Alas, the dove decided not to join us this year. I can't say that I blame her. In addition to the mob of overly loud children in the building, there's now a pack of teenage boys. I refer to them as "The Gang of Four." Hunny simply calls them "The Hoodlums."
As a former teenage boy, I am acutely aware of how evil teenage boys can be, and it wouldn't surprise me if one or more of them decided they'd like to find out if eggs bounced or if newly hatched chicks fly when tossed into the air. Mark Twain once said, "When a boy turns thirteen, seal him in a barrel and feed him through a knot hold. When he turns sixteen, plug up the knot hole." Then, as now, that is good, practical advice.
But like I said, that Mourning Dove outsmarted the teenagers by not showing up this spring. So instead of Mourning Dove babies outside our front door, this year we had Robin babies outside our bedroom window.
We'd been watching since the day an enterprising male dragged the first twig into the bushes by the side of our building. Apparently nobody told him about the kids or the hoodlums who live here, because he built that nest at eye level, way too close to the ground. But nobody touched it.
Through all the wind and rain we had this spring, that nest stayed in place, as did Momma, plopped protectively on her eggs. We never knew exactly when the eggs hatched, but one mrning I awoke to much bird screeching. I peeked out the window and saw two gaping mouths poking up out of the nest, and they were making a whole heck of a lot of noise.
The chicks grew quickly as children are wont to do, and pretty soon the first chick took off, leaving her brother behind. No, I never actually checked their respective sexes, but girls always develop before boys and I saw no reason to believe it would be any different with birds. We figured that in a day or two he'd join his sister and we'd have nothing to watch out the window any more. But the little fellow stayed. And then he stayed some more. Oh, sure, he'd venture out into the bushes occasionally, but never far from the nest. And there's no question he was too frightened to try to actually, you know, fly.
It finally hit the fan one day. As Junior inched along some branches a good foot from the nest, Dad came by with breakfast. As the sight of his father, Junior opened his beak and demanded his Happy Meal. That's when Dad snapped.
Did you ever hear a Robin swear? Well, this one did. I'm sure of it. And he swore in spite of the mouth full of worms he'd been carrying. He screamed back at Junior. Then he screamed some more. And Junior retreated further and further away from the nest until we could no longer see him in the bushes.
It was tough love, is what it was, or maybe Dad had simply had enough. But Dad kicked Junior out of the house that day. Told him to go get a job. Of that I'm certain, because we never saw that little bird again.
So let that be a lesson to all you fathers out there this Fathers' Day. There may come a time when it's past time for your kids to leave the nest. Don't be afraid to scream at them through a mouth full of worms, and don't be afraid to show them the door either. And whatever you do, once they're gone, don't forget to change the lock.
*actual pics of Momma Dove and Junior Robin*