The Mourning Dove's Coo

by Pallavi Deshpande
(San Mateo, CA)

The Mourning Dove has been our companion for quite some time now.

We have changed home thrice and somehow every home we lived in had a Mourning Dove around it as if it had been following us.

two baby doves sitting in planter nest

Two Baby Doves (Squabs)

So I am used to waking up at the coo of Mourning Dove with some occasional cooing throughout the day.

And then one fine day as I am going about my business as usual, I see a pair of Mourning Doves surveying our balcony.

There are some potted plants on the balcony.

The visits and the surveying take place almost every day till I see the female sitting in the pot while the male is getting twigs for her.

He keeps coming back every five minutes with a twig in his beak.

After building a good-sized nest in no time both of them fly away.

The next day evening when I return home I once again see the female sitting in the pot, that is because there are two eggs laid in the nest.

Both parents now are on a 12-hour shift to incubate the eggs.

It is difficult to imagine how they track the start time and end time of their shift.

Also, I cannot stop watering the plant, if the plant dies and dries up, the nest will be exposed.

So each passing day I start pouring very little water on the other end of the pot just to make sure that the water doesn't reach the eggs but at the same time keeps the plant alive.

Every morning I see the male returning to take over from the female.

Not even once did they leave the eggs unattended.

The female Dove who is slightly bigger than the male, takes the night shift whereas the male is on the day shift.

The shift ritual goes on for 3 weeks where both the parents efficiently do a long shift to incubate the eggs.

We too anxiously wait for the babies but refrain from going to the balcony as we want the doves to feel safe and secure about their nest and expected babies.

We do have a clear view of the pot from inside our house.

One morning while I was in the kitchen I saw quite a bit of movement in the pot.

This is unusual as I am used to seeing both parents sit firm and seldom move.

To my surprise, I see two little baby Doves avidly rising to their mother for food.

I am thrilled to see that and instantly announce the arrival of the babies to my family.

The babies are now six days old and both the parents continue their shift and feeding without a miss.

The babies look healthy with light brown feathers on them, they are too young to have wing feathers.

Mourning Doves feed crop milk to their babies which is rich in protein and fat.

They are able to generate the crop milk for the first 4-5 days thereafter the babies are fed seeds.

The babies are growing fast and continue to look healthy.

After a few days, I notice that both the babies are left unattended once in a while and that is the time when I get really worried.

So I decided to keep a watch on them as much as I could whenever they were alone.

Poor little babies, they look worried and vulnerable whenever their parents are not around and that makes me uneasy too.

In fact, I have even decided that come what may I will not let the babies die and I if their parents don't return will do whatever it takes to save them.

I will adopt them and take care of them.

But every 7-8 hours I am happy to see that either mother or father arrive in the nest to feed them and spend some time with them.

It has been a little over two weeks and the babies now have wings.

The nest is not big enough to hold them and the parents.

Also now they are left unattended for most of the time.

Then one bright morning I see that one of the babies is standing on the edge of the balcony with one parent on either side.

Her parents are training her to fly. She finally glides off the balcony.

Mourning Doves typically lay two eggs with a gap of twelve hours.

This is precisely why one baby is somewhat younger than the other one as they are born twelve hours apart.

The other baby who is the younger of the two is patiently waiting for her turn.

As I pen my thoughts both the babies have left the nest, every morning I keep looking for them from the balcony in the tree and on the ground.

I can spot only one on the ground.

Young Mourning Doves leave their nest and spend several days on the ground hiding in a bush.

They are fed by their father during these days till they are finally able to fly and fend for themselves.

I hope and pray that both are alive and kicking.

Mourning Doves are known to be dedicated parents.

Even if one parent gets killed the other single-handedly raises the babies and cares for them till the babies are about a month old.

I have gotten very attached to these two baby Doves especially because they had to spend time alone in the nest or is it because I have recently lost my dear father and the sight of new life is comforting me from inside.

But again I have always been fond of babies.

