The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Thursday, 29 December 2011


Over the years I have written a huge amount--millions of words of one sort or another--ranging from professional writing in information technology, business and science, to children's and adult fiction, to legal opinions, to blogs, etc. The fiction has covered a very wide range, from fantasy to horror, from romance to humour, from metaphor and environmental activism to classic tales reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Tolkien.

Some of my stories are very short, some are full-length books; they vary in length from a mere 360 words on a single page to over 33,000 on 84 pages. But 360 words can be just as compelling as a much longer work. The length should be whatever it comes out to; it should fit the story. The 360-word work is a horror-story, whose brevity heightens the horror (and the black humour).

None of my stories have been published (on paper, I mean), either because I made no attempt, or as was the case with my first book, a fantasy called The Wing-Friends, because although the publishers liked it they declined it. They liked it because their reader, the famous Dorothy Butler, recommended it, but they did not think there was a big enough market in my native New Zealand to make it worth their while. The opinions of publishers are the bane of author's lives...

How many times in history have books been declined by publishers, or only published in very limited numbers, because publishers did not think they would be successful, but then were runaway best-sellers, never out of print? The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Lord of the Rings are two of myriads of examples.

To get round that, the ideal is be your own publisher but traditionally that has meant a large initial outlay because of the cost of a print-run and marketing. Print-on-demand publishing, in which copies are printed only when ordered, opened large cracks in that obstacle, but although the outlay was not as large it was still not an easy road, especially if you had a number of works to publish.

In the past few days I have discovered, rather belatedly to my chagrin, that Amazon has swept away all obstacles with free services, both ebook and print-on-demand. The ebooks are published via Kindle Direct Publishing; the print-on-demand are published via a part of the Amazon empire called CreateSpace. The Internet has radically changed the author's world. Yay! No longer do publishers have the whip hand, or any hand at all. Now the author is in charge, and has a direct line to readers. Which is how things should be.

So I have started publishing a number of my stories myself. The shorter ones are or will be in ebook format, for reading on an electronic reader or a computer. The longer ones will be in print-on-demand paperback format.

To find my stories go to Amazon and enter my name in the search box: Nobilangelo Ceramalus, or just Nobilangelo, or click on this link. As the days go more and more will be there. so far I have published seven ebooks. Soon I shall publish my first print-on-demand book, The Wing-Friends. I also plan to publish an environmental book, The Earth-Guard, via print-on-demand, as well as other things in both formats, about a dozen all together perhaps.

The exclamation mark at the end of the title of this posting is therefore an indication of my relief at being able at long last to get my stories out into the world where they belong.

I hope there will be people who will enjoy them.

Thursday, 22 December 2011


The title says it all. This morning eighteen doves were waiting at the feeding-place. So much for my reckoning that there were seventeen. The scrum of birds round my hands when I held them out full of cheese was amazing.

To make a most dovish start to the day even more special, about an hour later I went outside for a short dove-break and held up one hand with food in it to the trees. Down came a dove, paused on the edge of the roof, then on a perch beside me, then hopped to my hand and fed there. To my delight it was the most lovely one, the bird I had thought it would be fitting to call Guinivere. Pure white, lovely eyes surrounded by fine grey circlets, beautiful feet...

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Good grief! How many doves are there? Late this afternoon I counted seventeen in the feeding-place. They are multiplying... At their present rate of increase we shall have to move out of the forest within a year. ;-)

The sixteenth one that appeared the other day but was too shy to come down to the ground turned out not to be an adult, as it she had seemed at a distance to be, because she has since been down a couple of times and as the pink ceres of a chick. She is very timid; she trembles with fear, and hardly knows how to eat, so she is noticeably thin. I expect she will copy the others and gain in confidence.

I do not think she was one of the seventeen, so all together there may be eighteen.

