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February 15, 2011 > Pat Kite's Garden: Mourning Doves

Pat Kite's Garden: Mourning Doves

By Pat Kite

A Mourning Dove perches on my kitchen window ledge, looking for leftover seed. Once in a while she cocks her head in my direction, her shining black button eyes perhaps enjoying my enjoyment. I have six birdfeeders in my overgrown garden. Hoping to attract more mourning doves, I have added quail and dove seed mix to my black oil sunflower seed mˇlange.

Why do I want more doves? Many reasons, but mostly I want dove families in my yard. I want little white eggs. I want little fat baby doves, or squabs. I want to watch Mommy and Daddy doves taking turns feeding. I want to watch the two young learn to fly. All this bird life cheers me up when life sometimes gets chaotic. "Coo-o, Coo-o, Coo-o" makes me happy.

Other folk seem to accomplish bird nurseries without effort. My garden is not a dove fertility space. According to one source, a normal mourning dove's nest "consists of a few loose sticks, without rim or lining." The babies are lucky they don't roll out or fall through, which sometimes they do.

The Internet gives varying instructions on how-to- invite mourning doves to nest. Basically you start with a hanging planter about 12-inches wide. Put a lot of greenery inside, such as geranium, petunia or marigold plant parts. The doves like lots of greenery for camouflage. Place this container where people, cats, etc won't bother it. Of course it's nice if you can figure ways to peek into the nest. The birds will first check it out, possibly bringing in their own decoration scheme, such as twigs and leaves. Then Mom and Pop take turns sitting. Just the thought of watching this makes me happy.

The dove, in times way past, was sacred to certain gods of love and fertility. Even the "billing and cooing" sound was related to lovers. Tales tell that if you make three wishes upon seeing the first dove of the season, those wishes will surely come true. In the Bible, Noah sent off a dove from the Ark. The dove returned with an olive branch to show the Biblical flood was over. Since then, the dove has been a symbol of deliverance and God's forgiveness.

As springtime approaches, a bit of the poem, My Lost Youth, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow always comes softly to my mind. "...And the friendships old and the early loves, Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves, in quiet neighborhoods." Coo-o, Coo-o, Coo-o.

Alice Hoch's next five-week Birding Field Trip class begins March 8th. Alice, of Fremont, has taught birding classes for over 35 years; she is an extremely popular teacher for both beginning and advanced birders. This Tuesday class is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will visit a different excellent birding site each time. It's a very friendly class, and Alice always says, "We would love to have you join us!" For information: amhoch@aol.com or 510-657-0475

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