Monday, April 16, 2012

I guess I won't be weeding that bed for a while

I enjoy gardening for wildlife and particularly like birds.  Many years ago I read Julie Zickefoose's book Natural Gardening for Birds.  One chapter that particularly struck me was a discussion of how good vines are, as shelter for birds.  Not long afterwards, I planted a Carolina Jasmine, a native flowering vine, to grow up the side of my front porch, and I now see that description was right on.  Numerous birds have sheltered in it, especially for winter roosting.  They are not always happy that we continue to use the front door and more than once we've been had to duck as a disoriented bird flies out of its roost and attempts to figure out how to get off the porch without apparently having thought about it ahead of time.  Twice birds have actually built nests in the vine but then did not stick around to use the nest. That may or may not be due to the disturbance of us coming and going; some birds seem to build more nests than they actually need.  That made it easier for the mourning doves who showed up this spring, since they started with a nest that had already been built for them by a mockingbird.  The dove was mostly completely unperturbed by our constant comings and goings (it helps to talk out loud as we approach and not linger).  Last week, I noticed she was sitting up very high on the nest and guessed that the babies were getting big.  Not long afterwards, I saw the adult picking at weed seeds on the sidewalk below so I took the chance to spy on the nest and saw two fuzzy heads.  On Saturday, I spotted the babies out of the nest for the first time.  

I first saw one of them when I was filling a watering can in the garden.  It flushed up onto the picket fence and sat there watching me curiously for several minutes, while its parent watched from under an oak tree a bit further away.  I walked away and went inside in case it was spooked, but my husband and I watched it from the window for a long time.  I went out a little bit later to refill the birdbath and saw both the fledglings in the garden bed.  I took some snapshots as quick as I could so as not to disturb them, but they really don't seem very disturbed by us.  Maybe they are used to us since they have seen us coming and going and heard our voices since before they hatched.  Both fledglings have spent all of their time in the garden beds within the picket fence surrounding our small patio for three days.  We've been able to find them almost every time we look out the window and have seen them being fed, napping, and just sitting around staring out into space.  I have avoided spending too much time in the area but when I came home from work they were sitting out in the open and giving me a blandly curious look like an infant watching a ceiling fan.  They are much fuzzier looking than the parents and just all around cute.   I've heard that mourning doves can hatch up to four broods in a season, so I have a funny feeling the garden beds around my patio are going to be pretty neglected this summer.