Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Lots of babies!

Little Dusty alone on the roof at dusk, before putting himself to bed in the cote for (what proved to be) the very last time.

Friday 11.7.14 – 5.00 am and I unblocked Charm and little Dusty. Charm came out of the nest, and I fed her on the lawn, just her and me – it was quite a special little moment. She’s not the best mummy bird but she’s there in the cote, so we have to get along!

Hubby decided to do some trimming in the garden with the electric shears, causing Snow White to leave the babies for fifteen minutes.

I saw Dusty in the morning because I unblocked him out of the cote – but I didn’t see him for the rest of the day. He obviously went off flying and hasn’t made his way back. I haven’t seen Daisy all day today either – I do hope I won’t lose these two babies. Their older siblings, Fern and Fleur were both here.

Sat 12.7.14 – Fed the morning flock and then off out early, but I was saddened that neither Dusty nor Daisy was there, and they weren’t back either when I came home at midday, so it looks like both these young birds are lost.

 Charm and Snow White's babies

We were going out for a quick bite to eat, and when we left about 6.15pm Charm wasn’t in the nestbox and I had the gut feeling that despite them being only 6 days old, she had already decided to leave them at night. We weren’t long at all, back by 8ish and as I suspected no Mummy Charm in the nest so I brought the babies in. They are still very small, not much bigger than the palm of my hand.

Sun 13th July 14 – Wonderful news, a little dark pigeon with two green rings was with the morning flock. Dusty has made it back!  I felt uplifted.....though still sad there is no Daisy.

 Grace, eating from my hand
 Below, Pandora - rushing to get some food

 Cloud, in the run, with an admirer on top
 A very handsome admirer, I must say!
 We blitzed the garden today - trimming, chopping, mowing - and moved the hutch and the run out, so we could trim behind and around them.
 Hubby was also kind enough to do some essential repairs to the run for me. While he was doing that, Cissie was in the front outside part of the hutch, and Cloud in the back.

Once all the trimming was done, the hutch/run area was much more open, making it a more pleasant place for Cissie to spend her days. She is now able to sit on the grass and see out all around her.

Monday  14th-  Chilly at 5am when I got up to put the babies back in the cote. Dusty was there again with the morning birds. He is totally pigeon, a little maverick.

When I knew Lucky would be on the nest, as he is more used to me than Loveday, I decided to peer round the cote and have a little look. Lucky didn’t mind me looking but I couldn’t see much....  but when I uploaded the photo it did look like there was some egg shell to the side of him.I didn’t want to look too long or upset him. 

Charm and Snow White’s babies were brought in again for the night. They seem fairly similar though one has yellowy fluff while the other is more orangey. Below is a better photo than the previous one as you can see how small they really are. As they get bigger, I remove one stuffed glove and let down the side of the box.

 Orangey fluff and yellowy fluff!

Tuesday 15th  – No Dusty again.... and no Daisy. Big Boy is also missing but he was courting and may have gone off somewhere else.  We had Bertie at seven-thirty! So I had to quickly drive him home before the traffic started building up too much. When I got home I gently peeped into the back nestbox and I think it was Loveday on the nest, but I couldn’t see any babies BUT then I saw a tiny piece of eggshell in the hedge – hopefully Lucky and Loveday have at least one baby!

At midday when I came home it was just my cote doves and a few pigeons around – lovely and peaceful, and nice to be able to feed Star Light and Charm who were out, and another white dove who I thought maybe was Loveday. It’s hard not knowing who she is, but I don’t want to try and take her out of the nest at this early stage of her babies and our relationship. She has to trust me a bit more first. Then Charm swapped with Snow White so he could get some food too – not that there is any chance of him starving as he is very used to me, and shows by his calm and assured manner that he knows he will get fed. 

I weighed the babies when I brought them in this evening – 199g and 189g.

Wed 16th – Bertie arrived again, and nearly caught Cissie who was loose on the lawn. I had to leave at 8am so no time to drive him home, but I decided to feed him before I left as I felt a fed cat would be less likely to stalk my birds in my absence than a hungry one!

Thursday 17th  – Bertie’s owner is moving away – did I tell you that? I wanted to say goodbye to him properly as it seems like recently all I have done is scoop him up into the car and drive him home – open the car door, out he pops, and that’s that. He arrived 11 months ago to the day – on August 17th  2013 and now on July 17th 2014 I am saying goodbye to him. I debated about whether to go, but thought that if I didn’t I would regret it. Although it’s been tricky sometimes with the birds, he is a super cat and I’ll miss him – we both will, as hubby would’ve kept him like a shot if we could. So I drove to his home, and his owner was of course packing up with removal vans etc as moving day was tomorrow. In recent months we have got on better and she was perfectly happy for me to spend a little time alone with him – he was shut in a room, lounging on a chair. Goodbye beautiful Bertie boy (not what she calls him of course!) – I will miss your exuberant presence, your sweet pink nose with the dark outline, and your tigery-tummy! Here he is last year, snuggling in with hubby - his owner would've had a fit if she knew!

