I like mourning doves. The only "mourning" part is their sorrowful "coo" for, otherwise, they seem every bit as happy as any of the other birds.
Do birds get depressed? Do they have bad days? Do they worry? We know they fight - if they absolutely must - but I imagine bird-dom to be a reasonably placid existence.
I have counted up to eight mourning doves in the yard at the same time. They congregate under the feeders, apparently quite happy to devour what leftovers the little guys leave after gorging at the feeders proper.
They perch in the pine and come easily. First one, then another or two, and more and more as the ground appears safe. They disturb no one and take their fill. It's all-in-all a pretty placid existence at the moment until the jay arrives. He's brought his buddies making the smaller birds scatter as he flies in. Not all is serene.
The jay helps himself to what he wants and goes on his way. He may give his shrill announcement to notify friends and relations of the latest cache but he has no interest in sharing. They'll take turns - definitely only one at a time.
Not so with those mourning doves. Plenty for all and no squabbling.
In fact, the smaller birds - the sparrows, finches and chickadees - don't seem to mind sharing with these big guys at all. They stand side-by-side, eagerly pecking away. No reason to fret about food for buddies occupying the feeders above keep a steady stream of leftovers falling to the ground where the others wait.
The only disturbance to this pleasant tableau is Minor. Major, as one would expect, was a gentleman and just sat and watched (though more often stretched out and snoozed in the sun as was his canine aptitude). Minor pays much more attention to the activity just beyond the glass. I question how much - or what - he really sees but know the movement can keep him occupied for many minutes at a time.
Then - well, this is Minor after all - the scene must seem too good to be true for the dog jumps to his feet. He has only to scratch briefly on the glass and the birds all disappear.
It hasn't become a game - not yet at least. And they do come back. The small ones and the mourning doves.
Only this time it's different. For, while the birds remain patient, now a few decide to mimic their smaller friends and fly up to the narrow perch on the feeder itself.
These are small feeders - for small birds. The body of a single mourning dove takes up half the space. I marvel it can keep its balance. I marvel even more that the small ones fly right back in. As I watch they take positions at the trough next to the mourning doves as well as above and below.
This is a peaceable kingdom and I feel blessed to have witnessed it - though I am equally happy when the doves fly back down for their banquet. Now there's room for everyone.
Personally, well ... it does look better to me to have those big birds on the ground.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to email@example.com