Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Sparky's story continues.....and ends + Selfie and more

Warning - this blog contains one or two photos which some may find distressing

July 2015 - Sparky is becoming very well travelled! Because of still needing frequent feeding, he has to come out with me if I am being longer than an hour. One time I went to the bank and to do the big shop and was longer than I thought I’d be, in fact two hours, and the noise when I came back into the house! Feed me! Feed me! So he has come with me on several daytime trips there and back to my daughter’s house, and to an evening Neal’s Yard products party (where he stayed in the car, but several ladies came to see him!).

Hand feeding rescued baby wren

Then on Saturday 18th he came to a fete at an old people’s village in Hersham, Surrey. I had been once before two years ago, and it is such a quaint place Whiteley Village  and the fete was so charming with a brass band and pony and trap ride round the estate that I wanted to go again, and had promised my five year old grandson that I would take him too...... but what to do with my little Sparks? I needed something safe to contain him in, but had nothing suitable.  I try not to be at a loss with matters like this, so having thought about what he would need, I chose a tall box, that he couldn’t fly out of (not being very good at flying yet) and covered it with a piece of fabric mesh (I sacrificed my laundry bag here but it had holes in it anyway!). Inside the tall box I placed some hay for a 'carpet' and a tiny box for him to hide in and we were all set! Taking his mealworms in a pot and some sandwiches and snacks for us in a mini cool bag! Although my grandson doesn’t need a buggy of course, we put Sparky’s box on the old buggy and pushed him round the fete! I doubt many people even gave it a second thought, and so what if they did! They didn’t have the pony and trap this year, but had brought an old bus from the Brooklands Bus Museum – what fun! I collapsed the buggy, and Sparky in his box, me and grandson all sat at the top front, and the conductor came up to give us proper old fashioned tickets out of his ticket machine. Grandson loved it!

Later on I asked on old lady if we might sit in the shade near her stall, eat our ice-creams and listen to the band. Of course Sparky needed feeding, so it made her day to see a baby wren, and have him on her finger. It made my day that she had the same name as my mother.

So we managed to do the fete successfully but next day was hubby’s grand-daughter’s Christening Day which I thought might be more tricky. Eventually it worked out ok – we left him in the car, parked in a shady place, while we were in the church and then I sneaked him in to the sports club for the ‘do’ afterwards and put his box under the table! My main worry on that day was Cissie and Sultan and the eggs. Usually I try to be around when they do the change over – which is 12.30 approx. I prop open the hutch door, Sultan has some food, then he goes to the nest. Cissie emerges, I bring her out, and secure the hutch. But that day I had no alternative but to leave the hutch propped on when we left at 10.30am, with the ‘ladder’ up for Cissie and hope for the best. The jackdaws plunder the food and I couldn’t decide if best to leave food or not, but in the end thought if food was there, they would eat that and maybe wouldn’t try to venture into the nestbox in the search for it. The whole Christening occasion was very short and we were home by 3pm, to find Sultan safely on the eggs, and all was well. Whew! The eggs were half way through their incubation time at this stage, and have been well looked after by Cissie and Sultan, so I am very much hoping nothing goes wrong – though as I have said before I don’t know if Cissie is capable of producing healthy young (due to being a paramyxovirus recoverer).

 Sparky above as he is now and below when I first got him!

Below, Sparky peeping up at me from his favoured 'bed' corner of his box

Tue 21st July 15 – 

 Above and below, daddy Lucky loves his baby, Selfie

 Above, Sultan, hopefully soon to be a Daddy!
and below, my darling Solo, Selfie's half brother (or sister) on the parched lawn
 Below, Sparky plays in the leaves, supervised by me!

Baby wren on my finger

Sparky is modest when his photo is taken!

Above, Cloud, left, with Selfie who's about 32 days old and due to fledge properly soon

In the early evening I took Sparky round to show him to the young woman who found him first. Her mother joined us and while we were talking, Sparky was on her finger, or my hand, and chirping away – and then suddenly there was another wren popped out of the hedge, and then it was gone! Maybe it was one of his parents! 

