Monday, 18 July 2016

More eggs on the way

 July 2016

Do you remember how the conservatory used to look - the table covered in the birds' crates, grain and loose feathers? Look at it now.... mind you I miss them inside to a certain extent, especially carrying Cloud off to bed in the spare room, and snuggling/smelling her on the way! The birds smell sweet due to being grain-eaters I suppose.

Sunday 10th – Several ringed racing pigeons here today. It was windy, and maybe they had been blown off course – or just stopped off for a free meal. There was one who seemed rather small and unsure – I easily managed to pick up and hand-feed it a few peanuts for energy. I checked the ring – yes it said GB16 so a this year’s bird. It’s nice to see the racers, but I had a much more delightful surprise – my lovely white pigeon Mr. Strong arrived! I haven’t seen him for ages – possibly since April – and had thought I never would again. He is beautiful, pure white with a fan tail (probably not a full fan-tail, but one of his parent may have been). He used to often arrive with my Grace but she wasn’t there.

 Above, Mr. Strong and below, in the middle, the gorgeous big pigeon that I call Silver Shadow

Monday 11.7.16 – This morning, Perelle fledged properly and flew to the roof.

Young squab (right) just fledged, with father pigeon 
At lunchtime, I took Appoline out to give her a little drink, and afterwards she struggled out of my hands, scrambling to the top of the dovecote. She seemed happy and was safe enough. But later on, it started raining and I wished I hadn’t got her out. I mean, the birds are waterproof, but it was her first day out – and Perelle’s. The rain got worse, it was a deluge! 

The flock on the roof stoically hunched together. I was worried about my poor little moppets, but there was absolutely nothing I could do of course. Fed the flock lots of times, but the babies didn’t come down. I had supper, still not down.

Below, Lucky comforts the babies after the rain

Well after 7pm Perelle was on the lawn and I managed to catch him. He did have some body warmth but his wings and the top of his body were saturated so I gently dried him off with the hair dryer and gave him a  hand feed. When I came out from doing that Lucky disappeared, leaving his half-drowned babies to cope on their own. I had to catch Apolline with the net, and dry and feed her too.

By the late afternoon, Chino had laid her second egg. If all goes well, we will have new babies by the end of July. Below, Avery in the aviary!

Tue 12th – Bright sunny morning. Perelle came out but Appoline stayed in the cote – hardly surprising after yesterday! Lucky flew up and fed her in cote, and I saw him try to feed Perelle on the ground but he didn’t seem to want daddy to feed him – I’m big now, he says, I’m out and about on my own! Just before I had to go out, the flock flew away and Perelle almost immediately flew into the cote. I am so pleased he can fly and negotiate the entrance to the cote well. Perelle and Apolline survived the drenching yesterday very well. Most newly fledged pigeons take a bath within the first few days, but I bet these two won't!

A spotty white dove with a green ring was there too this morning with other white doves. I felt I should recognise this bird for several reasons. One – it was ringed with my kind of ring , on its right leg, which is the leg I favour. Two – it looked a lot like Lucky. Three – it was reasonably tame and didn’t seem scared of me (and in the afternoon ate peanuts from my hand). Four – it was in my garden – possibly back home? At times like this I wish I had kept a ring book from the start. I have at times, but usually on scrappy little bits of paper that I have lost. There were only 3 babies last year – only Selfie in the cote, who died, and Tink (also died) and Pan in the hutch. So I will look at my blogs for 2014 and 2013 and see if I can find out who it is.

Pascal and Primrose (siblings) still spend time together, but of course Pascal, the pale one, has stunted wing and tail feathers and can't fly. I watched them for a little while....

 and when something startled Primrose and she flew off, I caught the moment Pascal jumped into the air - but of course came down with a bump! (he's so adorable, I love him to bits!)

Perelle didn’t come out of the nest-box again today, and Apolline not at all. After Lucky had fed them and left in the early evening, I took a little supper of small grains up to the cote in two tiny dishes (glass night-light candle holders) which they polished off – and then I took them up a drink in a tiny shot-glass with a handle, that I always use for the babies!

Wed 13th – The cote babies were out on the roof  when I got up at 6.15am this morning, but later put themselves back in. I think we can say that these two are safely fledged – and quite early too. Properly fledged at only about 30 days – some don’t fledge til 35 days. Lucky has treated them well, and they seem fine and healthy. It doesn’t look like Lucky and Lottie will be starting a new nest any time soon, so the young ones will be able to keep the nestbox to themselves which is nice – because it gives them more of a chance to grow up before they are forced to fly away and leave the cote or relocate into another section.

