Monday, June 02, 2008
A few of you may remember my post from when we made birdhouses, and A had expressed interest in finding a special home for our friendly "Dover" - a mourning dove who has been visiting us for a few years now.
Over the weekend, we discovered that a mourning dove had made a nest in the hanging flower basket on our back deck. We were a little worried at first, since we use our deck a lot. We read and play and do crafts there, and the spot the dove chose is right at the stairs where we go in and out of the yard a LOT each day. But the bird seems dedicated, even with us passing by!
The boys are very excited, A in particular. Dover is his favorite bird, and from the haggard protruding tail feathers, we know it is our bird. A is excited that Dover has a partner. He wants to know all about doves and their nesting habits. We discovered many interesting things...
-Doves are not good nest builders, so will often place twigs or other materials to make a light barrier/nest in hanging baskets or on eaves where there is a support in place.
-Doves share nesting duties, so there is always a dove on the nest. We read that often the male will take day duty, the female night duty.
-Male and female doves look alike, so you may actually think that the same dove is sitting there 24/7 for weeks...but when they trade spots, there is time to eat/drink.
-Doves can be nervous and fly away, but will usually return to the nest quickly.
-Mourning dove nesting cycles are relatively brief about 28 days for the entire cycle. The first half is spent incubating the eggs (almost always two) while the second half involves brood rearing of young doves (called squabs). Doves may nest several times during the summer.
-Part of brood rearing involves feeding squabs on pigeon milk - a milk-like substance secreted by the crop gland of adult doves and pigeons.
The boys can easily watch Dover & partner by standing on their picnic table - so they spent a lot of time looking and talking to the bird yesterday. We had lawn work to do, and when the weed whacker came out the dove took off for a bit. That gave us enough time to take a peek inside, and sure enough, one tiny egg. The boys got to look at the nest and the egg and were very excited.
A wants some more books on doves so that we can be sure to "do the right thing" to ensure dover's success. We only have a few more weeks of waiting, I think, before we get to see the new arrival!
We have seen a few birds dragging twigs and grass into the painted birdhouses the boys made too, so I think we will have an exciting summer of birdwatching right here in our tiny yard!