August 21 (Saturday) 8:00 AM Fatty- looking- Mama is fully hunched over her nest...keeping her children warm.
8:30 AM Henry and Heather are very active...Mama feeds them only briefly this morning and still performing her motherly task of shelter. With a stern look at these fledgelings seeking more food, she admonishes them, “End of That!” I firmly believe that prior to 8:30, the exchange of parent had occurred...since I see Papa nowhere!
Mid Afternoon: Papa's body begins to “tremble” and is a-move...Henry and Heather must be asleep. Resting on his reddish-pink feet, with chest a-top H's back (cross-ways), he remains calm during this nap-time. The fuzz on their bodies is beginning to resemble hair or the “sprouting”of fine feathers.
5:15 PM From the computer, I hear, “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter”...pulling the sheer drape aside, I view Rosie on the railing...the “overnight shift” has arrived! I've recently noted that when either parent huddles on the nest, their below breast feathers are fluffed to look like “soft down”, which probably insulates, providing warmth.
August 22 (Sunday) 8:30 AM Rain all night...water droplets hanging like crystals from the railing and top of all four wrought iron chairs. Rosie, tucked tightly into her body, has her wing feathers stretched to cover Henry and Heather...the outer edges of the nest are drenched!
9:00 AM Papa has arrived on the highest wire..but soon disappears. H and H are mobile...one spreads its wing, showing great feather development...like a colourful fan, which when opened, reveals what has been hidden within its folds.
9:45 AM Papa quietly descends to his family...with gentle “twitter, twitter, twitters”. Rosie left the nest. Henry and Heather vie for immediate attention!!! They both stand in front of him, reaching up to his beak. He feeds Henry who is ravenously hungry...and as I have observed previously, Heather has a brief feeding.
Constant rain falls...mist often being blown and sifting into the balcony area.
1:20 PM Rain has ceased...only fine mist hanging in the still air. I carry my novel, the crossword puzzle and fruit to my “terrace”...the railings and chair tops are bejewelled with droplets...easy to “imagine and dream” that I am the Lady of the Lord's Manor...overlooking “our spread” of rich land and fountain-ed small lake! Back to Reality! Papa pays me no attention, accepting that I am a common factor to this domicile of theirs.
3:00 PM My friend, Pary arrives. I introduce her to Papa, Henry and Heather. She is amazed that I am so trusted by these Mourning Doves! We are enjoying lemon soda and not cognisant that Mama is perched on the high wire...waiting! We are silent and still...unwanting to affect their avian activity. My doves are wary of this “foreign” addition to their home environment. Rosie waits a long time before venturing to do anything. I read “what her problem is”...I leave Pary on the furthest chair away from the nesting chair...to prepare dinner of yellow beans, tomatoes and micro-waved lasagna. I check...Yes, Rosie is still on high-wire-inspection! Papa patiently waits for the “Exchange of Duty”. Just as I bring our hot dinner plates, Rosie flights with swooshing wings to the railing...there she sits posted for ever-so-long! She considers this “flaw” that has entered her world...very unsure and uncertain with 2 humans! We ignore her as we quietly, without conversation, eat our dinner. When, to her the “coast seems clear”, she swoops to her family. Henry and Heather are very visible...about 1/2 the size of the parents. Pary is so impressed and awed!
Mama commences immediately to feed one fledgling...with strong and forceful pumping of food into H's hungry mouth...incessantly! The unfed H circles its neck around the feeding one, as 2 swans would embrace...trying to grasp for food. Pary is astounded watching the interplay between Parent and Child.
These fledglings are now 7 and 8 days old.
August 23 (Monday) 8:30 AM Windy, Cool , Gray Skies Today! Too dull to photo my Birds. Rosie stands with feet planted at back of nest (her tail extended beyond it, to allow space for her children to sit side by side who totally fill the nest)...their colouring blends so perfectly with the nest's earth tones.
8:55 AM A new location for Papa...high telephone wire past the Post!