One of the aviary babies wasn’t in the nest box with the other, when I went in. But as the aviary is totally shut at night I wasn’t too worried. I soon found him or her in with Chino and the eggs in the new nest – It was Evangeline and she looked so sweet cuddled in with mummy, but by the time I got the camera, Chino was out and baby was heading towards her own beddies.

Robin spends most of his time in the aviary, but can fly to the low roof now reasonably well. As long as Pan is ok with it, I don’t mind him living with the others.

One day when I had my four year old grand-daughter, I said to her that we would go and see if my friend, Sara, was in, as I hadn’t seen her since she had a serious jaw operation. ‘Oh’ said my grand-daughter ‘Is she a bird person or a real person?’ (shows how much I give the birds human characteristics!)

Thurs 14th July 16 – Apolline was not on the roof, or in the cote, or anywhere I could find this morning when I went out early, but there was an unringed pure white dove of the right age……could Apolline have lost her ring? It IS possible of course, as at this stage the birds have little slim legs, or I might not have snapped it together securely, so it could have come off, but this doesn’t usually happen. I searched in the flower beds and around the back of the house, and near the offices which back on to us but there was no sign of her, or of any foul play. The little white dove flew to the cote and went into one of the lower boxes, and I am not sure that a young dove from somewhere else would do this. I picked her out and gave her a hand-feed, then popped her in with Perelle who had by that time gone back to the usual nest box. He didn’t seem worried by this, and neither did Lucky – though he didn’t feed either of them, so I have to assume it IS Apolline, and I will re-ring her with the same colour ring (blue) but on the left leg instead of the right, just in case the first Apolline turns up! But no, I think this MUST be Apolline. And later, Lucky did feed her….. what on earth happened to that ring??

I cleaned out Avery and Evangeline’s box early this morning, about 8.00am. I only have a short window of opportunity for doing something like this, as Pan would make a fuss and get in the way if he was around, but he goes out flying first thing so I got it done and dusted while he was out. The nest, made of sticks by Pan, and with an underneath layer of pigeon felt and a piece of old carpet was very damp, VERY dirty and had a few of those dreadful wriggling things that I have a phobia about – disgusting! It was very soon all disposed of with nice clean old towelling at the bottom and a layer of fresh hay. Nice and clean! (won't stay that way for long!)

 I blocked Chino on her nest in for the duration, and the babies waited patiently in a little basket!

Baby pigeons in a basket

Friday 15th – I weighed Avery – 370g – and Evangeline – 331g today. They are now 19 days old and must be the biggest babies I have ever had. At that age Pan weighed 248g and Pascal 318g. They weigh more than Perelle and Apolline at 26 days. Probably they get more food than is maybe good for them – as it is right there on the shelf for Pan and Chino to feed them. She is still doing so, but probably wouldn’t if she had to go out and forage for food; then she would leave it to Pan. There is a window at the front of the aviary and I can discreetly observe the secret lives of my baby pigeons! Already I have seen them help themselves to small grains, and Avery had a drink out of the bowl. 

Although I took them out of the aviary into the kitchen to weigh them, I don’t intend to take them out for any other reason (such as a little play time as I do with the dovecote babies) as I want to see what they will do at fledging time of their own accord.

I forgot to say in the last blog, before Chino laid the eggs she is sitting on now, I went in to the aviary and had a bit of a surprise, as she was on top of Pan appearing to be mating! Of course it is normal for the male bird to be on top and I have never seen this type of behaviour before. The only thing I could think of – and other people suggested it to me also – was that it was some form of dominance. But Pan is not the kind of male you dominate! Very strange! In fact, I never saw Pan and Chino mating at all before these eggs were laid – except for that one weird time – but assume, and hope, the babies will hatch as usual.

I am wondering what colour the new babies will be. Chino is pale brown with a darker brown band, and Pan is a typical grey pigeon with mottled wings, and green/purple iridescence on his breast - no doubt there are endless colour combo's
1st set  – Pascal – very like Chino – Primrose – dark grey and like Pan but more subdued
2nd set – Bronte – Sandy brown with mauve-ish breast, and mottled mauve patches on wing.. Darcy – brighter sandy brown than Bronte

3rd set – Avery - dark grey with a dark band and white wing tip – very fetching!. Evangeline – pale grey with dark band.

