Peeps, a White-Winged Dove, a Survivor - 2010
Last update: 30 June 2012

9 August (Day 1):
        Our dog found a baby white-winged dove in our backyard at sunset. It was gasping for breath, and its injuries looked serious: blood on top of head, rightside of neck scalped (muscle exposed), and craw was ruptured (food leaking out). I suspect it was mauled by a grackle that raided its nest.
        I placed the bird in a small container on our screened porch and expected it to die overnight.
10 August (Day 2):
        The bird looked better in the morning and was peeping. I prepared some seed gruel and force-fed it with an eyedropper. Some leaked out through its ruptured craw, but most stayed in. I fed it every four hours during the day.
11 August (Day 3):
        The bird looked and acted like it was going to survive. I took a picture of it and named it Peeps.
13 August (Day 5):
        Peep's feathers grew amazingly fast the last two days.
15 August (Day 7):
        Peeps ruptured craw must have healed sufficiently since it doesn't seem to leak anymore.
        She's outgrowing her "nest" container, so I'll have to find something bigger to put her in.
17 August (Day 9):
        I have some other white-winged doves in our backyard that fly to my hand for morning and late afternoon feedings. I placed Peeps on my wrist so she could see how other doves eat seed. She pecked and swallowed a few seeds, too. I added mixed seed to her "nest" container on the porch so she could eat them in between her regular gruel feedings, and I quit force-feeding her. She pecks and swallows the gruel from a trimmed three-ounce paper cup.
19 August (Day 11):
        When I fed the other birds that frequent our backyard, I scattered some mixed seed on the ground and placed Peeps in the middle of it so she could become more aware that she is a dove and should learn to eat and fly like other birds. She had mixed feelings about all the company, so she flew laterally about six feet to get some distance from them.
20 August (Day 12):
        While I was preparing her gruel, Peeps flew from the floor to the armrest of a porch chair. Later, while in the midst of some other doves that were feeding, she flew from the ground to the top of our patio table, a horizontal distance of about ten feet and a vertical distance greater than two feet.
21 August (Day 13):
        I mixed whole birdseed with Peeps' gruel this morning, and she scarfed it all down. Will wean her from the gruel soon so she has no choice but to eat dry birdseed. She flew about ten feet from ground level to the top rail of a three-foot high chainlink fence. She also flew about 15 feet to my finger from the fence. Both flights resulted in precision landings.
        I was preparing Peeps' supper on the screen porch, and Peeps was on an eye-level perch in a nearby tree. She couldn't wait for me to come get her, so she flew about ten feet to the screen and flapped.
22 August (Day 14):
        While I was preparing her food this morning, Peeps flew from the top rail of our privacy fence to the top of our BBQ grill, a distance of almost 30 feet. She ate all the food, including the seed that was mixed in. She flew from my hand to my shoulder when she was done. (Still haven't been able to get her to eat only dry seed as a meal. I plan to wean her cold-turkey tomorrow and see what happens.)
        Peeps' occasional daytime hangout is in the wild persimmon tree in our backyard (right). It's shady and cooler than the screened porch. She later flew ten feet from her tree perch to my hand.
23 August (Day 15):
        Peeps tried to fly from the ground up about 45-degrees to the top fence rail (about 5-1/2 feet high), but couldn't get the height. Later, she flew from her tree perch to the top of the BBQ grill and then to my hand. I decided to delay weaning her until she gets more strength in her wings.
        She flew to my shoulder from her tree perch and from the bird bath in our backyard. (She wasn't interested in taking a bath.)
24 August (Day 16):
        This morning, Peeps had flown from her container to the back of a porch chair and was waiting for me when I opened the back door. She hardly touched the gruel I prepared for her, but she did eat some dry birdseed, including some whole dehulled sunflower seeds and small bread balls. She flew to my shoulder several times in the yard, the longest distance about 30 feet, the latter when the doves around her suddenly scattered in flight.
        In the late afternoon, Peeps was on the ground pecking around under our birdfeeder. She saw our dog nearby on the patio and started walking toward her. This scared me because our dog usually tries to catch anything small that moves. When Peeps got too close, our dog turned and walked away in the opposite direction. That's so out of character for our dog that I praised her for being a good girl; however, I still don't trust her enough to leave Peeps in the yard with her unattended.
