Wildlife in Your Backyard: Baby Dove and Mother Dove
I awoke one morning, surprised to see that there was a bird’s nest on my back porch. It wasn’t just any bird’s nest- it was a dove’s nest! The bird had chosen to make a nest sitting perched above my fusebox, about seven feet off the ground. I found this quite interesting. Here is the story…
Doves are beautiful birds. I don’t ge
nerally see many of them around Hagerstown, MD. More often I see sparrows, black crowes, cardinals, and the like. When I first saw the bird’s nest on my porch, I didn’t necessarily think it was a dove’s nest. Then, a couple of hours later, I saw the gray dove sitting in the nest. This is quite a treat, because usually birds of any type will want to keep their nests hidden, to ensure the safety of the eggs and the baby birds. If a dove is letting you see the nest, it must feel very comfortable in this location!
The doves on my porch were considered Mourning Doves. They have actually grown quite used to nesting in areas occupied by humans, so it isn’t that strange to find them on your porch or in a windowsill, or in a planter hanging on one of your trees in your backyard. The doves adapt well to these situations.
The interesting thing about mourning doves is that they usually mate for life. The two birds will stick together, and often both parents will watch over a nest. I personally only think I saw the mother dove on my porch, however. The mother dove showed up first in May, right before summer.
The dove at first was there on and off again, for a period of about a week. This nest had actually been used by some other birds in the past, other than doves, and so the dove was making it her own. She added about an inch all the way around in height to the nest, and then she was ready to have her egg.
Doves usually have two baby doves at one time, generally. Each spring, they will have up to six “hatches” of offspring, two in each hatch. It was literally impossible to be able to see the egg, though, because the mother dove stayed on the nest at all times. At least, every time I looked she was there. Whereas the previous bird who used this nest always flew away when I would come outside the back door, the dove stayed put. She wasn’t moving for anything.
In a couple of weeks, she seemed to get very fat. It isn’t because she was pregnant. It’s because she was positioning her body to cover the baby dove that had hatched to keep it protected from prey. After three weeks total, I saw the baby dove. It was smaller than the mother dove, but not by much. It was as if by the time the bird was able to show its face, it was already pretty big. I assume that there were two eggs initially, but that only one of them made it. Thus, for the next two weeks, both mother and baby stayed in the nest. Once or twice, I would see the baby bird alone, but not often. Finally, both mother and baby left, on to bigger pastures…
I didn’t see anymore of mother and baby dove, but generally the baby dove will live on the ground for a few days after leaving the nest. It has to gather its strength to be able to fly. The mother stays nearby, helping make sure it has food. Finally, the baby dove is ready to be on its own!
So, I thought that was the end of the story. Wrong! In another week, the mother dove was back. By this time it was the beginning of June. This was the same mother dove from before. She sat there for a couple of weeks again, getting bigger in her body size, so it seemed. Then, two baby doves surfaced! At first, they were somewhat small, with feathers that looked a bit wet. In a short period of time, the feathers and two baby birds seemed to look like the mother almost identically. It was uncanny! They grew very quickly, and in two weeks, all three were gone. Once again, I didn’t see the baby birds on the ground, but assume they were somewhere learning to fly…
My back porch had become a home to wildlife, and for this I was very proud. All three baby doves made it out into the world, previously nestled in the comfort of the nest sitting atop my fusebox. I really enjoy wildlife, so I’m glad my home was able to do something positive for wildlife and nature in general!