By Bev-Sue Powers, www.ballonaphotography.com

A few weeks ago, a friend a was watering her patio plants and was startled to discovered a pair of mourning doves had built a nest in her bicycle's basket! Being able to witness wild birds so close is a thrill. Observing how they overcome environmental challenges is a wonder. Why did that Mourning Dove choose the bicycle basket as a perfect choice for a nest? As “wild” habitats disappear under asphalt and concrete, trees and bushes available for nesting also disappear. So, what's a bird to do? Improvise!

Meet Mr. & Ms. Dove and Their Brood

Both parents build a loose and rather flimsy nest of twigs located from 5 to 25 feet up in a tree, a bush, or ledge. In this case, it was a well-hidden bicycle basket. I warned my friend that doves have been known to reuse the same nest for three or more broods in a single season!

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August 8. During a rare break from being covered by one of their parent doves, I snuck a picture of their two perfect eggs. Dove eggs hatch in 14 to16 days.

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August 10. For 14 to 20 days, the Doves take turns incubating their eggs. Papa Dove takes the day shift, while Momma Dove takes the night shift.

Fast forward a couple weeks.  My friend had just returned from a week-long trip to meet her newly born grand-daughter and discovered the Doves’ babies had also hatched.  She caught a cute pic of them "greeting" their momma/papa-bird for the first time. Here’s a pic I caught of them a few days later.

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IMAGE 3 CAPTION: August 21. Papa Dove warming up his brood.

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IMAGE 4 CAPTION: August 24. Baby doves leave the nest 11 or 12 days after they hatch. Though wide awake, these little ones remained peacefully observing their surroundings without a peep.

 

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IMAGE 5 CAPTION: August 25. As their little bodies start self-regulating their own body temperature, chicks are left alone for longer durations. When they finally can self-regulate their body temperature, the parents no longer covers them at night.

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IMAGE 6 CAPTION: August 25. Papa Dove covering and cooing at the chicks one of the last days before they fledged.

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IMAGE 7 CAPTION: August 25. Mama Dove keeping a watchful eye nearby. If a baby is reluctant to leave the nest after 12 days, the parents will often keep watch nearby but refuse to feed it.

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IMAGE 8 CAPTION: August 29. A reluctant empty nester.

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IMAGE 9 CAPTION: August 29. The chicks hanging around the patio nursery one last time before parting into the great unknown (Ballona Wetlands).

This article is dedicated to my friend, Nena who graciously gave me a key to her place so I could capture this story with my camera as it unfolded whenever she was away.  Much Thanks, Nena!

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