Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cloud's (and mine) Trials and Tribulations

Sunday - 14.6.15 – I got up at 6am and Cloud was fine after her night in her nest. I took her out and fed her and put her in the conservatory with the other homies for about ¾ hour, but when Sultan was around I put her back in the hutch. He collected a few sticks and brought them in, but didn’t seem very enthusiastic about it and when the weather turned dull and gloomy by 8.30am he had gone away. Cloud sat in her nest and seemed fine, but she is not sitting on the egg, which is still covered up in the corner and so far hasn’t laid another. I really don’t think now this will all come to anything but you never know.
By lunchtime I had gone and collected my grandchildren and brought them back here. The afternoon was sunny, the kids played, the birds did their thing and I was able to keep an eye on all of them.  But the problem of what to do about the birds while I was away for the night was looming. This was what I decided to do, though it wasn’t ideal at all – leaving a lot of risk to the homies. I decided NOT to take Chino or Cissie with me, though I could’ve done I suppose - but to leave them in the conservatory for the rest of the afternoon, the night and til I got home. That was fine, as Chino can feed herself, and Cissie was fed before I left and had a pot of food to keep her amused even if she couldn’t pick up much of it – the problem there was how hot the conservatory might get before I got back. Hubbie checked the forecast for me and it wasn't due to get too warm. I left the roof window open, and the side window, and hubbie promised to leave the door into the house open but I  was still concerned, but nowhere else I could safely leave them – I didn’t want to leave them shut up in their small night boxes in the spare room. But the main problem was Cloud and her nest. According to the ‘book’ she would lay another egg in the afternoon, and in the morning Sultan, her mate, would want to come into the hutch. I took a massive risk, not seeing what else I could do – I shut her up when I left, having given her a good feed, and then asked hubbie to open up the hutch when he went to work  in the morning– thus allowing Sultan access. I also asked him to put up the gutter ladder so if Cloud went down, she could get up again. But obviously this arrangement was very risky for Cloud, leaving her and the egg/s open to predators, for several hours.
In the evening I didn’t need to worry about the birds, but by morning, and at the time I knew hubbie would’ve left for work,  I was very concerned but I just don’t see what else I could’ve done. The very worst terrible scenario would be that Chino and Cissie would over-heat and die in the conservatory, and poor Cloud would be caught by the hawk or something. The morning was chilly which was good, as far as I was concerned – I had to take my grandson to school, then my grand-daughter to nursery – then go back to the school for grandson’s sports day because my daughter and son-in-law couldn’t be there. They’d asked me to have the kids overnight before Christmas so they could go away for their anniversary, and of course they didn’t know when they booked their break that the school would have sports day on the Monday – and Cloud having an egg was something I had never had to consider before! Anyway....after it all, I was driving home just before noon, and by then it was very sunny and I was imagining the conservatory like an oven..... I screeched into the yard, jumped out of the car and rushed into the garden. Cloud was there – alive and well, thank God – sitting on the dropped down part of Chino’s section of the hutch. I had a quick peek in the nest-box, Sultan was inside, but there was a sticky mess in the main part of the hutch – a smashed egg! I then ran to the conservatory but hubbie had remembered and left the door to the house open, so though it was warm it wasn’t like an oven and Chino and Cissie were both fine. They have boxes inside their crates for shelter and shade. Obviously, I took them both outside straightaway – and in retrospect I really think I should’ve taken them with me, however awkward.
Once they were settled I went back to feed Cloud and investigate the hutch. She obviously HAD laid another egg, as I could see one under Sultan but one had definitely been taken – probably by the jackdaws – the runny sticky yolk was in the hutch – and there were pieces of shell in the raised bed.

