Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The birds of the year - 2015 - and Sorrel's story

December 2015

In previous years I have remembered the birds of the year in a blog around Christmas-time. Unfortunately, my old pc died, taking with it all my photos, and so this will be a blog with few piccies I am afraid, though I think I can use some from Blogger. I don’t know if I will be blogging in the New Year – I seem to have lost my blogging mojo, though not my interest in pigeons and doves. I will always like them as they have such interesting, clever, funny characters.  What I’d really like for Christmas is my own little pigeon loft! Not because I want to race pigeons, but a really safe little environment for my homies (and any others that come along) to live and breed, and so I don’t need to keep them in the conservatory and the spare bedroom! The cote of course is fine for birds that can fly but not for Cloud, Cisse and Chino. Well I won’t get one this year, but one day perhaps…. This appeals to me  but I would need to find out exactly what would suit me before I went ahead with anything (if hubby agreed).  If you want to read up on anything I have mentioned below you will find all the ‘stories’ in the individual blogs at the right hand side of the blog page you are reading – and they go way back to 2007 so I have been blogging about the doves, pigeons and other birds for 9 years – and enjoyed it, but maybe it is time to move on.

January  – The end of Jan was terrible as my beautiful white daddy dove Snow White, his mate Charm (who he had enticed away from Lucky). Lucky’s new mate Loveday and many others failed to return – ever – and I had to assume had been culled. Even now, it’s not something I want to dwell on. I reckoned 100 birds had been destroyed. Although the numbers eventually recover it’s the loss of the individuals I mourn – and so many white doves went that the numbers may not recover for a long time. I think this was the beginning of the end for me - this was the second big cull I've suffered - the other was in 2010 I think.

March  – At the end of March, Lucky and his third wife Loretta, successfully hatched one of their two eggs, my darling pretty little Solo. Loretta was white with brown markings, and Solo was white, with prettily marked brown and charcoal wings.

He was partially reared by me and became quite tame, flying to my arm – but by September, about 6 months old,  was no longer coming to the garden. I don’t know what happened to him but I like to think he’s living somewhere. I never give up on hoping to see a bird back again – unless they were ill of course when I last saw them.

April  – April saw a magical morning when a mummy mallard duck and her babies proceeded quickly through the garden and into the river. I was given a small juvenile collared dove (found on the road but apparently uninjured) to look after – Ockie – so sweet, but he didn’t survive.

May – A ‘new’ Snow White turned up in the shape of a white male I named Snowden. He tried to take Lucky’s wife no. 4 away from him, but Lucky won in the end! My daughter’s cat knocked a nest out of a tree or bush in her garden and I had three teeny weeny babies to care for – Bibberty, Bobberty and Boo! I managed to keep them alive over night and delivered them to the Wildlife Aid at Leatherhead – they didn’t survive more than a few days  either, though hardly surprising. Two of my female homies, Cloud and Cissie started a silly girlie relationship. A pair of females can rear babies successfully but of course I had no fertile eggs to give them!

June – By June, Lucky had a new wife, Lottie and they also only hatched one of the two eggs. I called this baby Selfie, and all seemed very well with him with both parents feeding him well – but in the end he didn’t really fledge properly and died in July at 38 days old having never flew. My three flightless ‘homies’ – Cloud, Chino and Cissie acquired a ‘minder’ – a big ringed racer who liked spending time with them. He here is with Cloud, and Chino, left, and Cissie, right, below.

I called him Sultan, and the girls all adored him – Cissie and Cloud stopping their girlie relationship to scrap over him but he set up home with Cloud (probably because she had the most suitable accommodation for a nest) and by 12th June she had laid an egg. The egg and relationship was a non-starter and Cissie took over as favourite in the harem. Her first eggs also came to nothing but eventually, and amazingly, as she is not a normal bird, being a recovered paramyxovirus sufferer, she hatched Tink and Pan. These babies, hatched in the hutch, and so very accessible to me gave me so much interest and  pleasure. They were tricky times, especially when they developed a weird condition where they couldn’t walk and were dragging themselves about like bum-shuffling babies using their beaks as a ‘walking stick’! – but they both got past that. Tink was very small and never grew up properly. She died at 7 weeks old, having been much loved by me, but her big strong brother, my boy, Pan, is still alive as I type – sitting on the top of the open kitchen door – aged 21 weeks. At least I think he is a boy, I’ve always thought of him that way and he has displayed a bit of ‘grownup boy’ behaviour already! He is ‘homed’ to the house which is a bit inconvenient, but as he matures things may well change, and at the moment I am happy to have him come in every night, to safety. Since he has got past the baby stage he hasn’t really given me any worries – he always comes in at dovie bedtime, just walking into the kitchen as if he owns the place. Below, Tink and Pan - Tink, the small one that never grew up properly.

July – Sparky arrived on the 10th. He was the tinest thing you ever saw – a very young wren, though fully feathered, brought to me by my neighbours. I didn’t expect him to live, but I did my best feeding him with soaked mealworms, practically all day, every day and he was amazing – got bigger and sparkier every day.

 He was with me for a hectic two weeks, during which he was extremely demanding but I took him out if I had to, including to a christening, and he was adored by all – me, the grandchildren, everyone who met him and even hubby! But one morning he appeared poorly and by evening he was dead. I lost him and Selfie within two days of each other. A gloomy few days losing two of my babies, and I couldn’t really see any cause for either death.

