No Cages for these Doves
by Anita Cabrera
(San Francisco, CA)
Brooding Dove Without a Cage
Several weeks ago, I had occasion to visit a large home on several acres in one of the wealthiest northern California counties.
The family kept a pet owl in a spacious outdoor aviary, complete with a Buddha statue, fountain, rose bushes, trees, and benches for meditating.
They also had a falcon housed elsewhere on the property. "I have birds, too," I thought; "just not in cages."
After that visit, I took more notice of the few birds around our small home in San Francisco.
In particular, I realized that the mourning doves that grace the weekday mornings when I go to my car have come around for the past three years.
They had been particularly noisy and active the past weeks, cooing and roosting on telephone wires outside our house, fluttering in and out of the thick leafy branches of a neighbor's tree.
I told the five-year old neighbor to keep watch, that the birds might build a nest right outside his living room window.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I came home one afternoon to a dove squawking and flying around our front gate and noticed a small pile of debris on the tiles in front of our door.
My own 11-year old son noticed it first, and said, "Look".
There in a planter right beside our front door, sat another dove, so absolutely still we weren't sure she was alive.
Indeed, we have no other door off the street into our house, and any time a member of our family came in or out, we noticed the bird sitting sentry-still, black-eyed, as if frozen in time.
Since then, I've found out that the male and the female of the pair take turns brooding. And though not the quietest of spots, the nest in our entryway is shielded from the elements and predators.
Apparently, if the pair like the spot, they may produce several broods in one season. We shall certainly see, as these birds are right at our front door.
I was wrong, though. I don't have birds. They're just visiting, like hotel guests, looking for shelter, a place to have their young.