- Backyard Beauty ~ Mourning Doves (greenhealinggirl.wordpress.com)
- Autumn cardinal (michaelqpowell.wordpress.com)
The pair of Mourning Doves were, in the beginning of our meeting, weary of me and my little Canon. The slightest movement or noise always prompted their swift flight into the woods.
Through the passing seasons, I’ve become familiar to the doves and they’ve grown comfortable with me. I like watching them walk the way they do, with obvious intention, bobbing their soft pretty heads in the grass.
The birds first appeared in my backyard during Winter. Our dog had very recently passed and my heart was full of grief.
I heard the ‘cooing’ sound one day and to my surprise, when I opened the door, two Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), were perched about ten feet away on a line that had once been a dog-run. Our new bird-feeder was hanging from it, which I guess attracted the birds.
The birds presence struck my heart-strings.
Sadness had the biggest part of my heart when my new backyard flyers arrived. I missed our dog in a terrible way. I felt flooded with loss and pain.
“The Blackfoot tribe associated the dove with protection and safe return from battle, and dove feathers were often carried by war leaders as talismans to help them bring their men back safely. In some Eastern Algonquian tribes, turtledoves (an old-time name for Mourning Doves) were associated with the spirit world, and heard at certain times, their cries could be omens of death.”
SOURCE: www.native-languages.org, Native American Indian Dove and Pigeon Mythology.
I did wonder if the birds appearance was an omen. I wondered about my death. I was not well, and hadn’t been in some time. In fact, my health was at an all time low.
The thought that my life might soon end had passed through my mind more than once during Winter and when the Mourning Doves appeared, I was acutely aware of the doom I felt.
I decided to allow my intuition to guide me in my understanding of the birds timely arrival to our little home.
Doves (Columbidae) have strong maternal instincts and both parents go to great lengths to protect their nests and hatchlings. Perhaps this is the meaning of their visit, I thought to myself.
Part of the sadness I often feel, apart from being physically ill, which is depressing, is that I just can’t seem to get things right in my life, particularly regarding family and home. I have devoted most of my time to being available in this arena, but sometimes it seems like I haven’t made much progress.
Surviving our most recent winter was especially difficult. I was truly worn out! I spent a lot of time in my bedroom watching movies, crying over the loss of our dog, and trying to be more available to my sweet Ruthie.
She had been the greatest nurse in the world to her pack mate. She never left his side and did amazing things to help him feel better before his time was up on this earth. Now, she needed me.
A Robin had come to stay for the season, living off the Holly berries on the little tree near my bedroom window. Every day I watched the bird fly from his high resting place in the Sweet Gum tree, down to my porch railing, where he feasted and occasionally, warded off other interested birds.
Watching the Robin made my days of hibernation more interesting and gave me a direct connection with nature.
The doves spent the rest of the cold weather perched on high branches, just past my backyard tree line.
Spring started what has been an incredible bountiful time in my yard for the many birds that decided to call this place home.
Carolina Wrens nested by my window. I listened and watched them from the first days the mother started gathering materials (some of which came from my LL Bean sleeping bag), until the last little hatchling literally fell from the nest.
The Cardinals like my yard too! I’ve been especially humbled watching both the female and male feed their young. All the birds I’ve seen in my yard are incredibly attentive and committed parents.
My backyard birdwatching has touched me in a primal way.
Strangely, I have wanted to be more like the birds. Watching them care for their families was humbling. I wished for whatever it is they have that makes them so incredibly focused on their task at hand. I told a friend my thoughts on the matter.
“They are animals,” my friend said. “You are human,” he added. “We (humans) have such greater ability to think and ponder on things than birds do. All they have to do is gather food.”
I understood what my friend was saying, but the longing in me remained.
Spring has passed and Summer is whispering an inevitable departure. My backyard has been more quiet during these last days of August.
I’m happy to report that the beautiful winged doves are still around. They’re foraging in the grass as I write, along with a couple of Cardinals and a Rufus-sided Towhee. I think I’ll take a walk outside, quietly, so that I can get a more intimate view.
Below is a gallery of Mourning Doves in my yard. You may click on each photo for a larger view. I hope you enjoy!
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I’m writing to say thank you for being my Winter guest. I must say, your sudden departure was a surprise, but what a glorious day it was when out of the blue, Robins surrounded my home!
I didn’t know much about Robins before you spent the Winter here. I thought you were going to use my yard for mating in Spring, but I realize now, you were here for the berries. I felt sad when I first realized that you had left.