Selfie, pigeon and Sparky, wren

August – Lottie laid more eggs but abandoned them. She and Lucky are still together as I write though so at least my Lucky has a faithful mate – for now. Sultan had gone by August – abandoning Tink and Pan, and his mate, Cissie, when the babes were just over two weeks old. Cissie lost interest in them too so I reared them, which is why Pan is now the tamest pigeon I have ever had – flying to my hand, my head or whatever bit of me he can land on. He was babyish for ages, needing help with feeding til he was 9 weeks old but he’s great now.

September brought a horrible eye infection to the flock and I treated quite a few with a very effective homeopathic remedy I got from ebay from a lovely gentleman called Healingsun. Definitely recommended. Many cleared up in 3 or 4 days.  Tinkerbell was a poor little pigeon with terribly bad eyes that I was unable to save – if any bird touched my heart this year it was her (totally blind by the end but still responding to me). She was named after Tink and died two weeks after her. She's alive in this photo, but hardly looks it!

October was all about feisty little Tigerlily and her story is all written down in the October blog, but in the end she was another I couldn’t save.

November brought my Autumn back after being missing for a month or so. She always goes off and I wonder if I will ever see her again and then I am overjoyed to see her. My oldest known surviving ‘baby’ hatched in the cote at the end of July 12 so now 3 years 5 months old (parents Sky and Summer). Chino, my pale brown ‘homie’ has regained a little bit of flight, but still wouldn’t be able to live on her own. Sometimes I pop her up on the roof to spend time with flock, and then she flies down again on her own. She is currently in possession of the top of the hutch and has TWO boyfriends so I am hoping she will be nesting in the spring. She missed out last year when Sultan chose first Cloud, then Cissie as his partners – though he did mate with Chino too (he was a right player!)

November into December 15 – Just in case this is my last ever blog, I want to end on a positive note. It may seem that all the birds do is die! – but of course I only tend to get involved when the birds are injured or poorly or in need of assistance, so the losses are high but let me tell you Sorrel’s story…..she's the brown one in the photo below, the only one I can find of her.

Sorrel had the eye infection and I told you about that in the blog dated 31st October where I, over two days, removed big lumps of cheesy matter from one of her eyes, and treated her with the homeopathic drops.She was cured in 4 days! I didn’t ring her because he is a very bright sandy colour with mauve iridescence on her breast and while not exactly  unusual, at least very noticeable. I certainly don’t get her mixed up with the other brown pigeons. But by mid November the paramyxovirus was taking its annual toll on the flock, and Sorrel, with several others, were suffering from it. The infection is nearly over by the time the symptoms of head turning ‘star gazing’, turning round and round etc are noticed but the birds are unable to pin-point grain due to head tremors and unless helped quickly die from starvation or exhaustion or are caught by predators. I took a few to the Wildlife Aid to be put down, as it seems kinder than letting them starve and I haven’t the time to help them all but I decided I would make a huge effort to try to save Sorrel. So every day I had to catch her to feed her. I really should’ve kept her in and away from the others, but with 3 homies and Pan already, I just don’t have the room/facilities. Catching a pigeon that can fly is not so easy, and takes times and patience, but of course one with paramyxo is desperate for food and spends time on the ground unsuccessfully trying to pick up grain so easier than catching a normal pigeon. Every day from the 23rd November to the 6th December, I tried to catch Sorrel and managed to hand-feed her each day, except once (when I felt terrible). At these feeds I fed her double the amount I feed the homies to ensure she would have enough to get her through til I could catch her again. Every day I was relieved to see her in the garden again – due to being fed she was managing to keep up with flock, despite the illness. I noted in my dovie calendar on the 7th Dec that she had had paramyxovirus symptoms for three weeks (the illness runs for about 6-8 weeks I believe and as I said the symptoms only show at the end – I think! I am not an authority on this!) A couple of nights I kept her in – much against her will! - one was on a dreadful rainy blustery evening and it would’ve done her no good to be out in it. At the time she was roosting on the light over the porch, and although this is a good safe place for a poorly little bird it is still exposed to wind and rain. On the 7th I didn’t manage to catch her, but did notice she seemed to be able to pick up some grains herself and on the following day she was feeding herself quite well! – and I haven’t had to hand feed her since, though I do throw her extra peanuts!  So I’d given her about 13 hand feeds – and probably saved her life!

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the past year or years. I hope you all have a truly lovely peaceful Christmas.  Love from me, the homies and the whole hungry flock!

Below, magnificent Silver Shadow, with some of the flock

And if this really is the last blog - God bless!

Faith xx

Saturday, 31 October 2015

An unexpected blog - October notes - mainly Tigerlily

I didn't expect to blog, but I kept some notes and they developed!

Early in Oct Pan came home with a small wound on his back. Otherwise he seemed fine and I treated it with my special veterinus gel – within two days little feathers were growing back in!

Cissie had a PMV relapse – making her more floppy in the head and more inclined to go round and round in circles. Maybe the excitement of the summer, having a mate and becoming a mother got to her in the end! Anyway, she would have to be a whole lot worse before I would consider the dreaded trip to the vet – she is still my girl - My clever girl, Pan’s mother!