This morning there were thirteen doves gobbling bits of cheese from my hands, and the blackbird chick came very close to one hand, which suggests that she is a female, although her singing suggests the opposite, but till proved otherwise I shall think of her as female. I tried to her get it get her to eat out of that hand, because she was only centimetres from it, but she is not yet that confident, and the scrum of doves would have been daunting. However it she is now happy to hop about the porch feeding close to my feet, if there are no doves competing with her. She gives them competition too; she clacks her beak at them if they try to take 'her' food.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


It seems, to indulge my tongue-in-cheek naming faculty again, that Mrs Housekeeper's personal name is Olivia Twist, because this morning she taught me a new word in Dove. 'Coo' uttered in particular way when you are a dove hunting about someone's office floor for something to eat and foraging everywhere, including under his desk, means 'More!' Or perhaps it was 'More, please!' I am not quite up on the details of dovish manners yet.

Her colleagues must have had the same thought, because the entire fourteen turned up when I was taking a lunch-and-dove break early in the afternoon. The speed at which they descended out of the trees and gobbled up the first bit of food showed that very plainly. So I fetched more. Of course.

After the Board get-together I arrived back to find to my surprise that while I had been away the doves had multiplied. The fourteen that had been there at midday had become sixteen. One, an adult, is rather shy. The closest it came to joining the others was to hover above them at the feeding-place, then go and sit in a tree, so it must be new to this part of the forest. I wonder what the final count will be. I shall try to avoid Board meetings. They are obviously dangerous; they cause multiplication...  ;-)


Thirteen doves greeted me this morning when I went outside at seven o'clock, on this the 241st anniversary of Beethoven's birth on the 16th of December 1770. To my surprise most of them look a lot cleaner than they did yesterday; some almost have their pristine whiteness. I wonder how they do it. Whatever their secret, the newest chick has yet to learn it. She still looks as if she has been stained all over by strong tea. I expect it was rain dripping on her through the great epiphytes that they like to roost under.

The present Waiheke Island Board has invited the incumbents who were elected in the previous local-body term to a joint meeting this afternoon to consider various matters. Obviously they cannot do the job without us and need a bit of help. ;-)  I shall raise the matter of introducing electric vehicles to the island ASAP, starting the Nissan Leaf. I talked to the managing director of Nissan New Zealand yesterday and he is happy about that proposalt (a pity it cannot be <a href="">the EStarCar,</a> but the next best will do very well in the meantime). I expect that will get a good response, because the present chair is environmentally aware, and one of the members has just been elected to Parliament as a Green MP. The Council should be taking the lead in the move from the Black Stuff to electrons, and I shall push that hard.So today my work work is going to be very compressed, squashed between the clock and a double Board.

But first things first... Beethoven's anniversary must of course be celebrated in grand style. So my working day is beginning to the majestic sound of his Ninth Symphony, the Choral, played by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert Von Karajan, the recording made by DGG in the 1960s that formed part of their prize-winning set of all Beethoven's symphonies.

The whole performance is magnificent, but I particularly like the way Karajan brings out the slow movement. There is a moment after the two themes are resolved together that no other conductor that I have ever heard does in the same way. Only a few notes, but it lifts the soul to a wonderful, unimaginable place.

The choral finale, of course, is the supreme movement, reaching a heaven-storming climax on the words 'vor Gott' in the line that in English means 'and the cherub stands before God.'

Thus a day blest by God: beginning with doves, Bible readings and Beethoven's Ninth. Then work, then off to the joint Board meeting to think about ways of making wonderful Waiheke Island even better.

Now the choral finale is beginning its divine thunder across our office, so I shall publish this, and luxuriate in Beethoven's genius. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


It rained all night and all day, so the forest is sodden. The poor doves! A white bird in the rain and dirt of a soaking-wet forest is not going to look its best, so it was a bedraggled and muddy flock that greeted me when I went out this morning. Then most of them huddled on our porch all day or crept under the floor of the building to try and keep dry. It was no day to be 25 metres up in a tree under a dripping epiphyte.

But the female that I have dubbed Mrs Housekeeper because she scoots inside whenever she gets the slightest opportunity, or can make one, managed shortly after midday to elude my attempts to stop her. I closed the door to keep the rest out, and she spent a while 'doing the housework' round our office, exploring and foraging everywhere, including under my desk, pecking up whatever little bits I dropped for her, or that her sharp eyes could find of what I might have dropped in fetching food for her companions earlier. She was quite happy, despite the closed door.