I was not surprised..... and felt one egg was a small price to pay for my homies being ok, but I wish there had been another way. Later on, when neither bird was on the nest in the hutch I was able to check the egg – it was the first egg laid as I drawn a little cross on it. I would’ve preferred that egg to be taken and the second one left, as I felt the second one had more chance. When my flightless dove Jose and her mate Happy laid eggs in the (old) hutch, the first egg was stolen, and Jose went on to lay two more (but only hatched one) so I am wondering if Cloud will lay another to compensate for the loss. I doubt if the egg with the cross on will hatch.... I would be amazed if it does.
Of course, Cloud and Sultan’s nest is very interesting but we have Lucky and Lottie’s nest too, in the cote, with eggs due to hatch around the 21st. Their first egg together came to nothing, so I am really hoping they do better this time.
In the afternoon, I had the gutter ladder up and Cissie went up and down,very interested in the nest and the egg – but I seem to feel that she disturbs Cloud and Sultan, and in the end I had to remove the ladder and leave her down. The situation is awkward enough without her interference though I feel sorry for her as I believe that after her girlie relationship with Cloud, and a few matings with Sultan that she thinks this is her egg too!
Tues. 16.6.15 – Early this morning, when Cloud appeared in the main part of the hutch, I took her out to do her morning poop (which is enormous) and feed her. I checked the egg when I put her back, and either she had moved it out of the stick nest onto the towel part, or it had rolled itself but it was stone cold – but an hour or so later on she had moved it under her again. If she was to lay another egg, I suppose it would be late afternoon/early evening today.
I wanted to go out in the morning, but I had to wait for Sultan to come in for nest duty. Lucky came down for a drink – which he always does prior to taking over in the nest and then went into the cote at 10.00am and I hoped Sultan would follow suit. He came down to the raised bed, also had a drink, fiddled around and then went back to the roof. I got on with chores in the kitchen, keeping one eye on the window, and eventually at 10.45am he flew to the raised bed – so I went out to open the hutch for him. He picked up a stick and flew in – a bit like a husband late home from work with ‘sorry’ flowers!  I waited to see what would happen, but soon Cloud emerged into the day part of the hutch, having swapped with Sultan, so I made sure it was shut up safe and was free to go out! Although I don’t think this first egg – laid last Friday – has any chance of hatching, I can’t know this for sure but it has been treated very haphazardly. But I don’t want to stop the birds doing their thing – and if another egg is laid that might be the one to hatch.
In the early afternoon, I released Cloud from the hutch and also Cissie and Chino from their confines. It was perfectly obvious that Cissie wanted to be up in the hutch – she kept craning her head and making little unsuccessful jumps to try to get up there. It’s sad to watch her, but as I said before the situation is complicated enough. I am hoping she will soon forget about it.
I wondered how long nest duty would last – I need to know so I can plan my days. Sultan came out at 4.10pm, having done just under five and a half hours on the nest. Lucky came out of his nest a minute or two after. Later, Sultan wanted to go in again – and did another short session on the nest from 6.00-6.28pm.
Loretta, Solo’s mother, has returned – I’ve seen her here the last few days. And my Autumn, who was here regularly for a while, has gone off again.
Wed. 17.6.15- My youngest daughter has now been married a full calendar month – where did the time go? This morning I was a bit disappointed that there was no replacement egg for the one that was stolen. Cloud had obviously been sitting all night on the egg as it was warm.
Thurs.18.6.15 – Sultan’s routine is a bit restrictive for me. He likes to go in around 11am and today wanted to come out early at 3.30pm – then he likes to go in again for a while. Today it was 5.12pm -6.12pm. I do feel I must be mad trying to help these two as I am convinced the egg won’t hatch.
Fri.19.6.15 – Today was very exasperating.  I wanted to go out as soon as Sultan arrived, which I hoped would be shortly after 11am, but I waited and waited and he didn’t turn up. Poor Cloud wandered out into the main part of the hutch at 11.40am, but as he wasn’t there, she had to go back again. She’d been sitting all night of course, and her only break had been about 6.30am when she’d probably heard the flock, and come out, like she usually does at the moment, so I’d taken her out to do her poop on the patio and hand-feed her quickly before back to the egg. So Cloud and I were both waiting impatiently and I’d pretty well given up on what I wanted to do in the morning – and eventually Sultan came into the hutch, which I’d left invitingly open – just to eat! And then he went out again! The other two homies were out in the garden so at 12.10 I let Cissie have her heart’s desire and put the gutter ladder up, which she scooted up quickly, so she could be with the egg – which she has a great interest in. She went into the nestbox and Cloud wasn’t too sure, but wasn’t too upset, and basically I was thinking well if Cissie sits on the egg then at least someone is, and Cloud can have a break! But while the two females were deciding what to do......I pinched the egg, and candled it. It was laid a week ago, and, if there was a developing baby in it, I would’ve expected to see a bit more vein development, but all I could see was a vague pinkiness and pale yellowishness. I put it back anyway and I could see that it was obvious that Cissie wasn’t going to sit on it, but I left her in there with Cloud anyway..... and then Sultan came in... and seemed surprised to find Cissie in the nestbox! So I removed her and by 12.30 he was doing his nest-duty. This sort of time is most inconvenient for me! I can just about cope with 11am, though 10am would be better. I was very nearly at the point of taking the egg away, but I don’t want Cloud to be upset, and of course I can’t be absolutely positive at this stage that it won’t develop – though I am nearly sure! Anyway, I then went out and Sultan stayed on the egg til 5.10pm. The last three days he has sat approx 6 hours, 5 hours 50 mins, 5 hours 30 mins and today 4 hours 40 mins so getting shorter by the day. When you think that there are 24 hours to egg-sit, then you can see that poor Cloud is doing far more than her fair share! – and all for an egg that won’t hatch..... I don’t know what to do for the best.