18th Oct - I am very fond of this pair - Mr. Strong and his new mate, Blackie

Above, Pan - my big strong gorgeous boy!

20.10.15 - I had thought that the nasty eye infection amongst the general flock had blown over but one day I realised that a bright sandy little pigeon with unusually purple iridescent feathers on her breast had got something wrong with one eye, so I set out to capture her. She was a pigeon I had particularly noticed before – because of the unusual colouring – so I know that she had had nothing wrong with her eyes previously or I would’ve picked up on it. Once I had got her I had a good look – one eye was very puffy, bloodshot, practically closed and with two lumpy areas in the region our eyebrows would be.  I gently pressed round the eye and a piece of cheesy solid matter came into view over her eye and popped out. 

As you can see from the photo, it was quite large. I treated the eye with the excellent drops I get from Healingsun on ebay and released her. Next day I caught her again – and the same amount of matter was eased out of her eye. If you didn’t know you’d think it was half a soggy small peanut. This stuff, hard pus I suppose, was the cause of the two bulgy lumps above her eye. I used the drops again of course. This sounds a bit gross, but it was very satisfying to get rid of the stuff and give the bird some relief - several times I had seen her scratching at her eye with her foot; it must've been painful and irritating, and of course was making her practically blind in that eye, and therefore vulnerable.

 On the third day, her eye was looking better, and by the fourth really good. On the fifth day I could tell by looking at her that her eye was fine and I didn’t need to try and catch her to do the drops. Amazing – cured in 4 treatments, yet if you had seen her the first day you wouldn’t have thought she even HAD an eye it looked so awful. I wish I had taken photos every day, the cure was so dramatic. As I write it is now 28th Oct and Sorrel, as I call her, is with the flock every day and perfectly fine.

Below, the homies gather in the kitchen doorway - with naughty Pan, who can fly of course, up on the left on the sink unit. (the blue things you can see in the garden are stacked bags of coal!)

Cissie and Cloud in the bath - the water was probably fairly clean though the bath has algae growing on it but I read that it is good for the birds not to clean the algae off - so I don't very often

I haven’t seen my Autumn – (my oldest white dove hatched in my cote) for several weeks now, since the beginning of October, but she has gone away before for long periods and then returned, so I hope that will prove to be the case this time too.

 23.10.15 - 5.15pm - Above and below, my little loner, Tigerlily

You might or might not remember Tigerlily from my last blog. She’s a feisty little skinny black and white pigeon that I was treating for the eye infection. Every day in October I have marked on my dovie calendar whether I have seen her or not, for feeding, and only missed seeing her on three days or rather late afternoons or early evenings, as she always comes late. Her story continues .....
28.10.15 – It was quarter to five and as the clocks have changed already getting very gloomy indeed, and past the time I would expect to see any pigeon around. I started cooking the dinner in the back kitchen as we haven’t lit our aga yet, so was in and out of the house, when suddenly there wasTigerlily on the roof! I got the pot of food I had ready for her and went out and started throwing it on the garden table, and eventually she came down. She immediately gobbled up one peanut, then just sat there, panting or breathing in a heavier way than usual. I talked gently to her and sprinkled more food, as I walked round the table so I could get a good look at her from all sides. She seemed to be unharmed, but something seemed a little wrong or different, and I didn’t like her breathing. I decided that if I could I would capture her, just for the night, so she got a forced rest and didn’t have to face the possibly long flight back to wherever she comes from in the semi-darkness. I got the net, but actually just grabbed her with my hand. Inside, I examined her eyes with my glasses on plus a magnifying glass, and both seemed fine. In fact, I couldn’t remember which one I had treated with the drops. She was quite light and a bit skinny, but otherwise ok. As it was nearly bedtime anyway, I put her in Pan’s day box, and locked her in for food and water , and put Pan straight to bed in his night box. I left the food and water with her for a few minutes so she could eat more and get a drink, but it really was getting pretty gloomy by this time (or ‘doomy’ as my three year old granddaughter calls it!) so I removed it before carrying her box into the room where the homies sleep. Then I brought Cloud in next because she always makes cooing noises when I put her to bed and I think that hearing this any ‘newbie’ will be reassured that they are in the company of their own kind. I will of course release her tomorrow morning, as soon as the other pigeons are on the roof, provided she does not seem worse. I think maybe she is just exhausted – other pigeons have benefited from just one night’s rest. For all I know she might roost just round the corner, but somehow I get the vibe that she flies a long distance, and comes here just to eat due to lack of food in her more local area. She is rarely with other pigeons  which means she is more vulnerable.

Thurs 29.10 15 -  I released Tigerlily after taking a photo....

and first she flew to a roof away from the other pigeons which is not good news because they do that if they feel poorly..... but a bit later, she joined some others on the main roof 

and by 8.45am had gone. I wondered if I would ever see her again....I doubted it, and my heart was breaking already.

Fri 30.10.15 – After bringing the homies in, I still kept popping to the kitchen to see if Tigerlily had managed to come back, and eventually there she was at 3.30pm just before it starts to get dusky and gloomy – alone again, naturally! I took out food, and while she ate I skirted round the table trying to look nonchalant but really waiting for an opportunity to grab her!  Again I managed it, poor skinny little thing, and one eye, though not looking infected, looks a bit closed. Here she is in temporary accommodation, in with Cissie. 

