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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Tale of Two Pigeons - Week 2

Week 2 10 July - 16 July 2006

10 July 2006
The parents patiently incubate the eggs waiting for them to hatch. The parent sitting on the eggs does not eat or drink anything till the shift is over. I leave them water and grains which they happily eat and fly away.

11 July 2006
I see a broken shell. The first egg hatches. By the time i could go grab the camera, the parent covers the new born chick and the unhatched egg. See the yellow fluff under the parent? That is their first born. We decided to name her Elvira. (guessing it is a female).

The chick has to fight and struggle its way out of the egg shell. The parent cannot and will not help in any way. This is nature's way of strengthening the bones of the chick. This is similar to the transformation of a butterfly.

12 July 2006
Sometime in the next 48 hours, the second egg hatches and out comes the chick. We decided to name him Carlos. (As per my research, the eggs hatch out to become one male and one female). The parents still take turns watching and protecting the new borns who are weak, fragile, hungry and err... ugly. After the chicks hatch out, the parents are even more protective and sometimes aggressive too.

15 July 2006
Here they are. My first glimpse of the chicks, 3 days after the first chick was born. They wish they were baby Shiloh, but these yellow little fuzzballs were happy to settle down for just one photographer.. lol

Chicks are hungry and need to be fed as soon as they are born. They depend on crop milk for the first couple of weeks. Crop milk, also known as pigeon's milk, is a specially produced secretion that both parents produce from the lining of the crop (a sac-like food storage chamber that projects outward from the bottom of the esophagus). Eventually seeds replace the crop milk. Both male and female adult birds produce crop milk and share in the feeding and care of the young.

16 July 2006
Carlos and Elvira dont have feathers and they lose body heat rapidly. They need to be kept warm and dry all the time till they grow their own feathers. The parents continues to sit on them, give them warmth, food and protection for the next two weeks.

The parents still continue with their shift and the chicks need to be fed a couple of times each day. They are still weak and can barely move. They haven't started screaming yet. Thank god!

Pigeons usually fly away at the slightest noise they hear. But parents, once they lay eggs or after the chicks hatch out, stay back and protect their nest. They dont fly away like they usually do. I have noticed that they remain absolutely still as long as i am in their sight, watching every movement of mine carefully. If the parents get scared or sense danger (Most of the time, this is caused by loud noises or super-curious humans) to themselves or the chicks, they abandon the nest. This situation often leads to the death of the chicks (as they cannot survive without the crop milk) unless someone decides to hand feed them (which is a very tedious process requiring requiring commitment and dedication).

Watch this space for updates...
Week 3 coming soon...

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