Sat 20.6.15 – After Sultan had done his nest duty, I devised a method which allowed Cissie to be ‘king’ in the hutch and defend it against all comers, but keeping her (and them) away from Cloud and the egg. Cissie was so proud, she loved it! - strutting up and down.

The grille and the brick prevent her getting in to Cloud on the egg

 She was so feisty the only one who dared to go in and get some food was Sultan. I can’t see much point in taking the egg away from Cloud as then they would probably just start over – and we have some events coming up that are going to mean I will be away for a full day so probably better they sit on a dud egg than that a good one gets stolen or something.
At the end of the day I wondered if Lucky and Lottie’s babies had hatched. There were no shells around, but I saw Lottie doing – I think! – the chucking up motion that means she is feeding. This is very pronounced when the birds are feeding bigger squabs but this was very gentle, so maybe they have hatched! I am so excited and pleased, and do hope all is ok. Solo was hatched on 28th March 15 and I’ve been waiting since then for more babies! I had marked them down to hatch tomorrow but it is perfectly possible they hatched late today. Ooh!
Sunday 21st June 2015 – the longest day, and the day my poor little Yorkshire Terrier died 5 years ago. Rest in Peace darling. He was such a sweetheart and I do miss him greatly.
I went to a car boot but was back before 11am for Sultan – who then proceeded to keep me and patient Cloud waiting until 1.28pm precisely before he went to sit on the poor doomed egg!  Earlier on, I had taken both the egg and Cloud, under my arm, into the kitchen to candle it again. She seemed interested in the proceedings!  There did seem more to see than when I candled it 2 days ago and having so little experience I wouldn’t like to take it away in case it was viable. I wish I knew for sure!
Lottie came out of the cote at the early feed – she only does this when she sees me throwing food in the raised bed close to the cote. I zipped up the steps and saw one tiny blonde baby and one unhatched egg – but of course it may have hatched by now. I am delighted that there is at least one new baby anyway.

*** I am always forgetting to mention my Feather Shop. In case you didn't know I sell dove feathers, and many other real birds feathers in my Groovycart shop called Real Birds Feathers. Do have a look if it's of interest -  Real Birds Feathers online shop It's actually doing well at the moment and recently I have supplied feathers for a medieval arrow making scene in a film, for a lady making a natural wind-vane, to a school for lessons, to a milliner for an old-fashioned military style hat and white dove feathers for a funeral - plus many more ***. The photo below is of a Sebastopol Goose - they are unusual long ribbony feathers - for sale in the shop!

Sebastopol Goose - feathers in online shop Real Birds Feathers

Sultan came out at 5.50pm after 4 hours 20 mins on the nest. This means that Cloud is doing NINETEEN hours 40 mins on the egg at the moment! I feel so sorry for her, and really am in a terrible quandary about it all and wish we hadn’t started!
Monday 22.6.15 -  Cloud didn’t come out into the hutch part at the early feed so I went and collected her from the nest – the egg had either been pushed or rolled out again and was cold. This is the second time this has happened and I don’t know if it is deliberate on Cloud’s part or an accident. This time I didn’t put it in the main nest part but left it where it was on the side. I let Cloud to her big morning ‘hen poo’, fed her  and put her back – and a couple of hours later when I checked her, the egg appeared to be under her again. It’s a bit of play egg this one!
Lottie came out of the cote and so I was able to check her nest. It is very deep and quite hard to see into – good for the baby as it is nice and snug. There was still only one baby and the egg – which I should think doesn’t have a chance if it doesn’t hatch soon. The first egg was def in the nest on Tue 2nd  June and the second by Thurs 4th June so 2 days difference which is normal I think so maybe it will hatch. If not, we will have another singleton, like Solo, and I will have to think of another name – I had already thought of names for ‘twins’.

Cloud made the most of the lovely sunny afternoon and her limited free time off the nest

 She wandered lonely as a Cloud!
 Then came to the step.....
 to peck in the crevices, as many of the birds like to do!

Tuesday 23.6.15 – Cloud’s egg was rolled out and cold again this morning. It really is a dud but I am reluctant to take it away from her as I don’t know how she will react or feel. She went back to it after I’d fed her, which makes me think she still wants it.
Lottie came out and again I checked – still no hatching with the other egg, but one sweet little baby is good. I must try to get a photo next time.

Below, some of the pigeons sit around in the grass - which they like to do in June - and Cloud, to the right, preens.

In the afternoon, I decided to take the bull by the horns and ring Lottie, as it is so awkward not knowing for sure my mummy dove, unless I actually see her fly out of the cote. So when I was sure it was her on the nest and I’d seen Lucky out and about, I crept softly and out of sight to the steps, and once I could reach blocked the entrance with my hand and brought her out. She struggled of course and I felt terrible but it’s for her ultimate good! I put a pale pink ring on her right foot and then took her straight back. She went in right to the back to get over the stress, but didn’t fly out and away which is a good sign – she must recognise me after all.
Sultan went in at 11am – much earlier than the last few days – and wanted out at 1.40pm. Cloud had of course then to go back in – though of course she is not forced to sit on the egg!