Soon the homies will go to their night boxes and she can have Pan’s box for the night. Of course using boxes for birds like Tigerlily and even bringing them in is a potential risk for the health of the homies, but all the birds take their chance and I just do the best I can, and keep them all as clean as poss. Just after this, a white dove appeared on the garden table with one pigeon. The dove had a long piece of straw tangled round one foot, and trailing after it – it was sort of criss-crossed round the foot in ballet shoe style. I threw peanuts and made a grab for the straw – but missed! Hopefully straw is not as binding as string or wire but when they can’t shake off something tangled up , pigeons can lose their feet.

Below, Chino relaxing on top of her box - she doesnt do this very often, she's such a 
scaredy-bird, mostly just hiding inside

 Tomorrow I have a problem, I am going to be out for the major part of the day so will have to leave the homies in the conservatory. Pan, being betwixt and between, and considering himself a homie at night is my main worry. Currently during the day he perches on the kitchen door,  which is propped open, and flies outside if he wants to – when hubby’s not around anyway! I am off to see a show with my daughter and don’t expect to be back here before 6pm at the earliest – well past the time the homies come in now – which depending on the light is around 2.30-3pm so very early! Pan decides for himself when he will come to the conservatory, but it is no later than 3.30pm – so what to do? Do I shut him up when I have to go? I think I might have to. He would be worried if he couldn’t get back into the house at night – but having him ‘homed’ to the house is very awkward sometimes!  Tigerlily will be another problem – but I will release her in the morning after hand-feeding her a really good feed, so at least I know she has had a cropful which will last her a good 24 hours.

Sat 31st Oct – So I had to leave the house at 10.45am – the three homies had been brought in and would be all right in the conservatory. I also, luckily, had managed to catch Pan and he too would have to spend a boring day inside but I did put one of the water baths on the conservatory floor and hoped he would manage to amuse himself. He isn’t crated like the other three. Luckily hubby is away this weekend or goodness knows what I would’ve done

I had released Tigerlily and she’d gone by 8am, but at 8.30am she’d come back and was sitting on the side of one of the water-baths, in the odd upright way she has. I gently approached her and without difficulty picked her up – but what to do with her?  I put her in the hutch on the raised bed, with the door open, so she could leave if she wanted to..... but she didn’t, she went into the ‘night’ part and hid. Poor little thing. I couldn’t leave her in the garden for any random fox to break into the hutch and eat her while I was out, so I made arrangements  – and had her in with the others, but not loose like Pan. At least she would be safe and I could enjoy my day out. But she is obviously weakening, and unfortunately I don’t really expect her to survive in the long term.

Although my plan was not to ring, name or get fond of any more pigeons, it is impossible for me not to with some of them. Tigerlily, like others before her, has captured my heart.  But also, she reminds me of and is my last link with Tink and Tinkerbell. Tink was first, Pan’s sibling, and the day after she died was the first day I bought another little pigeon in – and named her after Tink....Tinkerbell.  Less than 2 weeks later, Tinkerbell was also dead, and I was treating Tigerlily (named after Tinkerbell – if you get the Disney connection) for the eye infection. All small little pigeons with endearing personalities, and Tigerlily has unusual colouring for the pigeons round here.

I leave you with Lucky, my daddy cote bird, and his current mate. Lottie, who seems to be sticking with him. Will they be having babies again in the spring - hope so!

Bye for now, I will catch up again at Christmas.

To be cont........

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Tinkerbell update - and I sign off for a while

Wed 23rd Sept 15 – Tinkerbell was brought in yesterday late afternoon, looking at death’s door. Sodden, cold, hungry and with one eye gummed up, and the other nearly closed. Obviously I sprang into action to warm her up and look after her. I decided that no way was she going to be released for several days, and until her eyes were much better. I weighed her this morning – if I had to guess I would’ve maybe thought 170g which would be very low, but she was only 162g which is about the weight of an 8 day old squab! From my recent records, Pan weighed 204g at 10 days old – and Tinkerbell is a fully fledged pigeon with no sign of baby down or a squab’s beak and must be at least 35 days old or more. But today one eye seems a bit better.

 Tinkerbell today
 Below, the flock on the sunny roof

Thursday 24th - I am hand feeding Tinkerbell three times a day and she always has food with her in case she wants to eat on her own – and water of course. I also treat her eyes three times a day, and they are not worse but not much better I am afraid to say.

Below - the white dove is my Autumn. She is now over three years old and the oldest living surviving known dove hatched in my cote, that still visits me.

Sat. 26.915 – I had hoped that Tinkerbell would be so much better by today that I would be able to release her but such is not the case. I am surprised she is alive she is so poorly. She is practically blind and the drops don’t seem to be helping her.

There is another small grey pigeon with one bad eye that I grab and treat when I can, and a black and white one who is reasonably tame, also with one bad eye. I call her Tigerlily. The little brown one that I mentioned before never made it back.

There was an attempted hawk attack and I heard the birds fly off and went out to look around. Tigerlily was standing in the flower bed, frozen to the spot. I netted her and brought her in for eye treatment, and kept her in a while, but released her when the other birds came back. She is small and a bit skinny, but feisty and can fly. At night sometimes she sleeps under the scaffolding, which is sensible of her!

 Above, can you spot Tigerlily?

There she is!

