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Tony Grist

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Dove Song [Feb. 20th, 2009|11:24 am]
Tony Grist
Doves? pigeons? Is there a difference? I've never been sure. Anyway, I love the sound they make. It's something between a croon and a hoot and it means that spring is on its way. I hear it- as I heard it first thing this morning-  and I'm immediately 17 years old. Not that I want to be 17 - too much fear and uncertainty- but there's a certain blank-canvasy hopefulness about being 17 that never comes again- except insofar as you can capture it in memory. Doves/pigeons do it for me every time. It's 1968, I'm walking along a path beside the Lac de Neuchatel, the sun is shining, and I'm in love- have been for a couple of days and will be for a couple of days more- with Anne Cronk, the Canadian girl.

Tennyson- who was a whiz at onomatopoeia- got the effect of dove-song in the line that goes, "The moan of doves in immemorial elms".  Only for him it's a melancholy noise, whereas for me it's the soundtrack of love's young dream. 
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Comments:
From: mamadar
2009-02-20 12:25 pm (UTC)
Scientifically speaking, a pigeon is a kind of dove; they used to call them "rock doves" in the bird guides, now they call them "rock pigeons". Pigeons like tall city buildings because their natural habitat is cliffs, which leads me to the conclusion that when the writer of the Song of Songs wrote, "O my dove in the clefts of the rock, let me hear your voice," it might well have been a pigeon that he (or she) was thinking of.

I like to say a pigeon is just a dove with bad PR. I am fond of both the rock pigeon and our local dove, the mourning dove, who not only has a beautiful call but a beautiful scientific name: Zenaida macroura.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 12:57 pm (UTC)
If pigeons were rare we'd be oohing and aahing about how beautiful they are- with their soft grey plumage and lovely croon.

Macroura- now there's more onomatapoeia! It's as if the birds were speaking their own name.
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From: mamadar
2009-02-20 05:04 pm (UTC)

Onomatopeia

Yes, exactly!
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2009-02-20 12:42 pm (UTC)
We have ring-neck /mourning doves in our trees and they especially love the big pine by our bedroom window. I love to wake up to their cooing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 12:59 pm (UTC)
Our doves/pigeons are presumably roosting in the big gardens across the way.
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[User Picture]From: suzilem
2009-02-20 01:01 pm (UTC)
my mourning doves roost in the tree immediately above where I park my car. (I know, they were there first). I don't have much of a choice where I park.... It's just that when I come out in the morning, I seem to startle them.... :-(
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 02:19 pm (UTC)
Oh dear.....
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From: mamadar
2009-02-20 05:05 pm (UTC)
Aha, do they make that wacky twittering sound and fly away with much wing-noise? Most of that is for show. *g*
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[User Picture]From: suzilem
2009-02-21 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, they do that TOO. :-) What I regret is the decorative additions to the paint job on my car....
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From: sunfell
2009-02-20 02:00 pm (UTC)
There are mourning doves in my neck of the woods, too. They sound more like 'emo-doves' to me, but I'm silly that way. The robins have returned to my area (they were here at the end of January) and the volume of birdsong has increased exponentially.

But I hear the doves quite clearly.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 02:21 pm (UTC)
We have robins too. There's one little guy who owns our back yard.

Mind you, I believe the British robin and the American robin- though they both have red breasts- belong to quite different species.
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From: sunfell
2009-02-20 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. American Robins are rather large birds compared to British Robins.

I remember the first time I heard a real cuckoo when I was in Germany. Stopped me in my tracks. So did seeing the bald eagle in my oak tree last week. I think it was taking a break. And the cardinal couple is busily building their nest. I hope they get some babies out- there are now three outdoor cats in the neighborhood, and that bush is easy pickings.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 02:46 pm (UTC)
I haven't heard a cuckoo in the wild for ages. I don't think they get as far north as this. For me the voice of the cuckoo is the voice of summer- beautiful and strange and deeply moving.

We have blackbirds that nest in the ivy on our garden wall. They're around- though I haven't seen any evidence of nest building yet.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-02-20 04:42 pm (UTC)
The bird books tell me that the American robin is actually a thrush, if that helps. I know that their young have speckled breasts and that the red only comes with maturity.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 04:57 pm (UTC)
If it's a thrush then it'll be considerably bigger than the British robin- which is a tiny, little chap.
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From: mamadar
2009-02-20 05:06 pm (UTC)
I confess I didn't know the English robin was totally different from our American bird until I saw the movie version of The Secret Garden that was made in the early 1990s. A beautiful film, by the way.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-02-20 04:47 pm (UTC)
For me it is not the robin that is the harbinger of spring, but rather that soft "hoot-coooo" sounding from the overhead wires that heralds the arrival of the mourning doves.
Last year my cat was very interested in something by the sitting room window. When I looked I saw a dove who was perched on the outside sill of the same window. It looked like the two of them, cat and bird, were having a conversation. Teddy did not look either hungry or predatory, just interested, and the bird did not seem to be worried at all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-20 04:59 pm (UTC)
The dove obviously understands about glass.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2009-02-20 08:28 pm (UTC)
in my world, wood pigeons all say:

if YOU knew Suzie
like I knew Suzie...
if YOU knew Suzie
like I knew Suzie...
if YOU knew Suzie
like I knew Suzie...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-21 09:53 am (UTC)
Very jaunty!
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[User Picture]From: methodius
2009-02-21 06:54 am (UTC)

Doves and pigeons

Doves are smaller and sleeker, pigeons are bigger and more untidy.

They make different noises, and the most evocative one for me is the Cape turtle dove (I think) which says "Coo-COOOO-Roo, Coo-COOOO-Roo". It takes me back to when I was 7, and our family was moving from Durban to Johannesburg, where my father had got a new job, but not a place to live, so we spent a month at the Valley Inn, Ingogo, which was about halfway. Ingogo was a little village, a hamlet, really, on the railway line and main road, and Valley Inn was an old stone building about a mile from the village, with bedrooms for four guests, with old-fashioned washstands with jugs of water. I had my seventh birthday there.

It turned out that the hoteliers, Win and Sheila Bradbury, we related - Shela was a cousin of my father, and their daughter Gillian was a year older than me, and we roamed the countryside, paddled in the rivers, and made a nuisance of ourselves, and all the time there was the incessant cooing of doves, from waking in the morning to going to sleep at night. One day Gillian's older brother Michael, who was 12 (an enormous age, filled with all knowledge and wisdom, and he taught me words like "bloody" and "fucking" whose meaning I only discovered later) trapped a dove under s sieve, plucked it and cooked it over an open fire. It was the first time I had seen intestines, and realised that we were not meat right through the middle. It tasted quite good too, but there was not much of it.

And those memories and many others are recalled whenever I hear doves.

Other birds don't bring back special memories, but doves always do.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-02-21 09:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Doves and pigeons

12 is an awesome age when you're a little kid. I remember having some older relative or friend's son of about that age come visit and he was amazing. He could climb trees I didn't even dare attempt.
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