nest, as it should be.
I think I panicked too early – maybe I shouldn’t have brought the eggs in – I hope it didn’t do harm rather than good. I  looked back on my blog about when Grace and Valentine were left in a cold February, but still hatched (with some help from me and the aga!) – it was very stressful for me but makes an interesting read with photos of hatching babies. The mother at that time – Summer – was a good parent and quite tame/tolerant of me. I haven’t reached that stage with Charm or Snow White yet, and not sure how I got there with Summer. Different birds have different personalities and it just evolved.
Tue 22.4.14 – I saw the changeover at 5.10pm this afternoon – Snow White coming off, and Charm going in as usual but at 5.30pm I noticed something strange..... SW was on the ground eating, and TWO white doves were in the nest. Lucky had joined Charm!
He just can’t get used to the idea that this is not his nest. I kept watch and after a while saw Charm on the ground eating, and Lucky in the nest peeking out. SW flew away with the general flock, as usual, but by 6.10pm Lucky was still in there with Charm. Hubbie of course said let them get on with it, but it’s not as simple as that. The eggs are due to hatch in 6 days time and I am really looking forward to having new babies, hopefully, and don’t want anything to go wrong. I am writing this in real time, so am looking out the window and can see Lucky’s head and front body peeking out of the nest, with Charm presumably sitting, somewhat squashed, on the eggs behind him.

I am wishing that he will leave soon and let Charm just sit in peace, but if he doesn’t I am not sure what I will do. And what if he flies off taking Charm with him? It’s the sort of thing she would do..... I am debating whether to approach the nestbox carefully, block it with my hand, chuck him out and block her in for the night, but this is fraught with difficulties and might make things worse – or do I block them both in? Or just leave it.... Well, Lucky left the cote at 6.20pm, flew to the roof and soon flew away. Thank goodness!
Wed. 23.4.14 – A quiet dovie day, but look what I found in my grain bin when I went outside after only popping into the house for a minute!

I am getting more than a bit anxious as we head rapidly towards H Day! (hatching day) – which is Mon. 28th, if I have calculated right.
Thurs 24.4.14 – All seemed well. I saw the changeover at 9.20am, and was able to make sure Charm had grains and peanuts. She’s not my favourite by a long chalk, but she’s the mummy and must be treated as such. So Snow White was on the eggs, and I had nothing to worry about.....until I went outside with keys, shopping bags etc and found a white dove desperately trying to get into the cote, absolutely squeezed up against the entrance, and obviously disputing with the bird inside. From the ground I could see a green ring, which meant either SW or Charm wanted to get in, so why wasn’t the other one letting him/her? I got the camera and took a photo.

I got the steps and took another photo, and could now see SWs pink ring as well as his green one. If Charm was on the nest, which she shouldn’t be at this time, why was she not letting SW in? I knew something was up.....this is not normal behaviour. 

I grabbed a feeder tray which makes a useful blocker-inner and put the steps right under the cote and still SW didn’t move. 

My sixth sense was telling me that somehow Lucky was in the cote..... I grabbed SW, causing a flurry of little white feathers to be lost, and Lucky shot out, then I stuffed SW in and blocked the entrance. Lucky flew to the roof, and me and SW drew breath! When I had grabbed him, his eye looked unusually red, but he does have a pinkish look to the surround of his eyes anyway – I couldn’t, in the circumstances, examine him, but hopefully Lucky hadn’t hurt him or damaged the eggs. I peeked round the side of the block, and could see the eggs which seemed ok. My heart was hammering...... the stress these birds cause me! Lucky sat on the roof looking like butter wouldn't melt!

I do understand Lucky’s point of view, and for all I know he could well have fertilized these eggs, but if Charm says SW’s the daddy then SW IS the daddy, and Lucky can’t sit on the eggs! SW had definitely swapped with Charm, so had Lucky actually routed SW out? I wondered if any of this hassle had gone on yesterday when I was out at this time of day! I left the block up while I went shopping and came back in an hour or so. Oh good, I thought, the roof is empty – maybe I will unblock SW. But then I noticed Lucky sitting in one of the other nestboxes.

I went up the steps gently to observe SW through the mesh of the block and he seemed ok, sitting quietly – though was probably aware of Lucky in another part of the cote. Lucky flew to the roof, and soon flew away entirely but I didn’t unblock SW – he will be on nest duty for quite a while yet and hopefully will not be upset by the block. At least with the block up, I know the eggs are being incubated and no-one can attack SW. My Medihoney Antibacterial Wound Gel arrived from Amazon – I hope I will not have to use it on SW.
Mr. and Mrs. Woodie Duck haven’t been seen for a while, but their neighbours Mr. and Mrs. Mallard turned up for the first time ever today and made themselves quite at home.

Later – I unblocked SW as quietly as I could at 2pm, and he was ok, staying motionless on the eggs. The changeover was at 5.10pm and SW looked fine with no wounds. I did contemplate blocking Charm in, but I will probably have to do that around H day so didn’t want to spook her unnecessarily, and I am here to sort out any problems if Lucky decides to join her tonight. I had to gently remove the steps from under the cote, and that was accomplished without hiccup.
Fri 25.4.14 – Snow White stayed on the cote, guarding it from Lucky, while the other birds fed at the early morning feed – he wouldn’t come down at all.

 Above, SW on the entrance below where Charm is - and below, Lucky peeking out the back of the cote.