Pan seems spooked and wants to spend more time with me, but I discourage it as he has to be a bird not a person. He came back with ruffled back feathers one time and may have had a near encounter with the hawk himself. I do leave the kitchen door open when I am around so he has a quick refuge if he needs it, or I put him in the run with Cloud and Cissie. Tinkerbell has the hutch at the moment.

Sunday 27th - 
 Tinkerbell's eyes today

Monday 28.9.15 – Tinkerbell weighs 179g today so gone up a bit. If she is still alive and I can get her to a reasonable weight I may consider taking her to the vet for her eyes.

Afternoon – she’s worse, got diarrhoea.  I doubt she will be alive tomorrow......... her toes have curled up which means the end is near. All I can do is keep her warm....

At the end of the afternoon, a few pidgie stragglers arrived – and also Tigerlily! I was pleased to see her and managed to grab her to treat her bad eye. I also stuffed a few peanuts down her, before setting her free again. She is small, and a bit thin, but obviously managing fairly well. A great little bird!

Early eve – I put Tinkerbell to bed as usual, with the snugglesafe  bottle under the padding in the bed to keep her warm, and kissed the top of her head and blessed her. I’d rather she died tonight if she can’t get better but if she does I will miss her. She responds when I talk to her, though she can’t see me, snuggles into my lap for protection and is so good and patient, but must be the poorliest bird I have ever had. It’s pathetic to see her.

Tuesday 29.9.15 – Tinkerbell was dead this morning. Just like her namesake Tink she was in the same position I left her, just frozen in time. I'm sure she just drifted quickly away. I was sad for me, as I loved having her, but not sad for her. I wished I could've made her better.

Pan is 9 weeks old today and likes to hang round with the homies more than with the main flock. He is big, good looking and still comes in at night – what more could you want from a boy?

Thursday 1.10.15 - Tigerlily is also doing well – she seems to arrive late, as she did today, but I was able to grab her, treat her bad eye (which is much improved) and make sure she gets a good feed. Like Siena and Florence, I think she will recover from the eye infection and be fine.

I won’t now be blogging til my review of the year at Christmas time, so look after yourselves until then, and thanks for reading. It is much appreciated.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Pan, Tink...... and Tinkerbell

Sunday 6th Sept 15 – I had to get up at 5.30am as I needed to do a car boot (rubbish clearance basically). The birds reluctantly got up early – I had to create a false dawn for the homies by putting lights on. Pan of course is now a properly fledged young bird so has to go out on the roof, but I wanted to leave the hutch open for a refuge for him. This meant that I either left Tink shut up somewhere .... but where? The conservatory gets way too hot.... or take her with me, so I did! She was very good and attracted much attention!

Blacktail had spent the night in the house and I hand fed her and attended her eyes before I put her out. Her eyes were very bad again, full of pus but I still hoped to build up her strength and cure her eyes eventually..... that was then, and this is what happened. I got back from the car boot, and  saw her sitting on the cottage roof – apart from the others who sit on what I call the dove roof. She was hunched up and obviously poorly. She didn’t come down when I fed the flock, and I had to pop out again for a while. Later, when I crossed the bridge to the island, there were white feathers everywhere and red gore and I knew immediately that poor BT had had a close encounter with a hawk. There was no body, and the hawk had no doubt carried her off. I hope it was quick ..... poor fragile little thing, rest in peace. I felt and still feel very sorrowful, but thankful it wasn’t my little Pan. I wish I’d kept BT in now..... but she never wanted to be in. When I told hubbie, he said well let’s hope that has satisfied the hawk.....but it hadn’t. Mr. Strong, who is a favourite white dove, always comes very late in the afternoon/early evening. He had a mate I called Frances, and something obviously happened to her because she stopped coming and he soon teamed up with a white female I call Blackie. Currently they are coming at different times, so maybe have a nest. Well Blackie had been and gone, and I always pop out a few times about 6pm or later just to see if Mr. Strong is there. When he and a few straggling pigeons flew down, suddenly there was a swift brown swoop of the hawk, and the pigeons flew off in a panic – meaning Mr. S didn’t get any supper at all – but I saw the birds fly one way and the hawk over the river, so at least I know he got away.

Monday 7.9.15 – I saw Tink eyeing up the shallow dish of water on the raised bed, and soon she stepped in for her first bath!  The young pigeons usually do take a bath not long after fledging – and of course Tink is at fledging age, though she can’t fly and probably won’t be able to for some while yet.

 I let her stand in the sun for a little while, but then she seemed to be shivering so I got a cloth to wrap my baby bunting in, and brought her in to the very warm conservatory to dry off. The feathers on her back are now starting to fill in and she is catching Pan up in looks if not yet in size. As she flapped about in the conservatory I noticed some grazes under her wing – maybe an attack from another older pigeon? – and treated it with Veterinus gel.

It could’ve been Pan who did it – maybe.... – they don’t seem to be getting on very well at the moment, which is fairly usual for siblings – although some of them get on very well, staying closer to each other for much longer. The trouble with Tink and Pan is that they are not equal in ability.

 Above, Dolly - now about two and a half years old, and below, Cloud sunbathing on the rug

 Tink in the conservatory

Tues. 8.9.15 – I can’t really call the babies the babies any longer!!! They are six weeks old today, or roughly 42 days old, and of course Pan has been properly flying for about a week now.  It seems amazing that Tink and Pan have got this far whereas poor Selfie who was ‘properly’ brought up and had two healthy parents and little intervention from me died at 38 days old, and never flew.