Above, Bronte

Sat 16th - I while ago I caught a fledgling robin in the house and released it - so sweet!

A day or so later, I saw it - or another one - on the path and threw it some peanut granules.

But today I was so distressed to find it dead in the garden with the cat sitting nearby. 'No Loopy! I said to her 'I really DON'T want darling baby robins as a present.......' but cats will be cats, there is nothing I can do about it (at times like this I wish I hadn't adopted her). The only thing I could do of course was to give the little one a special funeral.

Watery funeral for fledgling robin

Robin (the pigeon) was nowhere around at the time I shut up the aviary, so obviously felt well enough to fly off  (11 days after the injury, which was the second injury)- he was back by tea-time the next day, helping himself to grain inside the day room. Home from home!

The photo below was taken at the poultry farm where Cloud and co. are looked after when I am on holiday. The dog does spot the chick (but can you???) but doesn't go after it, and it was soon scooped up and put back with its mother.

Monday 18th July 16 - So now we are into a quiet mode with the new eggs not due to hatch til about 29th July and I probably won't blog again til then.

Avery and Evangeline - 3 weeks
Perelle and Apolline - 5 weeks
Bronte and Darcy - 11 weeks
Pascal and Primrose - about 16 and a half weeks

 The aviary birds on the floor of the day room, with Primrose on the water bath, and Pascal at the front. Cloud to the left, and Pan in the middle. Below, Avery and Evangeline (right)

Below, I am not totally sure who the four white doves are, but I like to think it is a happy family snap of Lottie and Lucky, with their babies, Perelle and Appoline.

To be cont

Sunday, 10 July 2016

All the babies are growing up fast

Sunday 10.7.16 – Here we are hurtling into July and Pan & Chino’s babies are two weeks old today. I can now distinguish between the two of them – Avery is the bigger, darker one, and Evangeline is the smaller, paler grey one.

This is when they were only probably about 9 days or so, with Avery on the right.

 And below, Evangeline, the little one, is on the right this time - so cute aren't they?

And here's Perelle and Appoline, from the dovecote, agedabout three weeks or so - I am beginning to lose track of all the ages! I took them out of the cote and put them in the old hutch to have a good look at them. Perelle, the spotty one, is in front.

Now Perelle and Apolline are four weeks old today -  together in the nest box.

During the past week I discovered they had lice – particularly on the underside of their wings.

Lice on underside of baby white dove wings

As you can see from the photo, these are like tiny little pencil lines but of course they live off the blood of the host, and as I want my babies to be as healthy as possible, I bought some Johnson’s Anti-Mite Extra spray. It says on it that it is suitable for pigeons, and I have used it in the past, so know it is effective.

Johnson's Anti-Mite Extra spray, suitable for use on pet pigeons
I will check again in a week, and can re-use if necessary. I expect Avery and Evangeline have lice too but they don’t show up like they do on the white birds. Maybe I should spray ALL my birds but I am reluctant to use things like this unless totally necessary.

 Above, a pretty brown unknown pigeon who decided to join in for a while, and below, Cloud, in her pretend nest and own habitat - she gets cross when I remove her for feeding, if she doesn't want to come out! Although I miss my Cissie, it is much quicker to hand-feed one bird twice a day than it is two.

Lottie only seems to be turning up once a day, to feed herself, and Lucky is doing all the feeding of the babies now. He is a pretty good father, in general, but for a couple of days he didn’t seem to be doing his duty so I gave the babies a few hand-feeds. And now I am giving them a few small grains on the ledge of their nest-box and they seem to be able to feed themselves, which will be a good head start when they fledge – which could be any time in the next week.

My cat Loopy seems to be around at odd times, so I hope these babies will be canny and not put themselves in harm’s way.

The wound on the underside of Robin’s wing has healed, and he can fly a little bit, when he wants to. Here he is with his dragging wing, poor thing.

Yesterday he flew to the low roof for the first time since his injury, 11 days ago.  I am currently putting him to bed in the old hutch, but he spends the day in the aviary with the others – and of course he is free to go into the garden when the aviary door is open. I’d hoped he might show an interest in Cloud, but so far he seems to prefer Primrose. She is only 15 weeks old, so a little young for settling down.

