Monday, March 16, 2009

Maternity ward

For several years now, in the time period between the Christmas wreath and the hanging flower basket, I have adorned the hook on the wall outside my den sliding door with a basket containing red silk geraniums, if for no other reason that the weather is dull and dreary and I wanted a spot of color outside I could see from my desk. And, every year I remind myself I must remove the basket before nesting season begins and some opportunistic bird in passing remarks that the basket would be a cracking good place for a home.

Of course, every year I forget.

Almost every spring the occupant has been a mourning dove, for several reasons. First, they have an abnormally low fear of humans. Well, you would have to, to construct your nursery 18 inches from my back door. Then, there is the matter of the sloppy, slap-dash nests they make. In those conditions, the confining shape of the basket has been a definite plus in the construction stability department. And, it's under the eaves, so none of that distracting drip-drip on your head during spring rains while you're trying to incubate your clutch of eggs. Kind of makes my silk flower arrangement look like prime real estate, doesn't it?

So, here's what we have this year:In this photo I've circled the nest area. Enlarged, you can see the mother bird's tail against the left side of the thermometer and her head just peaking over the geraniums, wondering what the blazes crazy thing the humans are doing now.
Since I refuse to live with the den drapes closed for months during the prettiest time of the year, I've taken to slinking through the den past the door very quickly, eyes downcast and not looking her in the face. If you happen to glance up and are nose to beak with her at the glass, she takes on the most alarmed look, and once was reduced to evacuating the nest in a panic. She only went as far as the dogwood tree at the end of the patio, and then dropped down to stand on the concrete with the most pitiful expression (yes, birds do have expressions) until she was sure it was safe enough to go back. It made me feel rather like one of those home invasion criminals you read about in the papers. I am not going to be the cause of a failed incubation, so I make sure not to disturb her enough to leave again.

If I stand quietly in the kitchen doorway, I am far enough away from the glass for her to be comfortable, even though she seldom takes her eyes off me. I can then watch her arrange and rearrange herself on the nest, shifting every few hours to face outward or inward, but always keeping the humans in her sight.

One hardly has the heart to remind her that it's my house, for pity's sake, and the yard is full of trees and bushes which would have worked admirably for setting up housekeeping. It's bad for the nerves to camp on your enemy's doorstep. Nevertheless, there she is and there she will stay until the family takes wing and I can watch them grow up in my yard.

It's still better than the robin who built on the front door wreath, causing me to give up use of the main door to the house for two months.


Tanya said...

You are so kind hearted! Good for you! And good for the birds that find your home a haven!

Suzan said...

I love the sound of the dove's cry and have wonderful memories of listening to them early in the morning at my grandmother's house. Now, that being said, I wonder how they have survived. They choose nesting areas so strangely. Every year we had a dove make a nest in our pine tree...over two branches that just happened to cross. Every year there was also windy weather, the branches would move, the nest would end up on the ground and the eggs smashed. It always made me sad.

The Calico Cat said...

What a great story. (My GF had a nest above her mail box/porch light one year... It was dangerous getting into the house...)

Joan said...

These near-house nests are so fun to watch. We have several spots near our house - over the front light, in the pitch of the porch roof, in the eaves of our shed, in the branches of the landscape shrubs, etc. They are fun to watch and hear as the baby birds chirp and grow. Unfortunately, Joey the Killer Cat also thinks its fun - and does more than his fair share of bird control.

momtofatdogs said...

Between the cats & the birds, you're just a big softie!

Glad to know , though, that there ARE animal humanitarians.

Sam in Middle TN

Elaine Adair said...

OK, so now it's the DOVE's house and you just live there! 8-)))