Tink and Pan 6 weeks old

The roofers continue with the work but it is not affecting the flock very much.

Wed.9.9.15 – I deliberately caught Florence at the morning feed – mainly because I wanted to take photos to show you how her eyes have improved but also because she had feathery bits stuck round her beak and I wanted to remove them. She didn’t want the photos taken, and struggled, but was rewarded with peanuts afterwards, and then I did her eyes with the homeopathic remedy from healingsun (ebay) one last time.

So this is how they were - 24th Aug

and this is approx 16 days later - 9th Sept - after several treatments

 The pigeons in the raised bed - see Tink? Yes she's relaxing on the warm brick

Thurs 10.9.15 – Pan now has the routine of a normal fledged bird – nearly! He makes a loud fuss, so is the first of the homies to be got up in the morning. He is now resisting hand feeding, which of course is good and natural, but I try and stuff a couple of peanuts down him to keep him going, as he isn’t terribly good at picking up grain, and certainly can’t pick up big pieces. Then I take him outside and he flies straight off to the roof to be with the others. I really need to ring him as soon I won’t recognise him from any other ordinary pigeon. He takes his looks from his mother, Cissie, and really she is very average! So I don’t hand feed him during the day, but this afternoon caught him at about 5pm and brought him in for the night. He was hungry and flapping for food then! All the homies come in about that time now, and stay in their crates in the conservatory til about 7.30pm when I put them to bed in the spare room.  I will continue trying to bring Pan in at night, but I know that one day he will just fly off with the others – and hopefully be strong enough to get back the next day. I have no idea where they roost.

Tink is still only like a 3-4 week old – still with the baby down on her head and body – and she spends her time in the nestbox of the hutch, or supervised in the garden with me. She is happy to be hand-fed and I am hoping that she will eventually catch up and be like Pan.

Pan spends time in the nestbox with Tink – usually because I put him there in the afternoons for a rest! – but he is free to go out. I put the grille up so the young birds, but especially Tink, can see out but don’t get a direct confrontation with any other bird – but the hutch is open so Pan go leave if he wants to. I can only do this when I am at home. Otherwise Tink is shut in the hutch for safety, and Pan tends to hide in the bottom of the box that Chino stands in if he needs a refuge. Very sensible! I ringed him today and was lucky to find one of my older smaller rings – it is the same colour, pale pink, as mummy Cissie, and he is very similar to her, but it doesn’t matter as I can’t possibly get them confused for more than an instant, as she can’t fly and he can!

Sat. 12.9.15 – I noticed that Tink’s anus was a bit distended last night and this morning it is worse – red and slightly bleeding. She still seems to have food in her crop which should’ve gone through her system by now. I am concerned that she has had a prolapse and am in tears about her, poor delicate angel thing. I did a bit of research, and gave her a warm bath, dried her gently with the hairdryer  and have applied some of my special gel but I feel that unless she can pass faeces soon she will die. My vet, though lovely, is not an avian vet and to be honest I can’t afford to spend a fortune on a little under-developed pigeon who probably hasn’t got a chance anyway. I am keeping her warm in the conservatory, with a hot water bottle under the towels she is standing on, and am hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

 Tink's distended anus - feeling poorly...

A bit later – it got too hot in the conservatory so I carried her out in the box she was in to the hutch, and just as I was about to pick her up, she pooped! Not much, but something is better than nothing! Also, when I cleaned up her night box I would say there was the normal amount of poop in there from the night time. I went out and came back at lunchtime, and gave her some water in a little shot glass mixed with a tiny bit of prune juice!!! I already had it, so I thought I might as well try it. I don’t think it will harm her, and may get things moving!

Pan came into the kitchen to find me, screaming for food! I hand-fed him a bit and then put the small pieces he can pick up himself on the garden table. All the time he wants me to feed him, I will do so, as I don’t want him getting under-weight and skinny and worn out!

In the mid afternoon when I was checking Tink and had picked her up in my hands, suddenly a whoosh of watery creamy stuff came out all over my T shirt and jeans – this does mean things are moving through her but it is not ‘normal’ and her crop is still full. I haven’t fed her at all today and she has been listless and hasn’t wanted to pick up tiny grains herself or be out of the nestbox. Surprisingly she can fly a little bit and has done so today. I pray she survives but pigeons can go downhill so quickly – be standing and looking fairly ok one minute and dead the next, literally.

Tink was put to bed at the usual time. She and Pan have been separated at night for quite a while now as they were ‘getting’ at each other. I gave her the hard microwave pet pad, underneath the towels of her bed, so she’s got a warm spot if she needs it. I don’t check the birds once I have put them to bed, unless I was to hear something unusual, so I can only hope she will be with us in the morning. Love you, baby Tink.

Sunday 13th Sept 15 – Tink was alive and seemed reasonably ok, but hardly a poop of any kind in the night box. I gave water but no food. I had to go out earlier and when I came back laden with food shopping at about 11.30pm, I went straight to see her in the hutch, and found to my horror that her crop had ruptured. What I had thought before was a graze under her wing, through scratching or rubbing against something, was in fact the start of the rupture, and now it was so bad the old undigested grains were coming out of the hole! 

