Soon he goes for the big persuasion. He stands close, puffed and fluffed, and bows under her head to offer food like a supplicant. She takes the offering. “Yes.” Within a few seconds he jumps on her back. The consummation of their sweet affection takes one or at most two seconds and then they fly away together across the field with that unique rhythmic wing whistle doves make when they fly.
The next day, they return and repeat the routine. He fluffs and puffs and she eats his offering and allows him to gently jump on her before they fly away. That afternoon, I see them carrying sticks around the yard, especially near the garage, so maybe they’ll nest on the garage light or in the spruce trees.
The third morning, I open my bedroom shade and there they are walking on the roof. He carries sticks and she piles what he brings in the bottom of the rain gutter. When it’s high enough to suit her, she makes another messy stick pile on top.
Her twigs are at the blocked end of the gutter, so rainwater flows nearby but around her disorganized home. She has good drainage and a spectacular view looking out over hazy fields. They preen and groom each other’s feathers with a gentle cooing song.
I open my bedroom window for a little heart-to-heart talk. “You can’t nest there,” I tell them in a stern voice. “Your nest might get washed away in a heavy rain.” They hardly glance at me. Apparently I pose no threat and they’re not interested in my advice. Her decision has been made.
Every morning, he’s on the nest. Mourning Dove males do half the incubation, usually the morning to mid afternoon shift. She returns by late afternoon and incubates until the following morning. They never leave the nest untended. What a guy! He feeds his lady, helps build the nest, incubates eggs, and watches over his family. When the eggs hatch, he’ll produce “crop milk” or “pigeon milk” in his esophagus and help feed the kids.
As I watch him help build the nest and provide food, I see why doves are sacred to Aphrodite. They’re lovers and gentle creatures, graceful protectors of peace. They even get along with bossy Blue Jays. When I look out my bedroom window, night or day, one of them is always on the nest, watching, curious, relaxed, and unafraid.
For the first time since 2017, I haven’t found Monarch butterflies on my land. I’m disappointed and haven’t completely given up hope for late arrivals, but their absence encouraged me to look for beauty in new places. I’ve never had doves nest where I can watch them court, build, and feed their chicks, so I read about them and learn how they feed their two chicks “pigeon milk” or partly digested seeds from their crop. I already see they’re attentive partners and lovers, fitting for birds sacred to Aphrodite.
For other posts about a goddess, see Ma’at: Egyptian Goddess of Truth, Justice, & Heart. For another post about birds who live on my land, see The Tree Swallow’s Sacred Nest.