Clouds with Mourning Dove

Pre-dawn clouds in Texas, north Erath County, August 2011.

Yesterday in mid-afternoon, August 10, 2011, a weak squall line walked through my ranchito in central-west Texas.  Blue-gray rain clouds edged and staggered to a halt south of my place.  A few drops of rain fell.  The power of the squall line churned up dust clouds, obscuring the Nowack barn across the county road in a microburst downdraft.  East of me, seventy-five miles away, Fort Worth had rain falling on Sundance Square, the heart of downtown commerce and entertainment that coarsely promotes the city as, “Where the West Begins.”  I disagree, but that argument will have to wait for another day.

The squall line with thunderclouds failed to bring rain on my land yesterday, but one weather change in the future will bring drops and sheets of rain.  I looked at the weather charts yesterday afternoon and saw thundershowers, sixty-miles north, let loose rain, then dissipate into nothingness but a void of mirages, quavering silver lakes far away.  No mirage here, the juniper trees in the ranchito grove threw off a luscious scent with the rise in humidity, dispelling summer for a time and bringing a promise of better days.

This morning, clouds remain to my east and as the sun rises, I see remnants of yesterday’s storm over Sundance Square.   I count three, perhaps five, sun rays through the cirrus and cumulus debris.  In all of this — the dust clouds, wind, scarce drops of rain and the sun’s rays — I look at yesterday’s date, August 10th, and know that Fall is forty days away, and that the sun rises later and sets earlier each day upon the earth’s northern hemisphere, Sundance Square and my hacienda. 

As if I needed any more natural substantiation that the season is turning — I do — Mourning Doves (Zenaidura macroura) sustained their ooah, cooo, cooo, coo this morning for over an hour, sitting on power lines and in the mesquite brush of the Dooley place to my west.  The Mourning Dove with hot mornings and brutal afternoons of heat on the ranchito does not coo earnestly, but quiets in sorrow for the lack of rain.

The Mourning Dove is in the lower-left photograph, a White-fronted Dove is pictured in lower-right (Audubon Society Field Guide, 1977).


Notes, corrections and additions:

The call of the Mourning Dove comes from Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to Western Birds (1969), my constant reference and field guide that is tattered and torn.  But I would not have it any other way.

Photographs of the dove are from The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds (1977).  This reference guide from Audubon was in the small library of my parents who grew up in the country of central Texas and were always cognizant of wildlife, thunderstorms, cattle and horses.  I inherited the library and treasure each volume of field manuals that they thumbed through.

Several species of dove reside and pass through the ranchito. 


Filed under Birds, Rain, Weather

10 responses to “Clouds with Mourning Dove

  1. I love field guides, especially when they’re tattered and torn. It speaks of constant use and what a fine thing that is. Having a library that once belonged to your parents I would find comforting and encouraging. The unbroken links that speak of shared lives are invaluable.

    Another fine post. I find this encouraging. Thank you.

  2. I have heard people comment on the dove’s call saying it sounds mournful. I guess you could think of it that way. I have always thought of it as being comforting. A soft sound like the sounds of a baby. They are such gentle birds. We have quite a few around these parts and I truly enjoy their morning songs.

  3. I hope those better, wetter, days arrive soon!

    Haven’t seen a white-winged dove since I left Arizona, but we have a pair of mourning doves living in our little canyon. I love hearing their calls and seeing them pecking up bits of cracked corn our by the wood pile.

  4. The doves have begun to call here, too. They sit on the tops of boat masts and seem to enjoy themselves enormously.

    I’ve seen new species at my feeders this year. Whitewings and ringnecks have showed up. They all seem to get along – for the most part – but my goodness, those “gentle” mourning doves can spat with one another!

    • What an interesting landscape or seascape you have! Doves on boat masts! Hard to visualize up here in west Texas. I’ve just begun to sort out the dove species. Where have I been all my life?

  5. Love mourning doves, especially their soulful song. Doesn’t sound sad to me (mourning) but rather soulful, in tune with nature!

    • How long ago the term “mourning” stuck to the dove would be an interesting piece of research, perhaps tied to some century, some event. In any case, I agree; I find it soothing, rather relaxing.

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