Hey! Feed me!
Thursday 23.7.15 – Sparky seems to have lost his spark this morning. I am writing this in real time, and although it’s 8am he hasn’t woken up properly, keeps going back to sleep and hasn’t eaten much.  Obviously he is not leading a proper life for a wren, and though I take him into the garden daily – so far I have always brought him back in. Also he is more of less only eating one thing – soaked mealworms – so maybe isn’t getting all the nutrients he needs. I hope he’s ok.....later I will take him into the garden and give him more time there, and see what happens.

Above, Sparky makes himself at home in the big wide world of the sitting room

This morning after I’ve been feeding the flock for quite a while, I realised Selfie wasn’t in the nestbox! He is due to fledge being about 33/34 days old but where was he? Before I panicked, wondering if he had crash landed in the flower beds, I had a good look round, and thankfully found him sitting on the lawn quite near the house. He was easily captured and brought back to the nestbox, where Lucky and Lottie both joined him. 

 Selfie, in the nestbox - and his pretty mummy Lottie

They have been ideal parents to him, I haven’t had to do any top up feeds or bringing in at night – which of course is as it should be but so often isn’t! Because of less attention from me, Selfie is not as tame as his half brother or sister, Solo – who is 4 months old now. Solo will eat from my hand – and so will Lucky now, amazing! – and Solo will even fly to my hand. This is due to so many birds and the fight for the food, so any tame or tamer birds who are prepared to ‘risk it for a biscuit!’ get a little more! Grace flies to my hand, and so does the huge pigeon, Silver Shadow. Sometimes when he is on my hand, eating peanuts, I have to prop my elbow with my other hand – he is so heavy, he’s like a parrot! Probably the most splendiferous pigeon I have ever seen – and not a racer, just a gorgeous feral. He will happily eat 50 or more peanuts at one session on my hand. No wonder he is huge!

Cissie is still sitting far longer on the eggs than is fair. Sultan comes on them about 12.30 now and comes off 5.30pm-6pm so at the most Cissie gets five free hours and does the other nineteen herself! There is nothing I can do about it, and of course I don’t make her sit, she is free to come off if she wants. She either comes off, or I get her, about 8.00am – and put her on the ground where she turns round and round, then does the massive ‘hen poo’ and then I hand feed her as usual – then it’s back to the hutch, and she dutifully goes back to sit on the eggs. Sometimes in the morning, Sultan comes back to the raised bed, and I open the hutch, but all he does is eat, and then flies off again. Cissie sometimes comes out, and even jumps out of the hutch, but if he’s not going to sit on the eggs –which he’s not! – then I have to catch her after a few minutes and put her back. From today it’s only about six days to go now Cissie, til they hatch (if they do).  Surprisingly today maybe Sultan picked up my vibe as he went on the eggs at 11.40am !
In the evening, I found a pigeon by the water bath. I thought it was just old but when I picked it up I found I had blood on my hand. So I wrapped it in a cloth, smuggled it past hubby, and examined it in the conservatory. It had a bleeding slit on its belly – probably some sort of puncture wound -  and I couldn’t seem to staunch the bleeding....but hopefully in the end managed it (with pressure from my finger over a clean cloth), and applied some of my veterinus derma gel. I put it in Cissie’s crate in the conservatory which of course she is not using at all now – with food and water – but I won’t be surprised if it is dead in the morning, poor thing.
Fri 24th July 15 – I woke up late as my alarm failed to go off, and hubby had left for work early. This put me in a big rush – so much to do with the birds! First I checked the injured one – still alive! Good! Then this is the current routine, and all before I get a mug of tea myself! First I bring Chino out of the night box and put her in the conservatory in her crate – there’s food and water already in there. I carry Sparky’s box in at the same time, but put him in the sitting room on the sofa, still in the box of course. He’s still dozy and not peeping for food. Then I go out to the island to feed the flock, and usually do two trips with the bowl full of food. They cluster around me as it is a hungry time of year with babies to feed! Then back I go to the house to bring Cloud out to do her morning poop on the lawn – she is fussy and won’t do it inside (unlike Chino) – and after that she is fed, and brought back to the conservatory to her crate – to avoid the scrum on the lawn and early morning hassle from potential suitors.... but the main reason I bring her in is so I know she is safe while I do what I have to do. Both Chino and Cloud go out a little later when it is quieter. Now I check Sparky and see if he wants feeding, which he usually does by that time. Then back out with another bowlful of grain for the flock, trying to make sure that my favourites and my cote birds get enough. This morning it is a bit gloomy with heavy rain forecast later, and Selfie stayed in the cote. Yesterday’s ‘fledging’ may not have been the proper big event! By about 8.00-8.15am, Cissie usually totters out in to the main part of the hutch, and I remove her so she does her poop on the ground (which is so big I have to clean it up later) and then I quickly feed her before putting her back so she can sit on her eggs. After all that I re-check Sparky, then today a bit more was added on to the routine as I went back to the injured one. I carefully brought her (may be a him of course!) out of the crate and examined her again. There had been more blood loss and some diarrhoea during the night, but her body was warm which is a good sign. The wound didn’t seem to be clotting very well though. It is so small I can’t really see it, which is why I think it’s a puncture wound. I carefully applied some more gel, then I wrapped her in a cloth, and gave her water from a little shot glass. This went down well, so I hand-fed her a normal sized feed of peanuts and grains which were also accepted well, and put her back in the cleaned up crate. I noticed one foot is crumpled, which is not good, but not too bad either...... we shall just have to wait and see. Well, I was writing that in real time, and now it is some hours later, but unfortunately just before 9am I heard much flapping about in the crate – to find the pigeon in its death throes which fortunately didn’t last long. So she didn’t survive though I did what I could.

