Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mother Dove

There is a mother Mourning Dove who built a nest on our back fence. I figure she’s either pretty brave or pretty stubborn to choose a spot so close to a 50-pound-dog’s primary hangout, but maybe the dog has offered her some protection, as he has no particular issue with birds, but will chase squirrels, cats, raccoons, and opossums relentlessly. I realize how lucky we are that he has never met a skunk back there. I also figure it’s just a matter of time until he does.

Anyway, the dove’s fledgling has now emerged from the nest: a smaller, scragglier version of its mother. When we see them out there together, the mother carefully feeding her offspring, we close off the dog door so they can carry out this ritual in peace, and we call the girls to come watch. They’ve been fascinated by this mother-child relationship, from wanting to understand what and how she’s feeding her baby, to wanting to investigate the trails of bird poop that now decorate the fence and many parts of the back yard.

These little lessons with the girls are some of my favorite moments with them. Their curiosity has no limits, and their fascination is contagious. Where before, I would’ve spent a few minutes each day glancing out the back window to see if the birds were around, I now spend a decent part of each day kneeling between my girls and discussing every aspect of bird behavior. These are the moments when you understand the real reason for having kids. It isn’t about passing along the family name, or the family genes, or having someone to care for you when you’re old. It’s about all of the valuable little lessons they have to teach you along the way.

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