Life Lessons from the Physical World

Friday, August 05, 2005

Birds in Boxes

Since early spring, one of my second floor window boxes has been commandeered by a very fertile mourning dove couple. I never did get a chance to put an annual planting in there. The hardy portulaca from last year has stubbornly busted back up on one side of the little box, but the other side is a messy twist of sticks and bird poop. Plus, a dove, or her hubby, and their little brood.

The first two dovelets hatched out before I noticed. Early in the morning I could hear the soft cooing of the grown-up doves--a 'hoo hoo' that many inexperienced birders think is an owl--right outside my bedroom window. When the window was open, after one of those glorious spring nights where the breeze makes A/C unnecessary, the dove calls were so loud I had to take a peek. I noticed the mom or the dad right there in the flower-box (with mourning doves, the coloring's the same and both male and female take turns sitting on the eggs or feeding the hatchlings). When I raised the screen and looked out, the bird-on-duty cocked its head to stare at me warily, trembled a bit, but wouldn't fly away. The jumble of sticks made me guess it was a crude nest, and so I started my almost-daily vigil.

Eventually, I could see two little brown dovelets under the mom/dad. I often heard them peeping loudly for their meals, and watched the parents feed them, beak to beak, until the hatchlings were sated and crept back under the adult for a little nap. As they got bigger, less of the baby birdies' bodies fit under the setting parent, and in about two weeks they were big enough to fly off.

I knew they would do it one particular morning, when I saw them shuttling frantically back and forth from one side of the box to the other, making little noises and going right up to the edge of the box before running back to safety in the middle. I should have stayed for a bit, maybe even gone into work late, because by the time I got home that day, those babies had flown the coop.

The whole saga repeated itself a second time in a few weeks, and the prolific couple has now produced its third set of eggs. But these eggs appear to have been abandoned. Perhaps four new doves this year were quite enough.


Blogger Fuzzie said...

I love your use of photos. Great job!

1:16 PM, August 16, 2005  

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