Saturday, 10 May 2014

The babies grow up....the 'parents' squabble...

Not quite sure where I left off the last blog so carrying on from here....

Thursday 1st May - Later – 5.20pm I am writing this in real time again and have just seen Charm come off and SW go in the nest. I am concerned that it is now about the day that Charm has previously left her babies, causing the January babies to die and a pair of last year’s babies to get severely chilled and near death. I am hoping that she will go back to the nest soon and I can block her in for the night, but these changeovers can happen in the twinkling of an eye and she might just fly off with SW, and I’ll be left babysitting – which will be awkward as I am going out tonight. There are now only about a dozen pigeons left in the rather wet garden, and one other white dove. Charm is on the roof, and I am hoping only planning on having a breather before going back to the nest. I don’t think Lucky had any time with the babies this afternoon, but here’s SW with them – that baby has such a long neck, it's like a swan!

The minute SW and Charm swapped I zoomed out there and blocked her in – 5.35pm. 10 mins later he was back, and made a couple of attempts to get to the nestbox. I decided not to unblock, as I am still afraid he might take her off with him.  The rain has eased now and its quite light and even warm so maybe he thinks it’s still his turn to be with the babies. I hate thwarting his natural instincts but it seems more important that the babies are with Charm now....please go away Snow White, or settle in another compartment for now. You just don’t realise how careless Charm is with her babies.....and how awkward it would make it for me to have to bring them in at night at this very young age. I am hoping that as he is so good natured he will just accept the situation ......well he hasn’t!! He is trying again to get in! Eventually by 6pm he had left the garden and so had any straggling pigeons – peace reigns.

Friday 2nd May 14 – At 9.37am this morning Charm came out and Lucky went in – he had 4 minutes with the babies while Snow White and Charm ate and sat on the roof, then SW outed him and that was that. I blocked SW in but poor Lucky sat either on the roof....all alone...

 or one of the ledges of the cote for about an hour til he got fed up and left the garden. 

I do really feel for him, but SW is Charm’s chosen ‘father’ for her babies and Lucky just has to put up with it. In the afternoons SW does seem to ‘allow’ Lucky time with the babies, which can be up to half an hour. Here’s Lucky feeding them today.

 And below, back again with SW - the babies love both their daddies!

Cloud had a bit of a 'moment' today - she fluttered her wings, rose up from the path in her funny little helicopter way, and flew or flopped into the leaves! I don't know who was more surprised - her or me!

The early evening block in is less fraught for me now, as Charm seems to say ‘I don’t why you are blocking me in I have no intention of leaving the babies’ but I am taking no chances at all. Especially tonight when they said it might be colder. And this morning there was a very slight frost. I feel I have been very blessed this week with the fencers NOT coming and the blockings in being achieved, so that my new babies have had the best start in the life. They are 5 days old today.

Sat 3rd May 14 – much the same as yesterday in the morning, and with Lucky going in with Charm together about 3.15pm, feeding the babies and generally enjoying family time. At one time, from the ground, I could see Lucky feeding one baby and Charm feeding the other.

A young brown pigeon has arrived in a dreadful state - dried blood down it's front and with a damaged beak.

 Above, it's the one on the right end

Poor little darling.....but I couldnt get anywhere near it, and it did seem to be able to get a little bit of food.

 Above, Lucky looking particularly fat and pleased with himself

Later there was a bit of an altercation between Lucky and Snow White. Charm had left Lucky alone with the babies and Snow White felt he’d had long enough - Snow White won!

Sun 4.5.14 – When I opened the block at 6.00am this morning Charm flew straight out and I could tell she was narked with me – I’ve been shut up with those two children for 12 hours, she snapped- it’s a bit much!

The babies are one week old today and I felt a lot happier than last Sunday when I was at the photography workshop and worrying! I felt confident enough to go to a car boot – first bundling Bertie in the car and dropping him home. Knowing he’s not in the garden is another thing that makes me feel less concerned.

It was a lovely sunny day and my three parents all had their time with the babies and each other. You laugh, says Charm, but who wouldn’t want two providers for their children?

Below, Lucky and Charm with the babies

 Below, Charm closes her eyes wearily - settle down, dear, Mummy is tired....

Later - SW and Lucky were tussling about who should have the privilege of going in to feed the babies....

SW sees Lucky is in the cote, and flies rapidly over...

 to try to force Lucky out....

 And SW wins again!
 and sits in with the babes!
Below, Cloud cools down in her water bowl
 and Cissie watches life from the run
Feeding time with Uncle Lucky

Cloud and Cissie always have some free play in the afternoons 

 As you can see, Cloud can now hold her head up well on most occasions, while Cissie is still in a bit of a state - though is beginning to flap her wings and 'fly' a bit
Either SW or Charm feeds the babies - I can't see the rings! I think it's Charm - these babies must be the most well-fed ever!

