Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not All Babies Are Beautiful To The Eye

This week I've been spending a lot of time on a special project out in my garden (more details later) instead of doing important stuff like editing or, in my husband's opinion, putting the laundry away (I'm a terrible housewife!). And during the week, a local pigeon kept spooking my chooks in the garden by repeatedly crashing into a nearby tree. It was particularly annoying because it was the same tree over and over again. This particular pigeon didn't seem to get the idea that this tree was just too difficult to land in.
But as I happened to glance up at yet another collision while I was hanging out the washing, I realized something. There wasn't just one pigeon. There were two. And the second was sitting on the ramshackle collection of twigs that passes for a pigeon nest (they're terrible nest builders). The pigeon's repeated crashing into the same tree suddenly made a lot more sense.
And because I'm the kind of girl who will happily climb up trees to check out a nest, I went up there. The sitting parent flew away at my arrival, revealing two tiny chicks (or squabs, as baby pigeons are called) lying very still on their precarious twig platform. Aww! (BTW, the parent bird came back). Photos are taken later when said parent became more tolerant of our intrustions.
One chick using parent as a backrest. The other is underneath.
17th June

Is it me, or does it look like a dodo?!

Both chicks looking maybe a smidge cuter? 19th June

My youngest is an absolute wildlife fanatic, so when we collected him from school I told him about the nest and pointed it out. Quick as a flash he shinned up the ladder. Fortunately his smaller size apparently made him less of a threat because the parent bird stayed put. Despite that, he was still able to see one of the chicks, which impressed him no end.
But when he came back down, he looked awkward. I asked him what was up. He gave me a quick glance before staring at his feet again.
"Pigeon chicks are really ugly," he ventured uncertainly.
I laughed. "Yup, they really are."
This seemed to relieve him. I found it cute that he felt bad about saying they were ugly, but got up the courage to say it anyway. They really aren't the cutest of chicks, though I've no doubt their parents think them beautiful...
Right now, Keir's Shadow is a chick of indeterminant species, adult feathers slowly and painfully emerging but as yet no swan, that's for sure. I just hope it isn't a pigeon.

Status Update
Despite my best efforts, I'm still struggling to get past 36% on Keir's Shadow, though I have made progress. I'm having to write new or rewrite old sections to fix the improbably plot lines and expand what is staying. So far it's now up to 93K (having started out at 75K and scenes being deleted). I expect it to grow past 100K despite more needing cutting. The half-hearted secondary romance also needs working into shape. So, it is moving ahead, just very, very slowly.
Reunion is still untouched after coming back from my editor, while Unexpected is still with my editor.
Although the 99 cents promo officially finished yesterday, you may still be able to pick up some of the books listed HERE. My book Tethered will remain at 99 cents until the end of June regardless.
A SciFi Romance Novella
Goodreads | Webpage
Available from...
Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Chook Update
There's excitement in the chook department! I've wanted some more chooks for a while, and youngest has been fascinated by the idea of hatching chicks since they incubated some duck eggs at school. Because we don't have a cockerel (too noisy, and you only need a cockerel for chicks, not to get eggs), I've had to buy hatching eggs.
Six Pekin eggs, helpfully labelled up with the colour of the hen that laid them.
We have splash (mostly white with dark markings), mottled (dark feathers with white splodges, like Pitch), millefleur (brown with white and black speckles), cuckoo (dark with small white markings), lemon (pale gold) and lavender (grey with a hint of mauve).

Of course, coming through the post isn't an ideal way for them to travel so there's no guarantee any of the six will hatch. One benefit of Pekin bantams is they make good brooders regardless of who the eggs came from. The downside of this is they go through periods of being broody - a bit like a phantom pregnancy. They'll sit in the nest, even if it's completely empty, not eating or drinking, and also not laying. This generally means that throughout the spring/summer, one of our girls is in this state. Fizzgig was kind of half and half, while Effie was completely broody (to the point she will scream at you even opening the nest box and will peck savagely at anything coming near her. So I moved them off to a separate coop to become mums for real (if the eggs hatch), only for Fizzgig to abandon hers, so Effie is going solo. But the separate coop means she won't get disturbed by the other hens and I can give them suitable chick food and supplements. If all goes well, the eggs are due to hatch around the 4th of July, or possibly as late as the 8th). Fingers crossed!
Nominated mum-to-be Effie

Pitch enjoying the sun...

...until Kyru decides to get in the way...

...and a disgruntled Pitch is forced to move.
More pictures next week!


  1. Yay! More news of the chooks! Enjoyed the post, your son must be a really nice person - that was a great comment about the pigeon babies. :)

    1. Thanks Veronica. He just loves his animals, especially the babies and he's fascinated by their development. I've now got to keep a photo diary of them growing up so he can take it to school.

  2. I thought the pigeon story was wonderful.Pigeons are thicker than 2 short planks, and they build terrible nests. We had one that tried to build a nest in a young golden cane palm (think flexible fronds that sway in a zephyr.) And yeah, lots of baby birds aren't pretty like chicks or ducklings. But they have their own beauty.

    1. Isn't it amazing how they do so well as a species and yet are probably the worst nest builders ever?! Apparently they're descended from rock birds, the kind who nest in inaccessible places like cliff ledges, so I guess they just haven't really evolved to build proper nests in trees and such. BUT, they are actually considered intelligent for birds. I thought they were the stupidest of stupid, but looking it up their intelligence has been tested and they're not so bird brained. For instance they are self aware, recognizing themselves in a mirror, and they can distinguish one artist's work from another. Who'd have thunk it?! Maybe that's the secret of their success - acting dumb but secretly plotting world domination. :P

  3. Loved the pigeon story! We got a nesting pair in one of our barns one year. Before we knew it, we had a whole flock, and they kept coming back every spring. Within a few years, we had an entire nesting colony. (And yes, those chicks are really ugly and the parents are not only horrible nest builders, they are very messy birds!) When their numbers got completely unmanageable--and their messes entirely too obnoxious--we had to do something to eradicate them. We didn't want to shoot them, so we got some special feed from a local wildlife expert. It doesn't poison them, they just don't like the taste so they'll leave the area. I was skeptical, but darned it if didn't work! Now we only have a few White-Winged Doves, which are much more pleasant to have around.

    1. Yup, very messy and very prolific, which is why they're considered as much vermin as rats in the cities. But obviously cuter because people will feed pigeons and run screaming on seeing rats. Hmm, interesting about the feed. We have some collared doves as well, which are pretty and make the most adorable cooing sound but they're almost as clumsy as the pigeons when it comes to navigating the trees.

  4. OMG the broody hens. Hubs made a broody jail for ours, since it can be contagious. Our Wyandottes are the WORST. Those girls really want to be moms! Good luck with the babies!

    1. Thanks Sharon! Yeah, it's funny how some breeds seem more prone than others. You'd think they'd all be like it since brooding is a necessary skill. We've tried all sorts to 'cure' them because sometimes an aggressive brooder puts off the others from laying because they get screamed and pecked at if they go in the nest box. Luckily we were given an extra coop by a neighbour who gave up keeping chooks so we can just separate them out and make it less stressful for all of them. The neighbour's mum used to be a champion poultry breeder and she just used to separate out the broody ones to a box where they could just stick their head out to eat and drink.


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