When I was a child my mother used to feed the birds. She had this wood and glass bird feeder that was right outside the kitchen window and I can remember watching the brightly coloured birds battling for seed. I’m certain my father made it back in the eighties at moms request.
That same bird feeder still sits just outside the kitchen window, but the glass is long gone and the wood is heavily weathered from decades in the elements. I started feeding the birds again last fall and it took several months for the birds to come.
It’s March 2011 now and the birds are back. The bright blue jays fight with each other only to be kicked out by the mammoth black birds. The adolescent half red cardinals wait in the trees for the coast to clear while their fire engine red adult counterparts are not shy about getting their seeds.
The pairs of mourning doves return to the same place every year. I remember mom telling me that they mate for life and that was something I chewed on steady. I would picture the medium sized grey doves meeting in high school and getting married. Marriage really meant something to the monogamous mourning doves. It meant a family and a life of traveling together. Never farther than few steps they raised their young and stayed together. Until I was twenty I thought they were morning doves and when I found out they were mourning doves I wondered why they were so sad all the time. Was it marriage?
The oldest known mourning dove is over thirty-one years old. Should their mate die they never mate again. A single pair can produce up to six offspring per year. The wings make an usual whistling sound upon take-off and landing with speeds up to 88 km/h, but their name comes from their plaintive woo-oo-oo-oo call. It has nothing to do with being sad, they merely sound sad.
Ironically, in 1971 (the year I was born) the mourning dove was named the Wisconsin State Symbol of Peace. Wisconsin is the home of my favorite NFL team the Green Bay Packers, who won the Superbowl in Texas this year. No wonder I’m a big fan of the mourning dove.
It’s amazing how this thread ran from doves to football.
I still enjoy watching the birds and went so far as to buy an eighty-eight pound bag of bird seed from the local feed store. It was thirty dollars for the big bag and considered a steal because it’s fifteen dollars for a ten pound bag at the grocery store. This is the complicated economics of feeding the birds.
Taz often sits at the window in her heated bed and I know she’s working hard on patrol, but I wonder if she is enjoying the birds too.
Below is a video outside the window of the birds enjoying the feeder durning our spring snow storm. I swear the red cardinals make the snow brighter.