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...


hopeinparis said...

Lovely blog, Faith, as always and wonderful photos. I"ve posted a few on my PInterest dedicated board:
Your photos are always popular, "liked" and repinned!
Sorry about having to say goodbye to Bertie, he had quite a personality.

Fennie said...

Yes indeed another most interesting blog. I think you need a family tree. Who are the oldest doves? And why do so many disappear? Where do they go. Do you get rings returned? Do they carry an email address and a number? Why should they leave the safety of your garden? What drives them away?

Sorry to have so many questions. Now I know our birthdays are close together in May - but isn't it a coincidence that our fathers birthdays are equally close. Mine was born on 22nd July and he would be 96 now had he lived.

Faith - aka Granny Annie! said...

Sorry a very late reply to your comments. Thanks for posting my photos on your Pinterest Hope in Paris - it's a wonderful board you have there.

Fennie, I have started to do a family tree of the doves, but like most things I do it has been neglected. Autumn is one of my oldest known doves at 2 years. They disappear sometimes because they die, but when others return of course I have no idea where they have been! My rings are just coloured so I can identify the birds, they dont have email address on them.