LUCKY GARVIN: The Battered Dove

Lucky Garvin

A battered Mourning Dove was bought to us missing most of the feathers necessary for flight. He was an adult who ate well, seemed otherwise uninjured; just couldn’t fly. So he sat for some days in his solitary cage waiting for his flight feathers to regrow [a process which takes months.]

Being social birds, it seemed to Sabrina and I he was becoming depressed, so Sabrina set a mirror near him. Now at last, he had a friend. Birds don’t know from reflections. But it did seem to brighten him up some.

Then, early this March, a three-week-old fledgling Mourning Dove was bought to us. March is too early for mating and babies, but because the winter had been so mild, procreation got a jump start.

Now, a ‘fledge’ is akin to a teenager; they leave the nest, mom or dad flies down to them on the ground periodically to feed them, check on them, and teach them about what is involved in being a dove. This one had gotten separated from his parents somehow, so many of his survival lessons had remained untaught.

He, like all immature Doves, was unable to feed himself, so Sabrina, using a special instrument, fed him until he learned.

Despite the little one’s bad luck, he has ended up in the second-best place he could be: Sabrina’s house. We set ‘little’ in the same cage as ‘big.’ ‘Big’ will act as surrogate parent, and, through mimicry – watching ‘mom’ peck, and preen and flap wings – she will learn how to do so herself. Rehabbing might well be impossible without such mimicry and surrogacy.

Nature has her ways but sometimes she seems to appreciate a small assist.