Recently, I relocated a platform feeder in my yard, moving it further into the open and away from the trees and roof that naughty squirrels use to jump on it. Shortly after that move, a pair of common ground-doves discovered the feeder and its bounty, and have become nearly daily guests for brunch or a late lunch, and it’s fascinating to observe their behavior. While it may take them a bit of time to settle into the feeder – first landing on the roof or hanging pole before finally fluttering into the platform itself – they quickly hoover up a goodly bit of seed, but then… They don’t leave.
Doves can be so mellow.
Like raptors, gulls, flamingos, vultures and quail, doves have a crop to store food. They quickly swallow whatever they can gulp down when they find a food source, then relax to digest afterwards. This allows the birds to take advantage of abundant food while putting themselves at risk while feeding – when they are more vulnerable to predators – for as little time as possible. But after the meal, the birds become very calm and reposed, often staying in the same comfortable spot for a considerable time. During that time they do remain alert and will perk up and take flight if necessary, but they prefer to stay still and settled.
For the common ground-doves at my feeder, that might mean perched on the bird bath after that post-prandial drink, resting in a soft hollow of the lawn or even just perched on the edge of the feeder, because moving any further away would be such a bother. At this time they often relax completely, settling down rather than standing, and may even doze a bit with their eyes winking closed. Of course, they are welcome to stay for as long as they like, as it gives me a wonderful opportunity for observation and to admire the subtlety of their soft coloration and delicate markings.
This isn’t the first type of dove I’ve witnessed as mellow, either. I’ve seen a mourning dove so relaxed as to be comfortably nestled on an iron fence railing, completely nonplussed as an afternoon sprinkler passed over it at regular intervals. I’ve also had the pleasure of witnessing Eurasian collared-doves so at ease as to stretch out sunning on the ground for lengthy periods, stretching their wings periodically in a bizarre but soothing type of avian yoga.
We could all learn a lot from doves – just chill.