 Portrait of Lucky

White dove squabs - babies 1 week old

Above - Portrait of Lucky

The brown pigeon is not coping so well today - but it is very scared, and I am not able to do anything more for it than to target it with food....but it doesnt seem able to pick up the grains today. Poor little thing, it will starve if it doesnt eat soon. I hate to see this situation and long to pick it up to gently feed it.

Bank Holiday 5.5.14 – Lucky continues to stay in another part of the cote while SW is with the babies.  His instinct tells him to stay with them – it must be so weird for him having another bird taking over his role.....I don’t know what to make of it. I have now no need to block SW in during the day as the babies are ok alone for a bit and Lucky’s not making trouble at the moment. Poor Lucky, you’ll get your chance later to see the babies, won’t you? It’s not fun being part of a bond triangle!

Some pigeons stay on the roof all morning, after the big early morning feed – my intention is now never to feed again before 12.30 or so, as I don’t want them dependent on me as the only source of food – they should be off out looking for it! It is also only the beginning of May but we seem to have got to June-ravenous eating already!  When I did feed SW came out of the nestbox and I had a look at the babies – so alert with black round little boot-button eyes – Hello my darlings, I say to them, you are getting so big already!

Later – I was giving the birds yet another sprinkle of grain in the late afternoon, and wondering why Lucky hadn’t joined Charm with the babies – has he given up? When suddenly I realised Cloud wasn’t on the lawn...... where had she gone? She’d walked through the arch and right up to the open conservatory door! Well, she seemed to say, it is 20 past 5 you know and me and Cissie are normally in by 5!

I meekly did as I was told and put her on the conservatory table, before going to get Cissie! I had left them both out in the hutch/run a bit longer as it was such a nice afternoon. They take turns at being in the hutch or the run, so get equal amount of time in both.

5.45pm - SW came out of the cote – had it been him all the time in there? Where is Charm? it’s getting late for the babies. Will SW stay with them, or will they be left tonight? If so, I will be bringing them in!

6.30pm – Someone is in the nestbox with the babies but I don’t know who! I won’t block in yet, but as soon as it gets a bit darker I will, so if it’s SW he will just have to stay. Maybe they changed over without me seeing.

7pm – Decided to block in – and I’m pretty sure it was Charm in there – she smiled sweetly saying ‘You didn’t see me swap, did you?’

The brown pigeon managed a bit better today, thank heavens. It's such a plucky little thing.

Tue 6.5.14 – Lucky managed to sneak in mid-morning while SW was having a snack but was soon chucked out – but not before I’d seen him do a bit of feeding. Charm doesn’t seem to be doing much nest duty in the afternoons now, though SW is often in there – so this means Lucky doesn’t get very much time with the babies.

 Above, the jackdaws join in - and below Mrs. Blackbird feeds her big baby

Later - I realised Charm had left the babies and the garden about 5.30pm. She had craftily left before there was any possibility of being blocked in! This is normal behaviour for her, but I am not happy about it as I consider the babies still too young to be left at night, with possible sudden dips in temperature and risk of predators - the jay was in the garden and you never know. I put my home-made nest on to warm as it were, on the aga. She didn't come back and I didn't expect her to - so I brought the babies in about 6.40pm.

The babies ready to come in with me for the night

 It is so difficult to know how warm they need to be. I put their 'nest' (which is hay in a fleecy lined old hood, in a tin) into one of my carrying boxes which I lined with a towel. While the conservatory was still warm and we were having supper, I put them in there. I can't leave them in the kitchen at night as I think it will be too hot - as we have to have the door to the sitting room shut to prevent Bertie coming in (with possible gorey rabbit) and anyway, that's too dangerous with Bertie anyway. I might sleep in the spare room, as I will have to get up early to make sure they are back in the nestbox when Charm comes back in the morning, and then I could have them in the room with me.

Wed. 7.5.14 - I got up at 5.20am (yes, really) and brought the babies into the kitchen with me so I could keep an eye on the roof. The first pigeons arrived on the roof at 5.35am and then two white doves at 5.40am - so I quickly rushed out with the babies in their fake nest and popped them back in the cote. The white doves proved not to be anyone important, but within a couple of minutes Charm arrived - with Lucky - making me suspect that they had roosted together. Charm ate some grain, then flew to her babies and started feeding them straight away and for a considerable length of time. Making me happy and my efforts all worthwhile. But would the babies have suffered cold, or worst, died if I had not brought them in? The answer is that I do not know - and don't intend to find out by trying! Last year Alpha and Omega (Lucky and Charm's babies) were left at night about 4 days old and I decided to leave them in the cote, tucked up with warm things and blocked in - but I found them stone cold and near death in the morning..... and that was in the summer, so although these babies are older, they will not be left outside until I consider they are big enough and feathered enough to cope. Alf and Meg survived but were always peaky little things - though very adorable!

