One of my favorite things about living in Kohler Hall was that my commute in the morning promised the accompaniment of soft coos from mourning doves. Mourning doves, or Zenaida macroura, are far from uncommon—in fact, they’re one of the most abundant species of bird in North America. So it’s unsurprising their gentle hoots can be heard from most any rooftop, tree branch, or telephone wire across campus.
Zenaida macroura don’t only have a sweet call, oh no, their dazzling face could make anyone melt. Modest brown feathers with black specks look velvety soft and their perfectly round, black eyes.
Last spring, Main Hall was graced with the tiny nest of a mourning dove. On the windowsill between the first and second floors, she sat hiding three eggs. Every day I would come up the stairs and check on her. Sometimes I would come too close and she would poof up and coo at me to scare me away.
Then, on May 20, the squabs were born. Three tiny, hairy blobs waddled around under the mama’s wing. They were horrendously ugly and also the most adorable things I have ever seen in my entire life. The little boops were hardly discernible from the down used to pad the nest, but if you looked closely, you could just barely see them. I was so happy for mama bird. Her family was perfect and she was perfect and I got to see it all happen.
The next week I came back, and the windowsill was clean. No dove, no nest, no babies. Nothing. I had never felt so crushed. Were the babies alright? There was no way they could fly yet! Why? Who could have done this?
I was devastated.
And that’s where it probably ended. Until I saw a fledgling the other day. She would be just about the perfect age that mama’s babies would be now. On the older side, but still downy and small.
She fluttered down from the trees, little bits of down sticking out from under her wings and around her tail feathers.