"Hatches and Hatches"

Mourning Dove Babies

        Our yard is alive with families of Mourning Doves. Seeing them reminds me of the children I see going to and from school skipping, walking, laughing, and having a great time together. If you watch the doves closely you can tell the juveniles from the adults, just like telling the kids from the parents.

        dovesThis has been a great year for new bird hatches in southern Utah. In warm climates, Mourning Doves will produce up to six broods per year, more than any other North American specie. The young Mourning Doves are helpless when hatched, and during the two weeks they remain in the nest they require constant care from their parents. They are fed by regurgitation (pigeon milk) during most of their nest life. When they are ready, they leave the nest. Two young Mourning Doves were born amid an oil-changing business where they grew until they fledged from the nest and fell into sticky oil. A bird specialist was called and the birds were cleaned, fed, and kept in prime condition until they could be released into the wild on our acre. They are well and thriving.

        Some hatches have a hard time making it through those first weeks. The nest gets blown out of the tree, one bird pushes the other overboard, or maybe a sneaky predator finds the nest before mother gets back like what happened in Beau Wright’s neighborhood. Beau found two really young Mourning Doves, barely a few days old and one was hurt. If this should happen to you and you find yourself wondering what you can do to help, remember that parent birds take care of their young as long as they are left in or near the nest site. If they need more attention than a parent can give them, consult a specialist. 

        This evening as the sun begins to set, stand on your porch and watch for the erratic flight of the Mourning Doves as they fill the sky, looking like human commuters on their way home, going in every direction. Small head, large body, and long pointed tail. One of the last to fly home for the night. One of the first to wake in the morning and fill the air with their mournful call of ooAAH cooo coo coo.

        The artist this week is Keith Davis. Keith’s picture is done with color pencil and taken from a live photograph of the two young doves set free on our acre of land. For information about birds call the Red Cliffs Audubon - 435 673-0996.

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