Starting a Family – Pigeon Style: Pigeons nest in holly tree in my garden

Welcome to another Local Focus Nature episode
and today we’re Starting a Family – Pigeon Style. Meet Mum and Dad. Late spring in 2019,
this couple decided that the holly tree in my garden was the perfect place for their
nest. You might think that a holly tree would be too prickly, but it didn’t seem to be
a problem for them and I reckon they might have picked this tree because it would be
more difficult for predators to reach them, even though the nest is quite low down. If
I wanted to reach out and touch it, I could just about do that. Although, for most of
these pictures, I stood on some kitchen steps. As you can see, the nest they make is pretty
flimsy. It looks like little more than a pile of twigs (they make a lot of mess with discarded
twigs, they’re quite choosy), but I’m sure they’re all carefully placed so it’s
secure. It is for their kids, after all. They sit on the eggs for about 17-19 days. Yes,
they. The adults take turns. The female usually looks after things overnight and the male
during the day. It’s quite difficult to tell when the eggs
hatch, but I got a great clue, when they chucked part of one of the eggshells over the side.
I count this as day one, although it’s possible it was day two, or even day three for one of the young. They usually lay two eggs, as they did here, but can lay anything from 1 to 3.
It’s actually quite difficult to see the chicks, which are called squabs. The parents
are protective, but I got lucky one day, when the parents left the nest unexpectedly.
The parents are constantly on the nest for up to the first ten days. During this period,
they feed their young on a kind of milk that they produce in their crop. After that, they’re
fed on seeds. The squabs grow at a rapid rate and after
that initial period, the parents leave them alone for long periods of time and they seem
quite contented, all snuggled up together. This is day 8, so my day 1
might be a little out. As you can see in this picture, at approximately
9 days, they’ve still got some fluffy newborn feathers to get rid of, but are well on the
way to an adult coat. That tuft on the head seems to be the last
major part to go, but it looks quite cute, if it wasn’t for the black staring eyes.
Actually, those eyes aren’t nearly as piercing as an adult pigeon’s eyes. Those feel as
if they’re boring into you every time. At approximately 12 days, they’re starting to
stretch their legs and looking as if they could fly off any time, although you can still
tell that they’re not adults. They might look big here, in the nest, but they’re
actually still quite small. Here they are practising their staring. And again. And again. By day 15 they really are beginning to look as if they’re going to burst over the sides
of the nest, but are resisting that final leap into the unknown. Yes, they are ready
to go, because … their parents are trying to kick them out.
See what I mean about them still being quite small? They finally left the nest on approximately
day 16. Well, one left, then came back and sat overnight with the other one, before they
fledged the next day. The parents then look after them for about another 10 days,
before they’re on their own. And that’s the end of this journey. Pigeons
largely mate for life and they like going back to the same nesting site, so I’m hoping
that 2020 will bring more pigeon news to my channel, but we’ve probably got a few months
before that happens. Thank you for watching.

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