On the morning of May 26 in 2022, I opened up the blinds to our apartment balcony to see a pair of mourning doves perched in our planters. At this point I didn’t know much of anything about mourning doves, so I just thought maybe they were looking for some food. I left them alone.
Checking back in later that afternoon, I was surprised to see them still there with a few twigs in the area. Throughout the next few days, the doves collected twigs to create a small round nest (with a stockpile of a few twigs behind the planter). I’m not sure when exactly the eggs were laid, but eventully we noticed that there were a total of two.
It was on June 12 we first noticed the eggs had hatched into two tiny and fragile squabs. The parents continued to take turns looking after the squabs by providing warmth, protection, and food. Throughout the next two weeks the small squabs continued to grow and transform each day, growing in size and their feathers. The two parents would take turns in looking after the nest, but sometimes we saw them together nibbling one another and being close.
I was growing anxious at first as I noticed the dove wasn’t leaving the nest. All day. How was it not eating, let alone drinking any water? Then I noticed that both partners were switching places and taking turns to nest. Very rarely were the squabs left unattended.
The nest was fully visible from inside our apartment. I often took photos indoors or by opening up the sliding door and taking photos with my zoom lens from the other end of the balcony. I was careful not to disturb the birds as I was afraid to scare the parents away. When watering the plants was necessary, I would move calmy and talk quietly to the birds, and they remained still, seemingly more curious than afraid.
In the later week of the squabs development I began to take notice and wanted to understand the way the doves fed the young. Doves primarily eat seeds, and store food in their crop. A crop is a digestive organ for food storage which has the ability to produce crop milk from its lining to feed the young.
Around June 23 the squabs were big, and began hopping around the floor of our balcony. One seemed to be a little more adventerous than the other, and would sometimes fly to a tree nearby the apartment and back. The parents wouldn’t hang around the nest much, only to feed the young ones for a short while and fly away. The more adventerous bird began to spend more time away from the balcony than near the nest, but the other more timid one stayed put. It was a few more days before that bird too spent most of their time away from the nest. By July 3, I had not seen the small birds except for spotting one in a spruce tree nearby the apartment.
The morning of July 21, we saw the pair of doves return have since then taken turns nesting again! I’m looking forward to give an update after a few months with what I’m hoping is the next round of broods.
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