Monday, 26 May 2014

Fern and Fleur are nearly ready to fledge - and lots of other bird news

Sat. 17.5.14 – afternoon – when SW left the egg to get some food, I swiftly put the steps up in the front of the cote....yes, now two eggs! And then I felt Fleur and Fern’s crops – both nicely fed! Good! I removed the steps as I don’t like leaving them there for Bertie or anything else to climb!
Later - when SW was on the eggs, Lucky flew up to feed Fleur and Fern, but somehow shortly SW realised it was Lucky, not Charm and got off the eggs to rout him out. Poor Lucky.... I did so hope that Charm would allow him to be the daddy of the new eggs. Technically I think he might be, as I saw him mating with Charm several times, and didn’t see her with SW! Anyway, Lucky watched his chance and when SW was truly settled on the nest, he flew up again. Hello Uncle Lucky! ...said little F and F ‘What have you brought us this time?' Maybe SW thought it was Charm but Lucky was able to feed fully, and then he perched on the ledge and made a noise I have never heard another dove make....ever! It was a sort of chirping ‘jug jug’ and to me sounded like the childish taunt  ‘ner, ner, na ner ner!’..... then he went off to the back nestbox and continued to say it for quite a while! You would think SW would be grateful that he doesn’t have to feed the babies as well as sit on eggs, but he is very jealous of his rights, probably suspecting that Charm doesn’t really love him best!

 Above, at the left top is Lucky with one of the parents in the middle and the babies peeking out at the top. Below, the squabs with their typical curved too-long-looking beaks
 Below, Snow White guards the babies
 The only birds left on the roof - Lucky and Snow White, the males in my bond triangle



.Charm of course stayed on the eggs this evening, but didn’t mind me creeping up to block in the squabs. I won’t be doing that soon, but getting up early tomorrow anyway so I might as well.

Sunday 18th May – at about 11.30 am to midday, I decided as Lucky and Charm had left the garden, and SW was settled on the eggs it might be a good time to get Fleur and Fern out to get their other rings on. I thought I could block SW in for a few minutes and he would be ok with that... well he wasn’t and flew out crossly! So I took the squabs anyway and put another green ring on Fern so he has two green rings, and then a green ring on Fleur so she has green and blue rings. It’s so hard to remember what combos I have used before, and for birds that might still come back to the garden. I also quickly weighed the babies and they are now roughly 375g for Fern and 287g for Fleur. Both had grain in their crops. SW stayed huffily on the roof for quite a while, probably partly because hubbie was digging up the raised bed. I wished I hadn’t done it now, but hope the new eggs will be ok, It’s very very warm today so hopefully they will..... and Grace and her sibling Valentine hatched successfully even though it was a cold February last year and their daddy Sky kept leaving them – when they were eggs.

Fern and Fleur are 3 weeks old today – happy 3 week birthday my lovely babies! Tonight I am not going to block them in because I have been getting up very early to unblock for ages it seems and I need my sleep! I need to do some catching up before the new babies are hatched and Charm starts leaving them too early!

Monday 19.5.14 – I got up at the blissfully ‘late’ time of 6.15am. A huge flock awaited me, and my babies were peeking out of the nest-box, as right as rain.
A usual sort of day today.... Lucky still sneakily trying to feed the babies, but it seems he might have a love interest too as I saw him with a female several times - here they are at the left, together, on the wire...


In the afternoon, a couple of times, I saw a pigeon in the corner between the hutch and the run, on the ground. It moved away when I approached and seemed ok, but in the early evening when I do my last ‘rounds’ and bring Cloud and Cissie into the conservatory for an hour or so before they go into their night-boxes, I saw it was there again. This is not a good place to spend the night, so I approached gently with the net but it flew to the house roof which was a much better idea.



Tuesday 20.5.14 - This morning the grey pigeon was there back in the corner again......
After the early morning feeding frenzy is over, and before SW swaps with Charm on the eggs, I have been saying hello to Fern and Fleur, my big babies and feeling their crops. Today it seemed like Fern’s was full and Fleur hadn’t been fed at all. I eased her out of the cote without disturbing Charm and gave her a top up and a quick weigh – she was 287g, the same as yesterday. I will have to keep an eye on her as she is so much smaller than Fern – though still I think a perfectly acceptable weight. I noticed the babies have started to peck so put a little pot of grains in with them to give them some practice. I will have to be careful with this as I don’t want to attract the jackdaws or crows to the cote. We have huge numbers of jacks and several crows around – also jays. A jay with an completely injured and useless leg flew down to get some water – I was glad it had had a drink but don’t think it will be able to survive that long.