Only when eventually Lucky gave in and came to eat, so did SW. I am hoping we won’t have yesterday’s trouble but I have to get my grand-daughter so won’t be able to sort it out..... I will collect her and come back asap! Before I left, this is what Lucky and Charm were doing....

Came back and it all went like a dream come true – immediately I saw one white dove on the eggs, and Lucky and Charm both came down to eat. Super! So I knew it was SW on the eggs, and I crept up to block him in – and then we could both go off to enjoy the morning's Tumble Tots class!
It rained all day and was very miserable so I didn’t unblock SW til 3pm, but had to go off out to take my grand-daughter home, and didn’t get back til near 7pm. What I wanted to see when I got back was a calm garden and Charm in the cote..... what I actually did see was a calm garden and a rather full looking nestbox.... was that one bird in there or two?

Oh dear me, it was two..... but as I watched them, one merged to the front and I thought maybe it (or they) are hungry, so I threw down grain and Charm flew down to eat.  The other bird sat tight and even when I got the steps and peered quite close,  it sat there..... being or pretending to be Snow White! But was it Lucky? I honestly couldn’t tell – I couldn’t see Lucky’s black horseshoe on his breast. I should’ve checked out his eyes – as Lucky has odd eyes but I didn’t think of it. So, what to do? I didn’t want to pick the male up to check if it was Lucky, in case Charm flew back at that moment and the kerfuffle upset her.... so I just left him, and waited to see what would happen. Charm settled back into the cote alongside whichever male she’d got with her (it’s got to be Lucky methinks!) and I went inside to watch Emmerdale with one eye on the cote! By the first ads it was getting gloomy and my thought was what if the male decides to leave now.... or at sometime in the night.... Charm is bound to go with him, so the only thing to do was block both of them in immediately. So I crept underneath the cote, hoping the birds couldn’t see me, my hands trembling and my heart hammering as usual. I absolutely hate doing this, but I MUST do everything possible for these eggs which are so near hatching day. Having blocked them, I could peep round the side of the mesh tray and they were both sitting there side by side – very sweet really. There is plenty of room in each nestbox for two adult doves and they would have plenty of air through the mesh, and at each side. And there they will have to stay until the morning! I will get up at 6am to unblock – I hope I've done the right thing!!! What on earth would SW think if he knew? 

Saturday 26.4.14 – the early morning was very rainy and a bit windy, but I got up promptly at 6.00am to gently unblock Charm and the male – who very soon flew out of the nest-box and yes, of course it was Lucky! - Here he is, first bird on the roof...

The first pigeons arrived 6.15am so I felt I'd picked the right time for the unblocking. Now my next hurdle was to see the changeover and block SW in for the day. SW took his time, enjoying those last minutes before he had to sit all day – eating, pecking in the raised bed and having a drink from the puddles in the yard. Here he was joined by another pigeon and Lucky.

 Mirror, mirror..... who's the fairest of them all...... My Snow White of course!

From the yard, Lucky and SW then flew to the roof and started courting a young white female who just chanced to be around....

From 9.00am I watched constantly, but the doves can do the change in a blink of an eye and I somehow missed it, but Charm was on the ground, eating and Lucky was on the roof. When she flew up, he immediately joined her and started canoodling .....

 'I really do love you' says Lucky. 'Well, I love you too darling', says flighty Charm, trying to wriggle her way out of a difficult situation 'but Snow White was soooo persuasive that I just couldn’t help myself!' I would’ve liked to block SW in straight away but he was sitting in a position where he would’ve seen me so I had to bide my time. When Charm came down to eat again, Lucky made two separate attempts to get into the nestbox, but SW foiled him, and eventually by 9.40am I’d done the blocking and could get on with the day. All very stressful I assure you!

Later - Charm was blocked in, alone, this evening. The eggs are due to hatch on Monday! and, to make matters worse, and more stressful for me, the men are supposed to be coming to redo our fence on Tuesday - a 2 day job that will cause a lot of disruption in the garden I should think, and may cause the doves to leave the babies. I am praying that for some reason it will have to be postponed.

To be cont....


Harvey Hedges said...

Good luck whith hatch day hope to see babies soon
ps where do you get your coloured leg rings from

Faith said...

Harvey, I bought the rings ages ago, and I think I got them from ebay, but I bought a load and it was several years ago, so can't really remember - sorry!

hopeinparis said...

Hi Faith, Quite awhile ago I read on a pigeon and dove information site that although pigeons and doves mate for life, they do fool around. And the male bird of the original couple with do the brooding and rearing no matter who the father might be. I think Lucky is doing this, but poor SW didn't know that Charm was still married, so everyone is horning in on the act. I can imagine how stressful this is for you. Good luck tomorrow and this week! I do hope the new babies will be all right. xx Jane

Fennie said...

This is so funny - I know it must be causing you a lot of stress - but to an uninvolved observer it is quite fascinating - but also of scientific interest I should say. If you wrote up a strictly factual account 'Menage a Trois' among doves a journal that deals with these matters might very well print it. This behaviour must be abnormal but it goes to show that the 'mate for life' theory doesn't always hiold good and may have to be modified.

Faith said...

Hopeinparis and Fennie, yes it is all quite interesting I must say. Fennie I am sure this menage a trois has happened before and wouldnt be of interest to any scientific journal - even if I had the ability to write it!