Once Sultan had come off the nest, he immediately continued his growing interest in Cissie. And both of them 'defended' the nest - as you can see below a jackdaw is waiting his chance to get at the food bowls.

 Then there were two - one on the open door of the hutch, the other on the raised bed
 And eventually they get in - but Cloud is blocked in with the grille and therefore safe from attack - and they would!

At about 3pm when I wanted to feed Cissie and Cloud, I knew where Cloud was and could see Chino, but couldn’t see Cissie anywhere. Hmmm...... guess where I found her? Yes, the faithless Sultan and  Cloud’s former lesbo-friend Cissie were huddled up together in Chino’s box!!! Chino stood on top - see her little feet -  and tried to ignore them. The plot thickens!

 And while this intrigue was going on, Cloud sat unsuspectingly in her nest

Sometime later when Cissie was out again, I fed her, and also had to take Cloud away from her egg to feed her too.  Hubby had a look at the egg (candled) and said it was definitely a dud – well I knew it, and probably Sultan does too. This is what it looked like candled.

Dud pigeon egg - candled day 10/11

I didn’t replace the dud egg  but gave Cloud a plastic one instead – since the egg is not going to hatch it doesn’t really matter what she sits on and I wanted to see what was inside the egg. Today is day 11 – or could be day 10 depending on when you count from – I expect Cloud will give up on the ‘egg’ herself soon, but if not I will let her do the full time..... I suppose.....I just don’t know. And now it looks like Sultan is starting again with Cissie!  The ‘nest’ this time will be Chino’s box in the lower section of the hutch, which, fortunately, Chino never uses, except to stand on. I put it in there to give her a hiding place, but she never goes in it. I will allow the love-birds to make a nest in it if they choose but of course it is far more unsafe than the top part of the hutch and I couldn’t really allow Cissie to stay in it all night. I will make it a bit more cosy tomorrow by taking the brick out and putting a bit of carpet inside a removable small box or something – then if she did lay an egg I would just have to pick up the whole thing with her inside it on the egg, and put it in the hutch for the night if Cloud is no longer sitting – or maybe bring it in the house.....??? I will cross that bridge when I come to it. But I couldn’t leave Cissie in that lower part – a fox might decide to dig a tunnel underneath! Cissie wanted to stay in it tonight I think, but I brought her in at 6.10pm and poor Sultan sat around on the roof til 7.30pm wondering where she had gone! I didn’t feel too sorry for him – I even saw him mating with Chino today too – where does he get the time? Oh yes, I know, he doesn’t do full duty on the egg!

 Feeding time on the island
 Below, Lucky - my daddy bird - who's got a brand new baby then?

 To be cont......

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Cloud surprises me!

Wed. 10.6.15 – I came home in the late afternoon and allowed Sultan in with Cloud – they spent time cuddling up in the night section, but I also made sure Cloud had some time down in the garden. I brought Cissie and Chino in at about 6pm, but let Cloud stay in with Sultan – though keeping an eye on the hutch in case he wanted to leave or anything happened. At 7.30pm Cloud appeared where I could see her so I nipped out and brought her in to the conservatory, as would be usual for her at that time. I left the door of the hutch open, so Sultan could come out and fifteen minutes later he was up on the roof – and I shut the hutch up. I don’t like birds staying the night in the hutch unless absolutely necessary as I don’t want to attract foxes.
I don’t know how Cloud and Sultan’s love affair will continue. I have no idea if having the PMV virus has left Cloud infertile and if she was to lay a fertile egg or two would she be able to cope with the sitting on them routine, and feeding babies. I have now had her in as a homie for two and a half years and she is probably institutionalized.
11.6.15 – Sultan was there with the others on the island to be fed, and when I brought Cloud out to feed her I had opened the hutch and he was already in there, waiting for her. Normally after the morning feed at 7am she would go into her crate in the conservatory for an hour or so, the same as the others, but I put her straight into the hutch. Sultan immediately went to the night box – which no doubt he sees as the nest – and started cooing. As I sat and ate breakfast I saw Cloud pop out to the front part a few times. I’m not sure she’s that bothered. Sultan is reasonably ‘tame’ – obviously he, as a racer, is somewhat institutionalized too. I doubt he has ever built a nest in his life, as I believe racing pigeons are provided with little lined nesting bowls. I will probably leave things as they are for now, but if Cloud did happen to lay an egg then I would add some straw to the little piece of carpet they are sitting on!