Squab pigeon with ruptured crop

Truly horrible and very distressing. I had hubby returning plus his daughter, her husband and two kiddies coming for lunch, but I just dumped the shopping down and attended to Tink. I took her into the conservatory, put her on a towel and gently eased all or most of the grains out of the hole – this sounds horrific I know but at least in some way it must have eased her. There were about 40 grains/peanuts and some had swelled to double their size..... no wonder she had ruptured. 

 Below, a peanut that had swelled up inside Tink, with a normal one below to show the difference

I don’t know when this started or why.....but the grains had that ‘beginning to ferment’ smell.....poor little Tink. Afterwards I washed the wound and applied my Veterinus gel. I have never really encountered this before, except when I had the pigeon Patience, that had been attacked by the hawk, but I have read about it, and I read up some more. Birds DO survive this, and I only hope Tink will, but she really is a tiny little poor scrap of a thing for her age.

 Tink alone, and with Pan

 Monday 14th Sept 15 – Tink survived the night, and today seems a bit perkier. There were some more normal looking poops in the night box, though not yet right of course. I have been giving her prune juice in water, soft balls of Kaytee mix and defrosted and slightly warmed frozen peas. Despite the ruptured crop she must eat or she definitely WILL die! I offer her drinks many times a day to keep her hydrated. When the day warmed up a bit and it stopped raining, she was at the front of the nestbox near the grille, so I got her out onto the raised bed, and she seemed to have some interest in being outside. It could be worse! I am of course guilty for perhaps having over-fed her in the first place and not noticing how bad it was getting, and I feel terrible about it, but I am doing all I can now to help her.

Tuesday 15th Sept 15 – Tink is alive but seems poorlier. I am keeping her warm and giving her little drinks. She ate her breakfast ok but I am keeping her in the house as it’s wet and dreary in the garden.

Tink comes into the conservatory first in the afternoons, and then the 3 adult homies, and then I hope that I can either catch Pan or that he will come in on his own – which he did tonight, running into the kitchen. Tink was settled in her box, and Pan is usually in his at the other end of the table, but when I went back into the room a bit later, I saw that he was standing protectively over Tink, and I was touched.

 It’s quite a few days since they have been together, and today is their seven week ‘birthday’. I hope Tink was comforted by having her sibling with her for a while, but I didn’t put them to bed together, just in case. Will little fragile Tink still be with us in the morning.....and if she is, what kind of a life is she having? I carried her around the garden in my old fleece-lined hood when the sun started to shine this afternoon. She does get sleepy, but she also still has some sort of interest in life.

Wed. 16.9.15 – Tink was no longer alive when I went to her this morning – though at first I thought she was, as she was in exactly the same position as I left her, with eyes partly open. She had just passed away easily..... I hope. I brought her out and stroked her on my lap. And showed her to Pan, who cocked his head enquiringly.

 I couldn’t be shocked or sad, it was inevitable. And partly my fault which I have on my conscience. Rest in Peace sweet brave little thing.

The 3 homies were in the garden til me and granddaughter had to leave to take her to gymnastics and then I had to shut them up in the hutch/run. But later how I wished I had put them in the conservatory before we left as the afternoon got progressively more gloomy with heavy rain. I was held up in the traffic and drove home inch by inch, worrying especially about Pan. Would he stand in the rain and be soaked? Would the flock fly away because it was so gloomy and leave him alone; prey to the sparrowhawk? I knew that Cissie in the hutch and Cloud in the run would be safe, and both able to keep in the dry – though it was two hours past their normal feeding time. And I assumed that Chino would be sensible and stay in her hidey-hole under the hutch.... .but after losing Tink, I didn’t want to lose Pan too. But thankfully he had the sense to perch under the hutch, near Chino, and while not dry wasn’t soaked through. I scooped him up and brought him into the house first!

17.9.15 – There has been a pretty little pigeon that came to my attention a couple of days ago. Obviously got the same eye infection, and looks small and poorly. Yesterday I made an unsuccessful attempt to catch her. All through yesterday’s driving rain she sat hunched on the roof, and I was out most of the day so didn’t suppose she got much food, she didn’t come down when I fed the others when I got back. At bedtime she moved to the porch, and was partially out of the rain, which also thankfully didn’t continue all night. This morning she came down with the others, and I grabbed her! A very sorry little state, with one eye closed and the other very nearly so.

Her body was sodden, but still a little warmth remained. You mustn’t feed birds if they are not warm as it is bad for them, so first I wrapped her in a tea-towel and wiped her eyes, then dried her with the hairdryer before feeding her some peanuts. Then I treated her eyes with the homeopathic eye remedy – I have already ordered more! This was before 8am. I then put her with food and water in Cissie’s crate – poor Cissie always has to give up her crate, but the day was looking fair and she just had to go straight outside. I kept Cloud in – in the crate next door – to give the new little one (who I am calling Tinkerbell in memory of Tink)  some pigeony companionship. The sun was out and the conservatory warmed up quickly, thus drying Tinkerbell’s feathers. She helped herself to some more food and seemed much better, and at 10am I released her back to the roof with the others. I wouldn’t have done this if it had been pouring like yesterday, or if no other birds had been about. I hope to be able to catch her again if her eyes need it. If I hadn’t caught her today I doubt if she would’ve made it – she was so wet, and her eyes so glued up.....she only came down in desperation to try to eat, and was just hopefully pecking the ground probably only half-seeing the others doing so, just to try to get some food. It’s pathetic to see a pigeon like that – I have to help! And I did manage to catch her for more food and eye drops later.

