Durham, North Carolina; Mourning Doves and Willow Oak Durham, North Carolina; Mourning Doves and Willow Oak

pencil and watercolor on bristol board

Mourning Doves might be my favorite birds (and, yes, I'll admit to being someone who maintains at least six birdfeeders, in addition to listing a 25 pound bag of scratch-feed among my weekly pantry expenses).

Mourning Doves are so profoundly and quite contentedly STUPID ( and do recall that we're talking "in comparison with other birds" here). They come for the scratch-feed I spread along the back garden walkways in the cold months.

Jut about every other morning?...I'm sitting at my breakfast table at the back of the house, reading a book..and there's a great BANG-BANG-BANG against the windows and glass-door. It's 20 or so doves flying off in utter panic as one of the resident red-shouldered or Cooper's hawks swoops into what it obviously regards as my hawk-feeder.

Inevitably, I drop the book and, startled, exclaim "SHIT!"....as a whirlwind of feathers drifts down (if you threw a down-pillow up into the air and shot it with a pistol, you'd get approximately the same effect). Then, I always see a bigass hawk sitting on top of the dove it's caught.....about ten feet from the door. The hawk (I know all four of them, and they apparently have grown to know me) always screeches at me, and suddenly plunges its beak into the dove, rips out the heart, gets a few scraps of the breast, and flies away.

All I can do at these times is to fall back on my training in British literature and murmur to myself "Nature, Red in tooth and claw"....and then I go back to reading.

all done and said?....the doves and I seem to be the only creatures around this old place who don't learn from experience.

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