I was watering "the eggs".......

by S. Jones
(Henderson, NV.)

I have a front, gated patio which is in a suburb of Las Vegas that isn't quite in the surrounding "river mountains", but is a semi-quiet cookie cutter-type community of homes and people. We have lived here for 7 years now, and we have five HUGE pine trees (of the SW variety, I think Aleppo pines, about 40-50 ft tall)along the back block wall which most of the mockingbirds, pigeons, and mourning doves, along with some quite small wrens make their nests. Many nests and eggs blow down, depending on how well the nest is made and how many gusts of 30-50 mph winds we get. Usually the fledglings make it to live another day or year.

Today, after going to the patio to clean up some blown in debris and such from my plants and front trees and Xeriscape, one of our two dogs, a golden retriever, almost climbed the stucco walls to get at something. Usually she's a lizard chaser, but today, much to my surprise, a mourning dove flew out at the last minute....of a hanging plant of heart & flowers. She (small, so I think it is "mom")flew up to the top of our one story home. Wondering why she would be in my hanging, daily watered with hose water plant...I got up on a chair and looked. With no more than approx. 10-12 twigs, she had made a nest right in the middle of my now filled-out plant that is in a moss-lined basket. In this nest were two full-sized,perfect white eggs. I was thrilled, but would probably not have known were it not for the dog. I usually prune this and other plants once or twice a summer, but had just pruned this one last month, so it's fine for now. BUT now I have THIS PROBLEM!
We have hummingbird bushes(penstemons)out front and have a hummingbird feeder...so we get the passing hummers that remember our plants and they are outside of the patio gate. Once in a while they'll fly in, look at one of the dogs or me, and fly out again. BUT, never have I had a mourning dove nest outside of the pines in back.
I'm not sure how I'll choose to water this plant now, but it needs water every day. I also have a dog bowl with nice, cold water this year, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with the "nest choice" of the dove pair. BUT, do I continue to "water the plant, therefore the eggs?", or do I try to water around the eggs. Either way, I'll make mom and dad's chore of hatching the eggs harder with the fact that the water is usually cold, but the plant heats up to quite a warm temp during the a.m. and p.m., although it's in the shade all day. So..what to do? Feed mom seeds and grains that she normally eats? We also are getting more and more pigeons on our street and yard and they might just eat up the grains. Any suggestions? Maybe I should just let the pair hatch the eggs but I'll still have to be outside watering the porch plants every day or evening. I can't decide whether to abolish this plant I've cultivated for three years or let mom be in peace. I guess I'll do the latter. But yes, I've been "watering the eggs" unknowingly. I'll send pics if the eggs hatch. I raised baby hummers to fledglings one year in Tucson, but no other "babies" to care for since then. Yipes!

There is no lazier mother than that of the mourning dove. Rather than make a nest, she finds whatever convenient spot she can to lay her eggs. I think if you're careful, you can still water your plant.

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