The Return of Tupperware Dove
How do you like this gigantic picture of a mourning dove? (click and it gets even bigger!)
See that nest? I made it.
A few years ago right after my beloved pitbull x died, I came home and found these two on the bricks in front of my studio.
Right beside them was the flimsy nest constructed by the obviously first-time dove parents.
I was always taught not to touch a baby bird because if the mother got a whiff of my human scent, she would abandon it.
Fact: Birds do not smell very well and will not reject a baby just because it’s been carelessly fondled by a human.
So, I got this plastic container, nailed it to a pretty secure spot on a highish branch, put the nest and baby in it, and hoped for the best.
Fact: Unlike robins, baby doves tend not to jump out of the nest explore their surroundings before they can fly.
The mother returned to take care of the baby until it was grown. I felt like a hero.
The next year, mother dove came back and laid another egg and raised another chick in the deluxe Tupperware nest. And here she is again!
When I wrote the original post about mother & baby, I also wrote about the passenger pigeon because the mourning dove is one of its closest genetic relatives. For a long time, “passenger pigeon” was the most commonly used search term for my blog. People seem fascinated with them, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because, like the great herds of buffalo that formerly roamed North America and were reduced in less than 50 years to a few hundred stragglers, the extinction of this bird that once flocked & flew in the millions is also unfathomable.
I’ll copy the paragraph about passenger pigeons again, just because it’s Easter time — naturally lending itself to stories of immense life and immense death.
Flocks were commonly 300 miles long and one mile across. It seems that the real decline of the bird occurred when pigeon meat was commercialized as a cheap protein source for slaves and the poor in the 19th century, resulting in massive hunting. Before poultry farms, there were passenger pigeons. They were netted in trees and hunted with shot guns, whose pellet sprays could bring down dozens at a time. They were stuffed into refrigerated boxcars and shipped by train to canneries in the East and Midwest. When it became clear in 1850 that their numbers were diminishing, frenzied hunters went out and killed even more. Subsequent attempts to establish captive flocks failed because it was discovered too late that they were very gregarious birds who practiced communal nesting and breeding. Only very large flocks with very large breeding grounds were sustainable. The last known passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.