Tag Archives: nature

Another Leavetaking

They did it again. The adult mourning doves returned to the balcony and were nesting by June 17. June 30 saw not two but only one baby. This time, I did not take as many photos, but checked in every day. Today, worried for the rain, I saw the baby who had been left on its own last night was still there, and when I checked back a few hours later, saw it take its first ( for me, anyway) steps on the grates of the balcony. Then I came back in two hours and discovered an empty nest. Once again, I rushed down the stairs to see if it was in the yard. I saw a snake lying in an S shape a few yards away, but surely, it could not have eaten the baby. From a distance, I tried to see of I could make out a lump in its stomach. I heard a mourning dove coo faintly from deep in woods. Had the baby simply flown? It had been a month, after all, and it had received food meant for two.

Tomorrow, I will once again clear away the nest, and clean up the umbrella. Maybe I can have my balcony back. To sit outside on a chair, and read, maybe with the umbrella installed and open. Or will the parents return for a third brood?

It is tomorrow, and I still hear the faint cooing. A giant moth has attached itself to the window screen. If mourning doves symbolize new beginnings, moths suggest a person pay attention to discern the unreal from the real. Sitting at my desk, overlooking the balcony, I see a world unfold. The bee that’s discovered the pansies which are still blooming, and the fuschia. The two hummingbirds that visit the salvia. Oh, there is one now. The larger world is filled with death and life, and this balcony is a microcosm. A play of entrances and exits. Above, the canopy of sun and starlight. Below, the earth in its radient charm.


The last picture of the doves, May 21, 2020 (the older one was testing its wings.  They spent the rest of the day in their nests.  I checked at 8pm or so, and they were still in the nest, cuddled together.)


This morning I went to check on the mourning dove fledglings that were nesting on my balcony.  Since April 23, Shakespeare’s birth/death day, I have been watching this nest, as first the mother came and laid two eggs, then watched the fledgings slowly emerge into sunlight.  My research suggested they would be ready to leave the next Saturday, May 23.  But it is Friday, May 22, and this morning, the two parent doves were investigating what was an empty nest. After they left, I took a closer look.  In the nest was a lump of red something, resembling a dried date, and I worried it was gristle.  Had a hawk come and devoured the babies in the night?  All day I have opened and closed the sliding door, feeling sick.  I examined the ground underneath, and the woods a bit, but found nothing.  Now, about twelve hours after my discovery of the empty nest, I take another look.  I can hear the mourning doves, somehwere in the woods, cooing, the parents, I think.  Mourning.

Having spent the last month photographing the nest, posting the pictures on Instagram, getting positive responses, I wonder if I had somehow drawn attention to the nest?   I had once seen three falcons circle and sweep by very close to the terrace, an unusual occurrence, but that had been over a week ago.  Had the hawks been waiting all along, for the birds to fatten?  How terrified the babies must have been.  Had they first thought it was their mother, only to discover the truth?

What is the truth?  An empty nest, a day or two too early, a pair of parents searching the terrace.  Life is tragedy and comedy side by side, always.  A falcon didn’t eat the baby birds out of meanness, just hunger, perhaps to feed its own children.  Yet the smell of death lingers.  I light incense, knowing I will check and recheck for the next two days. I cannot shake my sadness off, or the tears.  I became too attached.

The wind is picking up.  These baby birds survived torrential rain, wind, and even bitter cold.  They made a home in a bare scrap of twigs on an open grid floor, open to the elements on three sides.  I hear another bird chirping over the wind.  Who knows what happened, after all?