I went on with my work, to the accompaniment of the occasional coo under the floor from the birds sheltering there. Then a loud coo close to my chair caught my attention. I looked down and Mrs Housekeeper was looking up at me. 'Coo!' she said again.

'Oh, you want to go out?'


So I went to the door, she did too, I opened it, and out she went.

Dove, I find, is a very easy language to learn. The vocabulary is one word, the only variation is in tone. It can be pleading, contented, disappointed, angry, etc. But the message is always very clear. Doves tell it like it is.

Later in the afternoon I opened the office door again because I needed to go outside briefly for something, and of course Mrs Housekeeper was inside in a flash. Other doves flew at me, wet and muddy, so I had my hands and feet occupied cutting them off gently, and could do nothing to stop her or get her out. I did not want to leave her inside by herself, and she refused to be tempted out of my cosy office by food, so in the end I had to pick her up and carry her out.

But, nothing daunted, when I came back to the door a few minutes later she tried everything to scoot past me. This time it was me that won. So the scores are even. At the moment...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


This afternoon my reckoning was confirmed. There are indeed fourteen doves living in my part of this forest, because for the first time all fourteen came to the feeding-place at the same time. Doves everywhere! :-)

I had to laugh at another time today, because I opened the outer door of my office and a female dove that likes to scoot inside whenever she can showed every intention of doing it again, so I closed it till there was very little space even for her to get through, then cautiously opened it, blocking her way with a strategic foot. But she blithely dodged round it and rushed in. At the same time a dove flew into one hand, then another flew into the other, and two or three others charged inside after the bold female. Then a third flew to one arm. So I had three doves on my hands and arm, two or three rushing about inside, no way of getting my hands back to get the invaders back outside, and having to watch my footing because others were crowding round my feet.

It was a hilarious few minutes, and a very nice way of taking a break from some intense work.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


One a dove, the other a blackbird.

I saw a dove in the trees yesterday, so I had a total of thirteen in view at once, but the one in the trees did not come down to join the twelve on the ground. It seemed nervous of me, despite seeing that the others were constantly flying to my hands and pecking about at my feet. But today it came down out of the tree and perched on the edge of the roof, then finally decided to come down. It was still nervous, and went up and down between the ground and the roof of this building for a while till it became more accustomed to me and realised that the tossing movements of my hand meant food, then it stayed down, although it kept rather to the edge of the group.

So again there were twelve here, but not the same twelve as yesterday.

The arrival of the second blackbird chick was not a surprise, because I had seen its mother flying off somewhere at the same time as the father was feeding the other one, the one that can now feed itself. The second is smaller than its sibling, and not as advanced in its feeding. But both chicks, because that is all they have even known, are much more comfortable with the doves than their father (and with me). They are a little wary of them,, because they are bigger and inclined to be possessive about their food, but the first blackbird chick generally will feed close to a group as if he belonged and the second one is becoming the same.

I hope the blackbird chicks, and their mother, will become as tame as the female blackbird that I used to call Mrs Friendly, the one who ate cheese from my hand for many years. She was the mate of the male who has fathered the two chicks this season. He was much younger than her, and blackbirds mate for life, so her first mate must have died, so she continued with the new, younger one, then earlier this year she must also have died. Otherwise she would have responded to my whistle, as he still does. But she has not responded to it for many, she did not have chicks last season, although she normally had two clutches, and her former mate has a new mate (I assume a much younger one), so that must be the sad explanation. I miss her. She was truly a wild bird made tame.

Her mate also took cheese from my hand, but not nearly as readily and has not done it for some time. Perhaps I shall tame the whole family. The difficulty will be feeding them without the doves noticing. with them about, some cheese in the hand means that no other creature can get near. They are all over it in a trice.


My Sunday day of rest was much blest with many doves, and continuing to read Plutarch's Lives.

There were eleven doves when I first went outside at seven o'clock, then twelve when I went out shortly after eleven. The second time BigFeet1 decided to fly up to roost on my left arm and work through his feathers, and LightFeet followed suit on my right arm. Other birds came and went to my hands, to my shoulders, even to my head. Twice there were four on me at once.

