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......


Fennie said...

Do you think that then pigeons ever lose their rings? I am wondering why Frost turned up. How did she know where to go? And who was the mate waiting for her. But if she were a long lost dove returning to her place of birth that would make sense. Was frost old, do you think, or ill? How can you tell the age of a bird? Markings on its beak? Feet?
Maybe the ringmakers could produce rings that changed colour with age like those intelligent date labels.

Here my woodpigeon with the club foot has begun flying in the eat the peanuts in the morning. But he's still very flighty. I don't think I could ever get near him. Strange that you don't seem to have woodies, but they are beautiful birds.

hopeinparis said...

Lovely blog, Faith, and I'm sorry about poor little Frost. Her last days were as peaceful and comfortable as possible, thanks to you. xxx

Faith - aka Granny Annie! said...

Fennie, it's possible that a pigeon might lose a plastic ring but very unlikely they'd lose the racing rings - remember the trouble my hubbie had cutting them off Big Boy. It's not strange that Frost 'turned up' - there are many unringed white doves here - she was just one of the regular flock. I can't tell the age of the doves/pigeons after they are about 8 weeks or so. I do get woodpigeons Fennie, lots of them - I just don't often mention them that's all.

Hopeinparis, thanks for reading. Frost was lucky as compared to some of the way the birds' die.

Elsfield Chickens said...

Frost was lucky she found the perfect place to live her last few days.
Faith have you ever thought of getting rings with your telephone number on for your cote hatched doves that way if there found you know where they've gone and if their OK.

Guernsey Girl said...

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year, Faith. Thanks for your lovely blog posts. Marilyn x