I even used to talk to these baby Doves when they were alone in the nest in an attempt to comfort them.

I have spent a sleepless night when the babies were left alone throughout the night for the first time.

I was relieved only the next morning when I saw their father in the nest He returned only after sunrise.

Mourning Doves train their babies to be strong and independent.

They are known to even stop feeding their babies if the babies are reluctant to glide and fly.

The parents patiently wait by the nearby tree until the babies give up and decide to fly.

It has been a week since the babies left the nest and to my surprise today I see the couple again near the pot.

Once again the male dove is collecting the twigs and the female is sitting in the nest straightening their nest.

As I write tonight the female is incubating her eggs.

I salute their parenthood and the relentless efforts that they put in to take care of and raise their babies even though they have to struggle for their basic survival.

It's the Circle of Life, And it moves us all
Through despair and hope, Through faith and love.

This has been a very humbling experience for me.

It makes me ponder that life is sweet and simple but it's us humans who have made simple little things complex.

I am now eagerly waiting for the next set of baby Doves to enter the world, my beautiful and simple world!

Comments for The Mourning Dove's Coo

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May 04, 2021
Dove Hotel
by: Jeannie

I loved reading your detailed story and have learned a lot.

Since moving into my home over a year ago at least four sets of babies have been born, not all ending happily.

One flew into my front window.

I've since added reflective stickers in the hope of preventing that from happening again.

There were two in the back yard nest and two in front porch house that I installed after seeing them nesting on top of hurricane shutters.

In rear, the mom tends to put them in a small area with mulch that I fenced for them.

But the noises of landscapers and handymen scared them away. I spotted one in the next yard but the other, no sign.

In front, the adorable babies were in my
porch table.

Today, I cannot find them and tomorrow is landscaping day. I'm petrified that they'll be hurt.

I did come upon a very tiny baby that was dead in another area of yard. I buried him.

This is so rewarding yet sadder than sad when they don't make it.

This morning I noticed many crows in the tree next door and on neighbor's roof. They may be the culprits. Not sure what to do at this point.

There is already more nesting going on in front.

There was a mom in rear but she abandoned after a few days. Could it have been crows that scared her off?

Such a beautiful sight to see yet scary to watch these babies left alone all day.

Jun 17, 2019
Nature's Magic
by: Doug

Their cooing is very calming and peaceful. I just love them. Robins too are so beautiful!

Aug 01, 2018
Such fascinating creatures
by: Sarah B

At this moment I have two fledglings alone in the nest. Thank you for allaying my fears.

This is the second family I have followed from my front door this summer.

The parents are not bothered by my comings and goings. But, they most certainly are appreciative of the ample seed and fresh baths which I provide.

Jun 25, 2018
by: Ruth

A mourning dove has been cooing just about all day for two days.

I love watching them and they often visit my yard, looking for seeds that have fallen from the thistle seed feeder.

There are five of them here and I wonder if the all-day cooing is done by the single one who has perhaps lost its mate. Ruth in CT

Aug 03, 2017
Simply beautiful!
by: Anonymous

You are a very good story teller. It really moved me to read this.

I also have had 2 baby doves born under my porch and another 2 a month later. They are beautiful creatures!

I talk to them each time I take my dog out the back door for a walk.

Thank you for sharing your story. It was wonderful to read!!

Sue from CT.

May 27, 2017
Thank you for sharing @wha
by: Anonymous

The first part of May and just before mothers day, I came out to the back patio to water my herbs.

I noticed a whitetail feather in my hanging Valerian plant when at 1st I thought it was dead and walked around and saw the dove. Then thought it was fake.

Then I realized what was happening so I began reading about their traits and everything I've read it was happening.

Just wish I have to paid more attention to when it all began.

Thank you for sharing your story and info as it has been helpful!

Jun 11, 2016
by: Anonymous

This story is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Like you said
if only human lives were not so complex.

Thank you for posting this.


Apr 26, 2016
Love it
by: Anonymous

Very nice. Hope you get to see many reruns!

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