The grey pigeon – who is possibly old and not going to live long – I will call Gray. He reminds me of the EG of a while back (the EG was a brown one I called the Elderly Gentleman). When I put the homies out he moved away from the corner, and I put a bowl of water there in case he comes back to it. There is no point putting grain as the jackdaws will just eat it. I threw grain on the lawn and he attempted to eat it, but then I observed him coughing up some sort of vomit/grain like substance. Poor thing, I will catch him if I can to prevent him being eaten by the likes of Bertie, and probably put him in the run with Cissie. Obviously you shouldn’t put a potentially ill bird in with a well one, but Cissie’s life expectancy is probably not that long anyway.


 Above, Gray - and below Gray, right, with Cissie

When I came home at noon after shopping, Gray was on the lawn with a few pigeons – he pecked about a bit, seeming to eat something, got into the water bath and had a drink, struggled out, then waddled to his secret corner. Poor old thing! By the evening, he had disappeared.....
Wed. 21.5.14 -  I didn’t see Gray at all today.......
There is some interest from ‘outsiders’ in the dovecote. This is probably because (in any area, not just here) suitable nesting places for pigeons are always at a premium, so birds desperate to nest will always try to muscle in.  When Snow White is on the eggs, Charm blocks the babies in, and Lucky does the defending. When Charm is on the eggs, SW and Lucky put their differences aside and work as a team to rout out the intruders. But by the early evening, one unknown white dove seemed to have been allowed to perch on the side of the cote – so we will see what happens tomorrow.

Below, 'new' birds on top of the cote

 Here's my beautiful and bold Grace on my hand, and below one of the squabs, still with fluffy baby wisps on it's head
 Below, the garden from the cottage door

Thursday 22nd – One of the newbies at the cote appears to be the white dove I ringed last year. He’s called Bandit and has a red ring on each leg. It’ll be handy that he’s ringed if the other cote doves allow him and his female to stay. He was named Bandit (name I think chosen by one of the Purplecooers) as he was constantly pinching food.... maybe it was two years ago, I will have to look him up!
Snow White or Charm, whoever wasn’t on the eggs, was guarding Fleur and Fern today – probably because of the interlopers. Actually F and F probably would be fine, as they are now about 25 days old and pretty feisty. They could be fledging within 3-5 days if they fledge early. And talking about fledging.... My baby bluetits fledged today! The first thing I knew about it was when I saw a tiny weeny little thing on the grass through the conservatory window...and I happened to have my camera. I went out to investigate and found these sweet little balls of fluff emerging from their red postbox home and the parents busily flying to and fro. I took the photos below but then thought the most helpful thing I could do was to make myself scarce so as not to disturb the fledging process. The postbox/nestbox is hung up on the back shed behind the conservatory and in a very quiet place, near the back of the house away from the raucous pigeons and jackdaws – ideal for fledging babies. The bridge and the island, with woods beyond are just nearby.










It pelted with rain and thundered in the early afternoon...I only hope those adorable little babies were with their parents in a nice sheltered area of the wood beyond the island.
At the afternoon feed, I managed to catch Brownie Mo, the little brown pigeon with the damaged beak and dried blood all down his front. I used my method of throwing a lot of grain and peanuts together at my feet, and literally grabbed him (gently).



His lower beak is completely gone so it’s amazing he survived the shock, the pain and the difficulty in eating – but it must now be well over two weeks since I first saw him. I gave him a gentle bath in warmish water, but only because the afternoon had turned sunny, quite hot with a light breeze – I would not have done this if it had meant releasing him into cold weather. Then I ringed him with a green ring, and fed him up on peanuts and peas before releasing him - still a pathetic little scrap!




 Now, if he totally recovers – like Big Boy and Pandora who both had severe beak injuries – I will always know him by his ring. I would’ve like to have weighed him, but didn’t as he wouldn’t have liked it, and there didn’t seem much point. He felt rather scrawny, poor little thing. I hope the good feed, and the relaxing afternoon on the roof – freed from the pressure of trying to get enough to eat – will outweigh the stress of being caught. He’s a plucky little bird.

