Friday, 19 December 2014

The birds of the year - I look back over 2014

December 2014

Currently, as I write, all is calm with the birds. My little squab, Endeavour, comes every day and is doing so well, as is Sausage. I always look out for them both and they get extra food. My daddy dove, Snow White has started building a nest. Please don't build a nest, Snow White, I said, it's only December, but he just looked at me, and sent me a telepathic 'Don't be silly!' and carried on collecting sticks!

As always, there have been good times and bad for me and the birds over the last year.

January - One of the worst things happened in January with two mother doves (Charm and Rose Red) abandoning their nests in the cold night, leaving three babies and a nearly hatched egg to die - absolutely dreadful and took me ages to get over it. I had had Echo, a bird with PMV symptoms, for about a month, when I got Narcissus (now usually called Cissie) - also suffering from it (19th Jan). Echo eventually managed to fly off, but probably didnt survive. Cissie is still with me, with Cloud, my white dove, a PMV survivor and Chino, who can't fly (well, none of the homies can)

Above, Echo

Big Boy also turned up in January - suffering from a problem with his beak which meant he was unable to eat. He was a wonderful bird, very big and strong - a ringed racing pigeon - and worth trying to save.

Above, me examining Big Boy's beak

Big Boy recovering

February - Big Boy was released, and then re-captured a week later and taken to the vet for anti-bios. Poppet, a small pigeon that I tried to look after (after a hawk attack) was eventually killed by the hawk virtually as soon as I released it. Moppet, a sweet little white dove caused me much worry as it struggled to eat, and was eventually brought in...... very poorly as you see below.

March - Cissie went out for the first time after her quarantine from PMV.

April - Big Boy was still around in April and May, but now not seen for a long time.

May - The first living babies of the Spring - Fleur and Fern - had three parents because their mother, Charm 'divorced' her last year's partner, Lucky, and went off with Snow White! Lucky, feeling he had a share in the babies, fed them whenever he got a chance! It was a very odd situation with the doves. SW had had a mate called Rose Red who was killed by the hawk - then he had a new little wife - Star Light - for a very short time, before dumping her and seducing Charm away from Lucky! Star Light eventually found a mate in Mr. Moon and they also had a nest in the cote. And poor old Lucky eventually teamed up with a white female I called Loveday, and also had a new nest. You can understand Lucky's confusion - he had had a total of 5 nests with Charm before SW muscled in! - 1st - May 13 - babies Dolly and Fennie. 2nd - June 13 - eggs 'hatch. 3rd - July 13 - Harlequin and Columbine. 4th - Aug 13 - Alpha and Omega and 5th - Jan 14 - the babies that died. By the way, out of those 5 nests, only Dolly is still visiting the garden and the only one living, as far as I am aware.

Above, Lucky feeds Snow White and Charm's tiny babies

Brownie Mo arrived in early May - a sweet little brown pigeon with a broken beak and dried blood all down his front - he became a real favourite, with me looking out for him and trying to make sure he got enough to eat. By the 3rd week in May I had managed to catch, ring and hand feed him, but of course released him, and he carried on coping ok.

Above, Brownie Mo in a bad way

The baby bluetits in my 'postbox' nestbox also fledged - adorable!

June was busy. Destiny, a dove hatched in April 13 in my cote, came back, perhaps looking for a mate in June 14 at 14 months old, and looking fantastic! Tufty, a racer with a withered leg turned up, and eventually the leg and foot dropped off (Dec '14 -he's still around though!), Muffin and Tiffin were little brown pidgies that I took an interest in during June and July, but no longer seen now. Stockie was a baby stock dove that I caught and ringed, as rather baby-ish but eventually coped well on his own.

July saw me concerned about a juvenile blackbird, who was around for quite a while, but eventually not - probably just grew up. Below - Blackie comes into the kitchen.

Patience, proving himself male, turned up again and was courting. He had had a bad hawk experience the year before but survived and was kept by me for a month before being released and went on to live a full life.

Above, Patience in June '14, come back to court in my garden
and below, when I first 'met' Patience in Feb '13  - 16 months earlier!

To see Patience again, so fit and well, was one of the most incredible moments of the year! It shows how feisty the pigeons - if you find an injured one - give it a chance! They CAN survive! - GO HERE FOR ADVICE! Just don't feed any injured bird straight away - they need to be warm and stabilised first.

My Dolly had an injury which I treated with medi-honey and she's been fine since and still around every day. My friend gave me an injured young magpie, Chester to look after, who died very shortly, poor little thing.

August was stressful with lots of hawk attacks. Gulliver, a baby stock dove, was brought to me and I raised him for a couple of weeks before he was released, but he got poorly and died at about 9 weeks old. Below, Gulliver, left, a baby stock dove, when I first got him - judging him to be about 3 weeks old. The other bird is Chance, a baby pigeon, who def was 3 weeks old.

