Monday, September 22, 2014

Spotted Dove and its eggs

On our garden arch
[Remember to click on the images for an enlarged view]

 Despite slightly dwindling numbers, spotted doves are quite common here.  They are regular visitors to our yard, either foraging for food or to have a drink from the bird bath, pond or a stone trough.  They even spend time playing. See if you like, here: [Click]

My backyard 'junk shed' has no brick wall on three sides but has a tiled roof.  I have used the space just above the horizontal metal beam to store left over pieces of pipes from various home projects.
I had noticed a spotted dove occasionally resting under the roof of the shed somewhere near these pipes since some weeks. It would fly out at my sight as this shed is adjacent to the garden.  I thought the dove simply rested there because it felt comfortable.  In the last week of August, I noticed little straggly twigs on the shed floor.  I knew it was the work of a bird trying to build a nest.  I looked up to see on the bunch of pipes, a nest still under construction. I thought it had chosen a very good location, not visible easily.

The next day again when I went close to the shed to take water for my garden from the rainwater collection tank it flew away.  The dove had gone out.  I took this photo to 'see' the nest by way of an 'overhead' shot as I could not directly see. The nest was a foot above my head. What I saw in the camera monitor was this:

This was on 3rd September.  My joy knew no bounds. Two eggs of medium size! 

They were certainly one or two days old at the most or even laid the same morning!  In the meantime, I had 'googled' and found that it builds a rather flimsy and shallow nest, lays one or two eggs which would take about 13 days to hatch.  Incubation duty was shared by the parents, as was recorded.  Very soon, I could distinguish the two parents as one of them was stouter.  

4th September

9th September

17th September.  The dove had been sitting there continuously and not frightened by my presence anymore.  I would wave my hand and say hello slowly and I got a thanking nod. Its position in the nest appeared as if there was something larger than the egg now. I could not know.

On the morning of 19th September I went to check. There was no dove.
Fledglings!  Quite big already!

Here is a close-up.

I was joyous to see the chicks.  The parent had gone to bring some food surely.  All the time, I had been praying for its safety.  I worried about them falling down and becoming food to a neighbourhood cat that prowls at night. 

About four years ago, there was another cat that used to prowl and visit the yard very often.  It found some reptiles here [garden lizard - Calotes] or rats.  Our yard is also home to these little creatures.

See the picture below and notice the stone trough where I grow water lilies.  Koels, mynahs, pigeons and doves make use of this for their water needs, sitting on the brim.  So I keep topping up the water. One morning there came our lovely little dove, flew down to the ground close to the trough and as is its wont and instinct, it looked around to survey. These birds take no chances.  All was clear and safe.  So it hopped on to the brim of the trough.  Like a bolt from the blue, the cat pounced on it in a flash and there was no escape for the dove.  I was as surprised as the hapless dove.  It happened so swiftly. The cat was hiding behind the bushy plants behind the trough and it knew the bird would come there!  Very soon, it was in tatters as the cat took it under the tree and ate. That was a sad day for me having watched it happen. 

Coming back to the two little chicks, I saw on 19th September.

On the morning of 20th September the first thing I did was to check and say hello to the chicks. I had kept an old badminton racket up near the pipes. It was on the ground and giving me some clue to what could have happened the previous night.  With the help of the ladder I looked at the nest.  Empty!  The chicks had vanished.  The birds were too small to fledge as it would take about 2 weeks to reach that stage.  So I called in Scotland Yard who found no clues other than the fallen racket.  The nest was undisturbed.  Did the cat climb up and reach the nest via the pipes, I'll never know?

In Nature, survival is difficult.  For a bird to fledge and survive, leave alone the eggs, it has to escape predators.  Luck also matters. Our chicks were one of the unlucky lot.  The birds carefully choose the spot for nesting after observing it for a long time, as our dove did, but in the end, the predators are usually one step ahead. Now I know why the spotted doves are not multiplying as profusely as the rock pigeons that abound the neighbourhood. 


Susan Hirneise Moore said...

I've heard of the word fledgling, of course, but was not aware that one could use the word 'fledge' as a verb. I learned something new today. Thanks!

Susan Hirneise Moore said...

Allen and Leah had to stop raising chickens because Leah could not like watching this sort of thing - the natural course of things in re to survival. It was breaking her heart!

Rekha Anil said...

I am dreamer, so I assume the birds flew away..dont ask me how , nature can do wonders.....
Magic Happens! Who knows they may come back to your back yard and see you sometime