When I was a kid I loved the books about the Clownarounds. Now that I’m older, I have clownarounds of my own – and I’m not talking the feline variety. “Look out below!!” Anybody who has Mourning Doves in the backyard will understand my meaning. Mourning Doves are so common that people often overlook them. Yet their feathers shine beautiful iridescent colors in the sunlight, and they are really quite fun to watch. So join me and meet my clownarounds…
This is how I usually see the Mourning Doves. Giant (at least compared to my finches and buntings) feeder hogs who I take pity on by putting on plates at the bottoms of certain feeders so that they can land. The birds are not very agile landers, so there’s usually a big flutter of wings as one comes in to land – and the sound in their wings truly sounds like “Look out below!” Once they manage to get themselves on a feeder, they tend to stay for a while – and eat, and eat, and eat!
When a second bird tries to land, the commotion often forces the first bird off the feeder. If they both manage to successfully perch, then a great wing-flapping often follows. One bird flaps so vigorously while moving toward the other bird that it looks like he’s trying to force the other bird off the feeder. Then another great flurry of activity…”Look out below!”…and the second bird often abdicates his perch.
So I was curious how my clownarounds would do near my pretty perches. At first they stayed away. But then they started to surprise me. When I put out perches big enough for them to land on, they would actually do it. Too bad the light was already faded from the yard or this bird would have made quite a pretty portrait!
This guy made me laugh. He landed on the top of my crook, leaned forward, and wiggled back and forth as he considered his flight path towards the feeder. These ground birds are not made for landing on tube feeders! They definitely prefer ground tray feeders.
This guy surprised me (and himself). He flew in and fluttered above my pretty perch for a few seconds. I thought he wasn’t going to land at all. But he did – grabbing hold of the end of the branch, then hanging on for dear life as the branch bent under his weight. “I’m ok! It’s ok!” he seemed to say to himself as he recovered from the surprise. But then he had a problem – how was he going to get down? :)
This guy made me a little sad. Look at his tummy feathers! That’s how the pile of feathers looks on the ground after a hawk visits my feeders and makes off with one of my birds. (A sad reality of bird feeder life.) I suspect this guy was one of the lucky ones that got away from the hawk, which was extremely impressive, given the hawk’s dexterity and the dove’s…um…lack thereof. I was happy to see this guy settle in at the feeder and enjoy a well-desevered dinner.
Lately I’ve tried to get images of the doves in flight. They are very pretty when they fly, and certainly they do enough fluttering that you’d think it’d be easy to get a landing shot! However, they are fast and my reactions are slow, so I haven’t gotten “the shot” yet. Instead I’ll leave you with a final shot of a pretty clownaround. The bird was in shadow and the background was lit by the setting sun, creating a beautiful golden background. But for any birds milling around below his perch, a word of caution… “Look out below!”