Cissie, my homie, was dramatically rescued from the river. 
Another bad few minutes for me - and her! But she soon recovered.

By this time SW and Charm had had Fern and Fleur, Daisy and Dusty, and then Clover and Clara - out of this lot I still see Fleur, Dusty and Clara. Lucky and Loveday had had Desiree and Chance - and I still wish I kept Desiree in as she was a fragile little thing and doubt if she made it for long. Star Light and Mr. Moon's first nest was unsuccessful. Mercedes and other birds died due to the hawk, but Mercedes2 was brought down into the flower bed by the hawk, rescued and ringed by me, and still seeing her! At the end of August I flipped and decided not to blog for a while.

October - so I last blogged on 26th Aug and then not again til nearly 2 months later. By that time Mr. Moon and Star Light had had Twinkle and Little Star (who I found as a dead hatchling, two or three days old). Twinkle was raised and fledged, but found dead but still warm under the cote one day after I'd come home from being out - I can still see his poor little body, and I was very sad about that particular death, though they all affect me.  Below, Twinkle

SW and Charm had their last babies of the season and these two Tommy and Mercy are still seen and both tame enough to eat from my hand - today 19th Dec I had them both eating from my hand at the same time, and could see they are like twins, very similar size and now over 4 months old. They were named after Tommy, an 'old soldier' pigeon that the hawk killed, and Mercedes, another tragic victim - her death was so awful. But they live again in my two gorgeous young birds.

Above, Dec 14 - current birds - far left, front is Dusty (green rings), middle back is Tommy, and far right, not quite in the picture is his sibling, Mercy.

Tommy, white dove, four months old
Above, Tommy
Below, Mercy is on the left

 Mercy, left, and friend, come to eat from my hand

In September, after struggling with the half a beak disability for 5 months, Brownie Mo was caught by the hawk, mauled about and brought in by me, by died very soon. I was so very sad to lose such a plucky little bird.

Above, Brownie Mo's funeral

And Brownie Mo in better days, bathing - the one just out of the bath is Tufty, the racer who lost his leg and foot, but manages fine with his stump!

 Other September birds were Sooty, Sheridan, Bentley, Petronella and Cappucino - my new homie, Chino! These birds all had their stories - see the relevant blogs - and Sheridan and Petronella are now dead. But at least I can look after Chino, who can't fly.

Above, Chino

November brought Sausage - see Nov blog for his story and early December, Frost and Endeavour - see Dec blog for their stories. Frost was dying but Sausage and Endeavour still around!

So an eventful year as always which brought some very special birds into my life. If I had to give medals then Lucky would get one for making the best of a bad job and Brownie Mo one for pluck and endurance. It does sound like it is all deaths when I read back over this blog, but many of the doves and pigeons last several years before going to meet their maker so it's not quite as bad as it seems!

I treated myself to a little Christmas present - and here it is - a pigeon stone! And nicer than it appears in the photo. It is a 'Cobble Creature' painted - find more about them HERE and also on Facebook, Etsy, Folksy and Ebay. Vanessa doesn't just paint birds on stones - there are all kinds of sweet creatures, so do have a look. Irresistible!

I do intend to continue to blog about the doves, pigeons and other birds so do please come back in 2015. Wishing you all a peaceful happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, and thank you for reading all my blogs and everyone who comments (or who just reads and doesn't comment!)

To be cont....

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Frost's story


First I'd like to say hello to Barbara - a new blog reader who came to me through buying feathers on ebay (I do put feathers on ebay sometimes, but most are sold through my feather shop called Real Birds Feathers on Groovycart - click the link to have a look  - see my feather shop!

23.11.14 – Sunday – I was out all day yesterday from 10.45am to dark – which meant that though I threw grain down before I left, I didn’t know which birds had managed to get some food (except the ones that were fed before I went of course – and that didn’t include Sausage. Today was a dreadful gloomy November day – raining heavily all day – but Sausage had arrived by 11.30am and I was able to pluck her from the clustering pigeons and take her in for a hand feed of about 13 peanuts. It’s about 6 days since I last fed her, and though she can feed herself and is doing well, she can’t seem to pick up the nutritious peanuts. I also weighed her and she was approx 234. The first weigh in was 197 so she has improved a bit, but still pretty low in weight as compared to Cloud – 354g  Cissie – 327g  Chino – 275g.

 My homies - Chino (brown), Cloud (white) and Cissie (grey)
If not many birds are about, they shelter in the doorway of the shed kitchen for safety

Later, I gave Chino a bath

 and kept him in the kitchen to dry off

I have been watching a white dove that seems old or a bit poorly. It has spent the last few nights locally – once on the ‘step’ of the entrance to Mr. Moon’s nestbox. He seems to be friends with Mr. Moon and hangs round with him.