25 August (Day 17):
        Peeps scared my wife this morning when she flew to her shoulder to visit. She was on the back of a porch chair, outside her container, awaiting breakfast. She would not eat the gruel I prepared, but she did down some hulless sunflower seed and bread. She also flew up from near my feet to my shoulder, a steep upward flight of about five-feet.
        Peeps didn't eat much today, and what she did eat was mostly dehulled sunflower seed chips. She explored (flew to) several different places on our screened porch.
26 August (Day 18):
        This morning, Peeps hardly ate anything, except the equivalent of maybe five dehulled sunflower seeds. She flew from the patio table, around the corner of the screened porch, to my shoulder (about 30 feet) while I was hand-feeding two other doves. She watched the other doves eat and then flew to my hand to peck at the mixed seed they left. Later, I had another dove eating seed from my hand, and she flew to my hand to eat, too. Apparently her "table manners" were not acceptable to the other dove, and it pecked her on her head. Peeps immediately squatted and became submissive.
        I didn't offer Peeps any gruel this afternoon. Instead I gave her chipped sunflower seeds and white bread. She ate both on her own. The next step will be to leave her outside more so she can forage for food in the yard and get in more flying time. (Will have to keep the dog in the house when I do that.)
27 August (Day 19):
        I placed Peeps on the ground under our birdfeeder with some seed scattered around her. She ate a few dehulled sunflower chips and bread balls. Later when I checked on her, she was on the edge of our patio cover. I got her down and placed her on the tree perch I made for her and went back into the house (with our dog). From the bay window, I saw her fly to the ground and then to our patio table.
        Peeps spent much of the day outside exploring and pecking around. She fed herself this afternoon, downing whole hulless sunflower seeds.
28 August (Day 20):
        Peeps was pacing the sill on the screened porch this morning, anxious to join the other doves feeding under the birdfeeder. I placed her on the ground and she ate whole sunflower seeds. Another dove got too close to her, and she flapped it with her wing (instead of flying away). When the other birds left, she flew to my shoulder (image at right).
        Milestone: Peeps, left unattended in the back yard this afternoon, flew to a tree limb about 15 feet above the ground (twice). The first time I couldn't find her, and she had to fly to my shoulder before I realized where she had been hanging out.
29 August (Day 21):
        It's been three weeks since I adopted Peeps. She hasn't flown out of our backyard yet, but she's certainly capable of doing so. This morning she landed in front of our dog, and they had a stare-off until I retrieved her. I think our dog realizes Peeps is special and won't hurt her, but I still don't trust her enough to leave the two alone together unattended.
        This afternoon while feeding with the other doves, when one encroached in her space, Peeps would cock a wing and flap it with her wing. (She's still sleeping on our screened porch at night.)
30 August (Day 22):
        Peeps ate a lot of the seed I scattered on the ground this morning. Unlike Missy, another dove chick I raised, Peeps does not explore the backyard very much, and she has shown no inclination to fly out of our fenced yard. Her being so friendly with my wife and our dog worries me a little, too. Will she recognize potential danger and react like a normal bird when she does leave the yard?
        This afternoon was uneventful. Peeps spent all day in the backyard, on my ladder, undereave closet, patio table, storage container, and her perch. No time was spent in the tree as far as I know.
31 August (Day 23):
        We had appointments and shopped most of the day, and Peeps had to fend for herself while we were gone. She was excited when we returned in the late afternoon. She did not want to bed down on the porch when I brought her in after dusk (kept flying to my shoulder).
1 September (Day 24):
        Peeps was on the patio pecking around with the other birds this morning..
        After dusk, I looked for Peeps in the yard so she could spend the night on the porch. I couldn't find her anywhere. Later (after dark, with a flashlight), however, I found her on a low branch of our crepe myrtle tree and put her on the porch for the night.
2 September (Day 25):
        Peeps is not progressing as quickly as I had anticipated. Missy, another dove chick I raised, started flying out of the yard after 17 days and roosting in the tree after 20 days. Maybe Peep's initial injuries and recovery caused the delay, and hopefully she will show more independence soon. (She seemed disoriented a couple of times on the ground when she stumbled backwards and couldn't maintain her balance.)