 Sultan and Cloud cuddling up

The situation is interesting, but eggs would make things awkward. When I had Jose, my flightless dove (that I ‘stole’ from Claremont National Trust lakeside as she was just sitting there, unable to fly and get food.....and dying) eventually she teamed up with a white dove I called Happy, and they started a nest in the old hutch, and reared one baby, Pearl. It was great fun seeing a baby reared at close quarters, but awkward for me as I had to be around to let Happy in and out for nest duty. But there was nothing wrong with Jose, except she couldn’t fly and Cloud as a recovered PMV sufferer, though stable, is somewhat disabled in the fact that she can’t always hold her head in the right position. Well. we shall see.....
I took Cloud out of the hutch to feed and was able to see from Sultan’s ring that he is a 2014 bird – I was pretty sure he was too big and confident to be a this year’s bird. While I sat on the edge of the raised bed, feeding Cloud, he jumped out of the hutch, found and picked up a small stick. Blimey! I thought....he does know how to build a nest. Sultan arranged a few sticks, then got bored and when I put Cloud back in the hutch again, they had more snuggle time. I do want her to have time down in the garden though, so later on, I took her out and put her down. I’m afraid Sultan will have to work round me – he seems a calm bird.
Again I left Cloud in the garden, but in the hutch with Sultan, later than usual, but brought her in at 7.15pm. If she is going to lay an egg I hope it won’t be in the next few days as I have to sleep over with my grandchildren on Sunday night and can’t see much alternative but to take the homies with me – or at least Cloud and Cissie who can’t feed themselves.
Friday 12th June 15 – Sultan was waiting this morning near the hutch when I got up. He seems to be fine with the unusual arrangements. I fed the flock, fed Cissie, then collected Cloud who was scrambling about the garden – fed her, and put her into the now open hutch – Sultan had already gone in. I wonder how many ringed racers like him decide to turn feral?
I went out for a long morning and when I came back at 1pm, Sultan was keen for the hutch to be opened. As I was staying in, I let all the homies out. Currently they are having as much as five free hours in the garden which is lovely – as opposed to often only half an hour on a wet cold day in the winter. Sultan continued his stick bringing..... Here he is showing his offering to Cloud, with Chino and Cissie in the lower part of the hutch.

Cloud seemed pleased, sometimes staying in the rather scrappy nest and sometimes hovering around in the hutch, except when I put her down in the garden. I decided that she needed a ladder!  I looked around the junk at the back of the house, and found a bit of old guttering – it was grotty and dusty but I decided that would give footholds so didn’t sluice it down. I fixed it to my satisfaction, picked Cloud up, put her on it and she immediately jumped off! But almost straight away, Cissie walked determinedly over to it – and look.....I was impressed!

So then I picked Cloud up and this time she walked up it too – though I didn’t see either of them use it again during the afternoon, and Chino certainly didn’t.
While Cloud was having one of her ‘sitting in the night-box’ sessions, Cissie made eyes at Sultan and they ended up mating.  Dear oh dear! It was a warm sunny afternoon so just right for taking flirting a bit further! But then, at some point, I was checking the whereabouts of the homies – Chino – tick! Cloud -tick! But where was Cissie? And guess where I found her –  yes, in with Sultan!

Later on, at about 6pm I brought Cissie and Chino in, and left Cloud in the hutch to do as she pleased, while Sultan searched around for more sticks.
This was the nest as I saw it when I brought Cissie and Chino in.....

And then at about 7.15pm, it had become a little gloomier and was raining a little, and as Cloud was in the main part of the hutch I went and collected her to bring in to the conservatory. I do feel a little bad about Sultan as he probably can’t understand why she disappears and reappears, but to be honest I am not sure what to do about this rather strange situation. Sultan stayed around for a while, then I saw him on the roof and went to shut up the hutch. Just in case it wasn’t him on the roof, and not wishing to shut him in all night if a mistake had been made, I checked the nightbox – and WOW! What a surprise! You could’ve knocked me down with a feather! There was an egg in the nest! I went to get my camera so I could show you.

