When Doves Cry
A lot has been written and said about Prince since his untimely death on April 21, 2016. Like him or love him or, well—you know how some people felt about him—he had a tremendous impact on music and maybe even life in general for some folks. Prince’s album 1999 was the soundtrack of my misspent youth. Yes, there may have been some naughty words in the lyrics. But no one forced me to listen to them, repeat them or obey them as if they were commands instead of an art form. Beauty is definitely in the eye (and ear) of the beholder. I loved his infectious beats and imaginative lyrics.
Fast forward a few decades and the lessons learned from listening to Prince are still there. Back in the early 1980’s when it was written, the song 1999 was a rocking anthem for a far-off distant future. Partying like it was 1999 meant to party like there may be no tomorrow because of political unrest and global upheaval. Today many people live their lives like there may be no tomorrow. Some because of health issues that threaten their individual existence within a relatively short period of time. There may literally be no tomorrow for them. Others concentrate on their own selfish wants and desires, heedless of the long term ramifications of their actions on the rest of the world and her inhabitants. Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last. But this planet is. If you want to party like it’s 1999, go right ahead. But please do not try to take the rest of us with you when you hit the big reset at two thousand zero zero. Party over, oops, out of time.
At Peace River Wildlife Center, we try to live a little more mindfully; we take our cues from other Prince hits. We got Delirious over the hatching of two mottled duck eggs that were orphaned after the mother was killed. Eight eggs were brought to us by the couple in whose yard the mother duck had laid and tended her brood. When they found her dead one morning they rushed the unhatched eggs to PRWC. One of our home care specialists has an egg incubator for just such purposes and she reported that two of the eggs hatched and the hatchlings are healthy, happy and growing like weeds.
We Go Crazy when we get the sixth red-shouldered hawk fledgling in as many days. While we usually try to get baby birds, especially raptors, back to their nests whenever possible, a series of unfortunate events befell the hawk community this past week. Four different nests were either destroyed or unidentifiable, leaving us with one chick each from three nests and all three from another. Raptors are expensive—$50 worth of mice is disappearing into these baby hawks every week. They are also time-consuming to raise, since we have to be very careful not to imprint or habituate them as they grow.
Imprinting means that the birds relate more closely to the humans that have fed them than to others of their own species. When the time comes to be released, human-imprinted birds will not know how to socialize appropriately with other hawks. That is less likely in this instance since there are numerous babies being raised together. Habituation is a related but different concept. It occurs when the birds get so used to being around people that they lose their innate mistrust and equate humans with food. This happens quickly if the birds realize we are providing their sustenance. Habituated birds have difficulty feeding themselves in the wild. This is why we go to great lengths to cover our faces and hands, and keep the birds in areas where there is little to no talking.
Another case this week involved a mourning dove that, news flash, made her nest in a bad area. Mourning doves are named for the mournful cooing sound they make, When Doves Cry. (They are not “morning” doves, as they are just as likely to be seen any time of day.) These doves are notorious for making nests in ill-advised locations. Leave your garage door open too long and she will not only create a nest, but lay her eggs, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Storm-damaged eaves and torn lanai screens are another favourite ingress into your most coveted of spaces. Before you have any work done around your home, please check for these negligent nesters. If you find a bird in the midst of building a nest, remove the pieces until she gives up and relocates to a better area. If there are already eggs or hatchlings in the nest, wait to have the work finished if it will exclude the adult birds from having access to their babies if at all possible. If this is not possible, try to relocate the nest to a nearby more appropriate place. This was the case recently at a newly built residence. After the expansive front porch was screened in, the workers noticed a mourning dove nest above a ceiling fan. The nest was relocated into a basket on the other side of the screen. Hopefully the mother will find her relocated nest and resume her duties.
Hopefully also, you all have some fond memories of life set to Prince tunes. Whether it be Little Red Corvette or Raspberry Beret, let your foot tap a little when you remember this amazing artist. Even if your musical preferences run more toward Frank Sinatra or Kanye West, try it My Way and have One Dance to a Prince song. You may Adore him too. Or not. He could be a bit Scandalous, but maybe that is why so many people think Nothing Compares to U, Prince. Yeah, he wrote that one too.
by – Robin Jenkins, DVM