In the night there was a terrific thunderstorm – waking us up of course – and I was so glad that I had Charm and SW’s babies in the house with me but I still worried about Star Light on her eggs, and Loveday with her tiny babies in the cote. Would the tremendous claps of thunder cause them to take fright and leave the cote? It was the sort of thing that Charm would do....but hopefully they are better mothers. When it quietened down a little, I got up and went into the garden. We have a security light in the shape of a Narnia lamp-post that came on as I opened the gate, so I could just about see Star Light snuggled down in her nestbox. The light didn’t reach to the back of the cote so I couldn’t see Loveday but neither was there a lightening-struck white dove lying in the yard (yes, I have these ridiculous fears) so I hoped for the best and went back to bed.

 Above, we can now see at least one baby with proud daddy, Lucky!
and below, Charm and SW's older babies, looking cheeky!
 and getting fed!
 Cloud and Cissie perch under the hutch
 and Mr. Moon perches on the ledge of this nursery

 Friday 18th July 14 – Again a sweltering hot and humid day, but the cote birds were all ok, and all the birds seem to cope. The front nest box is frankly smelly when you get up close – though the babies have their nappy paper which I change frequently. At this stage normally I would’ve pulled out the revolting nesting material and put in some newspaper and fresh hay, but of course this time I can’t as so doing would ‘rock the cote’ disturbing Star Light/Mr. Moon on the eggs and Loveday/Lucky with the tiny babies. It’s not yet time for me to ring Charm and SW’s babies but I need to name them for ease of writing the blog! – as we have other babies -  so they will be Clover and Clara.

Lucky is such a proud daddy, he stays in the nestbox with his babies far longer than he needs to – you go off and have fun, darling, he says to young Loveday, I’ll look after the babes.

 Below, Cloud (left) gives herself a bath. I bathe both her and Cissie regularly but it amuses me when she joins in with the doves bathtime of her own accord.
 But suddenly she gets 'the look'....
 and has to scramble out, sharpish...
 Apartheid here....the pigeons have a separate bath
 Lucky, always vigilant, the only bird on the roof

Sat 19th July 14  - Still very hot. I was up early as usual to put the babies back when Charm arrived but just before I did so I put my hand right into the nestbox to remove some old nappy paper, and suddenly my hand was covered in horrible little mites or something! Obviously blood-suckers or why would they jump on my warm hand.... I swabbed/squashed them into a piece of kitchen paper, but felt I couldn’t do much more at the time, and planned to spray the nestbox after I had removed the babies that evening. They didn’t seem to have any mites or lice on them that I could see anyway.

Lucky’s babies are about 4 days old, but their eyes are still closed. From what I have found out online, pigeon babies should open their eyes by the 5th day. In the heat of the afternoon, they were left for a little while and I took the photo, and that’s fine, but hopefully Loveday won’t be leaving them at night yet. I pray she is a far better mother than Charm! As you can see, we have mismatched babies again - with Lucky's dark genes (flecks on his breast and neck) coming out!

Clover and Clara now weigh 269g and 265g – very evenly matched. On Tuesday evening they weighed 199g and 189g so you can see how quickly they grow!  When I first brought them in they had a little soft towel over the top of them in the shoe-box they are in – to simulate their mother – (and the shoebox is inside a carrying box) AND a hot water bottle – now they have neither, as gradually I have to get them used to when they will stay outside all night in the cote. The carrying box is draped with a blanket though to make it dark and warm.

Sunday 20th July 2014 – My late father’s birthday – if it had been alive he would’ve been 101 today, but he died 9 years ago, and is still very much missed. Hubby’s uncle was born the same year (1913) and is due to celebrate his 101 birthday in September – an amazing achievement. So maybe Daddy sent me a nice little surprise – Dusty appeared today! I haven’t seen him since last Monday, but he has obviously joined a little group of pigeons and is doing well. I hate losing my young birds, so was so pleased to welcome him back. I didnt get a photo as by the time I'd got my camera he'd gone again. His sibling, Daisy, hasn’t been seen for at least two weeks, and I am really holding no hope out for her, but you never know. Dusty is about six and a half weeks old now, and his older sister, Fleur (small, white, pretty with flutey tail) and Fern (big, strong, white and beautiful) are seen every day and are 12 weeks old. Baby Clover and Clara are now 2 weeks old today and mummy Charm and daddy Snow White don’t appear to be thinking about nesting again though last time Charm laid the first egg when the babies were exactly two weeks old – well, they say we’ve had 3 lots of babies in 3 months, which is not bad going!

I see from my calendar that Star Light and Mr. Moon’s babies are due – or overdue..... or maybe even hatched but no evidence yet.

I was hoping to end this blog on the good note that Dusty was still alive – but I went near the cote to see if I could find any eggshells, and I also walked into the yard behind the cote which maybe caused Loveday to fly out, leaving her babies. She flew to the roof, then to the lawn when I threw food down. She seems young and has very pink feet, but in a flock of white doves I wouldn’t be able to identify her. I had a peep at the babies, but after eating, she flew away! Oh dear.... the babies are about 6 days old, and their eyes are open now, and the weather is very warm, so, as always, I am hoping they will be ok until either she or Lucky comes back. This morning at the early feed there seemed far less birds than usual, and I can’t remember if I saw Lucky at all. Certainly Brownie Mo was not there.