Obviously Cloud laid the egg in the time between 6pm and 7.15pm and if I’d realised I might have left her in the hutch, but the first egg is commonly left until the second egg is laid so it will actually be ok, and at first I was going to leave it in the hutch, but then I thought I didn’t want a rat or something breaking in and taking it, so I removed it and will put it back early tomorrow morning. It is not ideal at all because I have to spend Sunday night away and won’t probably get back til midday on Monday so it looks like I will have to try and persuade hubby to get involved. I will take it all one step at a time, and one egg doesn’t mean we will have babies. Sultan, as a racer, would’ve been vaccinated against PMV so I am not worried about him, but does Cloud carry it – or having had it, is she now immune?  I found on the internet that pigeons vaccinated regularly for PMV pass this immunity on to the young in the nest so hopefully if there are any babies, they WILL be immune. But will Cloud be able to cope, will she be able to feed them? Cloud is actually a bit of an older mother! She was known to me for eight months before she became ill, and was already sexually mature as she was first seen with a partner so probably at least six months old then – and now I have had her in for two and a half years approx so she must be at least 3 years 8 months old. As I’ve said before, from what I’ve read, feral pigeons don’t  usually live longer than 5 years or so in the wild but probably this is more down to all the dangers they encounter – disease, predators, lack of food etc..... anyway, we’ll see what happens.
It says in my pigeon ‘bible’ – Feral Pigeons by Richard E. Johnston and Marian Janiga that ‘three hours after the first egg is laid, the second is ovulated and it then spends about 41 hours in the oviduct prior to being laid’. If this proves to be the case with Cloud, then I would expect her to lay a second egg on Sunday.... .but I am not counting on anything.
Sat. 13.6.15 – I was out in the garden by 6.30am and Sultan was waiting. I laid an old muslin nappy with a small towel over it in the uncarpeted bit of the night box (now the nest) to make it more comfortable if both birds want to sit in there – then I added hay to the nest and replaced the egg. Cloud was hand-fed of course, then put in the hutch. She seemed quite pleased to go and sit on her egg, and Sultan started wanting to bring more sticks, so I had to leave the hutch door open. At 10am I needed to go out, and wondered what to do – should I leave Sultan in or out? I decided on ‘in’ but he decided ‘out’ and flew to the roof, so he had to stay out til I got back at 11.30am. When allowed back in he went straight to sit on the egg, and Cloud came into the day part to sit, as would be usual for her at this time of day anyway.
My vibe told me that Cissie might like to go into the hutch too, and might well lay also. Although this wouldn’t be a problem in some ways, it is obvious that the male, Sultan, couldn’t do nest duty on two nests. I will open up the hutch in the afternoon, when I can keep one eye on the happenings, and put up the ‘ladder’. If Cissie does lay an egg, then so be it.....I will leave Sultan and Cloud to sort it out. Sultan’s a very big boy, and Cloud is quite feisty so they may not be having any of it – and of course Cissie might not want to lay anyway!!!

As you remember, Cissie and Cloud had formed a girlie relationship and this is discussed in my book. This can happen in the absence of males, and though a nest may be built and eggs may be laid, they are of course infertile and abandoned after a while. According to my source, individuals in a uni-sexual relationship abandon one another when one of the females is attracted to an unmated male BUT in some cases, both females appear interested in forming a pair with the male – and this might be the case with Cissie, Cloud and Sultan (poor Chino seems to be left out in the cold, though technically, as just a flightless pigeon, she would be the best one to become a mother as she has no other disability).
As soon as the piece of gutter ladder went up, Cissie was in there - causing an altercation with Cloud. Come on girls, you like each other really!
Cissie and Cloud settled down and Cissie did a bit of sitting in the nestbox, and tried to get Sultan interested in her again, but he was more concerned about bringing bits of straw and stick into the hutch. At one point I went to see if anyone was in the nestbox and at first couldnt see the egg, but it was tucked away at the side, and had been covered with nesting material - a bit like hidden treasure! I took it out and put it central in the nest but later on one of the birds had moved it away and covered it again, so that's the way they want it. Maybe something is wrong with it - which wouldnt surprise me.

Cloud and Cissie both use the 'ladder'. It is obvious that though these birds have physical disabilities resulting from the PMV illness, their minds are perfectly sharp!

Sultan spent some time 'driving' Cloud round the garden - though this behaviour usual precedes the laying of eggs.

 Above, you can just see the pair of them up near the conservatory door, and below, Sultan looks pretty determined but Cloud can run fast!

I brought Cissie and Chino into the house about 6.15pm but left Cloud as I have done the last couple of days. When I went to see her about 7.45pm she was sitting in the nestbox - though not on the egg - and flapped her wing up at me, crossly, saying Go Away! I really don't like leaving her outside, though this new hutch is very strongly made, but what can I do? She thinks she's got a nest, she may want to lay again and she wants to be there..... so I left her, and before dark draped the hutch with blue plastic sheeting, as I've done in the past, held down by bricks. I just hope she'll be ok. Just in case a fox is prowling around later, I put down some cat biscuits under the hedge at the other side of the yard though I doubt a few biccies would keep hunger pangs at bay for long!

My camera is playing up - it's very old, so it looks as though I might have to get a new one as I don't want to miss out on taking important dovie photos!

To be cont....

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Lucky becomes unlucky.....again! - and Cloud has 'news'

Sat 23rd May –  8.30am There are two white doves in the front nestbox – Lucky’s nestbox – and neither of them are Lucky! I don’t know for sure which is Lottie, but it looks like another male has taken over – poor old Lucky, there will be ructions when he gets back!!!! 