 Above, you can just see two pigeons, enjoying a quiet peck round the garden. This is Pan and Chino, having time out from the babies. Below, I let about a third of the raised bed go over to wild flowers as it seemed a shame to dig them up. I do have some carrots in the rest, but not sure they are growing very well. I am no gardener!
 Here I am crushing dried egg shells - then I add this to the raised bed as the extra calcium is good for the pigeons, and the soil. It is quite satisfying doing this, and my grandchildren love doing it too. I used to just add the shells to the compost but they take ages to break down, and one of my blog readers crushes egg shells for her white doves so I thought I would too.

Pan started bringing sticks to make a new nest in the box opposite Avery and Evangeline a few days ago.

 Chino and Pan snuggle up in the aviary. I took the photos through the little hatch opening

But when I went inside the aviary, Chino immediately stood up as she is still a nervous bird

Primrose was watching from the window in the day room. She is very much a home bird as I said before and after a short morning fly she comes back and spends the day at home.

The nest box already had a felt pad in it, and I added a handful of hay to Pan's few scrappy sticks. Yesterday in the late afternoon (laying time) Chino seemed to be making herself comfortable.

 And a bit later on - yes I could see an egg!

But, you say...... more babies?? How on earth will they all fit in the aviary if they keep having babies? Well, Darcy and Bronte are birds about town, or field, now - and despite being only 10 weeks old, they spend all day out and about, and only Bronte comes back home at night to the aviary, and is the last bird in! I see Darcy during the day, and try to make sure she (or he) gets extra food. I still don't know what sex these two are - or in fact what sex the older two, Pascal and Primrose are! Though I am pretty sure Primrose IS female. (P and P are about 3 months old now. So it is only natural that birds will move on - the females taken away by males looking for a mate, and the males looking for females and nesting spots of their own, though of course they might try to bring them back to the aviary. Pan is reasonably tolerant, but there is only so much space. Pascal of course will probably never be able to fly, and will always be my 'baby'. He is very sweet, with his silly little frilly wings, as he jumps up in the air, or off the edge of the raised bed, and tries to fly! He reminds me of Pookie, the rabbit with wings. Does anyone remember the beautifully illustrated Pookie books by Ivy L. Wallace?

Avery (left) and Evangeline have now found their feet, and often move to the front of the nest-box. Pan built them a very good nest, with lots of sticks, but although I am reluctant to pull it out it is very smelly now, and I'd rather do it before Chino lays a second egg, and the pair start sitting in earnest.

They get excited when they see their daddy, Pan, and flap about squeaking, asking to be fed!

This is one of the very nicest things about my new aviary - I can easily see the babies whenever I want to, and they will have more freedom than the dovecote babies; being able to move about on the shelf and learn to pick up grains right from the start. As you can see, the adults chuck the grains about everywhere, and though I have a little 'aviary' dustpan and brush and am forever sweeping up, it is always messy! And the poop! Goodness, where does it all come from? (don't answer that!). In the mornings I do some pooper-picking with kitchen paper, of the fresh poop where the birds have been roosting - and all this goes in the compost as very good for the garden - but it is impossible to keep the floor of the aviary clean. In the beginning it was like a lovely sauna or something with all the bright clean wood but that quickly changed! Of course the poop just dries up and crumbles away, and I do sweep the floor.

Below, Perelle on my lap after a little hand-feed top up. His dad Lucky, has a black smudge on his breast and a couple of  tiny black markings on his neck. Apolline appears to be pure white like their mum, Lottie.

 He fluttered off my lap to the ground, but he is not fledged yet, so I picked him up and put him back in the dovecote.
He waits on the ledge for Lucky to come back and give him the confidence to fledge!
Below is my Dolly, now three years old, and one of the very last of the 'old gang'. She was hatched in the cote, and is, I think, Lucky's offspring too (with his first wife Charm), but I must admit I would have to check that as I can't totally remember. Her sibling was Fennie, named after one of my blog readers, and Purplecoo mate. She knows me well and runs for peanuts - nothing else will do!
My tortoise, Orlando, gets very adventuresome and climbs up the wire netting of his run. Lucky I found him or he might have fallen off and landed on his back. I am not sure how long they can be on their backs, but it can't be good. Mind you, I am getting more used to having a tortoise now and am less worried about him.
One year old tortoise trying to escape!
To be cont.....