A Brief Admiration of Doves

I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of doves.

by Lewis Ulrey (MerlinID)

In my younger days, I romanticized them, mourning doves in particular. I’d hear them cooing sadly early in the day, and I wondered what was wrong; why did they sound so forlorn?

At the time I thought they were mistimed owls and I hoped they’d soon fall asleep, or meet the partner they were singing to attract. Many years later, I discovered that no, those were not owls. They were doves, mourning doves to be exact, so I had the sad sound properly pegged at least. But still, I’d only heard them at this point – not seen them with my own eyes.

Then I moved. And the mourning doves began visiting our backyard bird feeder.

First one. Then two.

In the beginning, they came and went like the other birds – a pair of cardinals, a pair of finches, a few mockingbirds, several blue jays and the like – nibbling a bit and then flying away.

Soon enough we spotted someone new. Two someones actually. Two huge someones. So huge, that at first glance, I thought they might be small chickens! That’s how big they seemed compared to a finch! But my trusty Merlin ID app told me these new people were actually Euraisan collared-doves. And soon after, we discovered that doves are quite social. And greedy.

The two kinds of doves each told their friends about our deluxe all you can eat buffet, and, just stop right now to imagine flocks of pigeons all settling down in a park to feast. [Yuck, amrite??] This was our backyard. A haven for hungry doves.

by Franklin Diaz (MerlinID)

As it turns out, the feeder we have invites lounging. And unlike the woodpeckers and wild parrots and other nimble birds who can basically zip in, hang down and do all kinds of fascinating acrobatics to eat, the doves prefer to sit.

And boy do they. [We are currently researching new feeders, if you’re wondering.]

But this is our second spring here in Florida and what we’ve also learned is that the spring mockingbird – we call him Mock – is a menace. Once the weather warms, he zooms in and bum-rushes whomever is at the feeder. All. Day. Long.

What’s worse? Doves eating all the food or a mockingbird blasting everyone away just because? It’s a toss up. There’s comes a magic moment on his personal calendar when Mock cuts it out and goes back to quick zips and nibbles and general good behavior. For now though, the bum-rushing is in full swing.

by Romauld Mikusek (MerlinID)

But this year, the collared doves are sick of it! And I have to say I am quietly impressed. Sure, many are taken by surprise and they fly away when Mock swoops in at full speed, straight toward them. Wouldn’t you?

But remember these are big birds (small chickens!) and some of them have decided to stand their ground. Mock has actually crashed into them a few times, but one or two of the Collars now simply press down and stay put, finishing their lunch at their leisure.

There’s something to be said about refusing to be bullied out of a place you love. I admire them for that.