Monday, June 3, 2013

AN OPEN LETTER re YOUNG MOURNING DOVES


The other day when I was editing images in my Aperture Library, I came across the image (posted above), and seeing it along with receiving the following information in TLLG's Facebook newsfeed,


Mourning Dove young may be leaving the nest. 
Here's what to look for:
- Wing and breast feathers tipped with light buff color
- Slightly shorter tail
- No dark spot behind eye like the adults have
Let us know when you see young Mourning Doves in your yard.

has prompted me to write today's entry here on Blogger, and allow it to serve as an open letter to Wild Birds Unlimited (whom I'll refer to as WBU in this narrative). WBU is the organization who posted the text which I've highlighted in orange.

Meanwhile, I'd like you to know, dear reader, for purposes of orientation re this entry, that the aforementioned photograph was taken on May 29th 2013 and evidently WBU posted their content on May 27th 2013.

And without further ado, here is my letter to WBU:

To Whom It May Concern at WBU:

I have seen your post about letting you know when young mourning doves have been seen in my yard. While I don't have a yard, I do have a terrace (roof extension) attached the apartment where I live in New York city.

On that roof extension I have a garden where I grow a number of "things," including flowers, grasses, herbs, plants, shrubs, trees, and vines.

There are an array of birds which visit my garden —  so far fourteen different types have stopped by to nosh — but the ones who come here the most often are mourning doves. The antics of all of my visiting birds is something which I've featured on TLLG's Facebook Page, Pinterest Boards, as well as in "stories" on tumblr and here on Blogger.

However, most of my "steady customers" are mourning doves, such as the one pictured in the righthand corner in the photograph at the top of this entry. He/she seems to be starring shamelessly at a white-breasted sparrow!

This brings me to my first set of questions, and btw, I have tried googling for answers, looking at countless sources, but to no avail, hence I am asking you!

1. How can I tell if a mourning dove is male or female?

2. Is this one of the young mourning doves (top image) you refer to in your posting? He/she seems to meet your criteria re having a "shorter tail" as well as "light buff coloring," and it seems there is "no dark spot behind the eye," but that is something I am having a hard time deciphering, although it may be more obvious in the images below, featuring his/her comrades (or playdates).




 3. If this is a young mourning dove (again top image) how can I determine his/her approximate age? Does the fact that he/she seems to be recognizing the presence of others (in this case the white-breasted sparrow) indicate a certain "maturity" as it does when newborn children begin to show signs of being aware of their surroundings?

In terms of sleeping, do mourning doves hang their heads down, as this guy/gal seems to be doing in the picture posted below?



Or do they sleep with one eye open as the following photo indicates?



And as for their beak, I had never noticed how "pointy" it was, which you can see in all the images posted above, as well as the one posted below.



Are they, as a singer says (about herself) "born this way?" Do their beaks dull over time?

In any event, I hope you have answers to these questions, for as I said I have exhausted a number of resources on the Internet and while I did learn a lot, including the fact that adult mourning doves "make" their young leave the nest and fend for their own food at a fairly age, yet they watch from a nearby spot to see if all is well; as this mourning dove seems to be doing from a tree in a courtyard near to my garden.




The mourning dove in the images posted above seemed to be super vigilant, causing me to think he/she was making sure his/her young was finding food; and safe from any predator, as well as safe from well meaning folks such as yours truly who feeds them! For indeed I did receive "the glare/stare" from this dove as he/she looked right at me through a window — or does he/she just love the camera — as I was standing in my kitchen!




Soon after his/her observations, this dove seemed to be satisfied that his/her young ones were doing all right, as well as satisfied that I was not going to cause harm; hence he/she went back to their "business" of preening!






I was surprised to discover him/her preening if indeed he/she is a new parent! I thought mourning doves only preened during mating season and once they had their offspring, eased up on their preening?

Do you know if mourning doves start to want to "have more kids" as soon as the little ones are gone, which could explain the "heavy duty" preening OR are mourning doves conscious of the need to not let their appearance go by the wayside once they have a mate, which unfortunately humans so often do?

And with that, I'll leave you to ponder, and hopefully answer my questions!

With Appreciation. 
TLLG

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