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Little Ladies
Ed Mirsky | Hoska Drive

Photo © Steve Brad.

It happens! Here is help on what to do if/when you find yourself face to beak with a chick or fledgling who has landed on the ground.

“Little ladies,” that’s what our friend, Dorothy, called them as they walked on the open ground and grass at her home in Berkeley searching for seed. Indeed, Mourning Doves look exquisite: sandy-gray, above with jewel-like black spots on their wings; pretty, pale peach below, with pinkish legs and a long thin tail.

But as pretty as they are, they build an equally crude nest. In fact, it’s often nothing more than a pile of sticks on the ground, in dense foliage, on branches, or even in a storm gutters. And it offers little insulation for the eggs and young. The nest is built by the female. The male carries twigs to the female, passing them to her while standing on her back and watching her weave them into a nest about eight inches across.

It is a wonder that the jumble of sticks holds together, and often it doesn’t. It’s no surprise that eggs and chicks are lost to a slight breeze or a rain storm. The chicks that remain in the nest are fed crop milk, which for doves is called dove milk. Dove milk is a secretion from the lining of the crop of parent birds that is regurgitated to the young. Not surprising given how fast chicks grow, dove milk contains more protein than cow or human milk.

But what to do if you find a chick or fledgling on the ground? Put the chick back in the nest if possible, but leave the fledgling alone. Fledgling often leave the nest and their parents tend so stay close by. This is true for birds other than doves, too.

See: I found a Baby Bird. What Do I Do? The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology: All About Birds (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/i-found-a-baby-bird-what-do-i-do/



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