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Are You My Mommy?

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“Oh look Gary,” Anne says to me from the back door, “It’s a baby bird!” I jump off the couch and grab my camera. Anne steps back into the house so she doesn’t scare it away and I ease over and look down to see that it is a juvenile mourning dove.

I can tell it is a youngster because of its small stature, not fully formed feathers and the feint buff around its eyes. As I snap a few photographs, the small dove tilts its head and looks at me, but seems to sense that I am not a threat. It doesn’t move. “Hello there little one; where’s your family?” I ask as if it will answer me back. I look around, but don’t see any adult doves nearby. She (I’m not sure of its sex, but will call it a girl for now) stands up and walks over to some seeds that spilled from the feeder and begins to eat.

We check on her the rest of the day and she stays in our small yard, sometimes resting on the ground, sometimes eating seeds off the ground and occasionally she flies up onto the bird bath to drink water. I worry about her as the evening comes upon us, that a raccoon will eat her for dinner. But the next morning she is still there and I breathe a sigh of relief.

I wonder what brought her here. Did she get separated from her family? Did her mom and dad tell her to stay here we’ll be right back and abandoned her? Or is she just old enough to be on her own? Then I see an adult mourning dove land on the feeder to eat and the little one starts to flutter its wings and open its mouth as if to say, “Mom, I’m right here! Feed me!” But the adult ignores her. She flies onto the edge of the bird bath and the adult flies to the bird bath, but it looks like the adult pecks the little one. Was she harassing the adult and it didn’t like it? The adult returns to the feeder and the baby is right behind it, but yet again the adult rejects it. I guess this adult dove was not her mommy.

Eventually, the adult flies off with the baby right on its tail, and we don’t see either until that evening when the juvenile returns. “That wasn’t your mommy, huh little one?” I ask it. For several days, she hung out with me in the yard as I barbecued in the evening and pulled weeds in our small garden. I looked forward to seeing her each morning. Then, as suddenly as she appeared, she was gone. I hoped that she would return later that day, but she didn’t. I hope that she is fine, raises a family and returns to our backyard with her little ones so we can enjoy watching them grow up. Good luck to you my little squab!

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