August 9, 2022

A Country Diary: Every Day, Collared Doves Patrol Our Wakeful Hours

2 min read
A Country Diary: Every Day, Collared Doves Patrol Our Wakeful Hours

The cuckoo continued to sing long after he had any chance at all of luring a mate. He soothed me to sleep during the midsummer week and woke me up the next morning. His Ku-Ku was abrupt and lacked the customary cuckoo’s stop in the middle of a sentence. His insistency, which he mispronounced, struck me as desperate. A “regular” cuckoo sound was heard from the same location days later. Was this a fresh bird or had the misbehaving one already self-corrected?

All is peaceful at this time, with fatigued blackbirds and unfulfilled cuckoos on their way to Africa. All but the sleepy summer high priests. They start and end our waking hours each day without fail, never performing a duet. Dove, pigeon, dove, dove Each plays out its repetitive call and response and enticements to others of its type, seemingly without regard for its relative, even though they rarely overlap or interrupt.

Yesterday evening, a wood pigeon was notified by a clank on the chimney pot, and the typical five-syllable song was heard coming down the flue. The daybreak collared dove started off with the usual coo, coo-cu before shortening it to four or five disyllabic utterances. This is a common variant that can lead to reports of late summer cuckoos.

A Country Diary: Every Day, Collared Doves Patrol Our Wakeful Hours

The same cannot be true for pitch and emphasis if its beat is otherwise constant, with each salvo sounding as if it were an open-beak mystery to its creator. As I type, I can hear one that emphasizes the beginning of the middle section by beginning high and then falling.

I heard collared doves earlier on a one-hour walk from the railway line to the telegraph poles over the barley. Additionally, there are those extras like the woo, woo, woo of beating wings and the unusual surprised yell we may make if we stepped into a cool river in the middle of a scorching July. As the day warmed, eight calling doves flew in a short circuit, with wood pigeons filling in the gaps.

It’s difficult to picture a time before these two birds’ constant interactions did not occur. However, no one had ever heard a collared dove in the British Isles prior to the ascension of the Queen. The fastest-spreading bird in recorded history, they colonized from the east. Stay upbeat, pretty dove.

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