I so enjoyed your company, especially during a long and rather lonely Winter. I even reported my sightings of you here! Your photo is available to the entire world. You are as good as famous, my fat little friend!
I’m very happy you found respite from Winter in the green covered branches of the tall Pine and a great aerial view of the Holly from the big Sweet Gum tree. I noticed your friends liked the view from up there as well.
I was outside today looking at those trees, remembering you perched on the branches in the snow. They have blooms now. Things changed in such a short time dear Robin.
You were strong to endure those cold days. I was proud to have you as a guest and honored as well. Watching you was a true Winter blessing!
Even as I miss seeing you on the porch rail, guarding the red berries with an intensely continuous keen watch, I am glad you have since joined a flock. They were certainly a beautiful and energetic group!
I tried to get a photo of several together, but that didn’t happen. I couldn’t believe how powerful they each flew when I slowly peeked around the corner of the house.
The sound of Robin’s wings in flight is a sweetness to the ear!
The enthusiasm you and your feathered friends exuded over the little red berry-filled treasure made me wonder how in the world the other Robins heard about that relatively small tree.
Did you sing them a message through the wind?
In less than two days of light, they ate every single berry!
I bet you are leading them to a special place where your babies will be born.
Robin, I hope to move before next Winter, so I doubt if we will meet again, but I sure wish you and your feathered brothers and sisters a bountiful Spring!
Thank you for being my guest. You brought beauty to my life and graced me with a lesson in acceptance.
Each time I saw you, which was every day for more than two full moons, there was a Green Healing in my Spirit.
With love, gratitude and admiration,
Your amateur bird-watching friend,
Green Healing Note:
My friend, the Robin, and the flock it left with, invited me to accept the way of Mother Nature. Much like my personal life, I cannot expect one thing to happen when something different is in the making.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. ~Chinese Proverb
I watched, as our recent winged visitor, a fat and sassy Robin, walked along the porch railing by the Holly tree. Big white fluffy snowflakes were falling. Everything was quiet, except for the beautiful bird songs, both of which I love.
The Robin didn’t seem to mind the snow. I wasn’t surprised. He (or she) has guarded the Holly tree and it’s cherished bright red berries since arriving a few weeks earlier.
Note: I’m not experienced in identifying birds. I made my best guess that the Robin pictured above is a male that has come to breed.
“Male robins arrive about the time that the average daily temperature is 37 degrees. (This fits the pattern of when the Robin arrived. The bird also perches in a coniferous tree, with a clear view of the Holly berries). “During cold or very wet weather, the males grow more silent and concentrate on feeding and taking shelter in thick conifer branches.”
Source: Journey North, American Robin (learner.org)
The above listed site is full of interesting facts and information about the American Robin. You can take part in, “Winter Sightings,” and learn their five vocalizations. (Listen to the Robin’s song: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/sounds/RobinSong_LangElliott.mp3).
The Robin has certainly made his presence known to all. I am quite sure he has claimed, at least temporarily, complete rights to the Holly tree and its bountiful fruit.
Several species of birds have made it to my porch rail by the Holly tree, but not for long. The few that ventured into the branches, trying to get a mere berry or two, well…
Without delay, the Robin lashed forth, thrusting his body at theirs. The birds took flight in haste!
One day, the Red-bellied Woodpecker that’s usually seen in the backyard, visited the Holly tree. Something was up that day, because all of a sudden, several birds came at once to the tree.
The Robin watched this spectacle, waited for about a minute and swoosh! He went first for the Woodpecker. Amazingly to me, that big Woodpecker flew away after one jolt from the healthy Robin.
The other birds followed the Woodpecker, returning to their backyard haven, safe from the large-breasted Winter resident.
The recent soft snow brought with it a few birds I haven’t seen this year.
One of the new birds (below) came to the Holly tree and it did meet the resident Robin on the porch rail. I don’t think it flew into the tree, but I was able to get a few photos before it left.
I haven’t yet identified the pretty little bird (above). Do you know the name of this winged visitor?
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“Wait, Look!” I said to the group. “There’s a whole family of little lizards over here!”
My horticultural companions continued on with their short journey to the Green House. The little seeds we had just planted in pots needed a place to sit and ponder on their life for a while.
While volunteering in the small Horticultural Healing group, I often, perhaps too often, get distracted by the creatures living around the gardens.
I had never seen lizards up close before I started going to the gardens and taking photographs.
