Friday, September 9, 2011

Bird Watch

A little over a week ago, we found one of our cats looking up at the rain gutter over the den door. The reason for her interest was a bird head sticking above the white metal. I knew right away it was a mourning dove by the distinctive taupe color and big eye. The bird stayed very still, which seems to be their protective mechanism. We could see twigs and stuff around the bird, along with another smaller head that was almost totally hidden. I’m not sure how long it had been there, but it was the first time we noticed it.

It seemed odd that the bird had just had a baby since it’s almost fall, but when I checked out morning doves, it turns out they have babies several times a year. And just like pigeons, the mother and the father both take care of their babies and both secrete some kind of milky stuff to feed their young.

Every time I went outside, I looked up at the nest. There was always a bird sitting there. I read that the mother and father take turns staying in the nest. Whoever it was never seemed bothered by me looking at it, and it seemed like we made eye contact.

Day after day, I kept watching the nest. Then the other morning I was looking outside and I saw something with a large wing span fly in the vicinity of the nest. I went outside and even though it thought it was a hidden, I saw the hawk sitting in one of our redwood trees.

I rushed and checked the nest and saw no head above the white metal gutter. I was worried and every time I went by checked the nest again. Finally, one time I saw the mourning dove’s head and breathed a sigh of relief.

Normally I like hawks. I love to watch how they ride the wind. But not when they’re after my morning doves.

The next day, I saw another hawk- or the same one made a return visit. It left empty handed, too.

Then last night as we were bringing our cats in from there twilight time in the backyard, the baby mourning dove was in the nest alone. By now it looked almost identical to its parents. My son picked up one of the cats and the bird must have seen it and had an instinctive reaction and said “uh oh” because all of a sudden it took off and flew out of the nest. It chirped and flew in circles as if it was amazed at its own accomplishment.

Later, when I checked the nest it was empty. I looked again in the morning and it was empty, too. I felt a twinge of sadness wondering if the baby had somehow gotten lost flying off on its own that way, but then I looked up on the roof. Two mourning doves were sitting there watching as their baby walked around in the backyard finding its own breakfast.

Do you like watching birds?


JanG said...

What a tale! It's great to watch birds. In LA proper, it's sometimes hard to find songbirds, and I miss them. Still, each species has its quirks that are funny or interesting or even touching to watch. In fact -- I enjoy almost all animals in their native habitats.

Planner said...

On occasion, owls visit our backyard, and if we look carefully, we can spot them in the trees in the early evening. They seem so majestic, and it makes me feel secure to hear their hoots in the middle of the night.

Betty Hechtman said...

Jan, the mockingbirds are very territorial in our backyard. I've seen them try to chase my dog away. Only Goldy doesn't seem to notice.

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, very cool about having a local owl. I've only seen them when we have been walking in the mountains. You are right, they are majestic.

Linda O. Johnston said...

What a delightful post, Betty! I love watching birds. We've got doves and mockingbirds, occasional hawks, lots of wrens and finches in our backyard. It's fun to see our younger dog Mystie chase them. She thinks she's a bird dog, maybe because she's a spaniel--a Cavalier King Charles, bred originally to be lap dogs, not bird dogs. The only time it wasn't fun was when she caught one--but she didn't know what to do and neither did the bird. I held her while the bird flew away.

Betty Hechtman said...

How funny that Mystie caught a bird. I'm glad she didn't know what to do with it.