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Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

…two mourning doves!


And a replacement for a Bradford pear tree!

Ah, mourning doves, better known to birders as “mo-dos” (generally uttered in a tone of mild disgust–”Is that a—?” “Nope, mo-do.”)

These birds are, to put it in the most flattering possible light, dumber than a wet brick. They have those tiny little heads, and you know there’s not much room for brains in there. Most animals that aren’t very bright, you can say things like “They’re very intelligent about things that matter to ____.” I have heard people say this about owls, who are mostly eyeballs, and sheep who are…sheep.

Nobody tries to say this about mourning doves. They possess a kind of elemental stupidity.

They are also incredibly numerous, despite laying eggs in the worst possible fashion (one nested in my mulch pile, there’s another in the rain gutter where it undoubtedly lost the eggs to cold water) with an estimated 350 million in North America. So they’re doing something right. There are two pairs who live pretty much in my garden—occasionally they wander off somewhere else for a few hours, but they spend the better part of most days here. Unlike other birds, I have never felt a need to name them, as none of them are particularly distinctive. They are the Dove Collective. They coo, they attack each other, they freak out and do a kind of aerial waddle into the trees. I hold them in a sort of good-natured contempt 99% of the time, and the time one turned up dead on the mulch pile, I lost my mind and vowed to hunt the killer to the ends of the earth.  (Hey, I’m complicated. And it hasn’t happened again, now has it?) 

The two pairs that actually live here year round stay all winter but they raise two or three babies a year. (I’m assuming, since they’re like pigeons in that regard—one day there’s just an extra apparently full-grown dove in the yard.)  So we go up to six or seven during the summer. Then they clear out at some point.

Apparently there were plans for awhile to try to clone the passenger pigeon using modo stock, but as it turns out, passengers were more closely related to the band-tailed pigeon. And while looking up stuff, I discovered that the oldest known morning dove was 31 years old. Holy mackerel.

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


You can have all the mourning doves as far as I'm concerned. Ugh. Hate them. The sound they make, I can't call it cooing, grates on my nerves until I want to scream.

I've got juncos showing up outside my window to go with the usual house sparrows, cardinals, blue jays and starlings. I've also got the occasional nuthatch and downy woodpecker and my much-loved red-bellied woodpeckers stop by once in a while.

On an odd bird note, there is a turkey vulture rookery not far from me. There are always turkey and black vultures to be seen in the sky here, and sometimes on the ground, just hanging out. They're kind of neat. (I prefer the black vultures tho.)

I'm thinking a bird feeder for turkey vultures might violate some zoning ordinances, and perhaps some health laws.

My first thought on seeing this was; Hamster really isn't that bright. Then I read the rest of the post and found out that Hamster is really not that bright.

Hamsters are very intelligent about things that matter to hamsters.

At the risk of having stuff thrown at me...they're pretty tasty. I don't hunt, myself, but my father did.

My dad was a hunter too. Dove breast wrapped in bacon is fantastic. Picking the feathers out of the dog's mouth was less fantastic.

One nested in the gravel parking lot of a construction and excavation company I was working at. Huge trucks and backhoes driven by barely sober rednecks and she managed to hatch out two little mo-does. Once there were actual babies, I put traffic cones around her rut in the rocks.

That's pretty astounding!

Having had mourning doves and plain-old-pigeons nesting on my patio at one time or another, I will say this in favor of mourning doves: they do not generate *nearly* as much waste around their nest as pigeons do.

Hatoful Boyfriend is the most awesome game-write-up I know of. Just in case there was any question. >_>

Are MoDo's in anyway related to collared doves? Because the only time I've seen a bird fly into a lamp-post, twice, was one of those... [it picked itself up, shook itself and flew off, right into the post again.]

Well, they're doves. Doves and pigeons are a family, the Columbidae. AFAIK, they're all as dumb as bricks.

And the reason there are so many Mourning Doves is that they can have six broods a year, if the weather permits.

From what I've seen of pigeon nesting habit, the mulch pile and a rain gutter were brilliant innovations.