Friday 18th Sept 15 – Not raining yet thank goodness though it is forecast. Tinkerbell spent the night alone on one of the local roofs, totally exposed to the elements and to the early morning hawk – but survived and made her way back to the pigeons roof here. I made a failed attempt to catch her, and then I left her as she was picking about in the path and any food she gets is better than me frightening her and getting none. But later she was on the low roof near the cottage with her back to me, so I quietly got the steps and the net and managed to catch her – maybe she wanted to be caught! Being tangled and dragged in the net is not very nice, but I gave her a good feed (but not too large bearing in mind what happened to Tink) and examined her eyes. They were SO much better than yesterday and that’s with only two eye treatments. I really recommend these drops from Healingsun on ebay, they have proved extremely effective – Euphrasia Homeopathic Eye Drops (for dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and birds).

Obviously I wiped them and did them again, and back she went onto the roof. Even if it rains now and I can’t get her again, I am satisfied that her eyes have improved and she’s had enough food for today. I also caught a little young brown pigeon and treated her eyes too.

Below, photos of my beautiful Mr. Strong, and the little brown one is the last picture.

I have now had my brown flightless pigeon, Chino, for a year. She is just as grumpy and nearly as scared as when she arrived, but very pretty. Well Chino, if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be alive!

Mummy Cissie, left, and big 'boy' - her baby, Pan

6.30pm – All the homies were quiet in the conservatory, and I was sitting alone typing on the laptop when I thought I could hear rustling. We suffer sometimes with mice and even the occasional rat so I pricked up my ears and listened but it seemed to stop......until it happened again.....eventually there was a noise I couldn’t ignore and I went into the kitchen to investigate. To my amazement, there was Tinkerbell flapping near the little window in the pantry! She must somehow have sneaked in when I had the door open! I can’t remember what time I shut it but the homies were in by half four so she may easily have been in for a couple of hours, hiding! I was touched that she had realised that the kitchen was the place where I have fed her, and treated her eyes and that she probably came in looking for food and a safe haven. I gave her a quick hand feed, and some water, did her eyes, then made a home for the night in the small crate in the conservatory that Blacktail had used. So lucky hubby is away this evening! Unfortunately the eye drops have totally run out  – so in preparation for the morning, I put a very small amount of cooled boiled water in the bottle and swished it around so that any of the remedy on the sides would be incorporated into the water – that will be better than nothing, til my new bottle arrives. By 8.45pm it was wild outside, with hard pelting rain  - thank you Lord of the Birds for sending fragile little Tinkerbell in to be looked after and dry!

Weekend 19th/20th Sept – Well, the weekend was dry and passed without incident. Tinkerbell was released again on Saturday lunchtime and seemed to be coping – as was the little brown one, also with bad eyes (but not as bad).

Monday 21st Sept - The weather turned very wet in the afternoon, and when Tinkerbell came down I was unable to catch her, and she only managed to eat a couple of pieces of food. I wished then that I had kept her in. It is so difficult to make these sort of decisions because she can fly and doesn't want to be confined.

Tuesday 22nd Sept 15 - Pan is 8 weeks old today. Happy Birthday Pan! He is big, bright and beautiful - and the tamest pidgie I have ever had. He still thinks of me as 'parent' and flies to me, landing on my back, arm or head. He can feed himself of course, but still likes me to feed him too.

It started raining at 4am and rained heavily and continuously from then on. Tinkerbell failed to come back to the garden, and I felt low, wishing I'd kept her in. Why on earth did I release her? so seemingly underweight and with poorly eyes..... I felt like another death was on my conscience. The little brown one was there, but no Tinkerbell. The day had a couple of dry spells but then got worse, raining and gloomy so I decided to bring the homies in early about 3pm. I'd got Cloud and Cissie in, and had gone back to get Chino when I realised I'd left the lid off the grain bin and as I went to put it back, I saw a pathetic little bedraggled figure of a pigeon standing there...... near the cottage door, and looking near to death's door......Tinkerbell! Speaking softly, and making the clicking sound I make to my homies and pigeons I am communicating with (with my tongue on the roof of my mouth) I crouched down and picked her up - she made no resistance. Tears came into my eyes - the Lord sent you back, I said to her, tucking her into my cardigan for warmth. First of all, I gave her a little drink of water with vitamin drops in it, then I took these quick photos of her for you to see - one eye was nearly closed and the other completely gummed up.

 How had she managed to get back, the poor little darling. I then wrapped her in a cloth and carried her while I got out the hairdryer - obviously blow drying her very gently and with my hand in the stream of warm air to make sure it was not too hot. After that, I gave her a few grains, but not too many at first. Then wrapped her up in the cloth inside my cardigan again while I heated the microwave bottle. I set up a warm box for her, with cloths on top of the bottle and left her there for a while - giving her more food and water later. I am so so thankful that somehow she managed to get back and I can look after her. I wondered if she had gone away at all but was in fact hiding somewhere in the garden....but if she'd been in the coal hole she would've surely have been drier, and really she was absolutely saturated. I pray she lives.....

To be cont...