Beanery Online Literary Magazine

October 15, 2008

A DOVE STORY RETOLD: JASMINE AND JEWEL

BEANERY ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE

A DOVE STORY RETOLD: JASMINE AND JEWEL

 KATHLEEN

     Fluttering and cooing the Mourning Doves chased each other back and forth across my balcony porch. They made such a commotion I began watching them in earnest. Mating season was in full swing! After covering the potting soil with loosely laid straws and grass, the female dove perched on the empty window box planter and laid two cream-colored, one-inch eggs. I knew nothing about dove mating habits, but was thrilled I’d been chosen to observe this “up close and personal” process.
     Quickly, I learned the male and female participate equally in the nesting vigil. The female usually sits all night, while the male takes daylight duty. My routine became as regular as theirs, as I popped in and out to check on them when I heard the familiar whistling of their wings. As they alighted or took off, they developed a synchronized cooing and signaling process. This “switch” generally took place around nine in the morning.
     Incubation lasts approximately two weeks, and when the eggs hatch, the mother dove zealously guards them. The hatchlings are fed “crop,” or “pigeon,” milk, which is regurgitated from the adult doves crop gland or digestive tract lining. This lasts seven to ten days, or longer if needed. One day, as “mamma dove” stood up, the nestlings in turn craned their necks upwards and inserted their beaks into hers and in a bobbing, pumping motion, withdrew the secretion. 
     As the babies grew older, seeds are introduced into their diet.  I learned that “it takes a village” to raise the squabs or baby doves. As the two nestlings grew, they needed more attention and seeds than their “parents” could supply, so other doves flew in and took turns feeding them.  Then, with their little bellies full, things were quiet for a while.
     I became fascinated, closely attached to these beautiful, delightful doves, their melodious cooing as familiar as the perking of morning coffee. I’d sit on the porch in my Adirondack chair, beside the planter; talking to them, writing poems, recording in my diary, photographing their growth and progress. The fact they allowed me to be so close was amazing, and I felt privileged to have earned their trust. A rather sacred awe enveloped me.
     In a sense, these doves were my children too! So I named the first-born Jasmine, and her younger sibling, Jewel, aka. Little J.  Tiny, delicate, so exquisite! I couldn’t help falling in love with them! Excited and enthralled, I reported their daily progress to my friends who began calling me the “dove lady.”   
     While I was at work, Jasmine tried her wings and fledged. Naturally, I looked forward to little Jewel following her sister. Oddly, she was left alone in the planter for an entire day. As the evening became cooler I anxiously awaited her parents return; mamma dove in particular. Her over zealous nature had become evident when I moved the planter and she furiously flapped her wings at me. Several different doves came and went as Little J bravely flapped her fragile wings, beak uplifted expectantly for feedings.  Above the porch, on the air conditioner ledge, the adult doves and Jasmine, were peering down and cooing softly. . .but strangely, none flew down to feed Little J.  An awful realization suddenly hit me; something was physically wrong with baby Jewel, something only her parents knew. She wouldn’t be able to survive, and nature’s plan was to abandon her. It was a gut wrenching feeling. Tears welled in my throat. This can’t be happening! 
       The next morning Little J was huddled beneath the planter, her tiny body chilled by the cool night air.  Panicked, I desperately tried to revive her.  Surprisingly, I succeeded for a few hours. I gently picked her up and cuddled her fragile body between my hands. Feet wobbling, she tried to stand. As the morning sun beat down, she seemed to revive in its warmth. Her legs got a little stronger and she managed to walk around the planter. I tried unsuccessfully giving her water with a dropper. She was waning fast due to lack of nourishment. I felt. . .so helpless!
    Then I remembered about a wildlife rehabilitation center only five minutes from my apartment.  Frantically phoning Wildlife Works, Inc, I gently placed Little J in a shoe box and drove top speed to deliver her, praying it wasn’t too late. When I called later that evening to check on her, she’d passed away.  Overcome with emotions, I became the grieving, bereaved parent. I cried for days! Nothing has touched me so much in a long time. The photo’s I took, a poem I wrote, commemorate Jewel’s impact on my life. 
       As if to counteract my sadness over Jewel’s loss, Jasmine, fluttered to a stop and landed on the porch railing. She perched calmly for a long time, seeming to sense my grief, trying to cheer me up.  “Look, I’m here, I’m fine. Don’t be sad!” she seemed to say. Grabbing my camera, I snapped several final pictures of Jasmine before she left the security of her birth home forever.

ADDITIONAL READING:

DAVID Part 1 of a 10 Part Romance Story

MUSTANG SALLY’S GUIDE TO WORLD BICYCLE TOURING

WHAT ARE THOSE NUMBERS IN MY CAMERA VIEWFINDER?

LOVER BUBBLE

LOSS AND LOVE

I BELIEVE GOD INVENTED DANCING

SHOULD INFORMATION ON AN ALLEGED CHILD ABUSER BE PUBLICIZED?

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

BEAR STORIES ACROSS THE NATION

BEAR CONFRONTATIONS: SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

 

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