By Joe Darby
Birds are amazing creatures. They really are descended from dinosaurs, you know. There lots of fossils that show that some of the smaller species evolved into having feathers and their forelimbs developed into a wing-like structure.
And gosh, their diversity is amazing. They come in so many different sizes, colors, habits, structures, etc. Just think of a hummingbird and a pelican. How more different could two birds be? They are also very smart, with some being able to use small twigs or straws as tools. That gives a new meaning to the term bird-brain.
I’m talking about our feathered friends because this week a dove made her nest on the top of my stepladder, which leans against a back porch wall. The ladder is only about three feet from the back door. When I first opened the door to let my dog Baby go into the backyard, the momma bird flew off, but she’s accustomed to my and Baby’s activities now and stays sitting on her eggs.
My niece Bonnie, who lives near Baton Rouge, is an expert on birds. She told me that doves are not real great nest builders and from what I can see, she’s right. Our dove’s nest looks more like a little tangle of tiny sticks rather than a well-put together home for her future babies. But, if she’s not disturbed, I’m sure it will suffice for its purpose.
Some years ago Bonnie and her husband Chuck (mostly Bonnie) acquired a fascination for birds and began buying some, both ordinary and exotic. Before you knew it, her small aviary grew into a collection of dozens of winged beauties. She raises some of the more exotic ones and gets pretty good money for them, too. She can tell you that they have varied personalities, just like dogs and cats, and when she loses one she grieves for it just as she does if she loses a furred pet.
I have owned only a few birds in my life. I was in the fourth grade when Mother and Daddy bought me two parakeets. I could never get them, or any other parakeets I ever had, to learn to talk. But they are pretty little animals, pleasant to look at and their little cheeping noises I find pleasant to the ear.
When I was still in my 20s and a bachelor i bought a parakeet, but I worked the night shift, slept in the day and didn’t really have much time to devote to my little pet. So I gave him to a friend with small children. Wouldn’t you know that the guy’s cat got the bird! i hope he went quickly and didn’t suffer.
The last birds I owned I purchased after I separated from my first wife a little more than 30 years ago. I lived in an apartment and couldn’t get a dog, so I bought two little finches and named them William and Matilda. I had them for a while before they went to the great bird house in the sky, and I’ve never gotten another bird since.
The dove will stay with me and Baby only long enough to hatch her chicks, let them be able to get along on their own and then all will go their separate ways. But that’s all right. I will wish them well and can probably expect to see her come back next year, if all is well.