For the third time in the past year I have been granted the opportunity to play host to a dove family. Apparently they really like the flower boxes on my second-floor balcony – private, secluded, and safe, with lots of soft greenery.
It really starts with the "house hunting." Cooing activity in the trees outside is followed by flying visits to the three different boxes, a considerable amount of tromping about and pecking, and then the final selection of the perfect box and construction of the nest. This process takes three to five days, during which both doves come and go. I usually know that the eggs have been laid when I see a dove sitting in the box every single day. The parents take turns, generally doing "shift change" in mid-morning and early evening.
And then two weeks later–
I took the above picture right after the first chick had hatched, while the parent was off disposing of the shell. S/he flies off some distance to get rid of the shell, so as not to reveal anything to potential predators, I suppose.
It's fun to watch the feeding process – very efficient. Each chick pokes its tiny beak into the side of the larger parental beak, and the parent urps up the, uh, food. So, both kids are fed at the same time. The first week is the same as for any baby: eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, with a whole lot of growing going on. They're four days old in this picture.
Here they are at seven days old. Feathers are coming in; they're tons bigger and look like real birds.
Here's Mom (or Dad, can't tell which) with the kids at the two-week point. They left the nest the following day.
They got out of the nest, flapped around a bit, and then settled into this saucer to recuperate.
And here's one of the very-grown-up-looking chicks, who flew all the way over to the steps. Lookin' good! Notice how well s/he blends into the background?
Although I hate to see all the plants withered and trampled at the end of the four weeks, it's fun to watch the kids grow up. And as an extra bonus the chosen flower box is extremely well fertilized; the replacement plants grow lush and tall.