One morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the distinctive sounds of a mourning dove cooing in the back of my building, near my bedroom window. For a long time, their appearance remained a mystery to me. Weeks later, for a fleeting moment, I caught sight of a dove resting on the fire escape, also located in the back of my building. Alerted to my presence, it flew away before I could admire it.
I first learned about the mourning dove from Abe Lincoln’s blog. However, I’d never seen a mourning dove in the city, much less near my apartment building. I was excited! Interestingly enough, no other birds hang out in the back of my building. It’s normally very quiet with the exception of the punctuated sounds of the mourning doves.
I normally feed pigeons, sparrows, starlings on the sidewalks and at the park. Now, I wanted to feed the mourning doves. I got a bird feeder and placed it on my window sill.
For an entire year, the doves did not approach it. A whole year! Under the change of climate, soon, the roof fell off the feeder, as did the sides. The food turned rotten. I decided to give up. I removed the food and decided to remove the feeder from the window sill. That’s when I noticed two doves tentatively pecking at the remains in the feeder. When I moved closer to the window, they stopped eating, looked into my room and took off!
The next day, I bought more food and filled the broken feeder. The next day, the doves returned. They were very careful and would always fly away at the slightest sound that came from my room. I had to tip toe around my own bedroom, for Pete’s sake! Tip toe!
After that, the doves would come and go. They’d sit on the fire escape of the building across from mine and watched the feeder on my window sill. They’d watch. Then they started to visit the feeder more frequently. They never really hung around. They’d come, eat, fly away. Few hours later, they’d return. Do the same. Morning, afternoon and evening.
This lasted for a month. Soon they got used to the sounds in my room. They still flew away when I approached the window. However they stopped getting so spooked when they heard sounds coming from my bedroom, like the telephone ringing, the T.V., or my voice. Progress!
I enjoyed watching the doves. I started to distinguish the adults from the babies. It was much more fun than watching my fave reality T.V. shows. I enjoyed watching them court each other. I enjoyed watching them bop their heads as they fed; I enjoyed watching the play around the feeder; I enjoyed watching them fly back and forth. I enjoyed watching them feed, take a break, take off and return. I got used to hearing the whistling/whirling sound their flapping wings made. They never finished the food in the feeder. I enjoyed watching them play with each other. I was having fun.
Then one day, I noticed a pigeon sitting on the rooftop of the building across from my window. It sat there and watched the activities at my window for about a week. It didn’t make a move. It watched the empty feeder, it watched the doves come and go from the feeder; it watched me open and close my window. It watched. It didn’t make a move – until a week later. Yikes! The pigeon decided to come for a closer look and flew over to my window sill.
It’s one thing to feed the doves – they’re quiet, cleaner, don’t hang around and don’t leave a mess. The pigeons on the other hand are another story. I don’t mind feeding the pigeons and I do so on the sidewalks and at the park. I used to feed them at work, too. However, I knew I couldn’t feed them from my window sill. They’d make a mess and soon the neighbors would complain, they’d destroy the building façade and I’d hear from the landlord. Something I didn’t want to happen.
I tried to drive the pigeon away to no avail. It kept returning. I got tired and watched it eat ALL the food in the feeder. It didn’t leave a speck of food. Only then did it leave. Another time, I saw the pigeon attack the dove at the feeder. It actually tore feathers from the dove’s breasts. I was mortified!
Soon the pigeon scout brought a date to the feeder and later some friends. When the pigeons were around the doves would disappear. This was getting ridiculous. Disappointed and frustrated, I finally decided to remove the feeder.
It broke my heart to see the mourning doves returning day after day for food, just to find nothing. After a week, when I didn’t see any more pigeons, I broke down and decided to put a little food out for the doves. As soon as I did that, the pigeons appeared on my window sill. Aggh!!!
So, now I’m unsure of what to do. I finally see the elusive doves and I can’t feed them without attracting the pigeons. Pigeons, I love ya, but not on my window sill. Go back to the sidewalks. I’ll gladly feed you there!