        Peeps ventured to new heights this afternoon: upper tree branches and power line. She was quite clingy when she heard approacing thunder.
3 September (Day 26):
        It had rained earlier this morning when I put Peeps in the backyard to eat. She took off to parts unknown about mid-morning, nowhere to be found as of this writing (5:00 PM). I expect her to show up later when I feed the other birds before sundown.
        Sure enough, she showed up when I fed the other birds. She came when she saw me unwrapping an old loaf of bread, her favorite food. My wife said she flew from our neighbor's oak tree or the power line in the easement behind the oak tree. After eating seed and bread, she hung around for awhile on our BBQ grill and then flew to our other neighbor's tree. Tonight might be the first night that she roosts in a tree (instead of our back porch).
        Nope! I went outside at dusk, and Peeps flew out of nowhere to my shoulder. She bedded down on our porch again. (It's just a matter of time before she establishes her independence and roosts in a tree at night.)
4 September (Day 27):
        I tried to get a photo of Peeps and an adult dove eating seed from my hand this morning, but the adult was camera-shy and flew away. Peeps flew to parts unknown before I fed the other birds.
        Peeps flew to my shoulder while I was working in the garden about an hour before sundown. Prior to that, I had not seen her since midmorning. She ate well and later bedded down on the porch before dark.
5 September (Day 28):
        It's been four weeks since I adopted Peeps. She has overcome her difficult start in life and has become a good-looking, fun-to-be-with bird. She pretty much behaves like the other doves that I hand-feed except she's more trusting. She doesn't quite have the body mass of an adult dove (or the blue around the eyes), but she's getting there fast. Except for the morning and late afternoon feedings (and roosting on the porch), I don't see much of her anymore. (She took off to parts unknown shortly after her breakfast this morning. She also swallowed some whole sunflower seeds with hulls.)
6 September (Day 29):
        Peeps downed her breakfast of sunflower seeds, had a sip of water, and took off westward to parts unknown, beyond our neighbor's yard and out of sight. I don't expect to see her again until late this afternoon.
        Surprise, surprise! I was feeding the other birds later in the morning, and Peeps landed on my shoulder from out of nowhere and wanted another handout. Afterwards she visited awhile and then took off again to parts unknown. She returned for her evening feeding and roosting on the porch.
7 September (Day 30):
        Tropical Storm Hermine is just a few hours south of us, headed our way. It rained more than an inch since midnight, and much more is imminent. Peeps has never seen this much rain, and she chose to sleep in this morning since it was darker than usual. Later, after I hand-fed one of the other regular doves, she was ready to eat, too. So we went outside, and she ate under the patio cover, out of the rain. She didn't fly away when done, but she watched the rain from her perch under the patio cover. Later in the morning, however, she flew off to parts unknown, in the rain.
        Hermine passed through our area dumping more than four inches of rain in our backyard. In the late afternoon, before feeding the other birds, Peeps showed up out of nowhere and landed on my wife's head while she was inspecting the backyard (between showers). Peeps ate some seed and bread and bedded down on her perch on the porch after I fed the other birds.
8 September (Day 31):
        It rained with lightning and thunder last night while Peeps roosted on her perch on the porch. She downed a few seeds this morning and flew two houses down the easement to the power line. She didn't wait for her bread treat like she usually does, and she did not return later in the morning when I fed the other birds.
        I saw Peeps in our ash tree in the afternoon. She would not come down for seed in my hand, but she immediatly flew to my hand when I offered her some bread. It rained some more later. She had a snack and bedded down on the porch at dusk.
9 September (Day 32):
        It's been more than a month since I adopted Peeps. She's become an attractive juvenile that has free access to the neighborhood during the day. Her daily activities have become routine.
        I will update this chronology when she does something different and noteworthy, e,g., roosts in a tree at night, starts showing adult features (orange irises, blue skin around eyes, black cheek streaks), etc.
        My showing her an image of herself in a mirror two days ago seems to have helped her realize she's like the other white-winged doves that frequent our backyard. If she's still interacting with me when she becomes an adult, I will post another image of her.

