Out of the early morning mist a flutter of wings announces the first bird to our feeder. Long before the sun rises the male cardinal arrives at the feeding station followed by his mate. For about 30 minutes or so they feed in the quietness of the dim morning light. However, as the sun casts its first rays on the treetops on the hillsides, the flutter of many other wings announce the arrival of the mourning doves. There are usually about 17 to 20 in all. Most all other birds fly off to the nearby trees and wait for the doves to leave. The doves feed heavily in the morning and again in the afternoon. When the sun finally shines on the dove’s feathers there is a beautiful, shininess that is hard to describe. It’s a lavenderish, brownish color. I really don’t think there are such words but I’ll use them anyway. During mating season they squabble a little at the feeder but by the end of the day they all go away full and happy.
They get their name from the mournful call they make as they talk to one another during the day. We have raised some of these little doves that have fallen out of or should I say off of their nest. I made a syringe to look like a mother doves head. There I glued two glass eyes one on either side. They wouldn’t open their mouths to feed so I put an extra black spot on either side of that syringe head and I guess that fooled them. Once I put the spots on either side of the head the babies opened their mouths. I think they were nearsighted cause they gobbled down almost a whole syringe full each. Ground up seeds and some soymilk worked just fine as mother’s crop milk. They grew up and soon joined the flock. I bet they never saw another dove’s head like the one that raised them.
A dove’s nest is a very simple stack of sticks just placed on top of one another. These are usually placed in or near a fork in a tree limb. I’ve never understood how these nests keep from falling off the limb. The mother dove lays about 3 eggs and sometimes starts setting on them soon after she lays the first egg. There can be 3 different size babies in the nest at one time. When storms and strong winds sway the trees the mother dove guards the nest with her body and wings. She keeps the little ones safe and dry. Often after a rain you can see them taking a bath right out in the street in a rain puddle. Birds can do this but it is not recommended for little children.
I would imagine that Noah used a member of the rock dove family, maybe a homing pigeon, to send out of the Ark in search for land. These rock doves can fly a hundred miles or more and return right back to their home. Doves are so sleek and peaceful sounding with all their cooing that they have often been used as a sign of peace and goodwill.
When Jesus was baptized His Father in Heaven sent down a beautiful dove that lighted upon Jesus, this represented the Holy Spirit that came to anoint His Son. He said “BEHOLD YOU ARE MY BELOVED SON; IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED.” What a beautiful picture this was, and what other bird or animal could ever represent such a symbol peace.
A little lamb has always represented innocence and purity and Jesus said, “I AM THE LAMB.” Now when I look at my new, little grand daughter and touch her soft, blushed cheeks, its not hard for me to think of her as a sweet little lamb. This just helps me more to appreciate the great sacrifices that Heaven has made for us. Think upon these things as this Christmas Season closes out the old year and sets the stage for a brand new one. May God bless you and I thank you for all your support this past year. There are a lot more stories to come so meet me down at the Critter Corner.
- Uncle Burney
("McDonald Manna" January, 2007)