This is what it sounds like when doves cry. (Cleaning up after Salem.)

[Started writing last night; fell asleep….]

It’s been an interesting week as I went into it determined to stop procrastinating. I had a situation in the backyard to address, and Monday was the day.

At the end of the day, I started my Monday evening workout with a slight headache after spending more time than I should have picking up dead bird parts. They’re not going to pick themselves up, I’d reminded myself firmly when I got home from work.

Such as it was that I found myself crouched in the shade of the hibiscus late that afternoon. I was there with a pair of disposable gloves and a plastic bag. Salem had been feasting on white-winged dove, and mommy finally got off her ass and went out to clean it up.

I found that she’d decapitated the dove and eaten almost all of its body.

Native birds of the Sonoran desert, white-winged doves are as common in my backyard as the hummingbirds and the grackles. They’re large, and they’re beautiful. Their cooing melodies are beautiful. My (also beautiful) feral feline daughter is delighted with them, too. What’s dangerous for them is the watering hole, actually a large plant plate, from which Salem drinks. Birds congregate in it, on it, and around it in the hot months. It’s warming up now, and the doves are starting to visit. It’s going to be murder and mayhem around here all summer, I fear.

 

Salem at the watering hole. [10 Feb 2021]

 

I collected one large white-edged wing still attached to the sparse remains of the dove’s body, and its iridescent head – hues of lavender and teal shimmering on the bluish dove gray – from its resting place a little further away. Smaller chunks of bird lay here and there, and there were so many feathers. Feathers, and a carpet of down impossibly adhered to the large gravel, stuck to the sharp edges of the rocks. But I gathered up what I could, tied up the bag, and took it out to the dumpster in the back alley (which is also an apartment complex parking lot).

And that should have been the end of that.

But it wasn’t. It was only as I was coming back in that I noticed the rocky gravel at the back gate looking fuzzy, like the ground had gone out of focus. I stepped up to inspect and found the carnage of a second feast splayed across the threshold of the back gate, where Salem often lounges.

It was a birdplosion even more dramatic than the one behind the hibiscus. Again, a patch of large gravel rocks blurred beneath a mass of soft gray down and feathers. Another white-edged wing, mostly intact. I went into the house and got another bag.

Two birds, many stones.

Oh! One thing is for certain: the mystery of Salem’s lethargy and lack of appetite last week has been solved. I actually thought that I might lose her the day I came home and she wasn’t waiting for me at the sliding-glass door.

Every day when I come home from work:

 

Salem at the sliding-glass door. [10 Feb. 2021]

 

The day Salem didn’t come to the door for her dinner, I found her huddled against Geronimo’s burrow. She blinked “I LOVE YOU” at me, but she could barely raise her head. She wasn’t interested in eating. I set her plate down and went inside (perplexed, trying not to worry) thinking that she’d come to eat eventually. She didn’t.

I admit that I was quite worried. What was I supposed to think? She didn’t want to eat. She was slumped against the burrow, barely moving. She managed to lift her head and blink at me before putting her head back down, her face resting against the mound of dirt. If you knew Salem and her habits, you’d be alarmed, too. I naturally thought that something was wrong. Anyone would. Turns out that she was just in a food coma.

So the yard is clear now, and I’m relieved. Geronimo will come out of hibernation soon, as tortoises do, and the last thing I want to see is my scalebaby plowing through dead bird remains and coming out covered in feathers and down.

I hope you’re all having an accomplished week, too!

 

 

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