I mentioned a few days ago that I visited xocobra and LD on Saturday. I also said I had returned from that visit with some interesting wildlife photos to share with you. Now seems as good a time as any to do just that.
A great deal of my visit with them was spent in the back yard supervising the installation of a new stone walkway. I also helped, mind you, but a great deal of the heavy lifting had to be left to others due to my back surgery from years ago. I may want to help, but I ain’t stupid about it.
So I drank some beer, talked ad nauseam, watched birds of all shapes and sizes, and enjoyed a rather stunning afternoon. Where possible, I got involved and got my hands dirty.
At some point during the course of the work outside, I noticed two mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) perched in one of the trees in their back yard. They were near enough to the ground to be clearly visible. I pointed them out to xocobra since we’d been randomly talking about the many birds in the area and wildlife in general.
His reaction was nothing short of the best kind of frightening.
He immediately became excited and explained he had completely forgotten to share something with me that he knew I’d enjoy. He became somewhat animated as he made his way across the yard toward the gate that leads to the driveway and garage area. The whole time he was motioning for me to follow without too much commotion.
As I approached his position, he gestured toward a hanging pot on the patio that swayed and turned easily in the wind. It dangled from a metal hook under the roof’s eaves. My eyes followed to the place where he was pointing and immediately fell upon a mourning dove nesting in the pot.
That’s when I had a V8 moment. I didn’t have my camera with me and said as much. I wanted to kick myself.
Generous as always, xocobra told me to go inside the house and get their digital camera. So I did.
Despite not being familiar with it and having little clue about its various settings, I snapped just shy of a dozen photos using different options in hopes at least one of them would be presentable. Thankfully, some of them came out rather well.
After snapping the photos, I set the camera aside and left the dove in peace. I’ll admit I was quite smitten with her and the fact that the nest had been placed in such a smart position. It was covered and protected from most of the elements without being boxed in, out of reach for most predators, and sized just right for her, her husband, and their future brood.
Throughout the day I glanced and watched and eyeballed as the lass did the same. We were quite close to her on many occasions. She never fled, though, but did keep a sharp eye on us.
Apparently while changing the light seen in the first photo, something he was doing late at night, xocobra disturbed her and she fluttered from the nest with much noise and ruckus. It scared the fire right out of him because he didn’t even know she was there. Since then, he’s made it a point to ensure she and her mate are left alone so they can raise their family.
I kept an eye out all day for her mate because I knew he’d be out and about grabbing something to eat and doing his dove thing, but that he’d be back to switch places with her so she could go do her thing while he tended the nest and its occupants (and I’m assuming there are or soon will be eggs).
Sure enough, a lone mourning dove appeared in a neighbor’s tree in the late afternoon. It perched on a limb overlooking xocobra’s yard, and there it sat directly facing the nest. It was watching us and his mate, and he was waiting for a chance to complete the shift change. I’m sure he’d been watching us for some time before I noticed him.
Eventually he flew to a different tree for a different view, and then he flew to a different neighbor’s roof where he perched and watched from a different angle. As we finally began cleaning up our mess and preparing to go inside, he flew over and perched on xocobra and LD’s roof—the closest he had gotten since we saw him return.
I explained to them what would happen once we got out of the way. We wanted to see them make their moves, though, and stood like voyeurs at the patio doors watching from inside.
The moment we were out of sight, she rose from the nest, stretched her wings, and flew away. He immediately flew into position across from the nest before flitting over to the pot and taking his place inside it. He quietly settled in for his turn at playing parent while she went to find something to eat and to take a break.
I’m quite excited about this because, so long as nothing happens to the nest, they should have offspring in the coming months. To have the chance to witness nature’s cycle of life right there on the patio with such beautiful creatures involved is a fantastic opportunity. Having had such an occurrence in my own life many years ago with a pair of mourning doves who nested in a tree beside my driveway, I know xocobra, LD, and their kids are in for a wonderful treat.
[this is a perfect example of why I need to keep my camera with me at all times; it might not always be convenient, but that’s better than the eternal regret that comes from missing an opportunity that might never come again; the world is full of mystical goings-on and moments that we want to capture; not having a camera handy is akin to going through life with our eyes closed; I need to do a better job of keeping the camera with me so I don’t miss a chance to partake of the random splendor and memorable visuals that surround us at all times]