It is the strange call of the mourning dove that distracts you and stays in your mind long after the bird has flown away. Have you heard it? The almost sorrowful wail followed by three shorter coos? Once you’ve heard a mourning dove, you’ll never forget it. The sound makes you want to find the bird, find the sorrow, find what has made this creature cry. It’s not a terrible sound; it’s actually rather beautiful, but it is on a mournful scale. I don’t have much luck finding them, though, because they like to stay hidden.
But I can hear them. I can always hear them. I find myself following the sound and searching, whether I realize it or not. They are just a nondescript grayish sort of color and do not stand out at all. The best way to see them is to leave seeds out since their diet is composed almost completely of seeds. I’ve also noticed that they like to eat on the ground and not from a bird feeder.
|The mourning dove.|
The mourning dove is also known as the turtle dove, and most readers will remember that name from the famous “Twelve Days of Christmas” song. How did it go? “Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.” (Actually, it was really four “colly” birds [blackbirds], but language changes with time.) These are all useful game birds, including the turtle dove, or mourning dove, which is still hunted in abundance today.
But it’s the sound, the strange hypnotic sound of the mourning dove that keeps it in my heart and mind. For some reason--I don’t know why--whenever I hear the sound, it seems like a sound of “remembrance” to me. What I mean by that is when I hear the sound, I pause and I think. Was there something I was supposed to do? Something I was supposed to say? Someone I was supposed to visit? Have I lost something?
And then I think of home.