9:00 AM He flutters down to the railing behind Rosie...”twitter, twitter, twitter, twitter”...and she responds with “twitter, twitter, twitter”. They exchange duty roles. Papa begins the Breakfast Ordeal with strong thrusts of food being again pumped into empty hungry mouths. He then remains still for a moment, then forcefully begins again...it's a push and push exercise in attempts to being fed sufficiently. From all this exertion, time to calm down and rest! All is quiet! Too chilly for me out here...now 9:15 AM.
3:30 PM As I finish preparing a casserole for dinner, I hear “twitter, twitter, twitter” again. Gathering my notes, camera and novel, pay a visit to my family...Henry and Heather ALONE on the nest...like little adult birds! Resting side by side, their bodies breathe and move together. “Where is Papa?”, I wonder. Nor far away...sitting on a high wire...observing. After 10 minutes, he flies away.
4:00 PM “Twitter, Twitter, Twitter” on the rail is a parent behind Henry and Heather, who pay attention. Their wings are a mottled light gray and beige; chests and head similar colour to the wings and dark bills.
4:25 PM “Twitter, Twitter,Twitter”. (I ask, “Has this been a training session? ...to cope on their own while the parents observe from a distance).
As mist begins to roll in, Rosie stands at the outside edge of nest to feed H...with forcible actions from both Mama and H. Her wings pressure outwards as she thrusts nourishment into him/her. Other H tries with difficulty to force Mama's beak into its mouth. She spends 7 minutes with this one feeding! Both become quiet and huddle under her fluffed feathers...H and H are restless...and flex their wings....amazing how their wing span has developed with feathers contouring over the ribs that hold them.
August 24 (Tuesday) 8:45 AM It's a dull overcast day...I missed the morning exchange. Papa stands tall with his feet planted near the outer edge of nest. Henry and Heather are nestling side by side with their beaks pressed into his breast. Their bodies show quick tremors of heart beats.
9:40 AM Active, they are as Papa steps between them...they sit upright and are very alert. A bird “tweet, tweets” in a nearby treetop with numerous repeats of the same message...finally a response of “ch ch ch ch ch ch ch” several times as they discuss morning happiness.
3:00 PM Sunlight beginning to radiate “family room”. Papa standing with H behind his back feet and H resting her head on the top of the nest edge as a pillow under his chin...really a cute scene!
7:15 PM Papa is alert...why? On a far hydro wire sits Rosie. The family patiently waits. He huddles to one side with the fledglings beside him. About 20 minutes ago a long Bell Telephone laddered truck parked in the driveway below...this is possibly the cause for delay of Duty Exchange. Soon it motors away. Papa with a joyous heart flies away into the blue sky. Rosie, now the Prime Protector.
August 25 (Wednesday) 7:20 AM Cool Air! Henry and Heather ALONE! They fill the nest! I observe further development in their wings and feathers...contoured almost artistically with cream, lining the exterior edges. They sit feather-ruffled with head and neck inward-tucked (as do Mama and Papa) to keep warm..Their tail feathers still remain quite short. I approach slowly to study them. I have noticed from time to time, a parent pecking away at something in the nest...I also note there are flecks of white and black on the weathered twigs and grass. Below the chair is what appears to be “broken black and white tidbits”...possibly fallen through the wrought iron spacings. The nest is full of these black and white “pellets”. My guess? These are hardened pieces of “bathroom excrement” (crap). I wonder if there is any nourishment in these dried pellets. Peering so closely at them and the interior of the nest, Henry and Heather show a little fright. I sight no location of either parent! (One may have “twittered” away just prior to my opening the door.)
“Mourning Dove Chats”
Papa is perched on the highest telephone wire across from the nest. He is profiled starkingly against the blue cloudless sky. He flew away, then returned to the same perch, facing opposite direction. In a few minutes a second dove perches a few feet from him on same wire...they walk towards each other...then both playfully flitter to a lower wire with a twitter, twitter, twitter. Then with a final exchange of twitters, one flies away. Papa, from his 4th wire position oversees the situation. Isn't a telephone pole for conversation? A couple more arrive to sit atop this telephone pole...the fly-away dove returns to join the 4-way conversation. When one pole-top dove flies away, Papa decides to become King of the Pole...and commands this “posting” until He only remains. “Time to visit the family,” he decides.
