Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nuisance to Miracle (Part II)

August 15 (Sunday)...15th Day of Incubation

9:25 AM Coffee Time in my “barren garden”...no plants and flowers.
SURPRISE! A 2nd Dove flew to the long balcony railing with 4 or 5 soft musical “clucks”...and seeing me, he flew away...returning to a high telephone wire to wait!  I came to two decisions:
  1. I must move from this nest-side chair to the one near the door.
  2. I must advise my online Bridge partner, that our game is delayed...I feel like a “Mother Hen”.
He does another swooping-wing fly-by and alights on the railing behind the nest... the doves exchange a few musical clucks.  He again retreats to his high wire overview!  I have now claimed my camera...ready to photo. The 3rd attempt  places him again on the rail behind Rosie.  He flutters down, with a few more clucks to the nest's outer edge. They look IDENTICAL.  He waits a minute...I see his reddish-pink tiny webbed feet...and now this Miraculous Event!

Rosie rises full height...her feet a pinkish-red.
Beautifully displayed are 2 white eggs.
He steps into the nest, almost diagonal to her.
Rosie, with her beak, breaks open one egg shell which falls cleanly to one side
revealing a moving baby still partially in the other half shell.
With the released half-shell in her beak, she flies away.
Papa remains until she returns about 5 minutes later.
In this interim, he sits tall in the nest, covering the newborn and other egg.
Nearby, birds chirp continually, as though Announcing the Birth!
Rosie examines the nest ...then beak-clasps the remaining half-shell,
flying away with it.
In the absence of about 15 minutes, he wonders,”Where are you, Rosie?”
There are now 2 other Mourning Doves on the high wire,
overlooking the Birthplace.
Mama returns to the nest...she and Papa exchange a few clucks.
One parent “swooping-wing” leaves.
I wonder about the 2nd egg!

Now I need to tend to my Online Bridge Game...I announce to my Partner and Opponents, “I am now a Grandmother to a Mourning Dove baby.” They write onscreen, “Congratulations!” and signed with a Red Heart. When my Partner is playing the contract, I return to the balcony to observe any further proceedings. All is Quiet.

1:45 PM I reappear to keep Papa company... in my nest-side chair.

2:45 PM The wee baby is moving below his Papa's lower breast as the sun begins to warm the nest area. With tail feathers propped against the chair back, white feathers can be seen along his tail. He feeds the wee baby, putting his beak into its mouth. Its head is blackish-striped, the remainder is soft beige shades. Little one is active, moving its beak. Papa now stands, rotating about 90 degrees, partly standing over his baby. Bird of another specie flies by...Papa is Alert! (unknown to me ...1 baby or 2?)

His throat sort of “pulsates” as does his full-length tail...may be producing “crop-milk” from the gland in his body to feed this hungry babe. He rises and feeds the baby. The other WHITE EGG is now visible! He again feeds his child several times...who is struggling for more. 

3:10 PM...he seems to “pump his throat” to obtain more fluid in his mouth...baby becomes more restless. Suddenly he stops, due to a “foreign sound”. One of the “resident seniors” is “walker-ing” on the path below. Papa's body language tells baby to “Be Still!” All is quiet for a length of time to ensure there is no danger prevalent. Golden sunlight now bathes the complete balcony area...even me.
A nearby bird with a raucous voice chatters to another bird. Papa is Alert to any unexpected sound or interference. At 4:10 PM as another Senior walks by, Papa stretches his neck upward to its full height and remains for several minutes. How Protective He Is!

7:00 PM Mourning dove sits calmly on the nest...his bill is blackish-blue and eyes of jet-black. I assume this is still Papa...waiting for Mama to return for “her night shift”. His ruffled feathers and warm body will protect baby and egg until her arrival.

August 16 (Monday) 9:00 AM Rosie is quiet as I freshen her water and wish her a Happy Day. It is very windy this morning...and I anticipate a little action.

9:40 AM SURPRISE...a 1/2 shell is lodged in the open pattern of the chair. Within these 40 minutes, I missed the “ribbon-cutting” of the Second Birth! This must be Papa's “shift time”. I wonder, “Who will remove this white half-shell?” I'll not interfere with it...as I peer into this upright shell, I observe a bit of “matter” at its base. The air is cooler and fresher...but with a stiff breeze! At noon, I observed that the half-shell was dislodged and gone. Papa is squatting on the hatchlings...one baby is visible at his lower breast. I leave this contented family scene for a few hours...have an appointment...and need a few groceries.
4:00 PM His look tells me, “Not to Fret” about him...has all under control.

