mourning dove

Baby Mourning Dove by Todd Henson

I stopped by my folks place one day in early June, and was walking around behind their house when I saw my mother through the deck window waving her arms to get my attention. Then she began pointing at a spot on the deck. I had no idea what she wanted me to see, but I walked further around to look where she was pointing. It didn’t take me long to spot this small, newly fledged, bird resting quietly atop a box of sproutlings.

A young, newly fledged, Mourning Dove resting atop some sprouting plants.

The baby bird didn’t move as I walked around it, up the deck stairs, and inside. My mother gave me her camera and I went back out to see if I could capture a few images of this amazing little bird. It never moved as I approached, slowly and cautiously, not wanting to frighten it or draw the ire of its parents. I could see it following me with its eyes, but it stayed quiet and still. My mother had said it had been there for a while now, and that a Robin had landed beside it and she thought it had actually pecked at the little bird’s head. Interestingly, a nest of Robins directly overhead had just fledged the week before.

A side view of the baby Mourning Dove, seen through the sproutlings. Notice the red patch on the back of its neck.

If you look closely at the photo taken from the side and slightly to the back you can see a red spot on the back of its head. I’m not sure if that’s the result of the Robin or if it was already there.

I didn’t spend long photographing it. I didn’t want to draw the attention of any predators that might be attracted to a defenseless baby bird. There are outdoor cats in that neighborhood and any one of them would just love this little bird as a snack. I went back inside and began researching what it could be. Though a Robin had approached it, it looked nothing like a Robin to me. I thought it had the body type of a Mourning Dove, and when I researched online that is, in fact, what it was.

A parting shot of the young Mourning Dove resting atop the box of sprouts.

We waited and watched through the window, hoping to see it fly away or a parent return to care for it. Several times it stood, moved in circles, and stretched it wings, but then sat back down. We thought perhaps it was just resting and gaining enough strength to fly. Eventually an adult Mourning Dove flew into a nearby tree. That was all it took. The fledgling stood, stretched, and flew up into the tree beside its parent.

We never saw the bird again, at least not in its fledgling state. Who knows, perhaps it’s now one of the many Mourning Doves who frequent my folks yard. I cherish moments like these, when you have the opportunity to witness something special, something you don’t see every day. My folks had the same experience with the Robins when they fledged. Beautiful moments.

You don’t always have to travel to witness the wonders of wildlife. Keep your eyes open in your own neighborhood. You never know what you might see.