Even BigFeet2 landed on one hand briefly, the first time he has done that, and Smudge attempted to more than once but was deterred by other birds, so I expect that both the newest chicks will soon be doing what all the rest do.

I wondered how long BigFeet1 and LightFeet would stay roosting contentedly on me, so I determined to stand there till they decided to go. LightFeet stayed for two hourst! BigFeet1 only lasted about an hour and a half, but that was only because F1 came and scared him off.

LightFeet likes perching on my shoulders, moving back and forth between them, lightly nibbling my ears, my hair, my collar. And perching on my arms energetically nibbling my buttons. She is fascinated by my buttons, and tugs at them energetically. M1 now does the same.

The blackbird chick has found that if it stands by my porch and sings its feed-me song I will come out will probably feed it. So it does, and usually I do. All blackbirds look like females at first, but I suspect that it is a male because of the amount of singing it does. We shall see.

It is wonderful and very special to have these birds bestowed on me, especially the doves, but whenever we are dealing with animals we must never let them become more than they are. We must always avoid getting into the situation rightly decried in the first paragraph in the chapter on Pericles in Plutarch's Lives (Plutarch lived about 1900 years ago; he died circa 120AD):

'Caesar once seeing some wealthy strangers at Rome carrying up and down with them in their arms and bosoms young puppy-dogs and monkeys, embracing them and making much of them, took occasion not unnaturally to ask whether the women in their country were not used to bear children; by that prince-like reprimand gravely reflecting upon persons who spend and lavish upon brute beasts that affection and kindness which nature has implanted in us to be bestowed on those of our own kind. With like reason we blame those who misuse that love of enquiry and observation which nature has implanted in our souls by expending it on object unworthy of the attention either of their eyes or their ears, while they disregard such as are excellent in themselves, and would do them good.'

Wise words.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


I noticed that today marks the seventh month since the date wild doves first ate from my hand. It was on the 9th of May this year that two on the ground ate cheese from an outstretched hand for the first time. And it was nine days later, on the 18th, that for the first time one flew to my hand to eat.

We have come a long way. Now fourteen wild doves eat from my hand, and most will fly up to it from the ground or some other place and stay there till they have eaten all the food they find, or are shunted off by another bird. Some will fly directly to my hand from high in the beautiful trees of this forest. Doves fly to my shoulder, my head, my back, my arms, my hands.

So now my work is now interspersed with delightful dove-breaks. I usually need only to open the outer door of my office to find one or more doves flying at me, seeking an outstretched hand--preferably one with food in it. Or trying to rush in the door.

The male blackbird also became a little tamer today. For the first time he joined doves on my porch to peck up the ground grain that was falling from my hands as two doves ate from them. And his chick is obviously fairly comfortable pecking up ground grain in company with doves.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Latish this afternoon I went outside, and found half a dozen doves on or near my porch. One was the female that I have previously called Light-Feathered Feet, because she has only a few small feathers high on her feet. Some doves have no feathers anywhere on their feet, some have a few small ones, some a few medium ones, some, like BigFeet (aka BigFeet1) and BigFeet2, have so many and such long ones that their feet are almost invisible.

I must think of a shorter version of her name. Lightfeet. That is poetic enough for such a beautiful bird. And she is lighter in weight than others, especially F1 and M1, who are bigger and noticeably heavier. After a while she flew up to my right hand to eat the ground grain that I kept offering her, and when she had finished she went to my left hand to eat that offering too.

Then to my delight she again showed that she is not on my hands just for food, because she settled down on my hand to work through her feathers, and to roost, even relaxing so much that she stood on one foot for much of the time. As I stood there, with her contentedly being her dovish self only a few centimetres from my face I wondered how long she would stay. About three-quarters of an hour was the answer, then she flew quietly away round the corner of the building to do something else, perhaps to have a drink from the small jars of water that I have provided for them.

A wild, young bird, only weeks old, trusting me that much. How wonderful! Would that all of nature had no reason to distrust us, because we were not busy wrecking it!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Yesterday (Tuesday the 6th of November) at about a quarter to two in the afternoon I was having trouble with slow Internet displays, so while I was waiting I chopped up some cheese. When I went outside I found a few doves near the porch, including BigFeet2, Smudge and a couple of others. The group of birds included another of the first three chicks to appear this spring, the one with the slightly feathered feet, a sibling of BigFeet1. The blackbird chick being fed by its father was also there.

