High-rise doves: Pair nests twice on apartment balcony

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hicks • One of the parent doves checks on the two young in the nest.

In late July, I wrote about a couple of mourning doves nesting on a front porch column at the home of Star and Tim Barto in Telford, Tennessee.

Star sent another email recently to notify me that the doves are back, undertaking a fourth nesting for the year.

“Just had to share the amazing news — the doves are back on the porch column for the fourth time this year,” she wrote. “So exciting!  After three events this year, I was sure it would be next spring before their return. So glad to be wrong about that.”

Not only did I hear from Star about their nesting doves in Telford, I heard from a reader a little farther afield about a pair of mourning doves that have taken things to a higher level, literally.

Rob Hicks, a resident of Burlington in Ontario, Canada, informed me of an interesting nesting of mourning doves that have taken a liking to his apartment balcony.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hicks • A view from the balcony where the mourning doves nested.

“I first noticed one (and then both) doves on my balcony railing up on the eighth floor when I was looking at the planters I have out there,” Rob explained in a Facebook message.

He said that the doves would hop around in each potted plant, look around and  then move to the next.  

“I assumed they were looking to set up a nest, but I knew that the balcony repairmen were going to be arriving in a few week,” Rob said.

In case the nesting conflicted with the mandatory maintenance, Rob tried to discourage the birds from setting up their nest.   

“I went out and got some decorative plastic picks and stuck them in the planters, hoping the birds would avoid them, but the following day I noticed the start of a nest in one planter,” he said.

Not only that, but the birds had pulled out the plastic picks. So much for his effort to deter the nesting birds.

The following day he noticed that the nest contained two eggs.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hicks • The two parent doves stand guard over a nestling.

Presented with a fait accompli, Rob decided to enjoy the rare opportunity of watching the high-rise nesting birds.

“The parents took turns with the eggs for the next two weeks until they hatched,” he wrote. “I noticed the chicks were growing very quickly, and a few times each day I’d notice one of the parents coming back to the nest to feed them.”

After the squabs (the name for young doves) had grown, the parents stopped sitting with them and would only come back a few times a day to feed them.

“The chicks would be flexing their wings and flapping them, so I assumed they’d be flying out soon,” he added. 

He noticed that one of the young doves made its first flight from the planter to an adjacent planter on the railing.  

“The bird then managed to fly down off the balcony towards a clump of nearby trees, where I had seen the parents flying in and out of recently,” Rob wrote.

The other young dove was a little less confident in its abilities and waited two additional days before it finally left the nest.

“Over the next couple of days I saw them (at least one adult and one of the chicks each time) perched on the roof of the building,” he wrote.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Hicks • One of the doves returns for a visit.

He also watched them fly back to the same stand of trees, so he said he assumed the adults were still helping them learn to fly better or perhaps teaching them how to find food. 

Right on schedule, the maintenance workers arrived and he had to clear the plants off his balcony.   

“I moved them to a neighbor’s balcony,” he wrote.

About 10 days later, after his balcony had been repaired, he went to collect his plants from his neighbor’s balcony.

Readers will probably guess what happened next.

“I found the doves had not only found the same plants again on the neighbor’s balcony, but they had already put a nest in the planter and laid  eggs again,” Rob wrote.

Rob reported that four weeks and one day after they laid the second batch of eggs, the last chick in that brood also successfully flew out of the nest.

“Since they raised two broods successfully in those plants this year — so far —  I’m more than happy to welcome them back again if they want to try another nest in them,” he wrote.

Back in 2014, Rob also wrote to tell me about a brown creeper that crashed into his balcony. That story, too, had a happy ending. Although the bird was definitely stunned, it recovered and flew to nearby trees after a short rest.

So, we’re ready to turn the calendar to September and I’m still writing columns about nesting birds. I love it!

To share a bird-related story, make a comment or ask a question, email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol.com. 


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