This blog is mainly two recent birds stories - both with happy endings!
9th November ’14 – Remembrance Sunday - Members of the National Pigeon War Service Association marched past the Cenotaph today. I found online that they were allocated 30 tickets last year - I don't know how many it was this year but that’s how important pigeons are – so point it out to any of the ‘rats with wings’ brigade. Pigeons were an important part of the War Effort, enabling us to live the privileged lives we do today. Cissie poses with my new tea-towel - she is becoming much tamer.
|Cissie remembers the war-time pigeons|
Bentley’s story – Bentley was mentioned in the last blog. Around the 4th Oct ’14, I had picked him up as unable to fly, and ringed him with an orange ring. Here he is with Sheridan in Oct.
He didn’t like being confined in the run with Cissie, and first set up home in the coal hole – and was cowering in there when the hawk got poor sweet little Sheridan. So then he decided it would be safer living under the cupboards in what I call the back kitchen, or the shed kitchen. (This is a separate building to the main cottage – the old privy – converted to a kitchen with shower room attached). This was a period of time when I had other pigeons in need of attention (Petronella, Sheridan – both now dead) so I let wilful Bentley have his way as it was more convenient for me than having another homie or poorly one. It was also a time when hubbie was working away so he didn’t know that a pidgie was living in the back kitchen – and fouling under the cupboards!!! So, Bentley stayed most of the day under a certain cupboard and only came out to eat when he could hear the other pigeons in the garden. I started to accommodate him – first I put paper under the cupboards to make cleaning easier, then I put a little pot of grains so I could be sure he was getting enough and when I saw him drinking out of a flower pot, I put a little dish near the pot with fresh water. He was pretty clever about diving back into the shed kitchen when the other birds flew away as he knew he would be more vulnerable alone.
I did worry about him at night, under the cupboards – as the back kitchen is left open so our adopted cat can come in to eat – and once we had a fox in there. I usually pushed a few things like paint pots and boxes in front of the cupboards at night but they wouldn’t have deterred a serious predator.
Gradually whatever was wrong with Bentley healed and he started to be able to fly to the roof – this is the 24th Oct, approx 20 days after I first picked him up.
But he still came down and hid under the cupboard again at night. Then one night he didn’t come back, and was gone for two days..... I assumed he hadn’t made it. But then he came back again – sometimes staying under the cupboard, and sometimes not. Below 29th Oct - Bentley and friend
Now, as I type, it is 21st November and Bentley – recognisable by his orange ring – is perfectly well again, and treated to peanuts when I see him every day with the rest of the flock.
Sausage’s story –
Sausage is actually Sausage2. The first Sausage was picked up, unable to fly, from the yard beyond the garden. You poor little Sausage I said - and the name stuck. He was brought in for the night, but was dead by morning. So when I found another very similar looking grey pigeon, having difficulty in flying, the next day, she became Sausage too. I can’t remember exactly what happened but she was ringed, spent some time in the run with Cissie, and then at the next afternoon playtime, was allowed out.... and disappeared. But the next day, I found her back in the run again – she must’ve put herself back in there at some point! Funny little Sausage!
A day or so later, she’d disappeared again and I didn’t see her, so imagined she had perished. But then two days later she appeared on the garden table when I was feeding the flock in the morning. I literally pounced and picked her up – to be given a top up feed, though I released her again afterwards, as she could fly. By the late afternoon, she had put herself into the coal bunker for the night – obviously too tired to fly again, and I felt I would leave her there, as it is reasonably safe, and just barricade her in.... but when I went out later, after the main flock had gone, I found that the hawk had made a kill – in fact was still eating it, and flew off with it when I opened the door. The usual mess and sinking of my stomach.
I supposed the victim was a poor little pidgie with PMV that I had been trying to catch earlier. One thing I was thankful for – it’s face was left on the patio.....and by that I knew it’s suffering was over, and also that it wasn’t Sausage, who I found cowering near the entrance to the coal hole. Awkward though it was I delved into the bunker and brought her out.
I knew she was a female as a male had been making up to her earlier.
For the next two days, Sausage stayed with me and I gave her no opportunity to get away. Her body felt so fragile, so light that I weighed her and she only weighed 197g which is dangerously underweight. The other homies weighed: Cloud – 354g Cissie – 327g Chino – 275g. During the day Sausage was in the run with Cissie, then in the late afternoons she was in the box in Cissie’s crate before spending the night in a box in the spare room. I didn’t want to leave her in the conservatory overnight as it gets so very cold in there. At dovie bedtime, currently even before 5pm, she went in the box with a covered hot water bottle, and then at my bedtime, I removed that and put in a hard round microwave bottle which stays hotter longer, for the night. The first night, I expected her to be dead in the morning, but she wasn’t – then the second night, I thought surely she can’t last much longer, she is so delicate and underweight....but she did.
