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Vöglein - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
I'm in the middle of an especially busy time right now, between work, my daughter's imminent graduation from middle school and the trip I'm taking later this week to visit my parents and try to make their house easier to navigate when my mother is discharged from her long-term care facility. That's why I've been delighted by the small detour that a dove's nest has necessitated.

Every year, doves seem to make nests around our house in locations that are vulnerable to wind, heat or predators. Obviously, there's no shortage of doves in the Sonoran Desert, so they must manage to propagate the species in these parts. But if the doves we've witnessed were in charge of the breeding program, I'd put even money on their disappearing from the scene.

At first I found the fate of our dove nests really hard to take. Over time, though, I became rather numb to the seemingly inevitable bad end to which they would come. That's why I didn't get my hopes up when I saw nesting activity in the hanging cactus by our front door a few weeks ago.

Mind you, the location -- shielded from midday and afternoon sun, inaccessible to terrestrial predators, benefiting from the insurance of being near a lot of human activity -- seemed better than the ones I'd noted in previous years. Nonetheless, I was pretty sure that something would reveal a hidden flaw in the doves' family planning. Then an egg hatched. And, instead of absentee parents, it was tended by extremely dutiful ones.

Harry the baby bird

Once, when I had to walk near the nest to get the hose, the dove currently minding the nest flew down on the driveway and began to do the my-wing-is-broken routine that birds use to distract predators from their progeny. I followed that bird all the way across the street, still doing a great acting job, to make sure it wasn't actually injured. But then it flew up onto the roof of a nearby house and, soon after, returned to its perch outside our front door.

This morning I went to our front window to acknowledge our teenage cat Punka's excitement at the nest -- she has been watching it intently since she first noticed the adult bird sitting in the cactus -- and realized that one baby bird had become two: another egg had hatched.

Punka watches her new friends

Frankly, I didn't realize that there could be such a long gap between hatchings in the same nest. But the evidence was indisputable.

Close-up of two baby birds from inside

When I went outside a few minutes later, I could get a really good view, which clearly showed that one of the babies was considerably bigger and more developed than the other.

Two baby birds from outside

Later in the afternoon, it looked like the two baby birds had become one again. The newly hatched one was still there, but its older sibling was not to be seen. I immediately thought the worst and carefully checked the vicinity for signs that something bad had happened to it. The more I thought about it, though, the more likely it seemed that it had simply made its maiden voyage. In the first photo here, taken last week, it already looks well on its way to being able to fly.

At any rate, I decided to remain optimistic. When I came home this evening, there were once again two birds in the cactus. But it didn't look like a parent and child. Do fledgling doves return to their nest after they have managed to take off? It certainly seemed that the older baby bird, whom my daughter named "Harry," had returned for the night. And when I looked outside a little while ago, I could swear I saw three birds in the nest, though that might have been a trick of the light. Anyway, I'm going to sleep now with the happy thought that we have finally experienced the sort of dove "family values" that lead to successfully raising offspring. Oh, and did I mention the nest of quail eggs I found while watering? I sure hope they hatch, because baby quails are the cutest things ever.

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Current Location: 85704

8 comments or Leave a comment
threestarblue From: threestarblue Date: May 11th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
well this is so damn cute. i mean really. !!!

keep us updated on these lil' babies and i sure hope you get wee quail omg i love quail.

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 11th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Thanks! I just posted an update. I do hope the quail eggs hatch, as they are so adorable waddling about with their parents.
From: batdina Date: May 11th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
neat! and yes, definitely show us the quail if they hatch.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 11th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I will!
alsoname From: alsoname Date: May 11th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Aww! I love this stuff. There was a birds' nest in the yard here, and I could hear little tiny chirps from it, but the activity seems to have come to an end. I don't know what happened; it seemed too early for the young ones to have fledged, but what do I know!!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 11th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
They do grow fast. But the mortality rate is extreme. So far so good on our front. I just posted an update.
alsoname From: alsoname Date: May 11th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I guess I could climb the ladder to look inside the nest to see if there are any casualties ... But I'd rather just assume that they all flew off and are happy birds somewhere else!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 11th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Sounds like a good idea. It would be depressing to find out otherwise. And birds do grow very quickly.
8 comments or Leave a comment