Science in Life2:24 PM
Towards the end of April, right as the foliage on our back deck was really exploding, I happened to notice a dove sitting on a nest that she'd just built. This was a first for us. There is almost always a pair of doves that hangs around our back deck, but they'd never built a nest there before. When I noticed she'd flown away, I stepped outside to peer into her nest and noticed a single, perfect, creamy egg.
About an hour later, Kyle walked out there and there was a second egg! The kids and I thought this was a special treat bestowed on us by the dove couple. We had the honor of being able to have a front-seat (or back seat, if you prefer) view of a nesting/baby dove cycle.
Having no idea what to expect time-wise, I did a little research and found that once laid, dove eggs take about 14 days to hatch. We marked the 14 day mark on our calendar and went about with our business. We all agreed to leave our back deck alone during the period that Momma Dove was out there with her babies. It just seemed the right thing to do.
We peered at her from our French door windows, and she peered right back with her black eyes. She didn't seem alarmed by our faces smushed against the windows, but we did leave her alone. Daddy dove visited her often, and very rarely, she'd fly off for a break. She reminded me of Horton, diligently sitting on his egg.
Around the 14 day mark, I noticed a stirring in the nest. Baby #1 hatched! Momma Dove was actively engaged in taking care of her little one, as we watched from our window with GREAT excitement.
A few hours later, Baby #2 hatched as well. They stayed mostly buried under Momma Dove's plumage. Every now and then a little head would pop up, looking incredibly delicate. Momma would crane her body back and do the feeding/upchuck dance into her baby birds' mouths. It was truly amazing.
Apparently, it takes about another 2 more weeks before the baby birds are ready to leave the nest. We watched them every day - getting a little bigger and a little bigger. They grew feathers and started looking pretty fluffy. Momma Dove began flying off more frequently and then returning to do her upchuck dance. It sounds gross, but it was really quite beautiful. She was such a faithful mother. So attentive!
One day we noticed that she was gone most of the day. We were worried until we realized her babies were simply too big for all three of them to fit in the nest anymore. Periodically she would fly back and perch on a branch and feed them. Then she'd fly off again. The babies got braver and started fluffing up their wings. All the while, my kids and I watched through our window at this little miracle of nature God was letting us view.
Then, one day...the nest was empty. We were so excited. And a little sad.
Until we noticed the baby doves hanging around the back railing with their Momma. In the picture above, the baby is the one under the railing. They were considerably smaller than their Momma, but still looked sleek and flight-ready.
We watched them get their bearings for several days. We'd leave them little saucers of dove bird food just as a treat. Eventually they stopped being recognizable as baby doves. We still see doves flying about, so I'm assuming it's a member of our little dove family, but I can't tell which.
It was such a neat experience to have this little family hatch before our very eyes.
It was something none of us will forget.