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by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

April 6, 2012 - 8:15 am

Out of my menagerie, it seems there isn’t a more appropriate critter to highlight Easter weekend than the one who mimics those bags in the candy aisle: my diamond dove.

She’s a shy thing without a mate, but this time of year lays a couple of eggs every so often. And yep, they’re exactly the size of Dove Eggs. Except I have to wait until she’s done sitting on the unfertilized eggs and then throw them out so a) they don’t go bad, and b) she doesn’t starve herself by waiting for that hatch date. (I can put a fresh sprig of millet, which is like Bird Crack, right in front of her when she’s in incubation mode, and she won’t be distracted.)

This little dove came into my life back in 2008. I’d always held a bit of a prejudice against birds as pets, writing them off as noisy and pecking. I now love conures and cockatiels and all in between, but there was something about the diamond dove. They’re very contemplative, sweet and gentle. The first time she cooed, though, it took me by surprise because it sounded like a train whistle. I’ve since learned that the five-note and two-note coos, along with a special guttural one, have different meanings; trying to talk to me when she can’t see me, when I walk to another room, when I’m right there, etc. And I respond, and we coo back and forth.

And I could have sworn that “she” was a “he” by what I’d read on sexing via the size of the ring around the eye and the feather coloring. Since the bird got freaked out on its first day home (another lesson: buy the bird a nightlight), hit its head and had a red spot there, I called it Gorby. When she started laying eggs and I realized he was no he, I pretty much called her LoveDove. She has a suitor in the form of an insistent pigeon show up outside the window now and then, but he gets spurned.

She’s not one for lots of time outside of the cage — even when I open the door to let her get some flight time, she prefers her habitat. Which I customized for her — I got rid of all the plastic perches and put in various sizes of natural branch perches. She hops up on the highest perch — in the vaulted ceiling of the birdhouse, so to speak — to nestle in for the night. If I walk past the cage at night, she’ll acknowledge me with a very low-level coo.

Since doves like to walk around the bottom of a cage and go scavenging, I use corn cob bedding and sprinkle some extra seed and grit in there for her to have fun finding. Her seed mix includes this color boost treat, which includes ground flower petals, that she’ll constantly beg for. Other than the extreme alarm I had when seeing that after egg-sitting she lets out egg-sized droppings, I know that she’s healthy and happy.

All in all, a diamond dove, an Aussie by origin, is a really great bird. If you have just one, it will bond to you. And you’ll bond to this feathered friend.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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