 Above, a pigeon is brave enough to alight on my hand, but Grace has seen him and doesnt like it!
 Later, Opal comes for his peanuts..... he's a beautiful pale brown shimmery iridescent mauve male

The babies are getting more and more interested in the world outside the cote
Below, the 'newbies' in the side nestbox

 Very beautiful and cuddly pair!


Friday 23.5.14 – Brownie Mo didn’t seem too well today. He rested on the porch roof and Dolly kept him company.



It is really difficult to make sure he gets enough to eat because anything I throw down – even right in front of him – is gobbled up by pushy pigeons with perfect beaks! The main trouble is that I am again in the position of having to conserve grain. I spend a fortune on grain each week – and at this time of year I have to dole it out carefully and can’t just chuck it on the lawn at random. You can see how many birds there are.... and that’s not all of them, by any means.


I have my own ‘pecking order’ when trying to ensure who gets fed – first, the homies, as they can’t feed themselves, then the cote birds, then any poorly or recovering birds (at the moment, that’s Big Boy, Brownie Mo and Tufty, the racer with a completely withered foot), then my previous babies hatched in my cote (Grace, Autumn and Dolly), then any birds that have endeared themselves to me (like Opal, the brown pigeon who flies to my hand) and other ‘known’ birds (like Mr. Strong and Frances, and Bandit and Charity,.... then lastly the whole motley crew!
I did try to catch Brownie Mo again today but was unsuccessful. If I do manage to get him, I think I might keep him a while to try and get his strength up.

 Above, while SW sits on the eggs, Charm pays tender attention to little Fleur, with Lucky close by
 Charm does love her babies..... she just has this 'blip' about leaving them at night too early
 Grace looks in the kitchen window......
 until I give in and go outside to give her some peanuts! Grace is around the garden 24/7 and seems to constantly eat!
 Below, Snow White says 'I know you have installed those new virulent pink and blue plastic baths, but I'm just an old-fashioned lad who likes to bath in a puddle!'

 I took him out some personal peanuts - he is so handsome!
 And look at the squabs today - posing for a Persil ad!

Sat 24th May– The day started extremely wet...why is some rain so much wetter than others? I wondered why the early flock didn’t come down until I saw a bedraggled Bertie under the garden table. It was only 6.15am but I bundled him into the car and drove him straight home. If I’d kept him it would’ve meant drying him off before he came in the sitting room, feeding him, keeping him away from the birds.....it’s a nuisance driving him home but less than doing all that. And at that early time there is no traffic round here on a Saturday. The squabs will be fledging soon, within a week anyway, so I really don’t want Mr Bertie the bird-catching cat around!
Brownie Mo was there looking even more bedraggled than Bertie – my bath to try to remove the dried blood hadn’t made any difference to the look of him, and neither had the rain. It is so hard to make sure he gets anything to eat but all I can do is persevere. And the jackdaws are a nuisance, swooping down to grab their share at every opportunity.

 Not sure if above is Fleur or Fern..... below the babies peck at the little grains I give them


In the late afternoon, a white dove alighted on the table where a few others were feeding.... and made me gasp in horror! Scroll down the next 10 photos quickly if you don't want to see it's injury....

 Badly wounded, but still hungry!



 What on earth happened?..... looks suspiciously like a hawk attack......
 A horrible wound, but thankfully I can't see any fly eggs in there.... and the weather is not too hot at the moment. There was little chance of catching the dove, and it was more important that it got plenty to eat than that I made an attempt to catch it that would probably fail.... though I would've like to use my new Medihoney gel on it, and keep it in for a few days to let the wound scab over properly.


 Eventually, the wounded one had eaten enough, and flew to the wire. It proved to be a female and Snow White started bowing and cooing to her....for goodness sake, SW, she is in no state for that sort of funny business!


Charm didn’t come to do the last change-over this evening until twenty to eight! Goodness Charm, that’s late!

