Birds, eggs & other journal notes

Mourning Doves:
  • Their brains register the task of parenting
  • Together they build a sloppy nest
  • The eggs are laid — typically two
  • After the eggs hatch, the father and mother alike feed their nestlings with milk
  • They eventually offer plant seeds from their beaks (mourning doves eat mostly seeds)
  • The hatchlings grow strong and go on to sing more distinctively than most other birds
  • Their calls evoke a few simple woodwind notes
  • Ancient woodwinds were used to mimic animal calls
  • The Northern Paiute word for wind instrument is te-mo’-yaga-ke-no
Misc:
  • Rock doves, like drunks, walk precariously close to moving car tires
  • Great-tailed grackles — house guests behaving badly
  • A Northern mockingbird — inexhaustible in his spry April song
  • Darwin acquired various types of pigeons, breeding them to help him build evidence for his theory of natural selection, which he would present in On the Origin of Species
  • He became uncharacteristically smitten with his pigeons, science writer Courtney Humphries stated in her book Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan … and the World

2 great-tailed grackles

Illustration by Laszlo Layton.

Lately I’ve become quite the nature aficionado, specifically regarding the flora & fauna in my community. The other day I spotted 2 great-tailed grackles trading courtship calls from polar opposite ends of a Washoe pine. I thought it quite amusing since these are raucous birds with shrill cries, obscenely long beaks for their body size & all-around abrupt behavior. Yet here was this would-be couple acting like reticent teenagers at a high school prom, having eyes for each other from across the gym floor, wondering if they’d be able to share a dance before the final song.