8:10 AM He feeds from his stance outside the nest. Both are anxiously awaiting Breakfast! Both stretchhhhhhhhh to reach the mouth that feeds them. They flutter their beautiful wings a bit...one does a dramatic pose of wing span....perhaps to draw Papa's attention. He steps into the nest, their enthusiasm wanes and must settle for “a quiet time”.
9:45 AM Another top-wire Dove...I believe there must be several families in this Dove-Haven neighbourhood. There are constant bird chants from the trees: Whee, Whee,Whee...Be, Be, Be...Be, Be, Be...Cheer up, Cheer up, Cheer up...Tweet, Tweet, Tweet...and now, where is Freedom Bird? Papa stands upright in the nest as I leave at 9:55. Henry and Heather are napping.
6:20 PM Again, Henry and Heather ALONE on the nest. Time for parents to give them a taste of freedom? The sun warms...gentle breezes waft their feathers as dusk approaches.
6:55 PM Sleek Mama “twitters” her approach to the railing, observing the cuddling fledglings...from this perch she squats on her tiny pink feet. After a few minutes, she flies with a couple twitters to the nest. Voracious Feeding Time! Henry and Heather physically struggle to get the first feeding. Who is in control here?...necks stretch...the wings flap...strength and determination wins!
August 26 (Thursday) 8:00 AM Rosie, here with Henry and Heather...I wonder if Papa has been here yet on this chilly morning. One snuggles below Mama's wing...the other cuddled within his feathers.
8:45 AM This may be Papa who “feets himself” at back of the nest with long tail feathers protruding through the metal work of the chair...on this blue-sky morning.
8:50 AM Mourning Dove is upright and being the Protector, as a sparrow alights the balcony rail...and tweet, tweet, tweets...then flies away to unite with other airborne sparrows...more Tweet conversations on the hydro high wire. Now another sparrow trio present their morning renditions. At 9:30 AM I retreat inside for a sweater...aren't these doves chilly?
3:00 PM Papa, Henry and Heather...a beautiful Family Picture...wish Rosie to be here with them too!
5:40 PM At the computer, I hear the familiar Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...I glance outside...2 fledglings side by side fill the nest. Alone! Papa must have left.
6:00 PM Henry and Heather rapidly growing and fast maturing! Opposite me, wire-sitting is Rosie and Papa who keep guiding eyes on their “teens”. Mama flies to my railing side to display her sleek figure...very trim, alluring...dainty feet...a calm demeanour...groomed feathers...graceful neck...long tapered tail...trusting spirit! What more could a male be seeking??? I capture this svelte model on film.
She flutters to the nest. H and H gravitate quickly to be first in line!
August 27 (Friday) Shift Change at 10:00 AM...the signal is Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. (It is evident the parents have these young ones in training to become independent as it may not be long before they leave the nest for brief periods of time...then permanently by the time they age to 30 days.) Henry and Heather are alone again this morning...Rosie and Papa cannot be far away. It seems that the nest is deteriorating...some grasses and twigs broken off and lost...the weight of the birds alone would easily crush the shallow base.
5:15 PM I notice a Mourning Dove perched on a nearby telephone wire...soon joined by another on a lower wire...the two had a playful game flitting to various wire levels, before deciding to share this high position. Much further along, 3 or 4 other doves arrived...I believe this is Dove Haven! Suddenly, 3 or 4 sparrows gathered for their afternoon rendez-vous, then spirited away into the open azure sky.
6:15 PM Rosie, from her high wire, swooshed on easy wing to the railing near my table. How sleek-looking she was...as previously described.
7:30 PM It appears that Henry and Heather will have the nest to themselves tonight...no Papa or Mama around...they snuggle close together for warmth and companionship.
11:30 PM Good Night Fledglings and Happy Bird Dreams!
August 28 (Saturday) 7:30 AM Henry and Heather alone! I return to make blueberry pancakes, brew fresh aromatic coffee and prepare a tray with syrup, cream and cutlery to enjoy the morning freshness.