As Loveday was out of the nest, I thought I better grab the opportunity to remove and ring Clover and Clara, even though it’s far earlier than I usually do it. Clover is the orangey-fluff one and I ringed her with red left and green right – probably used this combo before but I need to get more rings in different colours!!! – must order today. And Clara is the yellowy-fluff one and she got red left and pink right. Their fluff colours are noticeably different so I am wondering if there will be any difference between their colouring when they get their white feathers – or will they both be snow white like mummy and daddy?

 Clara, left, and Clover

I couldn’t see Star Light or Mr. Moon in the nest, but I brought the steps round to the yard and was pretty sure I could see a dove very low in the nestbox. It’s quite a responsibility having 3 nests at once, the most I’ve ever had!

Either Lucky or Loveday was in the nest by 11.30 but I did feel they had been left for a long time – but I suppose I should stop fussing as no doubt they know better than me and Lucky isn’t going to abandon the babies that have been his heart’s desire for so long. Mmm, maybe Desiree would be a good name for one of his babies?

The young robin flew into the kitchen today by mistake - absolutely adorable little cheeky thing, just beginning to redden up.

 I caught him on the pantry window, for release

 Above, the cote birds with two pigeons
Below, top Snow White, then clockwise, Charm and Lucky

This evening, I decided as Loveday had been touchy today, that maybe I wouldn’t try to take Clover and Clara out of the front nestbox, and possibly disturb Loveday, and of course Star Light - but would leave them in the cote tonight. In the normal way, this is the age (2 weeks) when the mother dove would leave the babies alone, and as the weather is so warm, and of course I will block them in with the feather filled cashmere gloves etc..... they should be ok! I had just completed the – very quiet – blocking in when the heavens opened and it teamed down, along with thunder and lightening. I knew the babies would be safe, but was concerned for my juvenile blackbird – come on, baby, hurry under a bush!

Monday 21st July 14 – Young blackbird was there waiting by the back door when I got up to unblock the babies at 5.15am – looking up at me with appealing face! So I was dishing out soaked mealworms before I did anything else.

An ordinary dovie day. Cloud and Cissie, my PMV birds, continue with their usual routine. Out of their night boxes around 7am, then into the garden to be fed, while the flock is around – possibly a little walk round the lawn if the weather’s ok and I have time, then into the conservatory til about 9am, depending on how hot it gets in there – then Cissie goes in the run, and Cloud into the hutch for the day. Both have indoor and outdoor space, and water of course, but I don’t usually leave food out for them as I hand feed them both, twice a day. At about 3.30 in the afternoons they come out into the garden for playtime and their 2nd feed and often stay out til 5 or 5.30, depending on the weather. Now Bertie has gone, I am not worried about leaving them out on the lawn – obviously there is always a risk of some predator, but it’s not fair for them always to be cooped up, so they take their chances. I shut the garden gate, and put a heavy stone against it, so the awful neighbours dogs can’t get in if they break out of their own garden, which they do sometimes. We had to complain to the land agents in the end, and so the neighbour had to take it seriously and repair holes in the fencing etc. Those who have been reading my blog for a couple of years or more will know that these dogs killed my flightless dove, Jose, and I don’t want to lose another one that way.  Cloud often just goes and sits under the hutch, or comes to the kitchen door-step, but Cissie enjoys wandering round, pecking at things. Both have admirers, and as long as the males are not too demanding, I leave them to get on with it. Both Cloud and Cissie sometimes play helicopters, hovering a foot or so above the ground before crash landing but thankfully they mostly can’t fly much more than that. A bird that can partly fly is much more at risk than one that can’t fly at all! I usually bring the homies back in to the conservatory, where Cissie is in a big dog crate and Cloud has the run of the table, about 5-6pm depending on the weather. They stay there, preening and resting, until it’s bedtime, currently about 8pm but much earlier in the winter. It’s all to do with the daylight. In this particularly hot weather, I have been making sure they drink by dipping their beaks in the water pots at least once during the day, and just before bed – they can both drink alone, it’s just to make sure they get enough in this heat.

Young Blackie was around all day, and in the late afternoon little Robs turned up for his mealworms – he’s getting his red breast now and is not so much of a baby.

At 8pm I went to block Clover and Clara in. I am so so quiet, I took my shoes off, I even made sure my rings didn’t clank against the metal of the ladder, but I still disturbed Loveday and she flew out of the back nest-box to the low roof. As she was out, I blocked them in anyway – but maybe I won’t tomorrow night, though normally I would block them in for a few more days yet. I am paranoid about upsetting Loveday – I don’t want her to ‘do a Charm’ and leave her babies at night. They are about 6 days old now. Star Light seems to accept me approaching the cote and it doesn’t upset her. I have still no idea if she has hatchlings or not. Loveday went back to the babies after a few minutes and I could be happy again.

Please don't forget my feather shop on Groovycart - Real Birds Feathers, and my NEW shop, opening 1st Sept called Grannys Attic (it's under construction but you can browse) - sorry both posting to UK only - Groovycart - lots of shops, not just mine! Have a look!

To be cont...

Friday, 11 July 2014

Injuries, a return and more babies!

