Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dove love

The weekend started in a cloud and ended in a sunbeam. Both days the trail was filled with riders, walkers and birdsong. You could not miss the Mourning Doves. Their soft "Coah cooo cooo coo" coming from all sides. Mourning dove males call to mark their territory and to woo the demure females. The males also choose a nest site, but their nests are notoriously flimsy. Sometimes they don't even bother making one themselves, but instead use old Robin nests! When the two chicks hatch, both parents take turns feeding them crop milk (also called pigeon milk). The babies grow and fledge very fast, and a pair of doves may raise 2-5 or even 6 broods a year. Good thing. They are prey to many birds and mammals. Photo courtesy Fairfax County Public Schools.