Well if a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, what are two on the arm worth?

He looks very pleased to see them.

Dove Collective, now I have a mental image of a borgified Dove.

I tease the local Mo-Dos by imitating their call with whistles made on the INHALATION. Not very loud but, neither are they and, do hear well enough to respond.

Oh, and "Mo-Dos" is capitalized here as siliconshaman did (but without the incorrect possessive apostrophe) because, due to the International Ornithologist's Union (and others) it's de rigeur to capitalize all bird names in English, to which I now add even the pejorative Tern... erm... term.

I can actually ONLY whistle on inhalation, and it's always short, sharp, and LOUD.

I've got a soft spot for mourning doves because they used to nest under the porch eaves at my parents' house. All spring and summer, we'd watch the parents brooding, then there would be a period of tiny baby doves watching us watch them, and when the babies were big enough they would take up residence in the front yard, where we had a sheltered area with overgrown plants around a disused fountain -- tons of cover, ready access to shallow water, and most likely tons of bugs to eat. As soon as one pair fledged their chicks, there would be another pair brooding in the same nest. We suspected that after the first couple years, we were getting the babies that had grown up in our yard coming back to raise the next generation. I'm told that the scrub jays got wise to the dove hatchery, though, and have started destroying the nest and eggs. They don't want the spot for themselves, but they sure as hell don't want the doves there.

Most to all birds live an AMAZINGLY long time. Compared to similarly sized mammals, an insanely long time. I remember reading a few articles on scientists trying to crack avian longevity. It's crazy. My conure'll live to 20 or 25 years old, but a similarly sized rat will only make it to 4.

Yep. If you buy a parrot, expect it to outlive you. African Greys reach 80 with alarming ease.

We have metric buttloads of Mo-Dos out here in Tucson AZ; they're the only type of bird that my old cat Maug the Dog (long since gone to the Summerland's catnip fields) could catch-- he was a horrible hunter otherwise, but he occasionally brought those into the house to me, live and squawking, and let them loose for me to hunt.

On the other hand, we have beautiful little Inca Doves here to balance them out as well. I realize that they're, well, doves and all that and also are not exactly avian Einsteins, but at least they're quieter and in my eyes more beautiful. Aggressive little buggers on occasion, though.

I miss the Inca doves--they're such gorgeous little birds!

My husband and I call them "gravel doves" and they are our friends. XD

... We call all types of doves that scratch around in gravel "gravel doves" though, so... yeah. >_>

I'm actually impressed how doves on every continent I have been to exhibit the same behavior - chilling in the road until you drive up, then they flutter frantically a few yards further down the road... and repeat this behavior until finally they realize that you are TRYING TO DRIVE DOWN THE ROAD and then they go off in the bushes or whatever. I've seen this with Eared Doves, Oriental Turtle Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, Laughing Doves, Bronzewings, Island Collared Doves...

I love doves. They are so dumb and charming. XD

Edited at 2012-12-16 05:56 am (UTC)

I'm not surprised that a mourning dove could live for 31 years -- birds live around ten times as long as equivalently sized mammals, or that's what I learned in one of my classes. Something to do with higher energy efficiency=less free radical generation in the ... drat, I've forgotten the scientific name ... the series of reactions that generates ATP from oxygen, anyway. Molecular biology was never my strong suit.

Funnily enough, while I was learning this, a couple of wood pigeons -- our equivalent to the mourning dove -- were raising chicks in the tree outside the kitchen on my floor. They went from rather ugly blobs to something very pigeon-like in ten weeks, apparently without ever leaving the nest (which only barely deserved the term). Then they departed, just in time for half the tree to collapse under massive amounts of snow.

Their respiratory systems are quite differently, and far more efficently, designed, I do know that. I had a book on bird anatomy and physiology that I was trying to read, but I got totally confused about there.

[The thing that came as a real shock, though, is that male birds are homozygotic and female birds are heterozygotic. That is to say, male birds are the bird equivalent of XX and female birds are the bird equivalent of XY. Up until then, I thought everybody was like us. Well, silly me. Birds aren't the only ones either.]