Thursday, May 7, 2009

Peaceful Perchers

Doves and pigeons are found almost everywhere on Earth and for thousands of years have been symbols of peace, love and tranquility. They belong to the Columbidae family and are related to the extinct Dodo.

Mourning Doves Zenaida macroura are common backyard birds. Their gentle "coo-ah, coo-coo-coo" call is familiar to most North Americans. Doves are not picky eaters and can be attracted by most any type of bird seed in standard feeders or on the ground. They also eat weed seeds from the garden which makes them nice to have around.

Mourning doves visit our backyard year round and some of them have metal bands around their ankles. I don't why they're banded. Perhaps they are part of a research project.
This pair of doves looked cozy together on top the block wall. After preening each other feathers they retreated up to the neighbor's lemon tree.
For the next few days, the male dove would walk around our yard looking for suitable twigs or pine needles to take up and offer to the female at the nest building site in the lemon tree.
Considering that doves have a reputation for building flimsy nests, it was surprising how much time and care the dove took to select each particular item to add to the nest. After meticulously searching for a suitable stick, he would bring it up to the top of the 10 foot tall wall.
Then after a minute or so for a final inspection, he would at last carry the stick up to the nest. He followed that routine over and over again for several hours each day.
After three days of intense nest building, the pair rested on top of the wall. That was three weeks ago, and since then, no more dove activity has been observed near the lemon tree. I can't see into the nest from my yard, so I don't know if they are using it.
"And there my little doves did sit.
With feathers softly brown,
And glittering eyes that showed their right
To general Nature's deep delight."

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We also have White-winged Doves Zenaida asiatica mearnsii in our yard. They arrived here in April after wintering somewhere south of the U.S. - Mexico border. They are fun to watch and their cooing sounds like "who cooks for you" and "hoo hoo hoo."
Just like the Mourning Doves, the White-wings visit gardens and eat seeds from the ground or from the bird feeder. They will be around Tucson until September when they head south again for the winter.White-winged Doves are very active at Sabino Canyon right now because the saguaro cacti are blooming and the doves like the nectar. They help pollinate the flowers and will enjoy eating the saguaro fruit that ripen next month.
Apparently Tucson artist, Ted DeGrazia, appreciated these types of birds. His painting, La Paloma, is part of the 100 Years, 100 Works retrospective at his Gallery in the sun.
In the courtyard of DeGrazia's Gallery of the Sun, a Mourning Dove peacefully enjoyed the morning sunlight.
And, just outside the gallery, a White-winged Dove perched high up on a dried agave blossom, watched over DeGrazia's grave site.
Here's a Rock Dove (aka Pigeon) on the steps of the Architecture building at the University of Arizona near downtown Tucson, Arizona. Pigeons are common in urban areas around the world and many people find them appealing. Artists Matisse, Monet, and Picasso all loved pigeons. Picasso even named his daughter Paloma, which is Spanish for pigeon.
Rock Dove Columba livia
What types of Pigeons or Doves do you see in your area?


Anonymous said...


You've delivered another intriguing post of birds...I love observing doves in my yard too, but didn't have any beautiful pictures like yours!

kesslerdee said...

I just loved this post! So often the doves and pigeons are ignored for the more exciting birds, but after observing them in my yard now, I have grown to love their soft-eyed looks and lovely coos. I have dove nests in the cholla, and baby doves each year. It seems my yard has become a haven for the injured too, I've had two injured birds take up their last residence here recently, hidden under the tomato in the garden and curled up in the corner of my porch. Wished I could do more for them than providing a place to die, but such is nature and life.

Phoenix C. said...

I really enjoyed this post, Diane. Doves and pigeons are lovely birds, and their cooing noises so tranquil and evocative.

(Wish I could visit Ted DeGrazia's gallery!)

We do have doves and pigesons round here, but I am not sure which. I love to listen to them, and will now observe a little more carefully so I can take up your question about them!

Prospero said...

Great post. Very informative (particularly about the dodo and Picasso!). The picture of the dove on the giant saguaro is fantastic. How fitting that the dove would frequent the artist's grave!

deedee said...

I didn't know they head south for the winter. I thought Arizona was south but forget that animals don't realize country boundaries. Interesting fact. I have a few different birds that visit my house, doves included.

betchai said...

a dove build a nest and hatched in my mother in law's place in LA before. She was very happy about it because she said it means "good luck and blessings" were sent by the birds. i so love that dove perched on top of blooming saguaro. it is so unique.

Max said...

We have mourning doves in our area as well. In fact, I wrote my first-ever blog post about a pair courting on our deck.
I could not believe how many white-winged doves I saw in Tucson last month! They seemed to be taking over the city. I also found many mourning dove nests, including one built on top of an old thrasher nest in a chain-fruit cholla.

Martha Z said...

The doves do make a lovely, soft sound. I'd guess they are sitting quietly on the eggs. There is not much activity at our blue bird box right now, I think they are incubating. Once they hatch, the parents will be very busy.

soulbrush said...

this was both interesting and educational. love that cactus, my oh my! hugs.

Julie said...

What a really neat post...chock full of info and pics! I like hearing about your observations!!! We have pigeons all around here in south Florida...I love their sounds, of course, but haven't really studied them close enough to know what types we have...I will have to pay better attention!

Lance said...

Hi Diane,
It's great to learn a bit more about these birds. We've had an occasional mourning dove, although not many. So, seeing these - especially I like the white wing doves - is neat. Thanks for sharing...

Ilan said...

It's such a common bird, but many just miss it.
Very insightful post, giving me a peek on something I'm missing on my daily routine.
Great !

Walker said...

What a great post, learned much, loved the pictures as always. Thanks.

Amanda said...

Beautiful!! I love the little lovey dovey couple.

Kevin said...

Another wonderful post to read. What a happy couple the two of them seem, isn't it pretty cool!

Gaelyn said...

Great post about Doves Diane. I had Morning Doves in my winter yard but have never seen the white winged. No doves here.

LisaNewton said...

Wow, you can tell spring is definitely in the air. I've seen several bird photo blogs today, including my own recent one.

And the amazing thing is that they are all so different................:)

David said...

Great coverage of the many facets of doves and pigeons, with your gorgeous photographs and writing.

I have to admit, though, I'm prejudiced against Morning Doves, ever since a sleepless night during my high school years.

To make a long story short after a night long on substance abuse and short of sleep, all I can distinctly remember was the coo-cooing of the Morning Doves.

To this day, I hate the sound.

Unknown said...

So many pretty shots! I can't see Mourning Doves without thinking of the pair that just sat on a branch outside my window through a rain shower last summer. They flew off when it was finished. For some reason it struck me as funny.

Kathie Brown said...

As you know, I see all 3 of these where I live here in Sycamoe Canyon. I find the white-winged doves to be most agressive towards other birds but I still like their amazing patterns and colors. Their blue eye skin fascinates me and I like the white pattern on their wings!

ninja said...

Sadly they're my least favorite birds. They seem so dirty & disease spreading to me, like the bird versions of rats. I guess You can't love all animals.