24th June 14 – I had no warning at all – the hedge trimmer was whirring and I could see that the young lad who does our hedge had started. If he had just come to the door to say he was here, I could’ve blocked Snow White gently into the nest box so he couldn’t leave the eggs. As it was, as soon as I realised and rushed out to try to block him, he flew out – and the eggs were left alone. The hedge was terribly over-grown and I didn’t know how long it would take for the work to be done, so after a while I thought I would bring the eggs in and put them under the electric hen that I bought. If you didn’t read the blog where I described this, it is a square contraption on short legs that provides gentle heat for chicks without a mother – and I bought it in case I needed it for small dove babies. So I switched it on, and brought the eggs in wrapped in a flannel and put them under it. I have never been able to discover how long eggs can go without the parent on them – before the chicks inside would perish I mean. (Does anyone know – Shirley? Harvey?) All I was hoping that I wouldn’t cook the eggs!!! I went out to rake up the trimmings from the hedge, so that by me helping the job would take less time. He had one more large bush to trim, and the job was finished in 45 mins. During that time, Snow White came back once, and then retreated again. The noise of the trimmer was pretty loud! I saw all the cote doves waiting on the neighbour’s roof, a short distance away. SW came back as soon as the guy left, and I had popped the eggs back just before. I hope and pray they will be ok – but one egg was definitely laid two days or more before the other, which is rather a long time as it should be within 24 hours I think, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we got only one baby or none from this lot – which would be a shame.

25.6.14 - I was out most of the day and a HUGE flock awaited me when I got back at 4.30pm. I just don’t know what I am going to do about all these birds...... I don’t want to stop feeding and I can’t because of my cote birds, but it can’t carry on..... I know I said it last year but I think it’s worse this year....

I can’t keep tabs on the ‘new’ cote doves – I have no idea really who they are. I thought it was Bandit and his mate.....well it was for a while, and then I saw Star Light (Snow White’s 2nd little wifey that he dumped for Charm) in there.....and then this evening two unringed white doves were making themselves at home. They were kissing on the hedge...

 then starting to mate...

But a whirlwind of white fury flew down from the roof and they stopped, startled.... It was Snow White – he’s having none of that nonsense! (unless he’s doing it!) SW, why can’t you be a bit more generous? You have two grown-up babies, Fleur and Fern, two little babies, Dusty and Daisy, and two eggs, so it wouldn’t do you any harm to share the cote a little – there’s plenty of room!

There is one stick poking out of the back nestbox – maybe Lucky IS building a nest! The back one is the most difficult to see into – especially if you don’t want to upset another bird at the front, so I’m not sure what is going on!

26.6.14 - This morning the first thing I saw was a little brown pigeon on the patio and I thought he looked a bit peaky so when I threw the first handful of grain down, and all the pigeons milled round, I just put my hand down and picked him up! He was just like Muffin I think – newly fledged, a bit under-fed and unsure. I topped him up with a good feed, and gave him a yellow ring. So now we have three little brown pidgies to think about – Brownie Mo, with his broken beak and green ring, Muffin, with blue ring and Tiffin with a yellow ring!

 Tiffin, above taken with flash

Tiffin stayed on the roof, either digesting the big meal I gave him, or being poorly, it was hard to tell which!

 Tiffin, in the middle of the grey pigeons, looking a bit poorly....

Later on though he seemed to perk up, so I hope he will be with the flock tomorrow morning.

When I came home at 10pm and was dropped off by my friend, the car lights caught a nervous little face peeping out of the back nestbox – was it Lucky’s female? Has she laid an egg? A few days ago I put some hay in that box anyway, just in case Lucky got lucky!

27th June 14 – Tiffin and Muffin were not with the early flock, but both were back by 11am. Tiffin is very like Brownie Mo in colouring, sort of sandy, whereas Muffin is lighter with brown bands. BM is doing pretty well, it is still a struggle for him to eat but what little he gets seems to sustain him, and he will often come back when it is quieter and there are less birds around so that I can feed him separately. The other birds with damaged beaks – Pandora, from last summer, and Big Boy from the early part of this year – are both doing splendidly!

Daisy and Dusty are about 24 days old, and Daisy is beginning to show an interest in the outside world. Dusty blends into the darkness of the inside of the nestbox and once or twice I have had to put my hand in to make sure he’s there! At this stage of the squabs development, I have in the past taken the little birds out of the cote to have a snuggle with them, but I don’t want to upset SW or Charm on the eggs, and the potential nest at the back, so beyond filling their little food pot and checking them at the same time, I don’t have as much contact with them as I would like.

24 day old dove squabs with the same totally white parents
Here is Dusty and Daisy's big sister Fern, with her two green rings.... she's quite tame

 Below, on the left, diving for a peanut
 Below, portrait of Fern

Here's Dolly, hatched in the cote well over a year ago now

 Very independent and a great peanut lover. Her sibling Fennie, like Dusty, was dark

And here's Cloud, fed up with playtime and wanting to come back in to the conservatory, so waiting at the kitchen door!

And while she was being 'good', her PMV friend, Cissie, had jumped from the top of the hutch where I'd put her for a while, to the hedge and then the yard below...

Silly me! I won't be giving her the opportunity again as she could've ended up in the river.

