Among the dozen or so varieties of birds we see every day in Guadeloupe, there are three kinds of doves: mourning doves, ring-neck doves, and turtle doves. The mourning doves are constant companions – they hang out on the terrace or by the pool, chasing away the ring-necks whenever possible; they perch on the roof, peck for seeds, and of course coo constantly.
And they make a lot of babies. I mean, a lot! I read that they have up to six pairs a year, but I think it’s more. The mama and papa take turns sitting on the eggs and with the babies for a couple of weeks, then there are a few days of feeding and encouraging them to fly, then it seems like mere days later mama and papa are back in their birdhouse.
I have a cute story about how that birdhouse came to be. For a while, we had the mating pair scoping out locations in our house – on top shelves, above windows, and I jokingly provided commentary to my husband, “You see darling, this one has a lovely view but the neighbors are a bit noisy” kind of thing. In any case, we allowed them to build a nest inside once when the house was still under construction. Mourning dove nests are very flimsy, just a few twigs piled together, and the mess was not to be believed. So my husband built them a little house.
He put it in our giant tamarind and they found it almost immediately, but they didn’t seem to like it. I suggested that was because it was facing away from the sea so he turned it, and they nested there once but then after that they started location scouting again. Thinking maybe this was due to it being to open to the elements, particularly rain, he moved it to under the eave, and they seem to love it there, returning time and time again to lay new eggs. The babies grow from tiny to adult sized unbelievably quickly, so the house gets a bit cramped toward the end, so he added a strip of rebar to serve as a perch and they seem pretty happy with that as well.
Here’s a video of feeding time, which strikes me as somewhat violent, but I guess Mother Nature knows best.