Brooklyn Bird Watch: May 4
Update on Downy Woodpeckers and Mourning Doves
A reader enjoyed a recent report on woodpeckers. Brooklyn Heights resident Pia Scala-Zankel sent this photo of a woodpecker spotted on Willow Street between Cranberry and Middagh.
The Mourning Dove
Scientific Name: Zenaida macroura
As a former Brooklyn resident now living in Florida, I was pleased to see The Brooklyn Eagle publishing some Brooklyn bird photos (“Bird of the Day”) by professional ornithologist Heather Wolf. She has several interesting photos of the beautiful Mourning Dove.
I have something to add about how the bird got its name, tracing back to Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, an ornithologist.
As in many locales in the United States, Central Florida is abundant with Mourning Doves. While watching Mourning Doves I’ve always had the feeling that they don’t seem to be as nervous as other bird species around humans. That could of course be my imagination at work, because Mourning Doves are definitely cautious.
I recently read a story online about a pair of Mourning Doves that built a nest on top of an air-conditioner. The writer of the story, a home owner, questioned the logic of building a nest in such an open space. His interest was understandable, for example, considering how frenetically cautious the Mockingbirds are when they select a location in a thick bush for the nests they build in early Spring. (More about the Northern Mockingbird another time).
The writer of the story about the Mourning Doves said at first he thought it was not a very intelligent thing for a bird to do, but then he said he thought about it and figured out the bird’s logic. He concluded the decision to build on top of an air-conditioner was not a bad idea after all. Other birds, potential predators for example, would naturally be very reluctant to visit or spend any amount of time so close to humans, so therefore, it made sense, and time proved it was a safe place for the nest.
Something else I found interesting about the Mourning Dove is that it’s scientific name is from 18th century French Royalty. Napolean Bonaparte’s brother, Charles Lucien Bonaparte, was an ornithologist and married to Napolean’s niece, Princess Zanaide. In 1838 he gave the Mourning Dove it’s scientific name after his wife.
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