So I started tossing bits of cheese to them from the porch. The blackbird chick, which is still pretending to its father that it needs to be fed, when its father is there, by going through its pleading routine, proved that it can look after itself perfectly well by eating all the cheese I threw to it. It no longer flees at the sudden movements of my hand, so is starting to be reasonably tame. Then its mother came along and she also did not flee when I tossed cheese her way. I hope both of them will end up eating from my hand.

I tried to get one or two of the doves to fly up to my hand by bending down but holding it so high that they could not reach the cheese I was holding. LightlyFeathered Feet finally got the message and jumped up. When she had eaten all the cheese in my hand I went inside and fetched more, but this time held it much higher not bending down on the ground, and it did at last fly up to it. And when it had eaten all the cheese it stayed there, perfectly relaxed, attending to its feathers, then it walked up my forearm and roosted in the crook of my elbow.

Then F1 flew up to the same hand, which happened to be my left, so LightlyFeathered Feet retreated up my arm to my shoulder. F1 kept coming and going to and from that hand, as always ever hopeful of finding food there, while LFF stayed on my shoulder. I wondered how long she was going to perch there. She was quite happy, taking a close look at me and sometimes nuzzling my collar. After five minutes or so she made her way across my upper back to my right shoulder and roosted there for several minutes until she lost her grip and fluttered down to the floor of the porch.

That friendly trust from a beautiful wild bird, a bird that was an egg up in the trees only a few weeks ago, made a wonderful five to ten minutes.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


On Monday (the 28th) two more chicks appeared. Chicks are easy to tell from adults, because apart from being smaller than most adults, their ceres are pink ('ceres', pronounced 'sears', are the small bulges doves have either side of the tops of their beaks). On adults they become a pinkish white. And chicks still have discoloured and incomplete feathers down their fronts, where the pigeon-milk they are fed on at first has dribbled down.

Both chicks are easy to tell from the other twelve birds because they are have distinctive features. One has feathers on its feet even longer and thicker that BigFeet's, so it promptly became BigFeet2. The other has a black smudge at the top of its tail, so became Smudge. Both were rather hesitant about me at first, far more than the first three chicks were.

The amazing thing about BigFeet2 is how fast it learnt.On Tuesday it tried pecking up little bits of food and could not do it at all. But on Wednesday it succeeded straight away. Obviously all it needed was to sleep on it.

Later in the day it fed from my hand, after being too nervous to come close the day before.

So now I must have a total of fourteen small white neighbours. But by this evening (Thursday) the most that had come at one time was eleven. It may be that this part of the forest is getting a bit crowded and some have moved away, but I think it more likely that some adults are sitting on nests, and that I can expect even more chicks to arrive.

I was given a kind of message that more chicks were coming, because last Saturday I found half a dove's egg by the front porch, which must have been deposited there by a parent. Obviously an egg-mail: 'Expect chicks.'

The egg is about 3cm in diameter and must have been about 6cm long. Pure white, with a semi-gloss surface. An egg as beautiful as the bird that laid it.

Other doves have copied BigFeet and landed on my head a few times, but it is the one that does it most often.

Thursday, 24 November 2011


Eleven doves flew down from the trees to me when I emerged at seven o'clock this morning. As usual I crouched down to feed them bits of Colby cheese from my hands in the place where I always feed them. When they had consumed all of that and I reached into my pocket for an end-crust to break up for them, F1, as usual, hopped up to my left hand to get the biggest share by tearing bits off for herself.

BigFeet chose the crook of my elbow so that I would feed him individually, then he would not have to compete with the rest on the ground, but F1 objected by motioning at him with her beak, so he hopped down, then outwitted her by flying up to my shoulder from behind. She did not notice that, even when I held up bits of bread to him. So I had in my left ear the delicate sound of a dove eating, a dove on my left hand, doves all round me, even under me.

