If to any degree one participates in ‘bird watching’, whether from their kitchen window or excursions down a nature trail, they are surely familiar in some measure with the “Mourning Dove”. And of course I can’t exclude hunters from this brief discourse.
One of the first things you will learn about this bird is that they become quite nervous when put on alert and are quite skittish. This behavior is usually followed by them taking flight with that all too familiar wing whistle or squeaking sound.
I’m not fanatical about feeding birds in my backyard but do keep up some measure of a regiment during the winter months although it seems winter has passed us by this year. And I normally feed the birds from feeders hanging off the edge of my patio roof. So whenever I exit the house through my patio door there is usually the immediate rush of birds scattering from the area.
A few weeks ago as I walked out my patio door I noticed two doves lying a couple of feet from the left-hand edge of my small patio and sunning on a small patch of bare ground. I was immediately struck that my entrance onto the patio some 15 feet from them seemed of little interest to them. Curious by the behavior, I turned and walked back into the house. They didn’t seem to even notice, not even rising to their feet.
I decided to get my bag of mixed bird seed and see what would happen if I went out again and began throwing a bit of seed out onto the ground. Again I stepped onto the patio and then casually walked directly to the edge of the patio somewhat in a direction slightly away from them. The two doves were off to my left at again what would be the left-hand corner of the patio. I slowly, without any sudden movement, spread some seed on the ground and then walked back into the house. During that time one of the two doves had risen to their feet and was keeping an eye on me but otherwise did not seem all that nervous.
I decided to end the experiment at that point and no longer test their patience. I thought perhaps just leaving them alone might be at that point the best move for reinforcing their trust, if in fact that was what was going on here.
A few days later as I looked out my patio door I noticed what seemed to be one of the doves back and lying in their favorite little sunning spot. I immediately wanted to test his patience again, assuming it was even one of the previous two that I had encountered previously, but this time I wanted to try and get it on video so I grabbed my camera which was nearby and already on its tripod. I slowly stepped out onto the patio with my camera and began getting it setup and focused in on the area I wanted to try and video. The dove seemed to have little concern with my activity so close by.
I was ready to proceed. I turned on the video camera and slowly began walking in the direction of the dove lying on the ground. After getting about halfway there from where I started I slowly turned around and walked back. The dove seemed fine with it. Then I decided to really push the envelope since I was getting it on video and just see how far I could go. Watch the video below to see how it all unfolded….
As you saw in the video I got incredibly close to the dove and not until right at the point when I got up to return back to the camera location did the dove get a little nervous, standing and then walking just a few inches in a cautious manner. I was most surprised when I tossed the two small twigs. I would have bet a lot of money that any movement of that type would have certainly spooked the little feller for sure! Also I would like to note that except for the title and ending frames, the video is completely unedited.
I have to say I remain somewhat amazed at this particular occurrence given the nature of the Mourning Dove. A couple of days later I noticed my new little friend was back again at apparently their favorite sunning spot so I decided to get my camera and try to get a nice photo of her/him as a keepsake. That photograph was featured earlier at the beginning of my post.
Well, there you have the long and short of it – the Mourning Dove story. 🙂