Thursday, March 14, 2013
Daily Care of the Dovecote 1802
The Domestic Encyclopaedia: or, A Dictionary of Facts, and Useful Knowledge by Anthony Florian Madinger Willich. London 1802
"PIGEON-HOUSE, or DoveCote: a structure usually of wood, for the accommodation and rearing of pigeons.
"Dove-cotes ought to be built of a moderate height, and spacious, so that the birds may find sufficient room to fly about them with ease; and, in case they spy an external object which should alarm them, that they can readily escape. In constructing the nests, it will he advisable to interweave wickers, in imitation of those formed by wild pigeons; as they will thus be more easily domesticated, and have no inducement to forsake their habitations.
"Should any repairs become necessary in the cote...it will be proper to complete them before the middle of the day; because, if the pigeons be disturbed in the afternoon, they will not rest quietly during the night, and the greater pan will perhaps sit moping on the ground, till the ensuing day. Such unfavourable accidents, in the breeding season, will either occasion the destruction of ninny eggs in embryo; or, if there should be any nestlings, they will consequently be starved.
"In Parkinson's Experienced Farmer, we meet with a remark made by a skillful pigeon-breeder, who cautioned him "against letting the first-flight fly to increase his stock," but advised him to take them without exception; because they will otherwise appear at the Benting season, that is, between seed-time and harvest, when pigeons are very scarce, and many of the young birds would pine to death, from mere weakness.—Pigeons rise early: and, as they require to be supplied with food only during the benting season, it should not be carried to the cote later than three or four o'clock in the morning: for, if it be served after that hour, they will hover restlessly about the house, and thus be prevented from taking their proper exercise. During the greater part of the year, they ought to provide their own food; as they will find abundance in the fields, from the commencement of harvest to the end of the sowing season...those which are constantly fed at home, will not be prolific.
"The utmost cleanliness ought to prevail in pigeon-houses: hence the holes should be carefully examined, before the breeding-season arrives. If any of the young die during the summer, they will speedily become putrid, and emit a disagreeable stench, which is extremely injurious to the inhabitants of the dove-cote: thus, from the insupportable filth, and smell, they are often unwillingly compelled to quit the eggs laid for a second brood; so that the principal part of the season is lost.
"Farther, as pigeons are very liable to be infected with fleas, all the nests ought to be cleaned; and, if it be conveniently practicable, they should be washed out, and the dung, or oilier impurities removed, immediately after the first flight is hatched: this business, however, should, on all occasions, be performed at an early hour in the morning; and the remaining eggs must likewise be removed, so as to render the habitation perfectly clean for the harvest-flight.
"Thus managed, pigeons will thrive and multiply to an uncommon degree; but, as they have a great antipathy to owls, which, sometimes enter their habitations, such intruders must be immediately destroyed, rats, cats, weasels, and squirrels are likewise their mortal enemies, and will speedily depopulate a whole dove-cote. To prevent these depredations, it will be necessary to examine the different avenues to the pigeon-house, regularly once a week, or oftener, and with minute attention."