A lovely Spotted Turtle Dove has captivated my attention. It visited our courtyard each morning most of the winter. For much of that time our spa cover had water in it and a variety of birds came for a bath and a drink. It is a dry land we inhabit here, and semi-permanent water is something animals remember.
When the weather warmed my husband thought the water in the top of the cover would attract mosquitoes so he emptied it. Turtle Dove came two mornings in a row and walked around on the dry cover, as if looking for something…a water-y something, perhaps. There was something so heart rending about watching it walk around and search, occasionally pecking at small bits of leaf or dirt where water used to be.
Then one day it didn’t come. Animals quickly adapt to reality, and move on. If only we could let things go as easily!
I told my husband I was going to arrange a sort of bird bath from an old plastic plant bowl and fill it and see if the dove would return. For the first day after I filled the bowl, the only living thing that visited were a couple of dragon flies. Several times a day I would look out my kitchen window for signs of little Turtle Dove. On the third day, my effort was rewarded; little Turtle Dove returned and drank from the bowl. It has come every day since. The Spotted Turtle Dove visits regularly, walking through the herb garden looking for small insects and seeds.
“I know you are not welcomed in many places*, but you are welcome in my garden, little dove.”
And now, a pair of native Crested Pigeons frequent the courtyard, dipping their beaks into the water bowl and playing chase with each other. I’ve seen them cuddling up side by side in the shade of the patio, as well. The male occasionally fans his tail feathers, peacock style, to impress his lady love, and she seems to tolerate his behaviour in a nonchalant way. Ladies, we can be so hard to please.
The enjoyment of my winged guests, who come and go at will, reminds me to be grateful for little things…
“In the emotional world a small thing can touch the heart and the imagination every bit as much as something impressively gigantic.” —Henry Beston
(*The Spotted Turtle Dove is unkindly referred to as an ‘STD’ among bird enthusiasts, because it is not a native species. It was imported from China in about 1860.)
I created this series of images just for this blog piece. Sometimes it is fun to be a bit arty with images, and since my iPhone photos of birds are average at best, the editing helps make the images more interesting (I think).