Raccoons and White-winged Doves

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July 29, 2002: We live in a dynamic universe where change is the norm. Yet, when change comes it always surprises me. And change has come to our lives this last week. Mitch's company announced that the department he works in is being shut down and many have been laid off from their jobs. The lay-offs  have been going on for months, and it is so sad to see bright, highly skilled, capable young people who love their work and want to work, lose their jobs. I find it offensive how the politicians keep telling us over and over that everything is rosy and I am also offended that Congress voted themselves a nice raise when so many Americans are without jobs. As far as I am concerned, that adds insult to the injuries.  And of course, at least one of the Enron ex-CEOs who made off with millions while his co-workers lost their jobs was skiing in Argentina this past week.  Ask those without jobs whether they think things are rosy!

The surprise came when Mitch and some others were offered jobs at least for a while--in Antwerp, Belgium! Not only that, but they are wanted there within the next couple of months. He has accepted and he and Tresa are busy preparing for a major move. Now, any parent reading this will understand that we hate to see our loved ones move so far away, especially since our daughter also lives thousands of miles away. On the other hand, we think it is a good opportunity for them to see Europe and to have new experiences, and would not want them to pass up this adventure. Added to these mixed feelings is my dismay because my computer guru is leaving me alone in this big world with this capricious computer. If this web site suddenly stops moving forward and you never get emails from me again, you will know that something went wrong with my computer that I don't know how to repair!

In my last Lair Log entry I said that I would eventually get a picture of the raccoon that keeps coming up each evening trying to get here before I pick up the cat food. My word is good. I got the picture along with Lagniappe (Louisiana talk for "a little something extra"). Take a look:

What Are You Eating, Mama?

The male hummingbirds left about a week and a half ago and the number of birds at the feeder is drastically reduced. They always leave before I expect them to and I am sad to see them go. We have an occasional male stop by while migrating. The females are dwindling in numbers every day. I always say a prayer that their habitat will be waiting for them after their long and perilous journey. Even that is not a sure thing in these times.

We witnessed a spectacular nature event  last week. Until now we have seen exactly two white-winged doves at The Lair since we moved here nine years ago. One day last week Farris shouted for me to come quickly and literally hundreds and hundreds of white-winged doves were arriving in our front yard. They flew in from a northeasterly direction and just kept coming. The trees became live dove trees, the grounds were covered, and at one time I counted over sixty at a single water hole in our driveway. By the time I got my camera, many of them had moved up into the trees or into the grasses, but I did get documentation of their presence here:


White-Winged Doves

I e-mailed Mike Krueger, our Parks and Wildlife Biologist and asked him if he was having such an influx of the doves at his house a few miles down the road. He was not, but he did say that there have been more white-wings than usual around his area all spring, but mostly breeding pairs. He commented that the past week or so he had noticed around town that the white-wings have gathered into large flocks, probably a post-breeding season flocking. He had also seen larger flocks feeding in the fields on the edge of town. Mike speculated that what we were seeing was possibly a flock of "town birds" that had just expanded their feeding range. Although we will get an influx of migratory birds, Mike thinks it is too early for that. 

Many of the white-wings immediately flew to the platform feeder, and they displaced each other and jockeyed for position the entire time they were here:

doves at feeder
White-winged Doves at Platform Feeder

The doves stayed only about two hours and then most of them flew on, although some stragglers stayed for the rest of the day and we have seen occasional ones since then. 

Mike also advised us to be on the look-out for a species called "Eurasian Collared Doves" that are escapees from captivity that are becoming well established in the wild, a cause for dismay for they may successfully displace native doves. Mike's daughter described a pair of doves at their feeder this week that he thinks are likely collard doves. We have not seen them yet at The Lair. They are almost as large as pigeons with a dark collar. We will be watching for them.

Seeing a large number of birds flying in at one time is awesome. I am reminded of the day we saw over four hundred vultures fly over The Lair and "kettle" high in the sky and fly off in another direction. Nature is never dull and therefore, there is seldom a dull moment at The Lair!

I have added a new digital collage to the digital gallery here.

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

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