June 19 • 01:07 AM

Season brings wild bird air show

September 06, 2017
A string of cool nights, and the Canada Geese are on the move, booking flights south. They honk to one another, form their V, land in fields to fuel up, and take off again. The sky's as busy as that above Detroit Metro Airport.

It's pure entertainment, Michigan's end-of-summer wild bird air show, especially with the Sand Hill Cranes in the lineup. This Labor Day weekend, flocks of three to six flew over us while we cleaned out and painted the henhouse's interior. Just had to stop the paintbrush, look up, and listen.

I've spied cranes only once on our property– graceful, long-legged birds with a red beret. Like the Canada Geese, you can hear the cranes' raucous calls to one another before you see them.

On the other hand, we awake these days to the plaintive call of a mourning dove. I prefer the robin's cheerful song to usher in a new day. Yet, this kin to the lamented passenger dove has its place and purpose in our inscrutable and beautiful natural world. That a dove bore the olive branch to Noah after the Great Flood is significant, I think.

Also known as turtledoves, mourning doves mate for life. They're passive and less social compared to the ever-flighty robin, cardinal, and sparrow. I've never observed mourning doves in a flock. The two doves at our place perch on the clothes poles and utility lines along our driveway.

Perhaps the male is watching over us when I hear him woo his beloved. One winter day, I sat in our kitchen's chicken chair with a cup of hot tea and watched a pair of doves love on one another atop the clothes poles.

It worries me that they're ground feeders. Mo the old cat is still a hunter at heart, so the doves' whirling sound never fails to alarm me. It's sad to see and hear a lone dove on the wire. And it breaks my heart to find one dead in the yard.

Well, dear Reader, as the summer expires, so must these ruminations. We've a clean, white henhouse to refurnish. After spending the past three nights roosted under their pullet palace, our five girls are not happy campers.

We have no delusions. The time, labor, and money Mel and I spend to gather fresh eggs for quiche, cake, and scrambling is ridiculous. In recompense, our girls appear every dawn in their pen, stretching their legs for our amusement.

Predictably, no matter the season, we carry their blue and green eggs up to the house for our nourishment. This a Sand Hill Crane cannot supply.

Yes, I appreciate the domestic and the wild. Still, I cannot bear the sparrows when they invade the henhouse and pen for grain. We're working on solving that problem.

Meanwhile, we've decided one sure thing.

"I'll never paint the inside of the henhouse again," Mel said.

"Me neither."

Once we reopen their chute for business, we're off to Romeo for peach pie a la mode.

Email Iris at

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