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07/15/2007 Archived Entry: "Collared Doves"
The birds in our garden have entertained us over the past few months. Having witnessed robins and blue-tits raise their broods, and watched a blackbird and thrush collecting food for their youngsters waiting somewhere nearby, we thought the nesting season was probably over. Certainly, it is possible that house martins might nest beneath our eaves – they arrived in September one year, built a nest and successfully produced a brood.
However, recently we spotted a pair of collared doves showing a deep fascination for our satellite television dish. The dish is mounted on the house wall only inches from our bedroom window and we were awakened each morning with their billing and coo-ing. So, thinking they were roosting there at night, we fluttered a towel out of the window to discourage them, but they were insistent – that dish, with its metal bracket, seemed to hypnotise them. And now we know why. They had built a nest on the bracket! How on earth they managed to balance their nest or even build it on such a narrow base is beyond me, although it must be said that the nest, comprising nothing more than an untidy heap of twigs, looks somewhat precarious. But as I write, Doris the dove is sitting confidently and proudly on her handiwork with some of the sticks protruding through the mesh of the dish.
At first, she flew from her nest each time we opened the bedroom window or even the curtains, and the noise and steam from the bathroom extractor fan that is almost directly above her nest must have been unsettling. Nonetheless she wasn’t put off and appears to have become thoroughly accustomed to our early morning domestic routine. I have to admire her stamina as she has been sitting resolutely on her clutch of two eggs all through the recent unremitting rain storms. Her mate (we call him Maurice) appears at regular intervals to perch on the satellite dish and coo encouragement to her. I’ve even seen him take over incubation duties while Doris flies off to perform her ablutions in the birdbath and snatch a bite to eat. Actually, to be honest, I’m never sure which of them is sitting on the nest as the birds appear identical and I wouldn’t know how to tell them apart. We look forward, somewhat anxiously, to seeing how the young chicks cope with their unusual nesting site.
On a serious note, collared doves have spread with bewildering speed since they were first known to be nesting in this country some fifty years ago. This is not surprising – they can raise as many as five broods per year, although only two eggs are laid each time. Their breeding season can stretch from March or April right through to September, so I am now wondering how long my satellite dish will be host to Doris and her family of collared doves. Still, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my television reception I’m happy to have them as neighbours for as long as they wish.