28th – It occurred to me this morning that maybe the nest at the back isn’t Lucky’s – so when I knew Snow White was on his eggs, I knew the male would be on the back nest, so I got the steps and teetered on top to take a photo. The back nestbox is most awkward! Anyway is was Lucky ... you can just see the dark patch on his tummy

and a few minutes later when I tried to remove a feather from the hedge, he got cross or flustered and flew out, so I quickly checked and yes, Lucky, has two eggs with his new female! I am so happy for him because being dumped by Charm has been a very difficult thing for him to come to terms with! You think I’m joking, but I promise it is so. Lucky’s new lady is unidentified, and as she seems young and nervous, I daren’t try and take her from her nest to try to ring her, so I probably won’t be able to keep tabs on her very easily.....at the moment. I am calling her Loveday. Welcome to the cote!

Here is Star Light (yellow ring) bathing with another white dove 

Summer storm this afternoon – with tremendous downpour, thunder and lightening. So loud was the thunder, I thought Lucky and SW might leave the nests, but they didn’t.

 Pigeons in the rain

 Brownie Mo and Muffin were both there for a feed, but poor little Tiffin hasn’t been seen all day. Autumn is back again though, as is Bianca. And....good news, Mr. Strong’s mate, Frances, was here – hungry but healthy. Where on earth has she been?

Sunday 29th – Dusty and Daisy are getting bold and coming out onto their ledge.

 In fact I thought Dusty was a naughty pigeon trying to get into the cote and I went outside to sort it out, before realising it was my little dark Dusty!

I have now worked out the cote doves – the extra pair are Star Light (Snow White’s second little wife that he dumped in favour of Charm) and an unringed white male. Well, said Star Light, I never returned my key to the door, so I thought I might as well let bygones be bygones and make use of the facilities! The pair of them sit in the nestbox together – the one facing out to the building with the roof the pigeons like – but there are no sticks or any attempt at a nest yet. So we have them, Lucky and Loveday on their two eggs at the back, Snow White and Charm’s nest with two eggs at the front, and Dusty and Daisy, aged about 26 days, in the lower front side. Wow! I have never had the cote so full, ever! BUT ..... I wonder if any of you has spotted the looming problem? As regular readers know, Charm always leaves her babies alone at night when they are too young – so I have to take them in evenings and put them back early mornings until they are old enough and feathered enough to cope...... so that means I start blocking Charm in at night (so she literally can’t leave the eggs) just before they are due to hatch and then when she flies off with the others in the early evening (the last two times it’s been when the babies are about 9 days old) I have to take them inside my house. So where is the problem you say? Well, I hope I will be able to achieve the blocking in of Charm, gently and quietly – and therefore not disturb Loveday on her eggs at the back, but when I have to take the babies in – amidst much squeaking – then she (Loveday) might well get flustered and leave. Charm’s eggs are due roughly about 6/7th July (if they hatch – one was laid at least 48 hours after the other) and Loveday’s eggs about a week later – so actually I might be having to take Charm’s babies in around the 15th of July when Loveday’s are about 2 days old. Let’s hope she is a better mother than Charm! Well no point in worrying about it now I suppose.

 Above, Lucky in the foreground with the previously wounded female behind, and below SW chances his arm with the female...
 So she's gone from this quite awful looking wound to as she is now in just over a month - very good healing!
You'd hardly know she was injured now, and soon, as she is not ringed, I won't be able to pick her out from the others.

30.6.14 - Star Light and her new male, who I have named Mr. Moon, are getting used to me popping up the steps to see Daisy and Dusty (Snow White and Charm’s squabs) and one of them, I think it’s MM, will stay on the ledge to the room he’s renting while I do so. I don’t recognise him, unless he’s with Star Light, and it will be awkward to ring him, though I’d like to. I observed him very closely and can see he has, at present, a very slightly ragged and dirty bit to his tail, so that’s all I’ve got to go on at the moment. When they both flew to the lawn, I had a quick look inside the cote and there are a few sticks, and I saw MM on the search in the yard, so you never know we might have ANOTHER nest – what fun! (let’s not worry about the stress til it happens!).

Brownie and Muffin are here every day, but I have not seen little Tiffin again. Also Stockie, the baby stock dove that was joining in, has not been seen for ages either – I hope he at least has survived. Maybe he just realised he was a stock dove not a feral pigeon and gone back to the woods and fields with the rest of his kind.

Pigeons and one white dove in the rain
Here's Mr. Moon and Star Light mating in the quiet of the evening....

1.7.14 - Daisy out on the hedge – goodness fledged at exactly 28 days!Some of them don't fledge til 35....

And then.....grief! Bertie’s arrived! Oh no, just what I don’t want, so he was shut in the spare room while I got ready to drive him home. Actually probably better that he arrived so I knew he’d gone home, rather than secretly skulking round the garden, ready to pounce on little newly fledged doves!

Daisy tried to fly to the nest-box and Snow White who was sitting in the doorway, pecked her aggressively so that she fell into the hedge....

I took the opportunity and brought her in for a top up feed. I noticed she had lice, so I treated her. Not sure if you can see them, they look like tiny little pencil lines.

Later I also caught Dusty and topped him up and treated him for lice too - I couldnt see them because he is so dark but it's pretty safe to say he had them. I remember to weigh him too - 259g 

 Daisy and Dusty fledging

 Below, here's SW on the hedge with Dusty, but he doesnt feed him
 In the first few days of Dusty fledging, a pigeon took a real interest - could he be the daddy???

