Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A good tree for a mourning dove nest

Common bird of the urban forest


This small tree with overlapping branches and
narrow crotches might give an arborist nightmares,
but it's "Home Sweet Home" to a pair of mourning doves.

Yesterday morning, as I waited to meet a friend in a downtown parking lot, I saw a mourning dove fly past, carrying a small twig. Only then did I notice a nest in a little tree between the busy street and the parking lot. Even though the tree doesn't have leaves yet, the nest is hard to see.

Mourning doves are notorious for constructing flimsy nests, so it's good that the closely-spaced branches of this tree provide a strong foundation.

The nest of this bird is an astonishingly poor makeshift, composed chiefly of a handful of twigs thrown together so loosely that the eggs are in danger of rolling out of it, or falling through the interstices. . . Very likely if the birds employed some of the time and ardor they usually put into billing and cooing in trying to construct a safe and substantial home, the result would be a better nest, but after all, their poor workmanship is probably due primarily to the fact that both their bills and their feet are ill-adapted to nest-building.

Source: Birds of America, part II page 47, edited by T. Gilbert Pearson, John Burroughs, et al. Published in 1936 by Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, NY.

An interesting fact about mourning doves is that (like deer) their numbers increase when forests are thinned. Mourning dove are not birds of the deep woods. They thrive in open woods, farmland, and backyards. The urban forest suits them well. They are found throughout the continental United States, and also southern Canada.

Mourning doves are said to prefer coniferous trees for nesting, but as you can see, they adapt when a conifer is not available. In my own yard, mourning doves nest in the apple trees every summer.

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927)

Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Photos and text copyright © 2006-2010 by Genevieve L. Netz. All rights reserved. Do not republish without written permission. My e-mail address is gnetz51@gmail.com