This graceful mourning dove (zenaida macroura) is a regular visitor at our breakfast window. Normally shy and retiring, the love of sunflower seeds overrides his wariness.
It’s a very common backyard bird in this country, a protected bird in some places yet it is hunted in season in many states…. not in New Hampshire since they aren’t numerous enough. Other states that ban dove hunting are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Alaska.
- They are monogamous and mate for life.
- Some migrate. Some do not if food is plentiful.
- They are named for their ‘mournful’ song.
- They are the Wisconsin state symbol of peace.
- Nests are so loose you can see the eggs through the twigs.
- They are the most frequently hunted species in North America.
- Up to 45 million are killed by hunters annually, yet they remain plentiful.
- They eat approximately 12 – 20 percent of their weight daily.
- The oldest mourning dove lived to 31 years 4 months old.
- They are one of a handful of birds that enter a shallow state of torpor at night when fasting.
- …and finally, many years ago, my young daughter adopted and raised an abandoned chick.
For over a month, I’ve fed the birds in our new habitat. And they have had the best of food, my special blend that I’ve developed over the years. It took almost a week of feeding before the first little brown bird discovered the feeder. Since then I’ve attracted the most common birds found at feeders. I’m missing a few familiar friends… like the cardinals. But I’m beginning to attract varieties of woodpeckers. I hear them more than I see them but they will dash in for a seed or two early in the morning.
I was excited to rise at dawn today for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Coffee in one hand, binoculars in the other, I settled into my comfortable chair where data form and paper waited. What I saw at the feeder caused me to slosh a bit of coffee from the mug.
Grackles. Common Grackles. Iridescent in the early morning light. Hundreds of them, in the birches, in the pines, in the air, in shrubs, swinging on the grackle-proof feeder, spilling seed on the ground where they came and went with abandon.
They don’t know this crazy lady yet so they swooped and soared and dined in utter bliss. It was hopeless. My 15-minute Backyard Bird Count was easy today. I will report 200 Common Grackles. Hope rises eternal. I’ll try again tomorrow.