On the nest.
I returned home on 28th August, 2013 to find a woodpigeon was sitting on a nest in a big tree in my garden, visible from the house windows. Using my not-very-good binoculars I could see her sitting there and watching her became a daily obsession.
I did an Internet search and found out that both males and females build the nest, two eggs are laid and they alternate incubating the eggs over 17-19 days with the female doing the night shift. They then take it in turns to feed the hatchlings with crop milk and they fledge after 33-34 days so they were going to be around for several days. They mate for life.
The nest was very loose and twiggy and I could look out of the window at the top of the stairs and see the wood pigeon sitting on it through the leaves which were still profuse because of the hot daytime weather we’ve had this year. It was sometimes hard to see when the wind blew a bit as they were well hidden by leaves from that angle even though I knew where to look.
About two weeks ago we had gusty winds and this was the first time I knew the other parent was around. They were taking twigs up and passing them to the sitter and did this quite openly as it was urgent. They went from the tree to the top of my shed then to the ground and back up again. I thought about the birds swaying and swinging around in the wind as the branches dipped and dived.
After a few days the birds were agitated and it became clear the eggs had hatched. One day I saw two small heads poking up in the nest. I only saw the morning swap over once at about 8am. A pigeon arrived on one side of the tree and the other pigeon flew off from the other side. I saw the evening shift arrive a couple of times just before dusk.
On the 18th September I went out of the house and on the path between the door and my car were several feathers. There had been an incident. It looked like wood pigeon feathers but I thought it might not be to do with my wood pigeon family. I didn’t see the nest clearly after this as the nest had shifted and I couldn’t see it. I could see there was a parent bird by looking up from the ground and seeing a tail.
On Thursday 27th September I was away from home two days and a night. When I returned at dusk I was unpacking the car and I saw what looked like feathers on the ground in the garden. I looked closer and it was a squab that was dead. That upset me as I could actually see it unlike the feathers of a few days earlier. I wondered about going back out and taking a photo but changed my mind thinking it would be painful to look at. I had wondered about keeping some of the feathers of the other bird but didn’t want reminding. I thought of the parent birds, they had invested many days so far and were in the habit of feeding the young. In the daylight I could see the nest was now about 15 feet lower down the tree caught on some branches. I went out and stood directly under the tree and peered upwards where the original nest was, trying to make sense of it and see if any twigs were left higher up. A loud flapping and a bird flew out of the other side of the tree. I didn’t see it but I know it was one of the parents.
One of the birds came and sat on a branch in the tree for about a week for three or four hours at a time. After ten days it didn’t come any more. What was left of the nest blew down onto the ground.
An Incident. Nest 15 feet lower down the tree.
Parent bird on a branch.