Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
This is a fun little diary. A couple of weeks back, we mentioned the pair of doves that had set up housekeeping in the roof overhang above our back door. Now we will tell the saga of raising chicks.
I shot lots of pictures because I miss being able to get out and do wildlife. This was practice for more ambitious safaris.
We didn't get any dramatic chick-breaking-out-of-egg pictures, nor any shots of tiny babies. I think mom kept the babes hidden until they had grown too bigger. For three or four days, however, we could look up and see the youngsters comfortably nestled in, enjoying periodic visits from parents. The chicks seemed to grow from day to day.
Eventually, the little guys started venturing out of the nest onto their "porch", the roof rafter next to the nest. They would go out, look around, and then return to the comfy nest. I don't think they were sold on the whole fly-on-your-own thing.
Sunday morning, mom and the two kids posed for a cute picture, each bird keeping an eye on the camera.
The next time we checked the family, one parent was hanging on the phone line and the other on the fence, both keeping an eye out for evil squirrels.
Marianne and I left home for a couple of hours. I returned via the front door, bypassing our dove family. Unfortunately, I soon went out the back door, without pausing, since the bird-guests had already gotten used to our daily coming and going. Big problem.
I stepped out and there was a flurry of squeaking and flapping. One of the chicks had apparently fallen or flown from the nest to our back porch, where I almost stepped on her. Mom had been there too, probably telling the youngster to get back to the safety of the nest, but the little chick hopped and flew over to a small, dead tree and stopped on a convenient limb. Mom flew down and beat her wings all over the chick, maybe chastising her for ending up in a precarious new perch. The chick just put her head down and stayed put.
A few hours later, the chick was still on the exposed limb and showed no signs of leaving. I thought I would try to catch her and return her to the nest where her brother/sister was still comfortably resting. No luck. As soon as I got close, the little guy jumped/flew up to the garage roof and settled in. This was a dangerous place, since it is often a squirrel run and is very visible to our backyard hawk family.
Mom and dad dove stayed nearby, sitting on the fence keeping an eye out for trouble.
Over the afternoon, the wayward chick managed to leave the garage roof and return to the back porch, first to the tool box I had left there and then, lower down, to the welcome mat. As evening came and provided more shade on the ground, she made it to the walkway, before disappearing under the nearby rose bushes.
Throughout all this, mom and dad kept watch from the fence. By evening, the second chick had also apparently left the porch nest and was hidden under his sibling's rose bush. Parents just watched and talked about what to do with the not-quite-old-enough-to-be-independent chicks.
Late in the evening, things were not much changed, except one of the chicks, presumably the one who had been such a distraction, had settled in on a fence board that is near the ground in the rose garden. She posed quietly as I took the portraits that would be the last we saw of her.
The next day there was no sign of the little bird. The rest of the family, mom, dad, and sibling, were high on the power lines, still looking down as if they were waiting for the last family member. By the end of the day, they too had left the area. We will never see common doves in our backyard without thinking they might be our friends.
So, we learned a bit about neighborhood wildlife. Exciting, maybe not, but in retirement we have time for simple distractions.
Next distraction: Marianne's art show. Stay tuned.
John and Marianne