It’s a Bird’s World


Mourning dove

Bonnie Nowicki

As gardeners, we may imagine our carefully tended landscapes as ideal havens for our feathered friends. This past spring and summer definitely proved my home surroundings met their requirements and surpassed my expectations twice over.

From mid-February through June, my family, neighbors, and I witnessed the daily ritual of a mother mourning dove peacefully sitting on a flimsy straw and stick nest next to a well-worn, six-inch conch shell, tucked into a corner of my columnar cactus pot. This two-foot-tall container is conveniently situated outside my front courtyard window. Day after day, the dove sat, routinely shifting her position on the two white eggs. Her partner brought additional pieces of straw now and then. I believe he sat on my window ledge at night, as evidenced by bird droppings.

What was truly amazing to all of us was the frequency of breeding. We watched four broods of two squabs (baby doves) each hatch, mature, and fly off over these past months. I consulted my Audubon Society bird book, and mourning doves do nest two to four times a year and can continue through mid-September. Presently, the nest is empty.

If that wasn’t enough birdwatching, we were also treated to viewing the nesting habits of a broad-tailed hummingbird, which resembles a ruby-throated hummingbird. This determined bird nested in my sprawling artificial bougainvillea plant located in my front door alcove. The sheltered, horizontal limb already had a hummingbird nest from a previous year. The well-constructed tiny woven cup was insulated with twigs, mosses, and lichen and became the foundation for a new nest, and after a month, a third nest. I again consulted my Audubon book, and this particular hummingbird will return to the same branch and build a new nest atop an old one. Who knew?!

I feel so fortunate to witness nature in progress from the comfort of my home. Dear fellow gardeners, keep your eyes open. There may be a delicate creature right outside your door.