Snow White feeding Daisy

Mr. Moon stayed the night on the ledge of the nestbox where no doubt Star Light is sitting on eggs. A conscientious father..... Lucky and Snow White do not  feel the need to stay with their ladies!

Wed 2nd – Daisy and Dusty came out onto the hedge in the early morning, and Daisy followed the normal newly  fledged squab routine of flapping around and squeaking in front of Snow White, her daddy, to be fed. He did feed her but he doesn’t seem very interested in Dusty, and Dusty doesn’t seem to follow him. I picked Dusty off the hedge quite easily and gave him a top up and a drink of water from a little glass. He drank thirstily and of course I don’t know if SW is giving him enough water... or even any! The next few days are always crucial in a squab’s life – while they learn about life outside the cote, how to find food and water etc.... but I can help him, if SW doesn’t!  I was a bit concerned about them as I was going to be out for most of the day but when I left they were in the nestbox with Snow White blocking the entrance..... so far, so good! I came back at lunchtime and they were still in there, so still good! But when I returned late afternoon, neither were in the nestbox.... hmmm.....but soon located on the roof, thankfully!

Later... here's Dusty in the middle of the table, unconcerned by the jackdaw

 Below, Fern is perched on the chair - she's Dusty's older sister!

 Dusty above, and below in the middle of the top of the roof, with SW far left and Daisy preening just below

Mrs Blackbird is a regular to the patio for her mealworms
 She has a hungry brood to feed!

 Above, a cute little mouse, but he was poorly and didnt last long - and below my cheeky young Robs

At baby doves bedtime, SW pecked Dusty as he tried to return the nest box, though Daisy was already inside, and he flew back to the roof – but he must’ve snuck in there later without Daddy seeing as he was cuddled up with Daisy when I checked. I am thankful these babies have fledged easily and can fly well as Bertie is still around (I saw him in the late afternoon at the back of the house with his tail like a brush – as Loopy was there too!) and also I’m out for a long time on Friday afternoon, so they really will have to take care of themselves.

Tonight, Mr Moon didn’t stay on the ledge of his lady’s room.....hmmm that romantic gesture didn’t last for very long!

Thurs 3.7.14 – Daisy and Dusty were out with the big boys and girls when I got up this morning. I didn’t see SW feed either of them, but Dusty did come down to the lawn and try to peck up some small grains. He also found the water bath and had a drink, so I was relieved about that as the weather is predicted so hot today. After I’d fed the flock, I took him off the hedge and gave him a top up feed as he seems less robust than Daisy. I had to net him to do this, and I don’t like netting such a little thing, but as I said before these next few days are crucial as to whether the squabs will survive or not and a little help is sometimes needed. He struggled away after about 15 grains, so I put him on the table where the tamer, craftier ones gather to feed and he joined in, pecking at the tiny grains. I didn’t get a chance to get Daisy, but she looked pretty ok.

A bit later Dusty came down for another drink, and a bath...which he shared with Muffin

 Dusty chose to dry off on the stepladder, before flying to the roof

but pretty soon Daisy was back in the nestbox and Dusty wanted to go in too. He nervously waited on the hedge while Snow White blocked the entrance – with Daisy inside – and didn’t look like he would let Dusty in. Poor Dusty, he knows he’s the cuckoo in the nest, a bit of an unwanted foster child..... so I stayed nearby and when SW, not liking my hovering presence with the net, flew to the wire, Dusty was able to get in. I put a little pot of the smallest grains in for them. Snow White was not having it! – within a few minutes he had flown to the nestbox and routed Dusty out. Well Snow White I’m not having it! I netted Dusty on the hedge, put him in the nestbox with Daisy and blocked them both in. Squabs need resting time, I’m sure, and it won’t hurt them to be blocked in for an hour or so. Soon Snow White will be on nest duty, and maybe Charm won’t be so horrible to poor little dark Dusty. SW huffed and puffed on the hedge for a bit, then took himself off. An hour or so later I unblocked the squabs – they stayed inside – and all was quiet.

The squabs had a peaceful time for a while then Daisy took herself off, and Dusty stayed in til Charm routed her out onto the hedge. Poor Dusty made an attempt to get back in and got stuck in the hedge, where I was able to rescue him and give him a top up. The good thing is that he can fly pretty well and the weather is warm, so hopefully he will soon get the hang of the big wide world and nasty parents, and start looking after himself.

 Portrait of Snow White - my alpha daddy dove

I was dreading baby dove bedtime, and what SW would do..... but at 7.15pm Daisy and Dusty sat on the hedge together looking expectantly up at the cote.... and SW hovered..... and so did I! Dusty flew up first and went in, and seconds later Daisy followed, and before SW could even breathe I zoomed over, up the steps, and blocked them in. SW didn’t seem to mind, so I unblocked enough to pop in a dish of grains for supper, then re-blocked (all quietly so as not to disturb Charm, Loveday and Star Light on their nests!!! Goodness! And all in the Emmerdale ads! I didn’t miss a bit of the soap! Later, about 8pm when all the doves/pigeons had left the garden, I quietly removed the block. My babies are safe for another night!

