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FEATURE


as nesting material and fortunately I had a pile of forest bark next to a large hazel bush the roots of which had permeated the bark pile, it was therefore an easy exercise to pull up a few roots and make nice nests for the Doves. Evidently placing two pairs in one aviary is generally not successful as fighting frequently occurs but only one of my pairs seemed interested in breeding and possibly that was why I had no difficulties in that regard. My efforts were very quickly rewarded as within two weeks one of the pairs started to show interest in each other and there was a fair amount of mutual preening and sitting close together, then I saw the hen on one of the nests, progress appeared promising! The first egg was laid on 21st July and the second the following day, they were a rich cream colour and I candled them after the hen had sat for 5 days, they both showed that the vein formation was developing so I speedily returned them to the nest. The first egg hatched on 4th August and the second on 5th. I was aware from the excellent book by I.S. Dyer “Breeding the Cape Dove: My Experience” that around eight days of age can be a critical time as the parents can stop feeding the youngsters. On 12th August I was delighted to see that my two precious babies were still doing well and


growing quickly, the first left the nest on 20th August and the second the next day. My aviary has a wire floor ‘overhang’ for the last 3’ of its length and the two babies sat on this and the mother joined them sitting very close to keep them warm, the temperature that morning was only 13C which for an August day is rather cold. Jerry Fisher warned me that it is sensible to try to check that the babies are drinking for themselves two breeders have had this problem once the young leave the nest. I took a shallow bowl of water into the aviary and simply picked up one of the babies, there was no attempt from them to fly away, it drank avidly once its beak was placed in the water, once it had consumed all it wanted I then put it down and picked up the second baby and let that drink. On 28th August I again caught my two birds and checked them but they appeared not to be thirsty. Although I mentioned above that there was a 3’ overhang the total flight size is 10’ long, 7’6” sloping to 5’6” high and 3’ wide and 7’ of the roof is covered in glass-fibre roof sheeting giving a very sheltered and protected aviary. Both young developed well and as the days shortened and temperatures dropped I carefully considered if I should move all six birds into heated indoor quarters for the winter. I would have liked to leave them where they


BIRD SCENE 25


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