8:20 AM “Twitter, Twitter, Twitters” call me to exit the kitchen. Carrying my tray, fresh water for my family, the comics and puzzle from the Spec...also pen and note pad...Papa on the nearest railing, greets me Good Morning. He hops to the deteriorating nest, planting his feet outside it. Henry and Heather sudden to the fact that Breakfast can be had! Henry, on his now well-developed legs, stands almost to Papa's height.
The Chorus Line
On the far hydro tower, 2 doves appear, then 3 others space themselves in generally the same area. Numerous other birds chirp to welcome "Our Morning Chatter”. Chirp, Chirp, Chirps and Tweet, Tweet, Tweets with echoing responses...occasional air-flights from the surrounding trees and park-like bike path area... da, da, das...ch, ch, ch, ch, chs. A few sparrows flit from nearby bushes to join the assembly of ...too-too-too-toos and freedom, freedom, freedom! Then, joyfully, all wing off to another destination of choice.
2:50 PM Just returned from London, Ontario, accompanying a friend. Papa is “feeted” inside the nest...Henry and Heather facing outward in the same direction...family very calm.
3:05 PM Quietly, on their feet, Henry preens his feathers and fluffs them while Papa oversees...now Heather does likewise...their feather contours resemble budding pine cones. Henry stretches to full height and displays the full span of his wings (reminds me of a teenager flexing his newly developed muscles)...fluttering them a few times...so magnificent! Papa remains still as a statue, with a look of pride and complacency as the two stand side by side. “Like Father, Like Son”! Heather remains in her crouched position (napping?). This complete Preen-and-Groom in their Sun-Shiny-Spa took about 35 minutes. Henry's dramatic wing-flapping to me indicted possibly, that he might be preparing for flight. Show time is now over...and calm again reigns. Time now 3:45 PM.
4:55 PM Henry and Heather....Alone Again!
6:00 PM Rosie perched on the the telephone wire. Shortly thereafter, I spot 2 other doves between the next pair of poles. Twitter, Twitter, Twitter, I hear at 6:45 observing that she descended to the corner of railing behind the nest-chair. After 5 minutes, she twitters and flutters to the chair edge. Henry and Heather are totally undisturbed. But when Rosie walks to the twiggy room, she voraciously feeds them. Mama's wings and those of the fledglings are fully extended outwards, exerting much motion. (Amazing to see the effect of the wings and physical energy in the pumping of food into their mouths...with their bodies in full action!)
Henry stands tall reaching to Mama's beak. Heather clamours to her for attention as well. Rosie is erect, stands still and is most serene. The fledgelings are suddenly “hushed” by her demeanour! She remains stalwart!...as though to say, “That's All There Is.” They nestle together.
6:55 PM Rosie Twitter, Twitter, Twitters...and Flies Away! A moment later, she flies to the rail, 3 feet from where I sit...the closest she has ever flown, facing me; she now turns, standing horizontally on the rail...”Pretty Bird...So Lovely You Are,” I tell her. She remains a couple minutes in this pose. Suddenly, it is Twitter, Twitter, Twitter and off to the lowest wire, directly across from me. (I have no interpretation for this little scene.)
7:10 PM She Twitters and flutters to the railing behind the nest...she sits patiently...observing...then 3 minutes later, jumps to the arm of the chair...steps to the nest...and with great determination, feeds them again...Henry and Heather respond with tremendous energy, spreading their wings and flexing their tails...I observe that the fledglings have developed a few white feathers to accent the browns.
7:20 PM Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...suddenly swooping to her high wire.
9:30 PM and 10:30 PM...I check..in the dark of the night...and verify that Rosie rests at the back of the nest with Henry and Heather crouched in front. This has been an Interesting Day!
August 29 (Sunday) Two Weeks Ago, One Egg was Opened to Reveal Henry! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
AMAZING ACTIVITY TODAY!
5:30 AM It's early dawn...Rosie with her Fledgelings.
6:30 AM Henry and Heather Alone ...occupy the nest; Mama and Papa not sighted anywhere.
