- 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 watch birds and Ruthie Mae watches squirrels.
I like the morning time, before the world and my obligations begin. I like the quiet, so that I may hear Mother Nature’s winged symphony!
My very sweet and smart dog, Ruthie Mae, was my suet-guard this morning. (Suet is for the birds). The squirrels act like I put it out there for them, until Ruthie shows up and amazingly, I can watch my backyard birds for hours without one squirrel coming close.
Ruthie is largely a Black Mouth Cur, with the Spirit of a great hunter, but she’s also an Egyptian Beetlehound Princess, the latter title of which she earned shortly after she rescued me.
Ruthie has two black beauty marks on each side of her little face and natural eyeliner that makes her look like Cleopatra. She hunts insects like she was born for that purpose, but Ruthie is also a truly amazing medical companion animal. I am proud and grateful to be friends with such an awesome being as Ruthie Mae!
Lately, the Summer Tanager is a regular visitor. The male is red and the female a beautiful golden color.
I like the way Summer Tanager fly. They swoop in great long colorful strides across the yard. They’re also challenging to capture in photos. I’m always reminded when the Tanager stops by, that some things are meant to be experienced in the moment.
Ruthie Mae knows I like the birds. She barked at one once, but she immediately looked at me to see if I approved. I only had to say no one time. She’s a smart dog.
The Tiger Swallowtail arrived before the plants did. A single large butterfly with tails intact and colorful vibrancy innocent of the inevitable markings to come.
The winds were picking up. The purple Verbena had grown several inches. The blooms moved up and down with each gust of wind.
The big butterfly glided only slightly above our heads. I imagined it needed nectar and sunlight, the latter of which had faded.
I was glad to have the flowering Verbena.
My son and I had both seen the single butterfly flying around for a few days. I decided to go get a fast growing nectar-plant. Arriving home from my short trip to the nursery, a fresh brood of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails greeted me. Butterflies were everywhere. I couldn’t believe it!
Two were flying high, playing together, and at least a dozen more were coming down for a visit. I was delighted to see the butterflies together, flying above and around my little home.
I’m dealing with a fair amount of sadness these days. Springtime has helped, but my lack of motivation to do the things I normally enjoy lurks in the corners of my days and nights.
The idea that the butterflies have a genetic memory and know they can find nectar in my little garden lifted my spirit.
I remembered the day, not too long ago, when a flock of Robins came to fetch the lone resident that captured my heart while spending the Winter eating berries from a Holly tree by my window.
It was a grand and exciting scene when those of ‘the same feather’ greeted the Winter Robin. I don’t know where they were headed when they left, but they sure appeared to have a plan.
I’ve regressed. Back to the butterfly.
We sat on the patio near the container garden and watched, quietly and still. The yellow-striped butterfly held tightly, for the blooms really were blowing hard. I imagine being a butterfly in strong winds isn’t all that easy, now that I think about it.
I haven’t seen the new brood together again, but I feel sure the butterfly in the wind will tell of the little corner of nectar it found.
Butterfly, you have an official blooming invitation to my yard and the little green garden I planted just for you.
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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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