I have named him Frost and he’s recognisable due to his scruffy look. This morning when hubbie opened the back door to go off out, he said ‘There’s a poorly white dove’ and there was Frost sitting on the step – but though I gently bent down and tried to pick him up, he flew off – so not too bad then! Frost came down later, again to the patio near the door, and ate a few small grains, and flew up again and I didn’t think about him til I popped out after lunch, coming back only a few minutes later to find that though it was only about 1pm, most birds had left the roof for the day (due to the incessant rain and gloom) and Frost was huddled on the doorstep – Any room at the inn? There is always room, Frost, so I got the net and very gently brought it up against him – he didn’t struggle and I picked him up easily. He obviously was wanting and asking for help (well, I think so!) The day was so vile that I decided to bring the homies in early anyway, so I swapped Cloud for Frost, and brought her in to her usual place – while I thought how I would house him. Chino hadn't been out all day, and I brought Cissie in from the run – so homies all in, and then I brought in Chino’s outside box – drained it all out, dried it up and got it ready to put Frost in. I had no intention of leaving him outside in the hutch. While he was in the hutch, I put some food in with him and saw him eat a little, but after he’d been inside for an hour or so, I hand fed him a few peanuts to perk him up, offered him a drink, and then settled him in the spare room where the homies sleep – before hubbie came home. He doesn’t take that kindly to even more homies! I will see how he is tomorrow - Frost, not hubbie!


Monday 24.11.14 – Frost was alive and quite perky this morning. While I fed the flock and dealt with the others I put him in Cissie’s crate and saw him start to eat. A bit later, but while the flock were still there – I ringed him with an orange ring, and took him outside. We had had a light frost but the day was brighter than it’s been for days – if it had been like yesterday, dark and raining, I would’ve kept him in. I put him gently on the ground, but he flew to the table, and then the chair back.

 A male started making up to him, and sat next to him, so I think my Frosty is a girl –and perhaps that’s her mate, who knows?

She flew to the roof and after a while, was lost amongst the others. You can see from the paper from the night box that she has diarrhoea and is obviously not that well, but she can fly and it’s only right she should spend her time, free as any other bird on the roof. Hopefully she will stay near and I can bring her in for the night, if need be. 

 Above - Frost's night box paper and below, for comparison - Chino's

The flock was beginning to leave, after feeding, at about 2pm and Frost came down to the table and pecked about a bit – only able to eat small quantities of small grains. I approached her softly softly, but with the net in hand, and managed to easily catch her and bring her in with the others for the night. Thank goodness, as the temperature is dropping rapidly and when I have a poorly one I hate them having to spend the night, unprotected, on the cold roof. I was also able to give her a small top up feed of peanuts and hard peas. She (like Chino when he arrived in need of help) seems to understand the situation and my role in it and accepts my aid. I also saw Sausage with the flock at feeding time, so today was a good dovie day.

Tuesday 25.11.14 – Frost seemed a bit poorlier this morning but after I’d dealt with the other homies, I took her outside and put her on the table. She just sat there, hunched up, and I felt that I’d made a mistake, especially as the day wasn’t as bright as yesterday – so I went to pick her up, but she flew across the garden to the raised bed. I was able to quickly trap her there in the net, and bring her in to spend the day in Cissie’s crate – sitting quietly on the top of the box. 

 As you can see the diarrhoea is certainly not better, and Frost seemed disinclined to eat at all today. She feels extremely light and without substance – the birds often feel like that before they pass away, and I can’t see she can last much longer.  I weighed her and she was 270g – which surprised me, I thought she would be lighter. I did give her a small hand feed of about 10 peas at midday, and I offered her water several times during the day. When it was time for the homies to come in, I cleaned up Cissie’s crate and put Frost into the box that Chino uses during the day. I don’t like all this swapping of boxes and crates but don’t have enough facilities for each to have their own inside and outside ‘homes’. Obviously there is always the risk of infection but I do my best to clean up, and feel that each bird must take it’s chance – like members of a family when one has a cold or flu!  It seems likely that Frost might die in the night and I will be sad as she is a sweet thing. I don’t check the birds at night usually but I have made her as comfortable and clean as possible, and put two rugs over her box.