BigFeet is a clever bird, particularly considering that he was an egg only weeks ago, and was at first a rather shy chick. Now he can fend for himself with the eleven other birds. He is also one of the boldest, wont to charge into my office as soon as I open the outer door. And he is very reluctant to go out once in, ever looking up at me, hoping that I will weaken and feed him some grain, or, even better, some cheese. In the end, to get some work done I might have to pick him up and take him out bodily.

Even if I leave the door only slightly open he and others have found how to get in and out. They have lost their early fear of being trapped behind the door, and now some even have found that they can fly in my office, as well as into it and out of it.

This wonderful dove invasion gets ever more wonderfully invasive.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Click any of these images to see all of them at full size:

The Milky Way -- the galaxy we live in
Orion Nebula

Earth with New Zealand circled

New Zealand

New Zealand has three main islands: the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island. There are also many smaller islands, such as Waiheke, which is only 23 kilometres wide. It is the triangular island about halfway down the roughly U-shaped Hauraki Gulf, about a third of the way down the North Island on the right. The shots below zoom in on it.
Hauraki Gulf, with the Coromandel Peninsula on the right and Auckland City, the dirty brown-and-white area, on the  left. Waiheke Island is in the middle of this Google Earth shot.

Waiheke Island, also from Google Earth.

Native New Zealand forest. Mine is like that.
A native Fantail and chicks. Fantails are extremely agile fliers; they catch tiny insects on the wing.
A Dove


When we are free to choose
We are not free
From the consequences of our choice.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Twelve doves greeted me again this morning (and, as always, a male blackbird scurrying round the edges grabbing whatever he can--now because he is feeding a chick). I always start them with many bits of cheese, which always means being surrounded by an eager flurry of doves.

Then I break up and hand out an end-crust. Because I am right-handed that means holding it in my left hand and breaking bits off with my right. F1 has long perched on my left hand as I do that, because she knows that by gnawing away at the crust she will get more than any of the others. BigFeet has tried supplanting her, but she is queen at that stage, so today for the first time he solved the problem by flying up to my left shoulder where I fed him. Then another dove perched in the crook of my left arm, yet another perched on my right arm, and to my delight the beautiful snow-white one flew to my head. So for a moment I had five doves on me and was crowned with the most beautiful one. A wonderful start to the day!

That beautiful one, the most beautiful one in that beautiful flock, would be aptly named if she were called Guinivere, which means white spirit.

Monday, 21 November 2011


I live and work in a magnificent native forest on Waiheke Island in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf--trees up to 25 metres high, a lush understorey, and birdlife galore. Tuis sing all day, and on moonlit nights. Moreporks (our native owl) call through the night. Native wood-pigeons woosh through the trees. Grey warblers and Kingfishers flit hither and thither. Fantails flit everywhere, even coming very close in their perpetual hunt for insects on the wing. Sometimes there is a kaka, and this summer a Shining Cuckoo has been sounding its distinctive song (they migrate down to New Zealand from the Solomon Islands etc).

For many years I have had blackbirds eating from my hand outside my office, in particular one female and her chicks. She became so friendly that I dubbed her Mrs Friendly. Blackbirds are cheesaholics. They cannot resist little cubes of Colby cheese (about 3mm square). So I was able to tame Mrs Friendly by feeding her in the same place, sitting very still, then one day I put the cheese on my hand and after a few timid attempts she took it.

But earlier this year I was invaded by doves from somewhere--like the ones in the picture: white, beautiful birds. They came to roost high in the trees on this place, not far from the front door. It was not long before they noticed what the blackbirds were doing, and started copying them. Poor Mrs Friendly! The little feathers on the crown of her head rose in fear when she was trying to eat from my hand and doves came along. Soon, to my great regret, she departed. I have not seen her for months, and her former mate has a new mate. Blackbirds are said to mate for life so perhaps she has died.

But more and more doves came, and three chicks were born recently, so now there are twelve. They all became tamer and tamer, until days like today has been have become the usual. I opened my front door at seven o'clock this morning to be greeted by all twelve. As soon as I came out some flew to my hands to try to be first to what I was holding, and when I bent down to reveal two hands full of cheese cubes there were instantly a dozen heads all battling to get their share.

