by Pat Pease
(Green Valley, AZ)
Parent dove and babies
I first noticed the dove nesting in my hanging flower pot just outside the window in late February.
As much as I love sitting in my patio swing, I tried to avoid the area so as not to frighten her, but although she watched me she didn't fly away when I opened the door to let the dog out and back in.
Even opening the door from our bedroom only a few feet from her nest wasn't a problem. She would watch me, but she stayed put.
At one point, when the nest was empty, I pulled the drip system from the pot so that it would stay dry. I wasn't worried about the succulent plant that cascades over the sides of the pot.
As the weeks passed, the babies hatched. I first noticed them on March 24, their little heads peeking up over fluffy little bodies.
The parents were always on the nest, so they were several days old before I knew the eggs had hatched.
By this point, I was able to go outside on the patio, put food in the bird feeders and water in the bird bath.
Mama and Papa doves would just watch. When we had some nasty winds, I gently inched the swing closer to the nest to stabilize it. Again, they just watched me. I was always very careful not to make sudden movements.
We have the added benefit of having solar screens on our house which make it easy to see out, but from the outside the windows are blacked out.
This gave us the opportunity to get a very good look at our little bird family, which thrilled my young grandsons...and drove my cats nuts.
My cats are not allowed outside, so they chirp at birds from the patio door. No one around here allows their cats outside because of the desert wildlife, so birds have that in their favor.
What surprised me most was how fast the babies grew. They seemed to double their size almost every other day.
Yesterday, they were standing and walking around the nest, stretching their wings. I knew they would soon be strong enough to fly.
It's April 1st, and when I woke this morning the babies had left the nest. My only regret is that I didn't see them take flight for the first time.
Whenever I see a dove, I'll wonder if it is one of "my babies." I'll leave the nest in my hanging flower pot in case Mama dove decides it's a good spot to raise more babies.