I recently have had the pleasure (and pain) of having a beautiful pair of mourning doves nesting on the roof overhang of my patio. When I first noticed they had chosen my patio, I was both excited and nervous. The nest was kind of scattered and loose, and looked like it would be easy for an egg (or young bird) to fall out.
While watching the birds nest, I observed a new danger to the eggs. Scrub jays frequently inhabit our backyard and are known to prey on other bird's nests (eggs & young). Scrub jays had discovered the nest and were frequently pestering the sitting dove.
I waited until the scrub jay scared the dove away from the nest one day, quickly went out on the patio (to scare away the jay), and stapled a small screen across the front of the nest area to prevent the nest from falling or eggs from falling out.
I waited for the dove to return, and could tell it was apprehensive about the new addition the the nest area. Eventually it went inside and continued nesting.
I became a little obsessed with the safety of the birds and the nest, and spent some of my days off just watching the nest, and listening for signs of distress (from nest robbers).
I chased away several scrub jays on multiple occasions. The nest seemed doomed and I was sad when I had to leave for work and also leave the nest to what nature had in store. However, I was genuinely surprised when I came home from work each day to find the doves were still nesting!
Who am I to think that these birds cannot protect their own nest? I know I cannot save them, but I felt a little obligated since they were on my patio.
It's been about two weeks now and the birds are still nesting. I have witnessed the "changing of the guard" on so many occasions and have a great respect for these birds who stay together and share the demands and duties of raising their family.
The scrub jays still try to bother the nest, but for some reason, the nest and eggs are still intact.
This morning when I woke up I noticed one egg laying on the beam outside of the nest. The dove was on the nest, but this egg was not? I couldn't understand why, and thought maybe the bird inside was dead and the egg was kicked out of the nest.
I collected the egg with a stick and soft bowl without disturbing the sitting dove. I felt really bad that this one egg didn't make it after such a long journey.
I picked the egg up (with a gloved hand) and listed to it - to my surprise I heard slight tapping noises coming from the egg and even felt a little movement!! I had to get the egg back into the nest.
I scared the dove from the nest and quickly put the egg back in it. I then waited to make sure the dove would come back, and after a few minutes, it did.
I don't know why the egg was not in the nest, nor why the doves did not try to move it back over into the nest, but it's there now. I don't know if this was right to do, but I wanted the baby bird to have a shot at life.
I can't wait for the babies to make their appearance - it's time for them to hatch and I can't help but worry about them and hope they make it in the "real world."