August 17 (Tuesday) 9:30 AM In the Kitchen, I hear, “twitter, twitter, twitter...twitter, twitter , twitter” that now sounds familiar! (Strange that at the Birth time...their “cluck, cluck, clucks” gave a different message.) Previously, I had heard nothing from them. Now my “motherly instinct” kicks in...must check! I silently opened the door a bit...Papa swooped down to the nest. He pauses on the chair front for 1 or 2 minutes (checking safety?). Rosie sits fully upright with her neck extended. They hear a nearby bird with the same raucous voice as before...both are Alert! She resettles on the nest...Papa remains on the outer chair front. She seems anxious to do something. (It is obvious to me that they must be changing shifts...but they have some “interference”.) Now, he steps to the nest edge, then inside...she flies away and he partially squats to cover the hatchlings. The “home” is again in order...peace reigns.

1:30 PM I return to my observation chair...beside Papa. There is exceeding noise from mower-machines as they “row back and forth”. At 2:00 PM the landscapers leave. He raises himself a bit as the 2 babies inch to the front of his breast...as though to breathe the fresh air. Partly standing, his feathers are ruffled and spread...covering the nest to its outer edges...seemingly to provide space for the little ones. I had not realized that birds “blink” quite rapidly...his jet black eyes are outlined with a fine ivory/white line...now I wonder if they have eye lashes(?).

2:30 PM Papa appears a little restless...his sandy brown feathers fluffed to cover their “treasures”. The oval tips of his wing feathers shade from light gray to charcoal. The large wing feathers are black-spotted as they contour his body. His breast to the lower neck is as beach sand. The neck is finely feathered. As either parent partially stands, to avoid smothering the babies, I deem this must be tiring on their legs over long time periods. Parenthood apparently provides the necessary stamina.

His beak opens a few times rapidly...the throat again pulsates as though preparing for another feeding. These actions extend through his body to the tips of his tail feathers. Papa stands almost upright, displaying his dark pink feet, releasing the babies to come forward for feeding. They become active and struggle to reach up. He feeds each as their mouths open. The sun's rays expose the iridescent bluish black on his head and upper neck. After a brief feeding the babies retreat. So Darling They Are!

Amazing it is that Rosie and Papa trust me so implicitly! I feel like their “hand-maiden” as I sit within a 2-feet distance from them!

Musings: It is very breezy...blowing his silky feathers...seems he is interested in making a decision...raises himself upward...stretches his neck, considering what to do. If he could converse, what would the conversation be? Maybe he wants to fly somewhere...wonders if I'll protect his family.

It's a beautiful summer afternoon. One of the fortunate experiences of retirement from a professional vocation is the opportunity to view and reflect on the God-given-goodness of Nature and the environment in which we live!

Billowy white clouds float in an azure sky...some imagery-shaped like snow capped mountains...others a locomotive train with each cloud chugging along, one after the other to reach a destination...others scud through the sky as a roller-coaster in the wind. The trees below, swiftly sway with bursts of breezes.

There is much interesting activity to capture my attention 
while I journal my Mourning Doves:

A resident walks his black lab, training her to “Sit” and “Stay”.
A senior travels on her motorized scooter
with little “white doggie in a basket” between her legs.
Cars and buses cruise the residential street: a royal blue Corvette 
(would love to have one);
a Landscape Business truck pulling a trailer with Ride-em-Tractor aboard;
a small white convertible, family sedans and vans, taxis.
3 children playfully riding their bikes along the safe bike path.
How could I not revel in this “sharing of time” with Rosie and family?

Time for late lunch prior to my 4 PM Online Bridge Game with Josseline from France. We met in March, 2009 (my Birthday, actually) and became good friends...exchanging photos and family chats by e-mail. Every Tuesday at this time is our “rendez-vous” for two hours...my 4 PM here is her 10 PM. She hopes to visit Montreal some day...it is a “certain” that this will be a most pleasurable meeting!

August 19 (Wednesday) 8:50 AM. Time is limited (for my new family) due to appointments. I greet Rosie with a little chat and fresh water.  She becomes alert
to a bird in a nearby tree, whose voice message she does not recognize.

1:45 PM I discovered at the camera shop that my last several pictures did not “photo” as the small mode wheel was mistakenly set on Movie. How could this have happened? I am So Saddened, I Could Cry...about the several more birth photos that really “tell the story”.

A couple more Mourning Doves sit on the telephone wire...this treed area may be a “family habitat” for the doves...perhaps they are “just visiting”. I am content just to observe...I have a tasty lunch before me...the Soduko puzzle to solve and a novel to continue reading. This Rosie Experience is one that may not occur again, therefore it is my desire to follow her Life during these precious available days.
It gives me an opportunity to enjoy my 3-storey view of
Life in the Neighbourhood..