Every time I opened the door during the day, doves flew at me, landing on my hands and arms, wanting something to eat, or just to perch. They are so relaxed there that they sometimes settle down for a long rest, or stand on one leg as birds do when they are relaxing, or come as a pair and groom each other after they have eaten. I have had them land on my shoulder a few times, even my head once.

They also come right inside. Eight came in today, the first time that many have. I have had up to five before, but eight is a record. One in particular, which only came out of the egg a few weeks ago, likes to rush in, even when the door is only slightly ajar, because he knows that he will get food much more easily that way than having to battle with the crowd outside. He has very distinctive feathering on his feet--far more feathers, and longer ones, than any of the others, so I call him BigFeet. Some doves have no feathers on their feet, like the one in the picture, others have a few or many. BigFeet is unique in my small flock. That name was particularly appropriate when he was younger and therefore smaller, because he looked all feet. He is still the smallest, but he can stand up for himself.

He has become very tame, and bold. It is hard to get him outside once he has come in. He hunts for food hither and thither, and waits for me to drop some more, then he pecks it up more cleanly than any vacuum-cleaner.

They all have their ways of communicating what they want. The most obvious is to fly to my hand and look for food there.

One bird has a very gentle way of telling me what she wants. She was the first to fly to my hand, so I first called her Friendly Female, then when another female copied her she became Friendly Female 1, then just F1, so the second became F2. F1 is particularly fond of cheese. One day she flew up to my hand, and when she saw that there was ground grain there (the ground part of Hubbard's Fruitful Breakfast), not cheese, she gave a very disappointed coo and flew back to the ground. So I went inside and fetched some cheese cubes. As soon as she saw me come out she flew back to my hand, gobbled them all up, then gave a very satisfied coo, like a sigh of pleasure. The sounds she made were exactly the same as we would make in the same circumstances.

The first male to fly to my hand, to whom I have given the bland sobriquet of M1 (to save calling him Friendly Male 1), has, literally, a very pointed way of telling me what he wants. When he finds no food in my hand, or has eaten everything there, he pecks at my fingers till I go and get some, or shake him off. He has recently acquired a mate amongst the twelve, so now they often feed now together out of the same hand then flit across to the other one if there is food there too. Then they settle down to groom each other. But M1's pecking can get a bit much at times, which is why I often shake him off, but that does not deter him. He just flies back ten seconds later.

A particularly beautiful female has found that when she flies to a certain place, at about chest height, above the others and close to me, I will go and fetch some food and feed just her. She is so lovely that no one could resist her. Some of the others have become rather dirty where their tails and wingtips have touched the ground, or where their neck- and shoulder-feathers have become stained with forest-grime, and they will remain like that till they moult, but the beautiful one has managed to stay snowy white from head to tail. She also has grey circlets (the flesh round the eyes of birds are called the circlets), so her eyes are even lovelier than doves usually have, and her feet are finer than some. She is a very lovely creature, especially when perched on my hand only centimetres from my face.

I have noticed something very wonderful about doves. If you are in the right light, and close, you can see that their neck- and shoulder-feathers have a faint rainbow irridescence. How fitting! Because in the Bible doves are a symbol, even the embodiment, of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22, John 1:32), and the Bible also says that the radiance round God's throne is a rainbow--'a rainbow bright as an emerald' is how it is described in Revelation chapter 3. So a faint rainbow radiance on a dove is a faint copy on Earth of the glory of God.

They also have a sweet smell. It is a gentle fragrance, not a strong smell, but very definitely sweet. That is also very appropriate.

It is very special to have been invaded by doves. They are such beautiful birds, both when seen close and when flying against the magnificent green of the forest, particularly when the sun is pouring down. They have very beautiful eyes and gentle faces. In the Bible people with beautiful eyes, particularly women, are praised as having the eyes of a dove. To have them flying at me whenever I go out, or walking up my 80-metre forest path to greet me when I return from going out makes a very beautiful place even more special.


Saturday, 21 May 2011


I created this blog because when I was setting up a Google profile today (the 22nd of May 2011) I realised that it was about time I had a blog under my own name, partly because it is a natural, sensible thing to do but also because then no identity-thief or other nasty can grab it.

But I have yet to decide what I am going to do with it. So it will sit empty for a while till I decide--and get some free time...