Thursday 8th May 14 - This morning before putting the babies out I decided to weigh them. Although I have been mulling over names they will not be officially named until ringing day, so at the moment they are just Big and Little Baby - Big Baby weighed 205g  and Little Baby 189g. These seem good weights to me - last year when I picked up Pandora, with her broken beak - she was a fully fledged pigeon, though possibly young - she only weighed 222g at first. The babies were fed by Charm and SW - then SW sat near the cote, but not in with the babies, as is usual. I now tend to check them a few times a day for warmth etc - and am putting in their 'nappy paper' which I change a couple of times a day to deter flies from coming in.

Later - for the most part a miserable wet day. SW and Charm spent time with the babies, even for quite long periods. I don't understand why Charm will leave them at night when surely it is colder and they are more vulnerable - but don't worry little things, I will look after you every night until you are big enough! Already they have 'grown out' of the round nest bowl I had them in for the last two nights, and I have had to find an old shoe box to give them some personal space!! And might they have some little siblings soon? Here's mummy Charm being loved up by Uncle Lucky!

And then, would you believe, they carried on canoodling on top of the cote while Daddy Snow White looked after the babies.

The babies get under Daddy's feet!

The big baby's (right) feathers are sprouting all cotton-woolly now!

And who remembers pretty little yellow-ringed Star Light? Snow White's former little wifey? She is being courted by a handsome white male. 'Listen' she says 'I'm not interested!.... I was married before.....for about two weeks....then he dumped me for an older woman!'

 Here's Frances, left, and her mate Mr Strong. I'm fond of this bonded pair - they turned up together in the late afternoon for the first time for a while. I've been seeing them separately recently so I wonder if they have a nest, and now the babies are old enough to be left?

9th May '14

The brown pigeon is now able to eat reasonably well, and I have high hopes that it will now survive - like Big Boy, Pandora and Rusty (ages ago). Luckily, it coped on it's own and I didn't have to bring it in to feed. I don't need any extra work as I am tired from getting up early every morning with my fluffy babies1

To be cont...


hopeinparis said...

Lovely post, Faith, and well done on bringing in the babes to keep them warm! They are adorable and maybe some of the best-fed babies I've ever seen :-) xx

Harvey Hedges said...

Fairh i now have a male that is paired whith 2 females .i hope they raise healthy fluffy babies like yours

Harvey Hedges said...

Fairh i now have a male that is paired whith 2 females .i hope they raise healthy fluffy babies like yours

Linda Percival said...

Wow so exciting! I have some happy and sad news. I filled my fairly new feeder Friday night and awoke Saturday morning and whilst teaching to SO many birds. The parakeets had initially frightened off birds I thought but there were loads of sparrows, tits, starlings with about 5 fluffy babies being fed by them, couple of pigeons and the 'collar doves' if that's the right name? not sure. Well there were also 2 fledglings collar doves too :-) they were beautiful to watch with tails fanned and hovering at times by the feeder, then a red, white, black woodpecker flew in as well ... it was so lovely to observe. So that was my happy news with all the cute babies, then my sad news ..... Jasper woke me to go out at 6.30am and as I was so tired and Lady will not come in quickly once out first thing, I didn't let her out (big mistake)I wish I had as 2 mornings ago she sniffed out and chased a fox out of the garden. So as you can guess ... all was OK at 6.30om but when I woke second time and let the other 3 dogs out at 8am there were dove feathers on the grass :-( it was only when teaching this morning again and only one fledgling came with all the other birds that it means baby got caught :-( just don't know how you deal with the sad deaths .... I will be letting Lady out every morning now to frighten off predators ..... kept thinking 'if only I had let her out ...'

Fennie said...

One of your loveliest blogs, Faith - full of action and absorbing interest. Your love triangle is so fascinating and to see the babies growing is wonderful. Why do they start with no feathers and such big eyes and beaks (to feed with I suppose)? I am wondering whether you could have an electric heater in the cote that you could switch on and off from the house - a kind of electric hen - to keep the babies warm (or warmer) without having to remove them.
A little webcam in the cote would also tell you whether there was a parent bird in there. No doubt you've thought of all these things before. Cloud seems to be recovering. Do you think she will ever be normal again? And what happened to brown pigeon? Was it a hawk do you think?

Faith said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Harvey, I'll be interested to know how your bond triangle goes!

Linda, what a shame.... but I am afraid that only a small proportion of fledglings make it, one way or another. And it's collared doves.

Fennie, I have thought of the webcam... but not really necessary, and the heater, well, I would be worried that it would go wrong and cook the babies!!