A Dove at the Door

A Dove at the Door

What can we do when wildlife needs our help? I didn’t know. I was rather afraid of that kind of situation. But a mourning dove came to my doorstep nevertheless. 

During the pandemic Tuesdays have become my weekly errands day - picking up groceries and mail, taking out the recycling, etc. So on a recent Tuesday morning I was ready to go out carrying my backpack and two recycling bags. As soon as I stepped out the door my eyes caught dozens of small grey downy feathers on the doormat. “What’s this?” Then, in the next moment, a pair of beady eyes of a mourning dove were looking at me near my right foot. A dove was sitting in the corner of the front entrance. The entrance is set in a few feet and covered, so it provides some protection from the elements.

I was surprised and so was he (I assume it was a male due to its size). He quickly crawled away from me and stopped looking at me about 5 feet away. I went back in the house to put down all of my bags, and when I went back out, he wasn’t on the walkway of the building. Instead, I found him below on the narrow dirt space along the building. 

It took me a moment to distinguish him from the dove-brown dirt and trees, but I found two beady eyes next to a palm tree staring at me again. He was lying quietly while keeping his eyes glued on me.

I was worried about him but had to leave for a grocery pick-up. The whole time I kept thinking, what is wrong with him? Did he come for help? What can I do??

Thirty minutes later when I returned, the dove was still sitting in the same spot. I knew he would be safe there. No one hardly pays attention to what’s below the walkway. Even though his eyes were open he was so still that I thought he was dead. I talked to him but no response. I dropped some bird food near him. His eyes moved slightly. He was alive!

I went inside the house and started to google how to rescue a wild bird. I read about the signs of when a wild bird needs help, possible reasons why a dove wouldn’t fly, etc. I learned there were some licensed wildlife rehabilitators, who can help wild animals in this kind of situation. It said, “Do not touch a bird before consulting a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.” Good, I thought. I can do that.

I went out to check on him again and this time I saw a dove standing near the spot where he was before. The dove walked away from me. Did he suddenly become well? But I soon noticed there was another dove standing where I had dropped the bird food. It was him! He looked at me and then followed slowly after the other dove. He can walk! I was relieved that I didn’t have to call the rescue after all.

A little later I went out to get the mail and I spotted a dove quickly walking way from me at the end of the building on the dirt strip. It then flew up to a tree. Then I spotted another dove standing near that spot. He just stood there staring at me, as usual, as I walked by and picked up the mail.

A little while later he was gone.

What did I learn from this incident? I learned what to do when I see a wild bird that needs help. I also learned that a molting dove doesn’t fly, which I think was the reason why he was there. 

So the next time a dove comes to our door I think I’ll be a little bit more prepared.

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