Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Mourning Doves Move In

Mourning Dove

Last night I noticed a mourning dove sitting in one of the planters hanging from the back porch. I could just see her head poking above the woven fabric of the basket, which has been empty since last summer’s drought killed the plants that were there. Now it’s just a small shelf of dirt and, it seems, a nice place for a dove to roost.

This morning, the dove was gone but I wanted to see if there was any kind of nest in it and so I got up on tiptoes, looked in and was surprised to see a single white egg. By the time I left for work, she was back, hunkered low, feathers fluffed against the early chill.

According to Birds of Texas, mourning doves lay two eggs that incubate for 12-14 days. The fledglings leave the nest 12-14 days after that. Assuming of course they make it. Since I haven’t been putting out seed, the squirrels, blue jays and grackles aren’t coming around as much so hopefully this dove will have a chance.

As soon as I saw the egg, I found myself thinking about how to protect it from nest predators, but then I remembered that dove knows what she’s doing better than I do. Still, I really hope we get to see some young doves fledge into the world rather than the redder side of nature.

When I got home, there was a second egg, and I got the above picture (click to see higher-res) of the male. I was amazed by his coloring (the blue patch on his crown marks him as the male). I had no idea they were so colorful. I’ve seen so many mourning doves that I guess over the years I’ve stopped really seeing them. Usually they’re farther away too and so while I’ve watched them, I realize that this is the first time I’ve gotten a really good look at one. Stunning. Once again, I’m reminded that the most astonishing things in the world are often the things we see every day and thus stop noticing.

“You just have to pay attention,” my wife says as she’s watching me type this.


  1. what a handsome dove! How lovely to have the nest where you can observe it – I hope the two eggs hatch into two strong birds!

  2. Beautiful picture! Mourning doves are the best when they just explode upward into the sunlight with a flurry of hoots. If all the pigeons of New York turned into mourning doves (which wouldn’t be such a big shift), that would be the day.

    • That mostly happens with white-winged doves in my yard. Every time I open the door. The mourning doves aren’t as frequent and they’re not as skittish as the white wings so when the ww explode upward, the m’s often stay put.

  3. What a wonderful closeup! We used to see and hear mourning doves in our previous Austin neighborhood, but at this house the klutzy White-Winged doves seem to have taken over. I’d much prefer hearing your mourning doves. I hope your little dove family makes it.

    • Thanks, Annie! We also have far more white-wings. The mourning doves are infrequent enough that I usually take note when I see one, which makes this all the more surprising.

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