Today it is raining heavily and persistently. I am glad my  baby Sparky is in here with me, rather than hiding under a leaf somewhere like a little fairy! Sultan took his time coming onto the nest, but was on it by 12.20, though this horrible wet day doesn’t give Cissie much to enjoy in her free time! I brought Cloud in to the conservatory after her 3pm feed  because she sat on the doorstep to the cottage and looked bedgraggled and miserable– but Chino and Cissie sat in Chino’s quarters and stayed dry.
Sparky couldn’t go in the garden today and I feel that he is becoming too dependent on me and possibly ‘imprinted’ – I don’t really know what to do with him. He comes out of his box that is on top of the sofa, walks along, then jumps up to my neck and snuggles in to my hair, while I type on my lap top.  Although this might seem cute, I  can’t have a tiny bird living in my hair for the rest of its life!
This jumping on me was becoming annoying and as it was nearly 9pm, I put Sparky in his box in the conservatory to get the last of the natural light and hopefully settle down for the night. When I checked him he wasn’t in his box and I couldn’t see him anywhere, and as the light was fading I had no alternative but to hope he had found a good ‘bed’ and leave him there for the night.

Sat. 25.7.15 – In the early morning, I couldn’t find Sparky in the conservatory but hoped I would hear him cheeping when he woke up. I dealt with all the other birds and then went to look for him, but with no success. The conservatory doors and windows had all been shut so I knew he couldn’t have got out. I keep the three crates for the homies in the conservatory – on the table. And underneath, toys and books for my grandchildren – plus there are two big chairs in there, and lots of boxes for my ebaying, and general clutter. I felt I had no alternative but to take everything out carefully and check for Sparky, especially as the room gets like an oven later on when the sun’s on it. I’d found him by 8.45am, he had found a little upturned box and was crouched in it. I brought him out into his usual box but he seemed listless and sleepy, so I made a hot water bottle and put in under his box in case he was chilled, though his body seemed warm enough. I felt guilty because he had been so lively the night before and I had been irritated with him scrambling about in my hair, and now he seemed poorly. Now it is real time and past 10am – Sparky has had a few pieces of soaked mealworm to eat, but he is still listless and mostly has his eyes shut. One eye seemed a little sticky, so I wiped it with a non-fluffy cloth dipped in tepid water (old well used holey hankies are ideal for this sort of thing, and I always save them). I fear he will probably die. You can see how poorly he looks....