On the third day, I planned to take Sausage out of the hutch where she currently was, give her a little top up, and then back to the conservatory for the rest of the afternoon, before bedtime in the spare room... but Sausage had other ideas....she struggled past my clumsy hands, and flew out of the hutch! Oh dear.... silly Sausage, you are so fragile and underweight and yet you think you know best..... This was about 3pm; the November afternoon was already getting gloomy and Cloud, Cissie and Chino were already in the conservatory. There were a few pigeons still hanging around and Sausage joined them on the roof. I kept popping out, and when I threw some grain down, she came down – ate two or three tiny little grains, while the others gobbled up the rest. And soon they’d all gone, leaving Sausage on the porch roof....
and then she went away into the rainy night. She could’ve been in the spare room with her hot water bottle – but she preferred to be free.
That was the 11th November, and I was pleased to see Sausage back in the garden on the morning of the 12th Here she is on the roof – it looks like night but was in fact about 9am.
She also came back in the afternoon, and I tried to make sure she got the kind of grains and small peas that she obviously likes to eat. I am amazed at her resilience.
13th Nov – Saw my little blue-ringed Sausage at the morning feed, but not the afternoon which was a shame. Saw both Tommy and Mercy today, as I always do and hope I always will do - they are Snow White and Charm’s last babies of the season and are now approx 3 months old, and having a moult. Both of them will eat from my hand, as I had so much to do with them when they were growing up in the cote, that they are quite tame – and the last day or so, Mercy has started flying to my hand for her peanuts. They don’t usually come at the same time – Tommy is there in the morning and Mercy in the afternoons. I assume they belong to different smaller flocks or groups.
Above, Sausage is in the middle
and below a white male makes up to her
Poor adorable little Sausage
Feeling a bit brighter
Fri 14th Nov – Sausage had appeared by mid morning, and as the pigeons clustered down to the grain I had thrown in one spot only (my usual ploy for catching a single one) I was able to just pick her up. She felt damp which was not surprising as it was an extremely rainy morning, but there was a bit of warmth to her. I took her into the kitchen to hand-feed her peanuts and corn, which are the larger pieces of food that she doesn’t seem to be able to pick up herself. I was very tempted to keep her, but as she is not injured and can fly, I didn’t as I don’t feel I have the right to do so. She ate a bit more that she chose herself then flew away. I think this is her by the chimney stack, you can just about see her - looking a bit hunched and poorly.
Considering I expected her to die about five days ago when I had her in, she is doing pretty well! I just hope she can find a hidey-hole roost for the night, away from the weather, and the hawk flying over early morning. As I type this the day has brightened up a bit, so the pidgies can all dry off.
Sat 15th Nov – Sausage again didn’t come til mid-morning, but after the early feed I popped out every half hour or so to see if she had turned up. She was waiting on top of the flat bit of the run – where I have left a bowl of water for her. I was glad she’d come as I was going out all afternoon and early evening so this was her chance to get fed, and I hovered protectively over her to trickle down the little blue peas she likes, which I picked out of the main mix. She seems pretty ok to tell you the truth, which is great. Afterwards, she sat on the run again, but by the time I’d got my camera she’d flown to the roof and was climbing up....
– and here she is at the end of the line.
I don’t know why I was able to catch and ring her when I did – I mean I don’t know why she had difficulty in flying before – maybe she was just a bit poorly or had arrived after a long journey and was weak from lack of food - that was probably it. Now she is ringed she will always be spotted and targeted for food. I didn’t attempt to catch her today as I didn’t want to scare her and there was no real need, though I would’ve liked to feed her a few peanuts. She seems unable to pick them up herself, but can swallow them when I hand –feed her.
Sun 16-Fri 21st – Seen Sausage every day and hand fed her peanuts only once. She now pushes in with the others, has lost her poorly look and can now be counted just ‘one of the flock’ – so that’s the end of her story for now.
18th November -
Above, some of the birds this morning
Below, a blurred Blackie - not ringed by me but a regular part of the flock
Below, green ringed Dusty - hatched in my cote in June 14 so about 5 months old now
- sibling to Daisy, no longer seen
Dusty, as a nestling, with Daisy
To be cont.... and I will certainly do a blog before Christmas. Thanks for reading.