01 September 2008
For two out of three months this summer, we've played host to two families of mourning doves.
We've always had mourning doves on our property, nesting in the grove of cedar trees or in the older maples. This year, we've got more than one family for the first time. They sit at the crest of our horse barn and coo, or they perch on the roof outside our bedroom and wake us in the mourning.
In June, two doves built a nest in the hanging basket on the side porch, just off the kitchen. For a month, we came and went with caution while the mother bird hatched one of two eggs and the father bird sat watch all day long. The noisy flapping of wings alerted us about 7 p.m. every night when the guard changed and the mother returned to the nest.
The birds left in July and allowed our plant to flourish again. But another pair took up residence in August, and now they've got a darling little baby, technically known as a squab.
No, I'm not going to post a recipe for squab. Sorry. I can't eat my guests. (Don't make any jokes here about famous Wisconsin cannibals, please.)
We've always had birds in our hanging baskets, but rarely have we gotten to know them as well as we have this year. One day I looked up from my supper preparations to see my husband having a conversation with the father bird.
The first couple were unflappable, allowing us to pet their tail feathers and water the plant. The second pair is feistier, and regularly flap their wings in alarm and defense when I come near with my long-spouted watering can.
Still, I suspect I'll feel a bit bereft when they quit the nest in September.
Summer guests are both a blessing and a curse.