Later – Sparky has died. He didn’t eat anything after about 11am and became more listless, with eyes shut all the time, and not responding to me at all. At first I was checking him every half hour, but in the end only once an hour as it seemed cruel to disturb him. I made sure he was warm and safe, and that’s all I could do.... except read him a prayer from my Pet Prayers & Blessings book (Laurie Sue Brockway & Victor Fuhrman). I feel a bit guilty because I was irritated with him the night before for jumping in my hair but he was so full of beans, the house seems quiet without him. I have no idea why he died – was he too cold in the conservatory? I doubt it as all the windows were shut and he was in a small cardboard box under a pile of other boxes, and he was fully feathered. Also his body was warm when I found him this morning. There is no point speculating.....He probably wasn’t meant by nature to live. In the beginning, I didn't expect him to live..... but in the end, I didn't think he would die! I had him for two weeks, and loved him to bits, my tiny blessing. Though so small, he has left a big gap. Rest in peace,  darling Sparky.

Loving Shepherd of thy sheep,
keep him Lord in safety keep;
nothing can thy power withstand,
none can pluck him from thy hand.

I wasn’t surprised Selfie didn’t come out of the cote yesterday with all that rain, but thought he might today as nice and sunny again, but he didn’t. I took him out to have a look at him, and he seemed a bit dirty in the nether regions and it suddenly occurred to me about fly strike so I carefully checked and think he’s ok but I pulled out all the dirty nesting material, which was also damp and with some of those horrible wriggling things I hate! I made up the nestbox again with some nice dry hay but before returning Selfie I put him on the ground for a short while. His legs didn’t seem strong enough to hold him which was a bit worrying, but maybe he is ok....I hope so. I’ll have another look at him tomorrow.

As I went over towards the island I was amazed to see a tall white bird..... is it an albino heron? I rushed back for my camera..... and luckily it was still there. I only got a photo of one, but there were a pair of them. Beautiful birds that I have never seen here on the river before -  and I discovered they were Little Egrets.

Sun 26.7.15 – I took Sparky in his flower decorated box back to the neighbours who had asked if they could bury him in their garden – and it seemed appropriate as that was where he had come from in the first place.

It rained pretty well all day and was damp and miserable. Selfie is now about 37 days old, and should really have fledged, but now I am convinced there is something wrong with him (or her). I’m going to call him ‘her’ now as she feels more feminine to me. She should be flapping about excitedly, trying to attract Lucky’s attention, or have fledged and be on the roof but I fear that because she is not acting normally for her age, Lucky has stopped giving her attention, and possibly is not feeding her. Lucky was chasing Lottie again earlier, and they are quite often in the back nestbox.....I feel they are perfectly capable of starting a new nest at the back of the cote, while their baby starves to death at the front!  Of course, if our children won’t eat or are acting funny we ask them what is wrong, and take them to the doctor, but pigeons just ignore their young if they don’t conform! But obviously I will take over, and see what I can do for poor Selfie.  When Lucky left the gloomy garden about 6pm without feeding Selfie, I took her out of the nestbox, wrapped her in a cloth to keep her warm and dry, and hand-fed her a good feed, plus encouraged her to drink water out of a shot glass. It had all been going so well for Selfie.... but she’s still alive, and maybe is just a bit weak from lack of feeding.  But she does have diarrhoea, which is not good.
Monday 27.7.15 – 

Above, Chino waits in the raised bed for Sultan to finish eating and come and join her for some slap and tickle! - which he usually does!

