Me and My Mourning Doves

Me and my mourning doves

I was asked once, why pigeons? Why did you make a comic about pigeons out of all things? The answer in one sentence is: I have a relationship with pigeons. Though, in this case, I specifically mean mourning doves.

(In Japanese there is only one word for doves and pigeons, which is “hato.” So for me mourning doves are pigeons in a larger sense.)

I remember how it started. Several years ago I decided to put a tiny bird feeder on our window. It was a box with a hole and a bar, made of clear plastic. It used a suction cup to attach on the window so basically it is for one or two small birds at a time. Finches started to come then mourning doves arrived. They were obviously too big for the feeder so they looked for fallen seeds under the feeder. The feeder eventually broke and I stopped feeding them. The finches were quick to move on. But the doves hung around. I liked to see their gentle presence and hear their singing every morning and evening.

Later, we moved to LA where there was more concrete and less dirt. I started to feed the birds again on the balcony of the top floor of our three story condominium. This time I just used a small plate so that doves could eat easily. Various birds visited our balcony and I was happy to connect with nature. But I was not consistent in feeding. Maybe that’s why the doves might have become frustrated and started to picked the fabric off of our patio chair. I didn’t like that. I cleaned up the balcony for good, thinking, “This is it. No more mess.”

I forgot about the birds until I started to notice doves in our first floor courtyard. They just flew down on our quiet concrete patio. They seemed to be checking us out and hung around. After a while the idea to feed them occurred to me. I placed the small plate right next to the glass doors. I was not sure if they would come so close but they timidly came. I tried many different seeds until finally they started to peck away.

This group of doves seemed to be a mom, dad, and their kids. They visited together or in turns. Sometimes they hung around the yard for the better part of the afternoon looking into our glass doors. I saw a sparrow fly in a couple of times. It landed but immediately flew away.

So I’ve been feeding this one mourning dove family. As I see them up close everyday, I sense their curiosity, fear, patience, intelligence, and love (toward their mates mostly). I can’t help but feel they are feeling the same emotions we humans feel. I am amazed to know them and appreciate their presence very much.

So now you know why I came up with pigeons when I needed a topic for a comic.

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