Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Persistence Doesn't Alway Pay Off

For several mornings now, I’ve had to deal with debris in the form of large twigs, Mesquite leaves and Acacia pods covering a good-sized area of my patio. I knew from experience the debris was from a bird, but I couldn’t figure out where it was trying to build a nest. This morning I finally spotted it—a Mourning Dove sitting on a few twigs atop a metal scupper near the roof of my house. I watched for a while, and each time the bird flew away, debris dropped and the nest was ruined. Each time, the bird would start over, delivering more twigs to its chosen spot, and then the same thing would happen again. Last night we had a good wind and what nest building that had been done the day before was completely destroyed, the evidence all over my patio. I noticed the dove had again started to rebuild.

Mourning Doves are not good nest builders to begin with and choosing the wrong spot for a poorly built nest is a recipe for disaster. I read that the male dove chooses the nest site and starts cooing until the female comes and gives her approval and they both start building. Another gal lead down the proverbial primrose path!

Building a nest on a metal scupper is not the thing to do, especially in mid-May in Arizona. Usually Mourning Doves nest in early spring, so perhaps this pair is not thinking straight. By the time any eggs hatched--if it ever got to that stage-- it would be early June and much too hot on a metal scupper for baby birds, especially with no protection from the wind. I can’t imagine baby birds lasting past the first breeze or a 110-degree day.

According to studies, most Mourning Dove nests are unsuccessful. I can understand that statistic by watching this pair with all their bad construction, poor location choice and their repeated attempts with the same results. At the risk of incurring the wrath of bird lovers, I can see where the term “bird-brained” originated. Nevertheless, despite all the perils and trials suffered by Mourning Doves, there are plenty of them. It’s estimated that there are over 500 million Mourning Doves in the United States.

I hope the dove figures out BEFORE she lays her eggs that her nesting plan is destined for failure. If she doesn’t, I'll be cleaning up smashed eggs on my patio instead of nest debris, or worse yet, babies who didn't have a chance from the beginning.

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