Lottie (left) and the male intruder
9.15am – Lucky came back. He didn’t realise anything was wrong, I fed him peanuts and he had a leisurely walk round and a long drink to sustain him for the day on the nest. Lottie – I assumed – was by now hovering on the ledge. She flew off, and Lucky entered – to find the alpha intruder! As they tussled inside the nestbox, I nipped up the steps quickly – fearing the egg would be crushed – and grabbed a bird......I checked it was the naughty one, and by heck didn’t he struggle! I brought him in for ringing – purple, right and orange, left – and that was hard as he is a strong male (but very beautiful!)  Another Snow White methinks! I released him, throwing him towards the roof, and he sat on the ridge, preening himself. I am reluctant to block Lucky in while I go out but am thinking about it. I wish now that when I had the intruder – as yet not named – and Lottie in the nest box that I hadn’t caught and ringed both. But at least I know the other male now.
Later – I didn’t block Lucky in – it wouldn’t be right. He’s an experienced bird and what will be, will be...... but when I got back all seemed well.  The other male, bearing no grudge to me, was around at feeding time and I, wanting to name him as a tribute to Snow White (who had acted in similar fashion to Lucky),  have called him Snowdon. I do sometimes wonder when I ring a white dove – if it was to go back to its original cote or owner, what they think???? 

 Above, Snowdon
and below in the middle on the roof

Sunday 24th May – an ordinary-ish dovie day but Lottie spent her free time with Snowdon, and in the evening just at 9pm when I could still see the cote, out of the window, but the dusk was gathering, I saw what I thought was Lottie peeking out of the nestbox. I hoped she would settle back in, but then I saw the dark spot on the breast and knew that it was Lucky! He was anxiously looking out, waiting for Lottie to come back to do her nightly nest duty, but she – even flightier than Loretta – had betrayed him and her unhatched egg and obviously gone off with Snowdon! I waited to see what Lucky would do, but he came out of the box, stayed on the roof for a few minutes and then left! Oh no.... the poor egg. If it was a new egg then I wouldn’t care so much, but it could be due to hatch in only a week’s time. I somehow didn’t have a good feeling about this egg from the start...but you never know.... so I brought it in and put it under the electric hen. The egg didn’t feel very warm to the touch.....but as I say, you never know. I like to give things a chance. I managed to remove the egg from the cote, and replace it with a plastic one, just in case Lucky did come back, without disturbing Solo in his little section.

 Snowdon (top) and Lottie
Below, Solo relaxes on the grass with varied friends

Bank Holiday Monday 25th May – I got up at 5.30am to put the egg back, but Lucky, Lottie and Snowdon were already in the garden, along with a few pigeons. The egg, having been under the electric hen all night, seemed too hot to me...... but I don’t know..... the electric hen was the same temperature for the baby bluetits or whatever they were.... and they survived. Anyway, I swapped the real egg for the plastic one, and went back to bed. I don’t know why I am doing this – I am sure it is hopeless and I have probably cooked the egg.....horrible thought, poor little doomed baby dove. When I got up again the three key players in the game were either scrapping on the hedge or round the cote, or sitting calmly on the roof. Lottie sometimes jealously guarded the doorway of the nestbox but seemed disinclined to sit. I had to go out and when I came back, Lucky and Lottie were on the hedge together, and soon enough Lucky went in to the nestbox and sat, more or less, all afternoon. I just don’t really know what to do.
Later – Lucky left the nest at 7.10pm.....Lottie hadn’t come back of course. Solo had already gone to bed, but he got up again with his daddy and they both sat on the roof.
I collected the egg and hubby – who has experience with pheasant eggs in the past – ‘candled’ it for me with a torch. He said it was a fertile egg but reckoned it had been dead a while. I could see red veins and dark patches, but there was a whole blank area – to be honest I didn’t really know what I was looking at or looking for!  In case you are interested, this is how you test to see if the chick inside the egg is alive.  Take some thick cardboard and make a hole roughly the size of the egg, for the egg to rest in. Place the cardboard over the light of the torch, and place the egg in the hole – sideways not upright. Then you can see the veins etc. It doesn’t look like there is a chick in this one, so I wouldn’t know what a live egg would look like. Hubby said you might as well chuck it and then they will start again sooner – he knows I am sad about the loss of the egg. I said I wasn’t sure I wanted them to start again, until they have sorted out who is going to be with who! Last year we had lots of babies.... this year Solo really is solo. I put the egg back in the nestbox for now but it’s possible a predator might take it. Solo’s now back in his section with his poor unhatched probably unformed and certainly dead baby half-brother or sister in the nest above....... very sad.

