It all got somewhat out of hand with a couple of trips to Kath’s brother and wife in North Carolina. Great visits, their home nestles among pine and hardwoods with lots of space for flower and vegetable gardens and, of course, the many bird feeders. That’s where it started! When we got home, sitting on our deck enjoying our little backyard with a small shed, (which I built), and the nice privacy fence with the Red Tips, Crepe Myrtles and two rose bushes hiding the base of the twelve room Purple Martin hotel fourteen feet up, we, of course, decided to put up more bird feeders. At first, the sparrows held full sway, but not for long. Those larger, more assertive white wings found the free lunch and even the squirrels gave them plenty of room.
Now, we’ve seen bird nests before, but without question, these white wings got passed over by some Higher Power when it came to genetic engineering of bird nest building. That first white wing couple were snoozing or hiding but they, for sure, missed the nest building implant. The few sticks and an occasional leaf or two just seems impossible for two eggs to survive the two week time before the hatch. In one of our mesquite trees about eighteen feet up, this small mess of sticks just seems to hang there waiting for even a small gust to blow it into our yard. But for some amazing reason, it remains, and has hatched some five doves in the last three years. Here are a couple of their stories:
Egg sitting duty – the timing of this exchange just amazes me every time I see it. One mate sits there for several hours, day, night, sunny, wind, rain, whatever; then, some timer goes off, and the exchange happens: other mate flies close by, hops on a neighboring branch and slowly moves close to the nest, nesting mate arises and exits left, on duty mate sits, and the timer starts again. Amazing!
Flight training – this event just should have been taped; the two babies left the nest early and, while they could fly well-enough to survive the bump on the ground, they couldn’t get back to the nest. They were quite small, so for almost two weeks, they spent nights with us in a box with a cover. We served meals and a beverage, and they were satisfied with our services. During the days, they would walk around in the back yard, but one morning by the end of the second week, flight training began. One parent, I thought Mom, sat on the birdbath, a round concrete bowl on a pedestal almost three feet high. Mom rocked back and forth and the children walked slowly, heads down toward the eight inch high wooden border of our bushes about seven feet from the birdbath. They took their places on the border, faced Mom, and the exercise began. Mom rocked and nodded at one child, the child shuffled feet, stretched wings, fluttered wings, but no action. Mom fluttered her wings and stared hard at her pupil; the pupil rocked and reluctantly spread wings and took flight, almost to the birdbath; try again, this time, SPLAT right into the midsection of the pedestal. Head down, the pupil got up and slowly walked back to the border. The second child was on deck. Another rocking, another SPLAT, this procedure lasted over an hour, morning and afternoon for two days. On the second afternoon, one of the children took flight and splashed down in the birdbath; the applause was thunderous!..No, silly, but we were very excited, and Mom was all a flutter! Baby number two almost made it that day, and then we knew …. it was time.
With several cats in the neighborhood, and a stray possum or raccoon, no baby bird was really very secure until it could fly confidently. We didn’t wish to take that chance, so we picked them up and transported them to a Wildlife Refuge outside of town where they were very welcomed. Strangely however, the next spring, two white wings showed up, sitting on the same branch where two had huddled together last year. They also flew down and sat for a while on the same spot as last year’s flight training pupils. Coincidence? Perhaps, but here’s a thought: Throughout the animal kingdom, there is a common thread of each specie to protect, care for, and defend, quite similar to us humans; are there exceptions, sure. But, like our white wing guests, this sense of dedication and self-sacrifice to sit on a nest of eggs in howling wind and battering rain came from somewhere. Me? I’ve put my confidence in The Book of books and my Father’s creation story. I’m convinced that His love can be observed all around His world, helping all of His creation to carry on in a tough life, and all because His love is tougher! Oh, and that’s the subtitle to my new book, Heartbursts; it’s a great story! And, for today, well, white wing dove love is just one more sweet example!
From my heart to yours…. See ya next time.