Sunday 25.5.14 –  

The squabs, Fern and Fleur, are four weeks old today. Here is their Happy 4 Week Birthday photo! Fern is enormous! He seems easily as big as his parents but I don’t really see them side by side. Since the new eggs were laid I haven’t been able to have much contact with these babies as Snow White is on the eggs in the afternoons and he gets upset if I even go up the steps to look at them. Charm is more reasonable, but I certainly couldn’t take the squabs out of the cote without causing a disturbance to her. With some previous babies, I have been able to have a little ‘play’ with them in the afternoons and as you know really enjoy that but I have had to limit myself to a few quick peeps when Charm is on the nest. I have been giving the babies a few tiny grains to experiment with, and they both peck them up easily, being grown-up for their age! Lucky still feeds them, when he gets the chance, though I don’t think Charm is doing so now – as it is the father’s job at this stage. So, F and F are 28 days old, well developed and could fledge at any time within the next few days.....I pray that it is not a time when Bertie’s around, as newly fledged doves usually end up on the hedge or the ground rather the roof!
Brownie Mo was looking much better today –perhaps the rain and the bath had made a difference after all, and more importantly, he seemed to be able to pick up the pieces of corn much more easily, sometimes screwing them round with his beak on the ground like we would open a jar. I was out for the afternoon and hubbie was feeding the flock but he said he didn’t see the badly injured white dove at all. I hope that it didn’t die as it was coping so marvellously.

Bank Holiday Monday 26.5.14 – The early morning was terribly wet again , exactly like Friday – even to the fact of Bertie turning up and having to be driven home. At least I know when I’ve done this that the garden will be safe from him for a day. Which was just as well as later on, about 11.30am, I chanced to see out of the window, something white stuck in the hedge.... one of the babies had fallen off the ledge of the nestbox! 


Now they are due to fledge pretty soon, but I don’t count that as proper fledging. Charm was fussing about underneath the hedge like a mother hen, but being no help! My camera was handy so I took the snap for the blog, then rescued the baby, and it was the smaller of the two, Fleur. I don’t think she’d been in the dilemma long as she felt quite warm. I could’ve brought her in to weigh her, which would’ve been interesting, but I didn’t think of it at the time. And just popped her back in with Fern. So, you ask, what would’ve happened if I hadn’t rescued  Fleur. Surely she would’ve been alright? Well, the answer is of course that I don’t know....but it is likely that she would not have been ok. She would’ve struggled in the hedge and either got more trapped, or released herself and probably fallen to the ground. Possibly she would’ve been able to fly a little, and get up off the lawn, but young doves are pretty hopeless for a few days after fledging and I doubt if she would’ve been able to fly well enough to get back inside the cote – so therefore she would’ve got wet and chilled, and probably fallen prey to the next predator that came along.  The babies of course are very inquisitive at this stage so I have to watch out for them!

 Above, Fleur hovering on the ledge..... and below Snow White on top of the cote

 The babies respond to Lucky, like they do to both SW and Charm, but these squabs don't know that everyone doesnt have three parents!!!! To them it is the norm!
 The babies tend to flap their wings inside and outside of the cote - probably to build up strength

 Below, the next three photos are Charm with one of the squabs, probably Fern



I didn't see the badly wounded dove all day and wondered if maybe it belonged to another cote and has gone home, but in the late afternoon, in the steady rain, it arrived again - and again I rushed for peanuts for my brave soldier (and the camera). The wet weather is in it's favour - it will keep the bugs and flies off and may have rinsed the wound.






 Below, looks like some faeces on the injury - I hope the rain washes it off quickly!



 Above, Star Light with the yellow ring (Snow White's 2nd wife for about 2 weeks! with her new mate........ doesn't she look funny, like a little person, when she jumps off the water bath?

Before I end the blog - just to remind you about my little feather shop on Groovy Cart - search for the Real Birds Feathers shop (white doves and other natural birds feathers) - Groovycart  (sorry I sell to UK only)

To be cont... 

4 comments:

hopeinparis said...

Great post, Faith, and wonderful photos as always. I put a few on my Pinterest board about pigeons and doves: http://www.pinterest.com/hopeinparis/pigeons/

Fennie said...

I second that. Never a dull moment and such great pictures. I'm interested in the wounded dove. Maybe a returnee from some peace mission somewhere. Do you ever see Fennie dove these days (Fennie 2 I mean - for I have given up hope for Fennie 1). What causes these beak injuries, I wonder?

Harvey Hedges said...

I third that!
Again lovely post love hearing about you doves and pigeons

Faith said...

Thanks everyone.

Hopeinparis, thanks for putting my photos on your Pinterest board - which has wonderful pictures and I love looking at it!

Fennie, if you remember Fennie 2 had paramyxovirus at the end of last year/beginning of this and because I had so many birds in then, I didnt keep him and no doubt he died. I feel terrible about that, and wish I'd kept him, but I had Cloud, Echo, Cissie and Big Boy and just couldnt cope with another homie.

Harvey, thanks for continuing to read my blog. I must catch up with yours soon, I too love hearing about other people's doves and pigeons!