Watching my bird feeder from the front window has provided a lot of entertainment lately. (Holy crap. There's no denying it now. I'm old.) Each day’s usual parade of visitors includes squirrels, chipmunks, mourning doves, sparrows, goldfinches, redwing blackbirds, grackles, cardinals, bluejays and chickadees. Occasionally a robin hops along, apart from the seed-seekers, in a never-ending quest for small, wriggly things.
Some of the birds seem crankier than usual, especially some of the mourning doves. Now, few of us would argue that the Creator favoured all his creatures with various gifts. For instance, chickadees are cute, brave and curious. We all know dogs are loyal and fun-loving. Crows are clever and watchful.
Morning doves, although strikingly pretty in some light, are dumb as posts.
It’s easy, when regarding those tiny heads bobbing up and down, to imagine them filled with a single, cartoon thought balloon containing the word “EAT."
I liken them to cows - placid, social, ever-grazing, regarding the world with a singular lack of curiosity.
Like their bovine brethren, mourning doves generally get along quite amicably with each other. They also tend to tolerate the presence of other ground feeders, like sparrows, grackles, juncoes and squirrels.
Lately (as I said upstream before getting so windy) I’ve seen a few cranky mourning doves. One will suddenly decide it wants the feeding area to itself and will turn on, and chase away, another. It may have been grazing happily beside it a moment before, or it may challenge a new arrival while ignoring a couple of others.
I can’t account for it. Unless they’re males trying to act tough to impress a lady. Or maybe pregnant females having hormonal issues.
Anyway, today I was witness to a National Geographic moment: Mad Marie Mourning Dove vs Chazz "Chopperboy" Chipmunk!
Bring It On!!
A flurry of feathers drew my attention to the area below the bird feeder. This, of course, is where the seed falls from above when scattered by the sloppy eaters. (I'm looking at YOU, sparrows!) This drop zone is roughly circular and about three feet in diameter.
The flurry that caught my eye resolved itself into a sulking mourning dove, standing just outside the seed circle and staring back inside, where a muscle-flexing chipmunk was patrolling and filling his cheeks.
At one point, the chipmunk absently worked his way toward the mourning dove and turned its back.
The cartoon balloon word changed from “HUH?” to “ATTACK!” and the dove launched itself at the chipmunk’s rear end. I couldn’t hear the squeak through the glass but I’m pretty sure there was one, as the chipmunk leaped and skittered out of the circle.
The circle which was now proudly paced by the victorious dove. “EAT” was on display inside its head again and it pecked away, seemingly without a care in the world.
For about 20 seconds.
That’s how long it took for the chipmunk to decide it was mad as heck and not going to take it anymore and hurtled its furry little body towards the unsuspecting dove.
Once again, in an angry flutter of wings, the disgruntled dove hightailed it for the border where - uh-huh, you guessed it - it pouted until the chipmunk presented itself as a target once again.
A few minutes later, something outside startled both combatants and they scattered. I'd score the bout a draw, with about three or four successful oustings each. It was very, very funny and a treat to witness. Unfortunately, I’m not ept at using the filming feature of my camera and my attempt failed.
I'm telling you folks, if there's nothing on tv - get yourself a bird feeder.