Note: Yesterday I noticed two fly-like parasites slithering in and out from under Peep's feathers. Research indicates they're louse flies, predominate among doves and pigeons. Also noticed this afternoon that Peep's black cheek streaks are starting to show.

11 September (Day 34):
        We were gone yesterday afternoon and returned home shortly after sundown. Peeps was late showing up to be placed on the porch. She hardly ate anything before bedding down for the night.
        This morning, she visited with me for a few minutes, swallowed a couple of sunflower seeds, pecked a little bread, and flew to the power line with the other doves that were waiting to be fed. I did not see her again all day.
        She did not show either time when I fed the other birds (or after sundown). This was the first night that she did not stay on the porch. I don't know where she roosted. (Missy, another dove chick I raised six years ago, spent her first night in a tree on her Day 20; however, she wasn't coddled as much as Peeps, and she was caged at night.)
12 September (Day 35):
        I didn't see Peeps all day until about 6:15 PM. The only dove that showed up for the evening feeding was an adult that regularly eats from my hand. While the adult was eating, Peeps came out of nowhere and landed on my shoulder. When the dove on my hand cocked its wing, Peeps flew to the top of my head. Before I could offer her some seed, she flew to our neighbor's oak tree. I tried to entice her down with some bread, but she flew across the easement to another neighbor's tree. Peeps did not come back to eat or roost (her second night off the porch). I suppose her biological clock has kicked in, and she is ready to be a dove, without "daddy's" help.
        I'm just happy to know she's okay and making it on her own now. Hopefully she will continue to visit periodically. (I need to take another picure of her.)

Note: According to the source linked below ("About ... Doves"), white-winged doves can have a lifespan longer than 20 years. If so, two of the doves that fly to my hand to eat could be Missy (2004) and Raven (2002), linked below ("Other bird stories"). If so, Peeps should be around a long time in future summers if no misfortune befalls her. She'll probably quit flying to my shoulder (or head) to visit, but perhaps she'll come for seed handouts. If so, I doubt that I will recognize her since all the doves look alike to me.

14 September (Day 37):
        A dove landed on my shoulder late this afternoon while feeding the other birds. It flew away before I got a good look at it. I'm pretty sure it was Peeps.
16 September 2010: I have not knowingly seen Peeps in two days. In fact, most of the doves that frequent my backyard have been scarce. Perhaps they know that the regular season for hunting white-wing doves in Texas begins soon (17 Sep - 31 Oct), and they're already beginning to be cautious. (None flew to my hand to eat today.)

18 September 2010: Still haven't knowingly seen Peeps, and all the doves in the backyard were easily spooked, even though there were no distant gunshots heard (by me).

6 October 2010: I don't think there will be any more entries in this chronology. I have not knowingly seen Peeps since mid-September. The evenings have been cool, and all the doves have been standoffish the last few days (none flying to my hand to eat). So, unless something noteworthy happens, this is the end of Peep's adventure story to adulthood.

12 June 2011: My wife took this picture through our bay window. I've had as many as five doves on my hands at the same time, but I have no idea if any of them are orphaned dove chicks I raised in previous years.

About White-Winged Doves

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Other bird stories:  Starly     Missy     Raven     Guinea (mouseover for image)

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