Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Quiet, Rainy Day

It was a quiet, rainy day and at first I thought the birds and squirrels were all sleeping peacefully in their nests, then I noticed a large congregation at the food dishes. It seems they were waiting for breaks in the rain to fetch their snacks. I noticed some new, red birds on the table outside my bedroom door. They are not robins or cardinals. They are smaller than cardinals and have blue heads, green wings, and bright red chests. I believe they are painted buntings.

On the front pond, two mourning doves sat in the water beneath the pecan tree. They were bathing, dipping their heads in the pond then allowing the water to drip down their backs. They are a pretty gray color with black spots on their wings. I loved listening to their call, a soft "ahoo, oo, oo, oo." Some believe it is a sad sound, but I find it soothing. As I watched them through the window they did something I was not expecting at all. They began to swim! And they looked so happy swimming! They moved slowly, floating, enjoying the gentle warmth of the water.

Mourning doves can be found just about anywhere in the United States, and they love bird feeders, so of course they would be found at my house! They like trees, shrubs and water, and we have these in abundance. I don't remember seeing any in my yard last year, but I've seen many this spring. They spend a great deal of time beneath the sprawling Oak tree in our backyard. I hang corn cobs from the tree branches for the squirrels, and I think the doves eat the corn that falls to the ground.

Mourning doves build their nests out of twigs, grass and leaves, and it is constructed so loosely that you can sometimes see into the nest looking up from the ground. At first, I suspected the two afternoon swimmers were a mated pair, but if they were, one would most likely be on a nest this time of year, so it's possible they were just friends sharing a swim together. It's also possible that they don't have a nest yet. I do not plan to look for their nest. They will abandon their nest if they feel threatened by humans or animals.

It is dark now and I think I spooked the night bird in the vines. There is a bird nesting in the vines outside my sliding glass bedroom door. I do not notice the bird in the daytime, but when I step outside at night to look at the moon, the bird becomes nervous and flies away. I think the bird may have its nest toward the top of the house near the rain gutter. I know for certain there is a lizard living in this same general area. It scampers about whenever I walk past. Tonight, when I stepped outside to see how much rain had fallen, the bird flew away and the lizard scampered about. They must be friendly with each other as they sleep pretty close to each other and have both been there for many months now. The weather service is predicting thunderstorms for the rest of the evening and all day tomorrow. These particular little creatures will be safe, though, because the roof hangs over three feet. Perhaps this is why we have so many little creatures so close to our home--they know they can find protection.

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