Friday, March 13, 2009

Mourning Doves

In the winter of 2007, a pair of mourning doves nested in the overhang on the breezeway of the Fiesole Street house. We saw the parents in and out for several weeks. Stray bits of pine needle and bark stuck out in the free-form approximation of a nest. Mister Dove seemed to be doing most of the work and it really was quite haphazard, but Missus Dove was nevertheless suitably impressed and the couple moved in. Apparently, mourning doves are not the most house proud among birds.
There followed a period of time when Mister was seen leaving each morning and returning in late afternoon. Missus then had an opportunity to stretch her wings and take care of any female bird business that needed doing but she was usually back within the hour. We don’t know how they sectioned up the night time, but some how I’m inclined to think Mister felt his work was substantially over after building the nest. This coming and going went on for a few weeks. Obviously eggs were being tended. Then there was a period of parental turn taking with the flying in and out with tender morsels of regurgitated bugs and such. The eggs had hatched. Finally, two babies appeared at the edge of the eave. They watched the world for a couple of days and waited patiently for the parental hand-outs.
Then a shift in the blissful scene of bird family life. Daddy Dove was getting impatient. You could hear the lecture in his voice--“do you think that you will be fed and housed for nothing for the rest of your life? Get out there and start your own life.” He would sit on the edge of the eave and squawk away, then fly off in a huff. The two youngsters sat by the edge but didn’t venture further. Mama was a little more patient.
The first baby left one Sunday afternoon--flying down to the garbage pail on the breezeway, then off to the pine tree. He stayed around the yard but never actually made it back to the overhang.
The second little guy was much less adventurous. He sat for another two days just peeking over the edge. Mama was still so patient, gently cooing by his side. Dad was having tantrums but also spending more and more time away. Then it happened, as it must. The little shy one finally took wing. The whole family of four perched on the pine tree before they all flew away.
Was I reliving my own emptying nest experience? Is this a peculiar penchant for investing human like thoughts, motivations, and actual speech to birds and animals? I’d really like to think, though, that there is a universal sharing of experience that is beyond just the human, encompassing the universal in a literal sense.
In the winter of 2008, a pair of mourning doves returned to the Fiesole Street house and headed straight to the same nook in the breezeway overhang. Within a matter of weeks, two babies appeared at the edge. In no time, with absolutely no fanfare, two young ones took off on their own never to be seen in the yard again. The adults were seen again the next day. Back to the nest, working on the next two eggs. Life goes on...

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