Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Pale Male's Tail and Is Doorstep Dove Alright?

Photograph courtesy of
Sally of Kentucky, who volunteers at a wildlife rehabilitation center, has been trying to come up with field marks to help watchers identify Pale Male from his newest girl, the possible Pearl. She is also quite pale and looks very much like Pale Male in many ways.

Sally said,

See the dark thin bars on each of his tail feathers? It is obvious from the top as well when his tail is flared a bit. Those are the bars I was noticing the new pale Pearl does not have on her tail.

But Pale Male does.

At first I thought Sally was talking about the terminal dark bar near the tip of each tail feather of a Red-tailed Hawk which are lighter in Pearl than in Pale Male but not nonexistent. But Sally is looking at pale horizontal stripes all the way down each of Pale Male's tail feathers that appear to be almost ghost bars of his juvenile tail.

Double click on the photo above and look particularly at the tail feathers on the upper part of Pale's tail. Do you see them?

I looked out the door earlier today and there was Friend and Doorstep out on the picnic table. I'd worried about them as the weather has been so inclement and the snow very deep. I was happy to see they'd found the bird seed I'd spread especially for the ground feeders who don't use the feeders.

But what is going on with Doorstep Dove? (on the right). Is she just having a nap? But her feathers are fluffed and don't look to be in as good condition as they do normally. Compare Friend's smooth feathers on the left.

Look at the exposed under layer feathers on her back. Are there missing feathers? Damaged ones? Or is she just not caring for them properly. What's going on?

Her eyes slip closed and then she rouses herself and stands.

She seems to be having trouble maneuvering through the snow, and stops after a few steps to peck at some seed.

She starts to walk over to more seed. Is she limping?

She is limping and favoring her right foot. So far she isn't having to use her wings to keep her balance but she does seem to be wincing with each step.

Then she pauses with her right foot up and looks at me.

She then continues her walk to a more seed populated area.

As per typical behavior of Mourning Doves in the cold, both birds hunker down on their feet while eating and even while walking the small distances for the short trips to more interesting seeds.

Friend keeps an eye on me.

3:24:23pm Doorstep Dove is tending her right foot. Did standing on the heating element and/or warm water of the bird bath have a negative effect on her foot later during the blizzard? Or did she have a close call with the local Cooper's Hawk which could explain an injured foot and the strange condition of the feathers on her lower back. Was it just the extended cold, snow, and biting wind?

Because of her less then tip top condition, I'm concerned about Doorstep as the forecast for tonight is a wind chill of minus 30F.

3:26pm Doorstep Dove goes back to her original position and rests. Friend plays sentinel and periodically forages near her.

The squirrels appear to have retired to their drays to semi-hibernate through the storm. Not one has appeared yesterday or today. Notice that the English Sparrow twig pile has been drifted in 2/3 of the way up. The right wall of the "nest" is nearly covered in places.
A wave snowdrift walls the back step. Doorstep Dove got her name from snuggling up to the patio door during cold weather. She gave up the habit when Pyewackit entered the household. I assume because Pyewacket spends a good bit of time with her face a half inch from the glass. As Pye was attempting to predate the feeding area I felt everyone would be safer with Pye in the house as opposed to outside the house. Besides Pye being much better fed and comfortable. But every move we make as humans has an impact on what is around us in the natural world. Perhaps Doorstep would have been warmer near the door if Pye had never come in but perhaps not as the drift was created by wind swooping the snow on both sides of the drift.

I'm likely not getting to the front door until Spring.

Donegal Browne


sally said...

oh poor Doorstep! She coculd indeed have had a scrape with the Cooper's hawk, perhaps a bad grip on her back? I kind of hope you can catch her and bring her in and feed her and maybe get her to a vet if she is injured...she definitley looks like a bird that doesn't feel well at all.

Donegal Browne said...

I saw her today, more when the blog goes up, and she seemed to be walking better, her feathers where smoother and she is still eating but I'm still a bit worried as Friend is treating her as he would a fledgling that might need interference run for her if danger shows up.

I'd like to get my hands on her and check for punctures or other injuries but she's still flighted which makes catching her nigh on impossible. The minute I start to open the door she's off.

I thought about possibly rigging some kind of live trap but she's suddenly extremely wary even of me.

Perhaps it's time for the box, stick, and ribbon trick.

sally said...

i never got a box to work...of course I think I was probably 8 years old last time I tried! I hope she feels better.

Donegal Browne said...

I was being somewhat facetious about the box, but I did catch one of my stray cats that way and as the live trap I have could be dangerous for doves I have given a box consideration. :-)

Another consideration is that an animal that spends even a day in a warm house looses some resistance from cold (according to research done with sled dogs anyway).

Therefore Doorstep might have to remain inside until it warms up a little which would mean separation from her mate, Friend, for awhile. Without a mate, Friend might run into trouble as well. A Mourning Dove pair looks after each other. They are the eyes in the back of each other's head. It's conceivable that if she disappeared for a time that he would then re-mate and then Doorstep would be without when she reappeared.

If I found Doorstep grounded or in other dire straits, I would without doubt bring her in. But so far she is still flighted, making her difficult to catch for me and anything else that is trying to get her, and she's still able to get food and water so I'm taking it day by day.