Niko, my hunter kitty really loves Susan. I mean he adores Susan!!! The first place he wants to be when Susan visits is in her lap. He also seems to know my love of Doves is shared by Susan. Soooo to our absolute horror and amazement, as I was hands full and busy on the phone with the rent-a-car company, Niko proudly pranced in the house and deposited a gift for Susan. He caught a beautiful, shimmering, taupe Morning Dove and with great pride dropped it on the carpet at her feet. The poor little bird which we immediately named, Ben, was in shock. Attempting to flap his wings for a frantic escape from the jaws of death.
He was just a baby, which the incomplete ring on his neck revealed. The ring becomes more prominent as they grow to adulthood. Susan frantically gathered up the Dove to safety from Niko's darting lurches... although it was a present he just couldn't help himself... you could practically see him drooling as he eyed the poor little thing. She nurtured the frightened bird peacefully cupping him in her hands with soothing strokes protected on her lap. After the initial shock of our new visitor wore off and a bit of discussion about how shocking it can be for them to be so close to humans I carefully took Ben, carried him to the back yard and gently released him near the ground to see if he could fly free. Niko had not only shocked him but we were afraid his right wing might be damaged as well. He floundered in the yard unable to fly. Carefully I retrieved him from the ground as he clumsily attempted flight, regathered him, cupped his soft feathery warm body in my hands, speaking comforting, calming words and prayers over him. Although he was frightened he readily settled into our cupped hands with no fight, a peaceful assured look in his eyes. It's a strange unnatural feeling holding a wild animal so close. Yet it seemed he sensed he was safe, protected and loved for the moment.
We then walked up the street to the Rec Hall area, here there are large grassy, protected areas where he would have more room for release. There too he was free from Niko's hunting skills. Sadly he was still unable to fly and only seemed to want to rest so we gently laid him in the grass under a palm tree, stepped back observed for a moment or two and then gave him to God, returning home to finish preparing for our Michaeling adventure for the day. However as we left we just couldn't rest easy about Ben so we decided to make a u turn and return to check on him. As I turned the car around toward the Rec Hall there in the street was yet another dove walking right before the car in the street. His sister? His mate? This has happened to me before. Seems they know my car and keep an eye on me. LOL This little dove walked there before us and then lifted in flight toward the roof of the Rec Hall.
We parked, climbed out of the car eager to see how Ben was. He was fine... still resting, regaining his strength in the safety of the grass under the tall palm... but it was hot so we decided he needed to be in the cool of the garden or he would bake in the hot sun. Also Niko had not been gentle with his right wing and we feared he may not be able to fly again... and there were large black crows gathering close by in the grass. So we moved him, placing him in the cool of a garden alcove. As we drove away the healthy Dove flew over as if to say thank you.
Very early the next morning after a long Michaeling day and night, while I was still sleepy and very groggy, Susan who was on UK time couldn't sleep and walked down to the Rec Hall to check in on Ben. She returned home with the news that he was gone... no longer in the safe, cool protected garden. Thankfully there was no sign of feathers or harm had come to him. Our hearts lifted as we hoped that he had rested, recouped and flew away free. To our joy and utter delight not much later as Susan was enjoying the warmth of the Southern California sun she loves so much out in my back garden both doves flew into my Giving Tree and spent some time cooing a warm, friendly thank you.
Thank you God for healing Ben's wing and enabling him to fly free again.
Hopefully Niko will now leave the Doves alone. Please Niko you are a very good hunter but... PLEASE NOT THE DOVES!!!
Read more about the history of the Dove of LOVE: