Domestic and wild pigeons descend from a single predecessor. Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia) first inhabited Europe and Asia as native species, but as with many creatures inadvertently or intentionally introduced around the globe, this avian toughie found its way to the New World and learned to survive in urban and rural settings. In fact, it thrived.
Named for its proclivity for nesting on cliff faces and steep rock structures where predators found it difficult to locate and invade the nests, this bird represents the living ancestor of pigeons.
That fact is not lost on humans who often refer to rock doves as common pigeons, or even rock pigeons in uninformed circles.
White Rock Lake, as well as all of Dallas, boasts a flourishing society of these beasts. They can be found everywhere.
And scarcely do they fear humans.
Standing where no one dares stand for too long, I realized the dule of doves above my head cared little for my milling about beneath them. Their perch high in the tree on a sunny day allowed them to tend to grooming in safety while perusing the landscape for breakfast.
But what a gregarious species they are, often sharing their personal space with other birds as well as humans. On a bright winter morning as I stood upon my favorite pier in Sunset Bay, I learned this fact with personal experience.
Adult and juvenile ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) staked their claim to wooden planks where rock doves also demanded their share. Neither seemed bothered by the other.
Yet as I stood quietly snapping photos, this so-called “common pigeon” demonstrated not only its lack of fear of other birds, but also its lack of fear of me.
Several walked right up the pier toward land, toward where I stood.
With movements so small as to be imperceptible, I maintained my position while capturing image after image while these doves treated me as they would a tree trunk. They came so close that I could have reached down and touched one. Had I been so inclined that is.
Not once did they spook at my turning to and fro, snapping pictures almost constantly.
And the sunshine provided perfect lighting (I mean with the right lens filters). No camera flash could ever come close to being this real, this colorful, this photogenic.
To share in complete honesty, I kept having to zoom out in order to get respectable scenes. All the while they carried on with their business as though I didn’t exist.
How I loved the idea of that, of being there without being a threat, of standing amidst their activities without them caring either way about my presence.
Something delectable rests on the tip of the tongue when nature fails to see us as a threat—when we truly are not a threat.
Whether or not I am at risk from them lies somewhere in the realm of irrelevancy. Only when they are who and what they should be can I reach that magical place where the cosmos unfolds life a carpet meant solely for my footsteps.
Such a place exists for so few people. Too many rush through the landscape assuming their own superiority, their own dominion over that which they do not understand or appreciate.
Animals sense this, methinks, and react accordingly.
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 “Dule” is the collective noun for a group of doves.