Fri 4.7.14 -  6.00am – I couldn’t see the babies – I thought maybe I could see Daisy on the roof....but they didn’t come down to eat.....oh dear! Mind you, maybe the supper last night was enough for them!

Later – good, I have seen both of them.... though they still haven’t eaten.

I was at Sandown Park today - my youngest daughter won a hen party (she's getting married next year). We had a wonderful day, our own room with balcony, a fabulous lunch with wine etc and all for free! I don't normally put up photos of myself - but here I am top back far left - with my youngest daughter just below in the ivory hat, and my eldest daughter bottom row far left with the wine glass.

 All was well when I got home, so thanks to the Surrey Ark for doing the feeds!

Dusty put himself to bed first, and as Daisy didn’t join him immediately, and SW was still around, I  removed him to the side nestbox and blocked him in with a dish of food. I didn’t want to risk SW routing him out.

Sat 5th July 14 – I saw Tufty, the ringed racing pigeon with the withered leg at the morning feed but at the afternoon feed I gave a little shudder of horror when I caught sight of him, as his poor  leg and foot had completely dropped off since the morning! He now has just a stump – which actually looks rather better – but it was a bit of a shock for me!

 Snow White had left the garden before Dusty and Daisy came down to the hedge. I had their little suppers prepared in two dishes, but they were able to go to bed together tonight in the usual nestbox without interference – but I put the two dishes in anyway! I blocked them in to prevent late pigeons or jackdaws trying to get the food and upsetting their rest, then unblocked before I went to bed as usual. Today I saw both of them, at different times, come down to the lawn and join in with feeding times. Their big sisters, Fleur and Fern were there too. It’s lovely to have them all!

Sun 6th July – At the morning feed it occurred to me that Snow White and Charm’s eggs must be due to hatch so I checked the calendar and it should be today! There have been a few little hiccups along the way with these eggs, so they may not hatch.... but I so hope they do! I took Charm some breakfast in bed in a little dish – she crossly pecked at me, but then she always does.

Tufty, with his stump, was there – bright and breezy. He seems fine and stands perfectly still knowing I will throw the food, with peanuts, right to his feet (or rather foot!)  A one-legged pigeon reminds me of Cassidy, who just disappeared one day, along with Charlie – both favourites and much missed – but Tufty is nothing like Cassidy in character really.

Dusty and Daisy were there, and big sister Fern, but I haven’t seen Fleur so far today. Mrs Woodie Duck puts in an appearance at practically every feed (like my Grace, who is there morning, noon and evening, such a pig!)

Here's Daisy chasing Snow White to be fed!

I went out for most of the morning and on return I eagerly went to look under the cote for signs of hatching  - hurrah, an egg shell! 

It looks a little more bloody inside than I am used to....hope all’s well.

Later – I couldn’t resist climbing the steps to peek into the cote – from a bit of a distance, not too close, and yes I could see a yellow baby.... and I think another one, but not too sure!

Something amazing happened - a lively male pigeon turned up with two blue rings courting a female. I recognise you I thought! 

I recognised him, but had to check on old photos to be sure..... and yes it WAS Patience who I picked up from my path in February 2013, still alive, but in a dreadful way after a hawk attack. I haven't seen him ALL this year - WHERE on earth has he been? He obviously has managed very well indeed, foraging for himself, without the food in my garden and is now looking for a mate.

This is him, a sorry state, after I first picked him up from the path.....

And this is him now - 17 months later - wow!

I can't tell you what it meant to me to see him again - just for one day. Bursting with health! I saved his life and that is a very satisfying thing to do. Of course, I named him Patience before I found out he was male - but he was patient, living with me for a month until I felt he was recovered enough to release.

Below, Patience 4 days after the attack - he had a strong will to live. I did take him to the vet for antibiotics, treatment and advice

We also had a visit from Mr. B today

I am not sure that I have seen Fleur all day today – let’s hope she’s there in the morning. Daisy and Dusty behaved like good little dovies and put themselves to bed in the cote, long after SW had left the garden. Here they are together having a little catch-up chat before they pop to bed. They don't spend time together on the roof, and neither did Fleur and Fern - yet other siblings (nest-mates) that I've had before will always sit together, nuzzle into each other and are inseparable.

It’s been easy for these babies as SW is not now hassling them to leave – and that makes it easy and pleasant for me. They had come down to eat with the few late doves and pigeons but I still gave them their supper dish and blocked them in, and I also blocked Charm and the new babies in. Now I’m back to the early starts – unblocking Charm. New readers, I have to do this as Charm tends to leave her babies – even at night – when they are too little to be left and I’ve had some near misses and deaths, so I have to take extra precautions. D and D will be unblocked before I go to bed though.

Monday 7.7.14 – I think Fleur is definitely missing – she was not here for the morning feed. 5.10am and white doves were already on the roof. I knew they were there before I even saw them as someone was looking at them!

 Loveday flew out of the back box in a flurry when I unblocked Charm so I will have to be uber-quiet in future but she may have seen the fox on the ground and thought he was attacking the cote. I put some food for the early ones down and then went back to bed til 6.40am and by that time the usual hordes were there.But I think Fleur is definitely missing – what a shame, she is only about 10 weeks old

I was very short of grain so had to dole it out sparsely mixed in with some bird seed I had bought from the garden centre yesterday. I plucked Dusty off from the table for a hand-feed, to make sure he got some of the little there was. I haven’t been able to catch Daisy, but obviously do target her for food.

