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Robins & Mourning Doves

...mourning doves take over the nest...
I
n the late summer of 2006, a pair of robins decided to build a nest on a spout that ran down from the eavestrough then back under the roof. Where it attached to the side of the house, the spout is almost horizontal giving the birds a flat surface to build their nest and a protected area from rain, wind and I suppose predators.
They worked non-stop to build this nest. An engineering marvel—sturdy—built of twigs, grass, string and mud.
Then came their chicks. Two parents and two chicks. The parents took turns gathering worms to feed the chicks. Flight after the flight, one parent would arrive with food then the other would leave to find more. Hour after hour these chicks were feed.
At first, the points of their beaks were the only thing that popped out of the nest, later, more of the beaks, then more, then their necks showed, until, not less than four weeks later these chicks were as big as the parents.
Then one day, no more robins. The chicks were gone. The parents were gone. They abandoned the nest.
Six months later the nest is still there, but never used, until this morning when I spotted two mourning doves using the nest.
During the winter, I hadn't noticed any mourning doves around. In the summer, I hear them coo as they perch on the peak of the roof. They love to sit on the top of the roof, but otherwise I thought they ventured south for the winter. But like rock pigeons that stay all year, so do the mourning doves.
I know they like the pine trees at the back of the house, but now they like this abandoned robin's nest.
Of course, it's a pair. One in the nest, the other sitting on the down spout.
The male and female look virtually identical so it's hard to tell which is which. I imagined it was the female in the nest and the male on guard in front, but you never know.

Posted 2007/03/17 at 18h54ET in Nature.

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