In October when Tucson is still roasting, the white wing doves leave for Mexico. I celebrate their departure and prediction of cooler weather. I’m delighted to feed and enjoy the desert’s wild birds, the nice birds – cactus wrens, Gila woodpeckers, quail, sparrows, hummingbirds, pyrrhuloxias, finches, and mourning doves. Any bird except the white wing.
When the white wing returns in March, their arrival predicts higher temperatures. The bird is nature’s way of saying cool, quiet mornings and clean walls are over. The males fornicate often and leave clueless females sitting on lamely constructed twig nests all through the heat of summer.
Why don’t I gather these beasty birds to my heart? Our acacia trees become dove tenaments and coo-coo-coo goes on all day long. Their coo-cooing begins at four in the morning, and I’m a light sleeper. In summer, I vacate the east bedroom and claim a west-facing room away from the trees. Those noisy birds put me out of my bedroom. That’s one.
The white wings perch on walls and fencing. With a flick of the tail, a knuckle-size dropping falls. Those nasty lumps dry cement-hard. I resist wasting water, but after a few months I power wash their droppings just to clean the place. That’s two.
White wings are greedy feeders with long beaks. They aggressively chase off the small wild birds. That’s three, and that’s enough.
Last summer I called the Audubon office and asked how I could scram these pests from my trees and yard. Ms. Audubon chirped, “The white wings are migratory birds and federally protected. You cannot harm them. It’s against the law.” Until then I had not considered killing them. Not a bad idea, but where to begin? Didn’t John James himself kill birds for his ornithology paintings? However, I needed to look elsewhere for a peace and quiet solution.
I did the next best thing, off to cyberspace. I bought a roll of one inch reflective Mylar from Peaceful Valley Farm. Birds, please say white wing doves too, do not like shiny, moving surfaces. Last summer Mylar streamers blew in the breeze from my fence rails. I painted pink, green, red, and black evil eyes on super-large foil discs and tied them to the tree branches. Acacias with earrings! The trees looked stylish and a boring landscape became zany.
It’s April and the white wings are back! I have work to do. Tie the Mylar streamers on the fencing and get those silvery evil eyes floating in the breeze. Bye-bye, birdies!