May heralds summer and the newspaper office starts to heat up during the long afternoons. My husband calls it the “sweat pit.” He’s dead set on replacing the
aging, noisy AC units above our doors. He’s only asking for cool and quiet
after all. So, after much discussion, I agreed to part with hard-earned cash
and get the wretched things replaced.
Then, the doves arrived. We didn’t notice the nest-building atop the main door unit until it was too late and two
perfect, small white eggs had been maternally installed. So much for the new AC
— at least until the fledglings find their way out into the world.
Watching our little dove parents take turns incubating the eggs and then feeding the two tiny hatchlings has been better than a National Geographic production. Knowing
doves are monogamous gives us reason to ascribe them with anthropomorphic
characteristics — although we’ve refrained from giving them human names. I
spent time on a farm as a teenager. I know better.
Friends have been less than kind: calling our dove parents nothing more than fancy pigeons and suggesting they would taste good grilled, with a little garlic and
olive oil. Brutal.
I scold that there’s nothing wrong with being a pigeon — or cousin of a pigeon. Consider Cher Ami (Dear Friend in French) — the most famous of the avian Allied
Forces in World War I.
As the story goes, during the battle of Argonne, late in the Great War, 200 American soldiers found themselves surrounded by Germans and under fire from
confused American air support. With no working radios, they determined a last
chance at rescue was to dispatch their sole remaining homing pigeon, Cher Ami.
They attached a message to the bird’s leg and sent it aloft. Although the bird
was wounded by enemy fire, it flew 25 miles in 25 minutes to its base; the
shelling was stopped and the Americans were saved. Cher Ami was hailed as a
hero by the U.S. troops and by the French, who awarded it the Croix de Guerre with palm leaf.
It’s a good tale told on Memorial Day. Who doesn’t love a brave little bird?
Our hatchlings will be leaving the nest soon. I’ve read that they’ll stay close to their father for the first couple of weeks before heading out on their own.
It’s a good tale told on Father’s Day. Who doesn’t love a Dad taking time to explain the workings of the world to their little ones?
For now, we watch the hatchlings grow bigger each day and know that it won’t be long before our air-conditioning plans can resume. My husband is eager for
cool, quiet air while he works.
I’m in no rush. I fear survival is not going to be easy for our little, feathered friends.
I hope they have brave hearts.
— Mary Kate Leming, editor