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A Sign of Spring

John S Davis, NCCP

The nature lovers here at Woodruff Family Law Group, which presumably is all of us, were delighted last year to discover that a pair of Mourning Doves had built a nest under our back door awning. Despite constant daytime traffic, the birds stayed there for the entire nesting season, and it is likely that they raised more than one brood. When the nest was abandoned in the fall, we left it alone and are again delighted to find that the nest is again in use, and it is safe to assume it is the same pair of birds.

Mourning Doves, also called Carolina Turtle Doves, are prolific breeders, a quality that helps offset their position as prey to other birds and to man. Four broods per season is a common number and some pairs manage up to six. The couples do not mate for life but do frequently re-pair from one season to the next. In warmer regions a couple will stay together throughout the year, essentially becoming lifelong mates.

Courtship Among Mourning Doves

Before mating, both birds are affectionate to each other, and the behavior continues after mating as they engage in billing and cooing, a term that has been adopted to describe courtship among humans. The male helps the female build the nest, often standing on top of her and passing nest materials to her for the construction. The nests are haphazard as time is of the essence to these urgent breeders.

The male helps tend to the eggs, usually taking the day shift, and the female covers the longer night shift. When the eggs hatch, the babies (called squabs) are helpless and are tended by both parents, each of whom takes turns feeding them “pigeon’s milk” that is secreted by the crops of males and females. After about four days, the parents introduce seeds and grains into the babies’ diet; after about 12 days, the father takes over the feeding while the mother prepares for the next brood. It’s a very efficient system.

Life is Interconnected

Having this pleasant intrusion of the natural world into the daily life of our law firm is a wonderful reminder that life is interconnected. While we can become caught up in the technicalities of work, the larger world outside our firm goes on around us. The proof is sometimes right outside our back door.