My first love in the gardens was a little lizard who lived in an abandoned Cabbage patch in one of the raised beds. I’ve met several more since then, but I must admit, none have been as special as the one in the Cabbage patch, who I met in Spring 2012. He (or she) and I communicated for a few days, before he moved on after realizing that us gardeners, who had invaded his Winter home, had come to stay a while.
I have since also fallen in-love with a Baby Turtle (BT) and a Frog.
I stopped to see the little lizards. I would have liked the Green House. I love it so, especially in Winter, when warmth is inviting and the green life is healing.
The lizards had my attention. I’m not sure they really liked me photographing them.
Nature has a way of asking me to be more aware so as not to get too close when I meet her wild children.
The little lizards peeked out at me from beneath the picnic table, crawling from the crevices onto the wooden wall. Clearly, they didn’t want me in their space. I tried not to disturb them.
I’m not sure why I’m attracted to lizards, frogs and turtles. I knew I loved Butterflies, and all Mother Nature’s critters, but there’s something about these reptilian creatures that draw me into their world.
Lately, I keep getting the message to slow down, be more aware of my environment, and taking a little time to think before I take action. I bet lizards do that.
Horticulture Therapy, even as a volunteer within the group, gently offers me lessons in life.
I didn’t feel like being around people this week, but I went to the group anyway. I had hopes that my poor mood would be accepted, and I believe it was.
After planting a few seeds and taking them to the Green House, the Horticulture Therapy Intern suggested a hike, and for unknown reasons to me, I didn’t want to go, which I communicated with her.
I wanted to stay back, alone, but she didn’t offer me time to consider this option. Within a few minutes of being in the woods, we came to the creek. It was beautiful. I remembered the many days my late dog friend, Free, enjoyed swimming and rolling in mud there.
Leaving the water, I spotted a bird perched high in the branches of a tree. “Look everyone!”
I was excited and didn’t mean to tell folks what to do next when I said, “Be still.”
I wanted them to see the awesome bird and when they did, I felt a connection. Being alone wasn’t as appealing to me. I was glad we were there together.
I got a few shots of the bird, although not very clear ones, and then it flew away into the misty woods.
“It’s an omen,” the Intern remarked. “I believe in those things.”
I felt like she was talking to me, but I wasn’t sure. After seeing the beautiful bird, I noticed how much lighter were the burdens I carried.
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Several days of hard rains caused me to wonder about “Baby Turtle” (BT), along with the more senior resident at one of the water gardens, “Frog”. I’ve observed these two critters many times, but only on warm and almost always, sunny days.
The heavy downpours had slowed to a light mist. My son and I headed out to visit the gardens. Sure enough, I saw Baby Turtle right away. Frog, however, was MIA.
(Below: Click to see the larger image for the best view of Frog and BT’s habitat).
Shortly after the staff at the Botanical Gardens discovered Baby Turtle, they placed a nice flat rock in the middle of the pond. Baby Turtle likes the rock, but more often than not, it sits near Frog ‘who’ spends most of the time, at least on sunny days, sitting in the mud or shallow water beside the Bald Cypress. I imagine the tree is why they like that particular water garden better than the others.
I don’t know much about turtles or frogs and haven’t spent much time around them until this summer. Alas. I’m in-love, again!
Frog doesn’t mind being in pictures, but BT is much more concerned by my presence than is Frog. He likes for me to stay at least five feet away, but sometimes my wish for a closer look gets the better of me. If I’m not careful, BT will take off, chase Frog along the way and they both end up leaving the scene.
I hear Baby Turtle will grow into a very large critter. I wonder if ‘he’ will always live in those water gardens. I hope he does, and Frog too.
Above image: The Real Deal
Another surprise during our visit to the water garden was a creative and fun colored set of sculptures depicting water-wildlife. My favorite just happened to be the turtle.
Below images: Artsy Turtle
We enjoyed our short visit to the gardens.
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I was walking to the raised bed gardens, past the meadow where a very large Joe Pye Weed is growing when I saw a shadow on the ground. Looking up I saw this most graceful butterfly. Wow, how absolutely beautiful, I thought.
After having spent over an hour in the Mexican Sunflower garden with the strong flying Swallowtails, along with several Skippers and Sulfers, the latter of ‘whom’ didn’t stop long to pose, this eloquent solo glider was peaceful and still. My mind captured the memory of a Green Healing moment in time.
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A Green Healing day chasing butterflies offered stunning colors of Winged Garden Friends and Flowers too. I had a feeling if I went to the Tithonia garden around Noon that I would get to see the butterflies, and boy was I right on!
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Click on Image for a Closer Look.