Bonding With Mom Over a Bird’s Nest

It’s easy to believe only remote places offer interaction with wild animals or experiences worth writing about; easy to believe, but false.

My most satisfying wildlife-watching experience recently came not in the canyons or meadows of northern Arizona, but in my mother’s backyard in suburban central California. The animal involved was just a common bird, a mourning dove. The dove was just doing a common thing: nesting.

Boring? Not hardly. The nest was in the branches of a Japanese maple, right outside Mom’s dining room window. Watching the dove’s progress was so easy it became part of our daily routine.

Mourning doves have a reputation for strange nest choices. This bird had taken over a tiny platform of sticks left over from last season. The twigs formed an area no larger than her body. Her sleek head and tail lapped over each end.

Looking at her perched on this old, tiny nest, Mom and I had a hard time believing she could successfully hatch eggs there. The bird’s optimism, matched with her precarious position, had us laughing one moment and shaking our heads the next. We worried together about the welfare of the eventual chick.

Soon, we decided to do something about it. But what? We envisioned various structures we could build to catch a falling bird. Our eventual solution involved netting fabric and binder clips. It looked about as flimsy as the nest, but satisfied our desire to help.

The next morning at breakfast we watched the dove reach beneath her body and pull out a piece of shell. Our forks clattered to our plates as we watched the dove fly off the nest and quickly return. I’m happy to report the dove is now brooding a hatched chick. Our “chick-catcher” hasn’t been put to the test—yet.

It was just a dove, nesting outside Mom’s window. But this bird gave us a glimpse into nature, interesting things to talk about, something to worry about together, and then a project to construct. If I were going to write about the experience, those elements (plus the way the experience shaped my visit with Mom) would give me plenty to work with.

Sure, it’s satisfying to hike into the wilderness to find a wild creature in its natural habitat. But there’s also satisfaction to be found in watching wildlife wherever we are—especially with someone we love.

Can you find the dove in this photo?
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4 thoughts on “Bonding With Mom Over a Bird’s Nest

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  1. Precious! I’m honored, and happy to report mother and baby are doing fine. I can see the baby is growing rapidly, and know they are going to be competing for the limited space by this time next week. The saga continues.

  2. My new neighbors came running over to my house this afternoon when they saw the G&F truck parked in my driveway frantically asking if I knew any thing about hummingbirds. It seems one attacks them whenever they try to use their front door and they didn’t know what to do. So doing my best Randy Babb I explained she probably had a nest there and I showed them the hummer nest, now empty, outside my door and offered all the ifo I could about the bird and how to coexist until the chicks fledge. They seemed fascinated and it was the longest conversation we have ever had. So you are so right… Just look around and share.

    1. Too often, neighbors “bond” in negative ways, in disagreements about barking dogs or paint colors or landscaping choices. How nice that the dive-bombing hummingbird at your neighbors’ house became an opportunity to build relationships based on something positive!

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