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!