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My Mulch Brings All The Birds To The Yard


Pretty sure this is a mourning dove egg. It’s only a foot or two from the feeder, the “nest” is barely a scuffle in the mulch, and a squirrel or something will undoubtedly eat it in the next ten minutes. (I’m a little surprised it lasted long enough for me to see it!)

Doves are not good at this.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


I have robins nesting in one of the corners of my front porch at the moment, after an abortive attempt to build a nest on the sloping top of my mailbox and at least one failed beginning on the corner before they got it anchored well enough. Not the brightest of birds. I'm not looking forward to the inevitable attempts of the young birds to throw themselves against my windows over and over again for hours. How robins are so prolific, I do not understand.

Incidentally, your posts here are what got me to take up birding last year. So thank you.

... Not good at this at all.

It makes me think of the American Coots at my field sites - complete lack of survival instinct. GIANT PICK UP TRUCK cruising along the levee, their response? "AH, oh no, I shall run/fly/water walk away!" And they fly 3 feet, forget what they were doing, and settle back down for 10 seconds until they notice the truck again.

Some birds really do live down to the whole "bird brained" notion, bless their dumb little hearts. *shakes head*

My mom has cardinals nesting in her yard.
My oak only seems to attract squirrels.

Back when I was working for the University of Kansas as the Undergraduate Biology Secretary, I had a lovely view out the window in my office of the back of the building annex, complete with a large ventilation pipe running alongside the building about three floors off the ground. Every spring, pigeons (doves without the PR department) would spruce up a "nest" made of miscellaneous herbage stuffed into the "v" between the wall and the pipe, and proceed to lay eggs on this ever so stable surface. I think the record for survival of an egg was three days.

And yet they not only endure, but prevail.

You remind me of the dove's complaints in Alice in Wonderland.

Only slightly worse than ducks.

Mourning doves make up for it by breeding a lot, I believe up to six clutches a year.

And it has to be said that they seem to be managing to keep the mourning dove population going.

I recently had the pleasure of watching hummingbirds nesting at only slightly above my eye level in a bush on my way to the school bus stop. Watched them from "hummingbird with poof of white dog fur in its beak,must be nesting" through "done building the nest, and when they're not sitting on it I can see the eggs" to "one baby hatched" to "baby as big as parents" to "no more hummingbirds, and that second egg never did hatch" to "oh, someone else snagged the nest". I was glad their very busy location didn't keep the baby from growing up successfully.

Mourning doves don't have the monopoly of daft places. We recently found a pale blue egg, approximately pigeon egg sized (maybe a little smaller) which had been just laid a on branch, no nest or anything in sight.
I have two mental images:

1) One of the cats startled a nesting bird so badly they laid on the spot?
") Or maybe a first time parent. Doing a "I feel funny" squawk "Now where did that come from?"
Evidently with some birds,instinct does need a helping hand.

There are birds that successfully hatch eggs and raise young on bare branches.

I found a pidgin egg or maybe a collared dove [it was the size of my thumb from last joint to tip and pale blue]... it was just sitting on the very bottom branch of a baby fir tree that stands no higher than hip height. No nest, just an egg, stone cold.

Kinda makes you think that some birds are taking the mick out of the whole Darwin, evolution and survival of the fittest thing!

Doves and pigeons are really rubbish at making nests. The crested pigeons here make such a bad nest that it can fall apart in a strong breeze and dump all the eggs/chicks on the ground.

Which is why so many of them come into care.

We used to have a mourning dove who nested every year in our hanging basket. Hopelessly bad for the geraniums, but one of the more protected nests I've seen them make.

(Of course, then they turned tame on us, and the mother would remain sitting with her chicks when Mom took the basket down to water the flowers. She glared, but that was about it.)

Hanging baskets/planters might be why the mourning dove survives in the suburban USA. I've had them nesting in one hanging basket on and off for 25 years. My parents had a hanging basket that did nest duty for about 15. If that was the only place they nested, you would think they had adapted. However, they really are bad at nest choices. Our local newspaper ran a contest for lamest bird nest. The winner: One mourning dove egg laid atop a fence post.

I once worked in a multi-story building that had an inner courtyard, with wall-to-wall windows all the way up around it. Despite the wires meant to stop them even landing, some pigeons built a nest on the ledge right up against one of those windows, about four or five storeys up; Maintenance were planning to remove it and chase them off before they laid eggs, but a bunch of people objected (despite the hideous amounts of pigeonshit already collecting around it) on the grounds of Oh So Cute and What A Good Opportunity To Observe Nature Close Up. The nest got a reprieve, eggs were laid, fluffy pigeon chicks hatched, Maintenance started sending depressed memos about the future cost of cleaning all the pigeonshit off the walls, windows and paving below the nest...

...then the local native ravens and currawongs found it, and a lot of the people who'd been singing the praises of observing Nature started trying to get the horrible evil predators killed, because that wasn't the sort of Nature they wanted to Observe Close Up. XD

... That sounds about right, yes. *laughs and sighs at the same time.*

At one of my job (some kind of laboratory) we had a lot of offices with metal shutter at the windows, who were often unused for MONTHS (never understood why).
I was told that one day, my co worker needed a new office and decided to open and clean one. They unlock the door, put the light on and found themselves face to face with a couple of very scandalized barn owls and their chicks, who had nested just between the glass panel and the shutter.
Pictures were taken, light was turn off, door locked again and another office cleared until the chicks and parents were gone.

Oh, that must have been wonderful!