Wednesday 26.11.14 – Normally I am off out early but not having my granddaughter today, so didn’t have a rushed start. Frost is still alive, and I took her out of the night box for a drink which she accepted. Another gloomy day and I didn’t even think of giving her a chance to fly, she is not well enough and luckily I didn’t as we had a hawk attempt at the early feed. I had just brought Cloud back into the house and was going out to get Cissie – who was standing in the doorway of the shed kitchen – when there was a swoop and a flurry as the hawk pounced on a grey pigeon. My arrival meant that that one got away this time. I immediately scooped up my Cissie with her wildly beating heart and held her close to mine while I brought her in. There is always always danger from the hawk – I can never assume that it is ‘not around’. Frost and birds like her are ‘cleaned up’ by the hawk – survival of the fittest – and poor Frosty is not fit at all. She reminds me of the poorly Faith that I kept as a homie, I think it was last winter, in the lead up to Christmas. When doves are in this state, they are quite sweet as very quiet and accepting of my ministrations. Cloud and Cissie go out at the morning feed for a short while, are hand fed by me in the garden, unless it’s pouring, and then brought in for about an hour before going into their garden homes, the hutch and the run. Chino doesn’t go out on the lawn in the morning, because he is more difficult to catch and doesn’t enjoy being loose so much. So when I get him up, he goes straight into the conservatory, but then out into the garden box when the others go out. When they are all out, I will put Frost into Cissie’s crate in the conservatory, as it’s the largest, to give her more space and light for the day. I can cope with two homies that need hand feeding, one that doesn’t and a poorly one – but hopefully no more at the moment! Frost had a peaceful day – I saw her drinking on her own, but she doesn’t seem to want to eat, so I hand fed her about 10 pieces in the morning, and about 20 in the afternoon. Not sure if this is the best thing to do but ..... if she is dying, then she will die anyway.... and if she doesn’t eat then she WILL get poorlier and die.... better to eat, don’t you think?

Below, a big and beautiful pigeon I call Silver Shadow

 Unfortunately these gloomy November pics don't show his size and plumage to advantage
 Ah, that's a bit better!
 And this little white one below
 is my Fleur, with her flutey tail - hatched in the cote this year,
 And Grace, as always, flies to my hand for her peanuts
 and here I manage to cut Bianca's head off!

Thursday 27.11.14 – Frost was alive this morning, but just hanging on by a whisper. I gently took her out of the night box and wrapped her in a warm towel to take to the kitchen for a drink – which she accepted. Then I moved her box into the kitchen for the early part of the morning. I could see that it would be cruel and unnecessary to try and feed her. Her eyes had gone small and dim, and she kept closing them.

 After the others were organised, I made a water bottle with a towel nest on top and placed her inside. As I did so, I noticed one of those vile louse flies come to the surface of her feathers and burrow down again – they really are the most disgusting things, about the size of a medium house fly, sucking the blood of my beautiful doves and if I hadn’t known she was dying I would have immediately sprayed her.  She was soon sitting rather than standing, waiting for the end.

Just before I went out at 11.30, I went in and took her out for a sip of water, kissed the top of her head, bye bye baby..... and when I came back at 1pm, she had passed away. I took her body out and ruffled through the feathers trying to find the louse. Do they die when their host dies – if they can’t get on to another one? I went through several times but didn’t see it and decided to spray her anyway, for an experiment – which I did (Johnsons Anti-Mite spray), I noticed the can was well out of date - 2012.  I laid her body down on kitchen paper and went back to it a while later – quite a few lice had emerged on the surface and died.....

Dead lice on dead white dove

and I ruffled through again and saw the louse. Maybe it sensed the change in its host as it was scuttling about – or maybe the spray had affected it. I sprayed directly on to it but it took some killing I can tell you. Not all the pigeons/doves have them – or the little lice – and my homies definitely don’t – but a lot of the birds will have these parasites. I even saw a louse fly on one of my baby doves once, obviously transferred from the parent dove, but this was easily dealt with, as easily seen on a small baby with sparse feathers. More details about louse flies - 

Dead louse fly on dead white dove

Frosty had the usual river burial – RIP sweetheart. At least this sweet bird had a calm peaceful death.

Below, my Dolly poses nicely for the camera

30th Nov 14 –  Today there was a squab pigeon, still with the fluffy yellow down on its head, with the flock. I fed it carefully, making sure I trickled lots of the wheat, which is small, down in front of it. It ate really well, and I was as proud of it as if I had hatched it myself in this late inhospitable season. It was there again the next day ....

 Pigeon squab, just fledged - above top, and below

and I have looked for it and fed it specially every day since and now it’s 6th Dec.  Now it can eat the smaller ones of the hard peas, and other small grains. The yellow down has rubbed off and soon there won’t be any left, and my baby will be just one of the flock – so I took my chance and while it was feeding, in all innocence, having never heard of crazy dove ladies, or sparrowhawks, or any other dangers, I just reached down and grabbed it. I brought it in and ringed it (let’s call it him) – red ring, left leg – and named him Endeavour. I didn’t hand fed him as he is managing perfectly well on his own. I hoped the ringing hadn’t put him off but it hadn’t and he came down again quite quickly.

Sausage has also been seen every day and is very well, thank you!

There will be one more blog before Christmas when I remember the birds of the last year.

To be cont......