A pair of mourning doves filled the hanging basket outside our kitchen window. It was a delightful surprise to see them sitting there only a few feet from where we were standing.
From my perspective the basket seemed too small for the pair, their tail feathers sticking out the sides, the resident fern displaying its fronds on the other.
My husband was immediately concerned about the plant and wanted to shoo the birds away.
"No, if this is the place they've chosen, let them stay," I said in their behalf. "I'll water the fern on the side then." I ran upstairs to Google "dove eggs" and read that they aren't waterproof.
"We'll have to let the fern die," I declared firmly. "We'll plant another one later."
The hanging home they chose is in the most congested area of our house. It's next to the back door and the kitchen with its garbage disposal and blender grinding and whirling several times a day.
People came in and out, banging the gate, talking, laughing just a few feet from the suspended family.
"Watch out for the birds," became my mantra for a few weeks, I might as well have put a sign on my forehead. I was worried they might fly away and abandoned their home.
But they didn't. I wasn't convinced that they would stay. But shortly after the pair first arrived, the female planted herself there. She must have either trusted us or had no place else to go. We could have easily touched her.
Once she claimed the nest, there was only one time when the nest was empty. I stood on a stool in the kitchen and peered into the nest through the window. Two small white eggs. That was the only time I saw them.
The pair took turns sitting on the eggs, never leaving them exposed except for that one exception. They hatched after only two weeks just like the internet stories said would.
I was surprised by how fast the chicks grew. The first week after they hatched the mother hovered over them, allowing me to see them fully only once while she was feeding them. Otherwise she covered them with her wings hiding them from view.
And then suddenly they emerged from beneath her, fully feathered and about one third her size. They became active like three year-olds, bopping around the nest.
Then the first time she left them alone, I stood on my stool and took a picture of them, two vulnerable little beings nestled side-by-side in their comfy bed of soil and moss. The mother returned frequently only leaving them a few minutes at first. And then she left them for longer periods like over an hour.
At about 12 days old my daughter called me over to the window. "One of the babies flapped their wings," she announced. I rushed over. It was the other ones turn for flying lessons. He raised his wings and fluttered them as though he were about to take flight. But he settled down again.
"A lot of non verbal communication going on there," my daughter said. Shortly after wards the mom took flight herself as though showing them how it was done.
The following day when my husband and I returned after an afternoon outing, I checked the nest and found that the baby doves were gone. The mother dove was sitting in the nest and the dad was on the ground.
He flew to the top of the car port when we arrived. My husband said that she must be sitting on the babies but I knew they were too big for that. "They are gone." It was a bit of a shock considering they were born two weeks ago.
Watching the doves nest in our back yard was an enormous experience for me. I felt so honored to be a part of their family, the life process. Nature visited our back door. It was a gift. I miss the birds. I miss seeing them there. I miss checking on them.