Afternoon -  the good news is that Fleur arrived back, like a stop- out teenager she had no idea why I had been worried! So pleased to see her! The not so good news is that poor Dolly (Lucky and Charm’s first baby, hatched last year) arrived injured.

She seemed ok, eager to eat, but I was keen to see the injury close up in case of it getting infected, or worse, attracting flies – so I threw down a handful of peanuts at my feet and literally grabbed her up. She didn’t like it, but she is a reasonably tame and friendly bird and soon settled down. I looked at the injury – here in the photo you just see the bloodied feathers, but when parted there was a small cut.

It smelt a little, so I washed it and then put her in Cissie’s crate for a few minutes, with a bowl of feed, while I looked for the Medi-honey (which I have never used before). I heard the dish clinking so she was eating!

After applying the medi-honey to her little wound (it looks like is sounds - like a thick honey paste) I set her free. She seemed fine in general, but has a slightly crossed over beak at the end, which you may be able to see from the photos - but she always eats extremely well.

Below Snow White with the new babies

Evening – Charm with her new babies, and Dusty and Daisy were all blocked in before 7pm, and I would’ve unblocked D and D before my bedtime, but I was fearful of disturbing Loveday again. I was not sure that Star Light was in her nestbox, I couldn’t see her from the path. Well, if she has abandoned her eggs there is nothing much I can do about it, though I do hope not.

Tuesday 8th July – Dark clouds gathered in the afternoon, it started thundering and then rained non-stop. There were far less birds around, and I didn’t see Dolly at all which was a bit upsetting. Although the wound seemed slight, you never know. I would’ve liked to have seen her but maybe the weather put her off. Little Dusty was in bed by 6pm – and Daisy with her and all blocked before 7pm again.

My friend – who also reads my blog – had messaged me during the day to say that she had an injured magpie in a box,so I agreed to go over to collect him and see what I could do. Linda had found him in a residential, but busy, road near her home town. He was by the wheel of a car, and a cat was hovering near, but she was able to pick him up and put him in a box she begged from someone. He was in the box in her bathroom - away from her dogs - and had propped himself up in the beaker of water. This is how I first saw him...

 I actually thought he was already dead, but Linda could see his chest going up and down, but I didnt think he would survive as he was blinded in one eye and in a very unnatural position for a bird, injured (though no blood) and unable to fly. As I drove home I heard a few squeaks and rustlings from little Chester. It was late and birds would normally be asleep or resting so when we got home I kept the lights dim but took him out of the box. He felt very light, was obviously only young and not very warm, so I wrapped him up and carried him round while I made hot-water bottles but did dip his beak in water in the hopes he would have a sip. While I made the microwave bottle I got out my Pet Prayers and Blessings book by Laurie Sue Brockway and in the semi-darkness it opened to hands-on healing. I put my fingers onto his chest, and then suddenly I could feel his little heart beating, and we bonded in that moment. I know magpies take song birds eggs and probably their babies too, but when you have a little life in your hands you can only hope that it will survive and get well again. The bottles were put under a thick towel and I left his box in Cissie's crate in the conservatory, and draped the crate to keep out the draughts.

Wednesday 9th July 14 - I got up at 5am to unblock the cote, and then immediately went to check on little Chester. Amazingly he was still alive and I re-did his hot water bottle while carrying him around, carefully wrapped in his little cloth.

I dipped his beak but he wouldn’t drink, so I gently opened it and put a few drops of water inside... but I could see it was no use, so I laid him back down in the box... and I think he was already dying or dead by then, poor little thing, as his eyes had misted over.... so I left him and went back to bed. (the pink hard bottle in the photo had now cooled - it had been under the blue towel for the night when hot - obviously I wouldn't put a bird straight on to a hot bottle!)

 When I got up again at 7ish, he was dead. Perhaps it was for the best, he was in a very bad way.
I gave him a little funeral, like I always do.....

Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings, He made their glowing colours He made their tiny wings....

 RIP Little Chester - the birds usually get a watery grave, but I don't look when I throw them in...

The rest of the day was a usual sort of dovie day and thank goodness I didn’t have to take Bertie home like I have done the last three days! Little Daisy didn’t stay the night in the cote for the first time – she is about 5 weeks old. Dusty did though, and got his little dish of supper grains.

Thursday 10th July 14 - The jackdaws are a nuisance - always in the garden after the doves food, making such a racket. If I open the door they do fly away though... leaving their strong scent behind.... unlike the doves and pigeons smell, which is sweet.

I blocked Charm in at the usual time, but little Dusty stayed alone on the roof until he put himself to bed at the very late hour of 8.20pm - I wonder if this will be his last night in the cote... and now Daisy is missing.... oh dear...

Don't forget my feather shop - I had two huge orders which nearly cleaned me out, but I have re-stocked now so come along to Groovycart and see what you can find (lots of different little shops) My shop is called Real Birds Feathers - look at these, so beautiful, iridescent purple one side and green the other!

To be cont...