This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.
The first bird my daughter, 6, learned to correctly identify was the Mourning Dove. I felt very proud of myself. “Good job, honey!” I kvelled, “Zenaida macroura, Order Columbiformes!” Then I thought, wow, Zenaida would be a great name for a girl.
Whatever are the many failings I have as a mother (the kids complain I don’t make chocolate chip pancakes on demand, and that I am sometimes “really boring”) are hopefully offset by the fact that I have introduced my kids to ornithology. Right? There are fortunes to be made in ornithology.
Lawyers, doctors, multi-use land developers? Feh. There are already a lot of those.
During the recent ice storm we got cheap thrills watching the mourning doves try to land as they usually do on the branches of the crabapple tree in the backyard, but the branches were so glazed with ice the doves would scramble for a perch, fail, and fall off. Their usually placid expressions and unruffle-able demeanors were ruffled. They had the look in their round black eyes like, What the hell, universe? which is an expression I know well.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The mourning dove is the most widespread and abundant bird in North America, with a U.S. population of 350 million.” That’s a lot of birds about to do-si-do, my friends; they begin to build nests in early March. That’s in part why we are seeing groups of them collecting in our crabapple tree, where apparently, according to my research the males have preferred “cooing perches.” Isn’t that romantic?
I’m telling my husband: Hon, forget Valentine’s chocolates and the diamonds or whatever you were going to get for me. How ’bout a cooing perch?
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