Originally Published: June 5, 2016 9:24 p.m.
I am living with a shining example of determination, strength and courage. She is my resident dove, whom I have named Wilma. If only Wilma could run for public office – clearly she would win the hearts (and votes) of her constituents. She would fight to the death for her family, battle all manner of hardship and never give up on anything or anyone. Once she has made her mind up, she is the champion of the underdog. No wishy-washy, flip-flopping, uncertainty on issues, principles or ideology. Wilma is tough.
Wilma has set up house in my live potted fichus tree that sits by the front door under my covered porch. Protected from the evil eyes of predators, sheltered from the sun, hidden from the wind, she has found the ideal spot to raise her family. I initially tried everything to scare her away. Who wants the mess of dove poop to clean up? Engaged in a huge battle to evict Wilma, her true colors came through.
I should point out that my efforts to get rid of Wilma’s nest, was a group assault. My friend said I should hang shiny CDs from the tree branches and this would scare any dove away. Not true. A neighbor said put pieces of foil in the tree, which I did. Wilma could have cared less. A colleague advised that setting those plastic, life-like owls in the tree that will “hoot” at every movement will “send any dove packing.” But Wilma is fearless! No fake owl is going to scare her away. I even recruited my neighbor’s big dog to sit by the fichus, thinking he would frighten the poor bird. This plan backfired when I noticed Wilma dive-bombing the terrified doggy as he ran for cover under a tree.
What was I to do? After a valiant attempt (mine) to get rid of this pest of a bird, I decided to give up. This is something that Wilma would never do. She sits quietly and patiently in that potted tree, in her makeshift nest, eyes wide open as we approach the front door. You can put your face two inches from hers and she will not even flinch! You can stare at her nest and she will glare back – just don’t try and touch her two little babies. A wild-flying, screeching maniac is what she becomes!
There is something endearing about a tiny creature of God who outsmarts and outlasts a big dog and several humans. Her character is impeccable. She found a safe haven for her young and will not move them to a less acceptable place. She is small, but mighty. She sits with her growing offspring, preening, feeding and cuddling them. All of the time knowing that there will be a moment, soon, when she will have to let them go. She will help them take flight, encourage them to leave, but not until the time is right.
Over the years, I have noticed that when baby doves take flight, the mother leaves the nest. Sometimes, the babies will keep flying back, perhaps in wait for their mother. It seems only after the babies have safely flown away, to a new life, that the mother re-visits the nest. Empty now, the work is done ... until the next round of babies. Doves are creatures of habit – once they find a mate and a place to live – they’re set for life.
Wilma and I have reached an agreement – a truce is more like it. I let her go on adding to her nest, living by my front door, and she has stopped pooping on the flagstone entry. The neighbor’s dog sometimes lies by the pot, gazing up at the “rustling” in the tree, but is content to watch quietly. We’ve all wised up to the fact that Wilma’s not going to leave.
I refuse to let a stubborn dove make me coo-coo. Dear Readers, if you need a few big, plastic owls, just drop me a line, since my dove doesn’t give a hoot about fake predators. Which makes me wonder, is a dove in the hand worth two in the bush?
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at email@example.com.