A bicycle-for-two pedals by from the bike path
to follow the leisure ride toward Central Park.
Papa preens his chest feathers...pretends to beady-eye me
as the babies below him squirm.
A constant travel of cars, buses, taxi, 1/2 ton truck and people.
Numerous soprano-pitched-Tweets from nearby trees.
The grass and twig nest, with much hot sun, is looking
weather-beaten and burnished .
A heavy-set Senior dressed in lavender T-shirt and black shorts 
saunters along with her loving Poodle.
2 youths jogging, quietly pass her and saying Hello.
A lone middle-age cyclist exercises his limbs in the opposite direction
2 teenage girls with swinging ponytails and brief shorts trot their daily run.
A father pushes his stroller-ridden-child while reading a magazine.
Papa and I abide our time...he is in his avian world and I in mine.
The skies are blue with occasional drifting cloud, the breeze and the sun golden.
I've read the CAA magazine and did Soduko.
Another senior takes her small black dog for a stroll; 
they meet another friendly dog  who is taking his mistress
for a walk; the four are acquaintances; while the humans
 talk, one dog “signatures” the fire hydrant
before they complete their daily “round-the-block”.
A cyclist returns from Marilou's Market
with grocery bags handle-barred and one hand-held.

August 19 (Thursday) Checking my e-mails at the computer, I hear the musical “Twitter, Twitter...Twitter, Twitter” and wonder if it's my Mourning Dove. Yes..sitting on the long railing across from my table. I gently push open the door a few inches. Rosie? Papa? who walks (as on a tight rope) toward the nest and waits a long 2 minutes...security checking? Two small sparrows also land briefly on the same perch. Papa flutters to the nest...again waits a long minute or two. Changing of the Guard occurs...Rosie flies away with “swooshing wings”. Papa checks the hatchlings...then is immediately alarmed by noises created by a utility van unloading equipment in the driveway below.

5:00 PM A Mourning Dove on the high wire takes flight with a “swoosh” to the nest, waiting at chair edge for Papa to leave...who says, “Thanks, I'm out of here”. These babies have so rapidly grown that the 2 totally fill the nest...and I wonder...possibly 3 instead of 2? Rosie proceeds to energizingly feed them. Charcoal speckles dot their downy light beige fuzz and striped dark heads. The first one responds actively...the other hungrily waits his turn. 5:30 PM, Dinner Hour is Over!

6:45 PM There is nest activity with the little ones squirming...they settle under Mama's spread wings which provide “the roof” for their nest home...likened to an eiderdown coverlet for a bed.
7:45 PM Rosie pulls her neck in close to her body to retain warmth for this cool evening and night.. “Good Night, Rosie,” as I retreat to enjoy the Toronto Blue Jays' baseball game.

August 20 (Friday) “Freedom,Freedom, Freedom” is singing her morning Joy...she's one of my birds from Oiseaux Symphonie! With coffee in hand, I return to observe:
9:10 AM Papa “Twitter, Twitter, Twitters” his flight to the landing between Rosie and me. Rosie sits, still huddled ...with no response to him. Papa approaches the nest...Rosie swooshes immediately away.
Breakfast time for these ravenously hungry hatchlings. Papa needs no longer to extend his neck to reach these little open mouths...they stretch up to the beak of the parent who feeds them. They are beginning to resemble miniature birds with their brownish tails and speckled bodies. He “pumps” nourishment deeply into the hatching's mouth...being very forceful with this pumping action several times. Now, he breakfasts the other hatchling who is being short-changed with the amount of available food! Time for the morning hours as Papa crouches on the babes with feathers ruffled to nest edges. When he or Rosie do this, they look “fat”...or overly pregnant!

5:03 PM I have come inside to cancel my online game due to the glaring sun on my computer screen.“Twitter, Twitter, Twitter,” programs me! I glance through the door...there is Rosie on the balcony rail...THE NEST IS VACATED BY PAPA...THE HATCHLINGS ARE ALONE! I grab my camera, and cautiously approach. Rosie remains while I shoot my first pictures...the two hatchlings together! I have christened them HENRY and HEATHER!

(to be continued ~ Part III)

Merle Baird-Kerr
written August 30, 2010


  1. Merle I am loving every minute of this story of your Morning Doves... this 2nd excerpt , especially touches my heart as you have written with the deep intensity a parent feels for a child at birth...and beyond... these two lovely parent birds definitely have provided Maslov's theory for a good start in life for its babies... like we all would like to say we did. This is just a pleasant reminder of what its supposed to be. A couple and The Earth Mother watching over them ! I just love it. Great writing !

  2. "Earth Mother" loves your comments...both by e-mail & the foregoing. I find it most satisfying that you, the reader, becomes intrigued with and absorbed into the content of the "living experience" that I witnessed. Very few, I am confident would "document" daily, then write the story of Rosie, Papa and their babes. Many thanks, Sherrie...forever an inspiration to me!

  3. I love the concept of Family Life.The detail naming of the adult birds and the early fledglings behavior is fascinating and heartfelt. Your emotional expression is not lost on this reader. Will look for tomorrows chapter

  4. Thank you Sol...you are ever intuitive and perceptive! So pleased also that you sense the spirit in which it is written. There is a great correlation between the "bird-family-relationship" and that of humans! We have MUCH
    to learn from Nature.....