A nice dry day, and when I’d done the usual chores, I took Selfie out of the nestbox. I fed her, though she didn’t seem very interested in food – another bad sign.  I gave her bottom end a tepid bath in the conservatory, and also removed hard dried faeces from her feet - then gently blow-dried her. I didnt wash all of her because she would've got too chilled.  Once done, I sat her on a covered hot water bottle in the sitting room looking out of the window. She seemed or rather looked fairly ok.

 Later on, when it was sunny, I put her in the run, so she was protected from the unwanted attentions of other birds (she is female as I discovered when I put her on the grass!).... and so she got light and air, and could watch the others.
But when it got chillier I moved her to Cissie’s unused crate in the conservatory. She can’t walk properly, isn’t interested in food and has diarrhoea so I am not really expecting her to live, though we shall see.

Above, Snowdon on the chair, is interested in my Grace - now nearly two and a half years old

Every hour or so, I took her Selfie a sip or two of water, and when I went to feed the birds on the island, I  went to collect her so she could come with me. The paper under her was in a terrible mess – oh dear, you need a nappy! So I put kitchen paper under her bottom, wrapped her in a cloth and held her warmly next to me, while I fed the others.  Poor little Selfie, a bit of a daddy Lucky lookalike with black smudges on her white feathers, died at 6pm aged only 38 days. RIP sweetheart.  Like Sparky, I have no idea why she got ill and it’s depressing to lose them both within a couple of days of each other. I was glad I had given Selfie a bit of attention, some sunshine and a change of view on her very last day. Lucky and Lottie, to give them their due, did go back to the nestbox to see what was going on – but having found the unsatisfactory squab gone, they happily went back to cosying up together – no doubt with the intention of starting again. I want to give the nestbox a good spray out first!

Tuesday  28.7.15 – This morning Cissie didn’t come out of the nestbox into the main hutch at her usual time..... and by 9am I was wondering....could the eggs or one of them possibly have hatched? I wasn’t expecting hatching til tomorrow. I checked the calendar – it was possible, but I wasn’t sure. Some info on the net says that you count 18 days from when the 2nd egg is laid – which would make hatching Thurs or Fri, but if I count 18 days from the 1st egg then it is Wednesday, tomorrow. But of course one never exactly knows when the egg was laid.....Anyway, I left it a while, then opened the front of the hutch, and gently spoke to Cissie, though I can’t see her from the front, so she knew it was me and wasn’t frightened. Then I carefully opened the nestbox part and peeped in. Wow! There was Cissie looking up at me enquiringly.... with a broken egg shell next to her! 

PMV recovered pigeon hatches egg
I took the photo, then felt I best leave her to it. It wouldn’t be a good idea to remove her from the nest for her usual feed and morning poop as she probably has a baby. I must let her decide when to come out. I didn’t attempt to try to see the baby or babies, but hope to get a chance soon – maybe when Sultan takes over. If they manage to rear a baby or two, then it will be amazing but I don’t count on it when a seemingly healthy little wren and dove squab have both died, and they were both hatched from ‘normal’ parents. But I AM excited!!!

To be cont.....


Fennie said...

So sad about Sparky and Selfie. Could have been the mealworms perhaps, but then it could have been anything. He was growing well. Maybe there was some kind of infection or contamination that he picked up. I guess it doesn't take much to upset a wren's tummy. Maybe there was an e-coli sort of bug going which is what gave Selfie his diarrhoea. How do these birds build up their immune systems? Maybe they need a bit of dirt that they might get from the parent birds foraging. You must be terribly upset but you have rescued many more birds than have died.

hopeinparis said...

Faith, my heartfelt sympathy to you on the sad loss of little Sparky and Selfie. You took such loving and good care of them, and it's so hard to let them go. I was very touched to see Sparky's little coffin box, it was so sweet and pretty...

But how exciting for Cissie and Sultan's egg(s) to have hatched! I will be eager to read of the developments. Thank you for posting, Faith, and wishing you gentle days ahead. xx