7:00 AM Mourning Doves...8 of them...on the wires. Papa swiftly swoops to the railing with a flutter landing. I try to photo this gathering on the wires, silhouetted against the pale blue morning sky...is this a premonition??? A series of events occur...which I describe singly:
Papa hops to the chair and instigates brief feedings.
Then Mama flies to the railing before her flutter to the chair.
She also feeds them briefly...Papa disappears;
H & H rest in a crouched manner...for a moment or two.
Both fledglings step out of the nest to the chair seat (first time observing this);
Papa returns: The Family!
Henry and Heather flex their wings and extend them upwards several times.
One dove lights on the balcony roof adjacent to me;
and 5 observing from the high wires.
(I am confident these little birds will be attempting to fly today.)
'They each try to “twitter a bit” and exercise their almost fully developed wings.
Henry and Heather appear anxious with anticipation of some kind
...very anxious they are!
Henry engages in wing-flapping...Heather does the same!
7:15 AM Henry is definitely preparing! ... with nervous energy!
(Their tails are about 2 inches long...when they flex their wings;
they also widen to reveal white feathers edging the browns.)
Both fledglings are extremely fidgety!
I believe the Parents told them, “You Must Attempt To Fly Today!”
( comment here that the distance to the chair arm is about 12 inches;
their next level would be from the arm to the railing...another 15 inches.)
“Time to Go!”...H and H seem to “body-language”
as they stand side by side in the nest.
They peer through the fine mesh along the balcony uprights...remaining quiet.
There is no breeze; the sun begins to cast its rays on the Town Homes
across from the bike path,
then spreading across the green lawns to the street scape.
7:35 AM I view Rosie or Papa wire-sitting above the sidewalk to my extreme left. Interesting that above in the sky is an almost 1/2 moon, silvery white. Now 2nd dove perches near the other on a lower wire; a sparrow joins them, then quickly flits away. A few bird chirps I hear in nearby trees...another sparrow slowly wings around. Echoing from a far distance are a series of bird twitters.
7:45 AM 6 doves together on 2 parallel wires; perhaps they all had advance notice of the fledglings' anticipated attempts to fly.
7:50 AM Henry and Heather are again fidgety...fluffing wing feathers...displaying nervous energy. They preen and groom their chest feathers...exercise their wings....standing quietly in opposite directions. Papa flies to the corner railing, standing erect. Heather and Henry huddle in the nest...waiting. This may be an all-day-event before they succeed.
Incredible that I woke at 5:30, then rose at 6:30...seems I was destined to have the occasion to view this sequence of activity. I have several tasks to accomplish today in preparation for Monday and Tuesday appointments, prior to driving to Buffalo to meet Sol and on to Tennessee for a Wedding Reception.
8:12 AM Rosie twitters to the family...immediately “pumps food into one hungry mouth” as H stands with wings in constant motion. Other hungry mouth agitatingly waits. Feeding time, 3 minutes.
Henry makes great effort, with his wing and tail thrusts to raise himself above the chair seat; but. alas...no! He retreats to the nest.
Both parents now in attendance, as though to say, “How are we doing?”
Papa flies away...Rosie waits 3 minutes, peering keenly at her family;
the other fledgling she now feeds for 3 minutes.
She then stands tall and very serenely.
These are so well developed and beautiful little doves.
Are these energy boosters for flight attempts?
Henry tries very strenuously to fly as he quickly flaps his wings;
he jumps about 3 inches off the chair!
He pecks away at his feathers (to fill in time?)
Papa stands quietly, feet planted inside the nest. All are calm.
The silvery moon still rides high in the morning blue sky. Rosie flees and perches on a low wire in front of me. She begins to preen herself in the warm sunlight...about 12 minutes with this beautification process.
9:05 AM I require coffee and Breakfast...shall return. Henry and Heather sit like a pair of ornamental birds...wish I could sculpt this pose...with Papa standing behind them. The moon has altered its sky location..having slid lower to be viewed between the two upper telephone wires.
(to be continued ~ Part IV)
written August 30, 2010