Mourning Dove

Source of photo: Wikipedia

It was a cold we will tell our grandchildren about: indeed, the last time it was this cold in my province was at almost the same date, one hundred years before. Record-breaking freezing temperatures and windchills affected much of Eastern Canada and the United States during the first week of February, 2023. At its coldest, the weather in my province – including the windchill – plummeted to -45 Celsius (-49 Fahrenheit).

The weather reporters warned us not to go out; told we could get frostbite in minutes. We were equally warned to allow our pets out only as long as it took to go to the bathroom and then to hurry back inside.

Worried that our power might go out, I carefully filled the tub with water (for flushing) and had candles at the ready. My husband stoked the wood stove out in our garage. We were as prepared as one could be for such weather.

Temperatures plummeted as the wind picked up and the cold front descended. Over the course of a few hours, I watched, fascinated, as our upstairs windows gradually grew a frame of thick, white frost a few inches around their entire periphery: something we had never seen before. Our dog started and woofed worriedly as our house cracked loudly in protest at such cold. Just hurrying to the garage meant putting on our full winter gear and gasping as the cold hit our lungs. We’re Canadians: we’re used to the cold. But this was a cold we rarely see.

At some point in the evening, I heard my husband calling me from the front door, a tone of worry in his voice.

“Can you get dressed and come out right now?” he called, with a look of concern, as he once more headed out the door. I knew it must be important for him to be luring me out in that deep freeze so I asked no questions as I hurriedly got dressed and joined him outside.

The problem was fluttering behind our woodpile. As he had come around the corner, my husband had startled a mourning dove that had sought refuge from the strong and bitterly-cold wind, in our breezeway. The frightened bird fluttered toward my husband and then in consternation, fluttered back to the woodpile. In seconds, it was hopelessly caught upside down behind the woodpile, unable to move.

It took us awhile: the bird had burrowed down a few feet, and we both shivered as we carefully removed the wood, one stick at a time, doing our best not to let any pieces tumble. One last stick of wood and I was finally able to gently encircle the bird with both hands. It only had time to struggle a bit before I released it. We were relived to watch it fly off toward the cold night sky: a good sign that nothing was broken.

Reassured, we walked to the end of our breezeway and searched the night sky. “I guess it’s alright, then,” said my relieved husband.

And that’s when I spotted the bird, huddled beside the house, either in fright or because it was just too cold to fly. We decided very quickly then, that our rescue mission was not quite over. I scurried into the house, grabbed our cat’s carrier, added some shredded paper to the bottom, filled a little dish with water and rushed back outside. The bird was still huddled where we had left it, and barely protested as I gently picked it up and placed it carefully into the carrier, which we brought into our garage, toasty warm from the heat of the wood stove. I placed the little dish of water at the front of the cage and – after a quick on-line check for what mourning doves actually eat – added a little dish of bird seed.

I called animal rescue first thing next morning. Yes, this would be particularly bad weather for a morning dove, they told me: the birds have only been migrating this far north for the past 10 or 20 years and they would not be acclimatized to such extreme weather. Unfortunately, they also told me that because of avian flu, they were not taking in wild birds. Keeping the bird warm, watered and fed until the temperature came up a bit seemed its best chance for survival, they informed me. They also encouraged me to stay away as much as possible and to carefully wash my hands anytime I was in contact with the little bird.

‘Contact’ did not prove to be much of a problem. I cannot say that it was a pleasant experience for our poor little waif: it was clearly terrified of us so we avoided it unless it needed water or food. We released it on the second day, once the temperature had come up to a more normal -11. Our little mourning dove flew up into a nearby tree where it remained until I tried to take my first picture. Apparently, I was adding insult to injury, and at that point, it indignantly flew off in the direction where we have seen other mourning doves congregating all winter.

I do hope that its friends also found warmer accommodations during those two brutally-cold days. I do hope our little bird is excitedly telling them all about the strange humans that inexplicably held it captive for such a long time. I do wish we could know, for sure, that it is alright; that we did the right thing.

I read that doves symbolize peace or love. I read that some folks believe that the meaning of a mourning dove is a visit or sign of encouragement from a friend or family member.

I know I will see our little friend in every mourning dove I encounter, from this day forward…

Patti Moore Wilson/©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

35 thoughts on “Mourning Dove”

  1. From the time I was a child, a mourning dove has meant the presence of the divine for me, and it has never changed. As I read your post, a mourning dove showed up outside my window and began its owl-like call. I have a video when, after the delivery of my second grandchild, I came out of the hospital and was greeted immediately by an unusual sounding Texan mourning dove celebrating her birth. I’m a bird lover myself, so THANK YOU for rescuing those lucky little souls.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh you made my heart swell, Shawna Rae… and you gave me goosebumps… you are blessed to have an affinity – and a connection – with such beautiful and gentle creatures. Maybe this was our start; deeply connecting with mourning doves… I would feel so honoured if that were the case…🙏🙂💕

      Liked by 2 people

      1. HI Patti! I’ve not kept up with my blog at all, but absolutely love this reply. There must be a special kinship between people who think so much of doves. Such divine creatures. ; )

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story, Patti. That was a very extra-special rescue and save, and I’d like to think in my time I’ve managed to make life a bit easier on the wildlife I’ve encountered by first and foremost respecting the fact we share the planet with them, and are quite lucky to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So long as I don’t work online I’m being allowed to sleep, so far. Thank you for your good thoughts ~ even our sciences have had to admit that they help more than we know… 👩‍❤️‍👩

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what an impressive rescue effort. You and your husband must have felt a sense of satisfaction as well as relief when the mourning dove successfully flew off. We have lots of mourning doves around our house, including eating the bird seed that falls to the ground from our feeders. Now I’m wondering how they fared during last weekend’s deep freeze. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it felt GREAT to see our little friend flying off! And I am happy to report that a friend of ours who lives a few kilometres down the road told me he’s had mourning doves at his bird feeder since the big freeze, so the birds must have been pretty clever at finding shelter (and hopefully cuddling up for warmth). Thank you so much for dropping in, Jane 🙂💕🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly can’t imagine that kind of cold! Yikes!!!

    We’ve had a pair of doves in our yard every spring for the past 20 years. They build a nest above our front door and I’ve been lucky to spot a few babies off on their first flights. They are a beautiful bird and I adore their gentle cooing. I’m so glad you were able to rescue and keep safe your little dove friend. I wouldn’t be surprised if it returned with a mate!

    Liked by 2 people

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