To explain the picture at the bottom, let me say: Pigeons remind me of doves, and mourning doves are my favorite bird.
Living in the country, we had to catch a bus to and from school each day. My brother, sister, and I would walk down the hill from our parents' house around 7:30 each morning. Depending on the weather, we'd hang out at the end of our driveway or we would sit on my aunt's front porch.
In the warmer months, the trees on the other side of the road would be home (or at least resting place) to a couple of mourning doves. Their distinct call (Coo-ooh, coo-coo-coo) was always so calming and peaceful. I would get a kick out of trying to call back, and I think I was able to have more than one conversation with these beautiful birds (though what we said to each other is beyond me).
Somewhere along the way, someone told me that doves mate for life, and that cemented my love for them. Who doesn't love a creature that can make a lifelong commitment?
A couple of years ago, I heard a mournful sound from the front yard. Under the big hedge was a mourning dove. Someone had callously shot her with a dart. She was trying to fly, so confused and so hurt. I couldn't remove the dart, though I tried. She let me hold her and sooth her. I made her a nest in the mulch and set her there. She lay still, breathing heavily. I brought her a small dish of water. I told her I was sorry.
The next morning, she had died. From a tree across the street I could hear a mourning dove calling. It was low and quiet, so full of sadness...more so than I had ever heard from a mourning dove before. I am still quite sure that it was her mate, calling to her in a sort of hopeless desperation.
I'm not ashamed to say that I called back. I filled my call with sadness and with apologies; I wanted him to understand that she would never return his call again. He was silent a moment before calling back, a short outcry, before he took wing and flew away, passing over my head...alone.