At sunrise, this first full day of spring 2010, I was greeted by mourning doves. Their return to my neck of the woods is always one of my most cherished signs that springtime truly is here.
I opened my eyes to the sight of them---softly-plain love birds perched wing-to-wing on a branch outside my north window, singing that soft, cooing song that some see as a lament (hence their popular name).
But I call them morning doves, not mourning doves; from now until autumn, their song will begin my days at dawn and end them at twilight. Their repititious coos will be a croon that tells me it's time to come out of my sleep, or a lullaby that calms me as the dusk deepens into darkness.
Never have I lived where morning doves haven't nested around me. They seem to like perching on my deck rails and gutters, or on long branches near my windows. They don't seem to mind foraging in my early-spring gardens, feasting on renegade weeds.
They co-exist quietly with the small songbirds that frequent the Moore place.
Quiet and gentle as they seem on their perches, they can demonstrate a surprising spirit in the sky; taking off from their perches like jet planes, sometimes reaching an amazing bird-speed of 55 miles per hour on a bullet-straight path, their wings whistling and whirring as they ascend and descend, dodging each other like dog-fighting war planes.
In some parts of our country, they're an abundant bird species, popular with hunters who relish them barbecued.
As for me, they can hang out at my place with nary a risk of being shot at or eaten.
Happy spring to you all, from me and my doves.
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