Candling pigeon egg

Tuesday 26th May 15 – The egg was still in the cote, stone cold of course – nobody was with it, so I removed it and cracked it open. It looks like hubby was right and something had stopped the baby developing a while ago. Below is what I saw...... it didn’t smell nasty.

Lucky checked out the cote a few times, but seemed ok about it. I didn’t want him to waste all these lovely sunny afternoons sitting on an egg that won’t hatch. Now I know that the baby obviously stopped forming a while ago, I feel better about the loss.

Wed. 27.5.15 – I grabbed Solo at the morning feed and gave him a big top up of about 25 peas and peanuts as I will be away tonight babysitting my grandchildren, and I wanted to make sure he is well fed! I haven’t hand fed him for a week or so now he can eat big grains but I didn’t want him to go hungry – he is still my baby, and still quite babyish to look at. He has spent every night in the cote since he started sleeping outside and I don’t think he flies far as he is very often on the roof.
The loss of the egg means that Lucky is once again thinking of starting again. Lottie seems to be hanging around with Snowdon..... though they are not fighting for the cote (at the moment). My Grace (hatched in the cote two years ago and offspring of Sky and Summer) seems to be interested in the cote and Lucky...... wow, wouldn’t that be handy? A mummy dove who is already ringed, already a special dove of mine AND flies to my hand for peanuts! Let’s hope it works out.

Below, Grace checks out the cote

 Thurs 28.5.15 - My bluetits fledged - I almost missed it, I think this was the last baby to come out! Adorable!

 Lucky, above and below, showing his odd eyes!
 Below, you can just see Lucky on the ledge of the cote 
- and who are those two down on the raised bed?
 It's Snowdon and Lottie - looking suspiciously like a pair!
 and Lucky doesn't look best pleased!
 and now Lucky and Snowdon chase Lottie up the roof 
 I wonder if Lucky remembers - like I do - when this happened before (with Snow White and Lucky's first wife, Charm)
 Oh Lucky, surely you are not going to lose out again?
 This is Dolly struggling out of the bath
 Don't look at me! she says modestly, I'm not dressed!

Monday 1st June - Well I am pleased to say that Snowdon backed down allowing Lucky and Lottie to patch up their differences - and Lottie stayed the night.

Tue 2nd June - We have one new egg, and by Thursday there were definitely two. I so hope these eggs are ok. I want more babies in my cote!

Wed 3rd June - Solo is 68 days old and has always slept in the cote - but tonight a white dove tempted him out 'after bedtime' and he flew to the roof with it.

 When he flew back to the cote, the dove went too (Lottie didn't seem worried)
 But as you can see Solo eventually tucked himself away, and the white dove left. I was quite relieved as I like my little Solo staying safely in the cote at night. 
 Thurs. 4.6.16 - Beautiful Baby Nero - growing up rapidly - relaxes on the low roof

6th June 15 - The homie girls, Cloud, Cissie and Chino have acquired a 'minder'. He's a big ringed racing pigeon who appeared from nowhere and he seems to like spending time with them.

My lovely and unusual pigeon, Seagle has a shower

 Another new favourite also has unusual colouring - the young bird I call Dotty

I am calling the homies minder, Sultan. He was chasing round all of them - his harem - 
but has now singled out Cloud as being his favourite.

 Chino watches as they take over her place
 Hey, get a room!

 But they don't
 They snuggle up in hers!

7.6.15 - This evening, cheeky Solo and friend decided to come and tap on the sitting room window - Where's our supper?

 I took these photos from inside of course - Shows how much the windows need cleaning!!! Of course I got up, went outside and fed them. Solo is still the little prince - he wants, he gets!

Monday 8th June 15 -

Sultan arrived and I opened the hutch to see if he would join Cloud - and he did! Here you can just see him walking into the nightbox part where she is hiding! (and if you can't find me, she says, I'll be in the night box!)
 But later, when the homies were having play time, he seemed to be talking to Chino, while Cissie sat on the dropped down door of Chino's section.
 You can see his racing ring in this photo. I don't feel bad about him being here - he is free to fly back to his owner or loft if he wants to.
 I think maybe it's Chino making eyes here
 But Sultan doesn't say no!

 Though he takes a moment or two to preen

 And then they go all the way!
 Hey Sultan, if Cloud finds out she'll sue you for breach of promise!
 And it looks like Chino has another admirer!

9th June 15 - 

A close up of Seagle - I think she's female; the most amazing bright light grey with stunning pale, almost pink eyes

 Free range eggs from the poultry farm (where I get grain for the birds, and where the homies go on holiday if I need them looked after)
Free range eggs, every one a different colour!
 Since Sultan came into her life, Cloud has spent much time just cosying up, alone, on her little piece of snuggly carpet in the nightbox part of her hutch. Maybe she dreams about starting a nest?

To be cont....