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Is it a Sign?


September 11, 2019

Doug Harling

The white dove drinking from the fountain on our back deck.

What a beautiful surprise our family had this week. While we were sitting at the kitchen table, out of nowhere, this beautiful white dove landed on our owl statue only feet from us. I always have my camera ready for whatever may happen in the wildlife habitat. This day was exactly why. Is it just chance or is it a sign?

White doves are a symbol of peace and love. They are even mentioned in the bible... Luke 3:22 states: "The heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove." White doves are often released at weddings and other occasions of hope, love and peace. The white dove symbolizes the start of new beginnings, love, faithfulness and prosperity. It is a ritual in many cultures to release a white dove into the wild at celebrations and ceremonies. Although I will never know the true origin of this dove, I will always accept it as a sign of love and hope. Maybe it's a sign thanking me for caring for all of the birds in my habitat.

There are many things I will never know about this bird but there are many things I do know. I know it showed up out of nowhere. I monitor my habitat daily and I have never seen this bird before. I know it made its way into the flock of pigeons that come every day for the sunflower seed I put out for them. I put out a small bucket of sunflower seed on a big rock every day. The flock of about 20 pigeons come to the roof behind me daily like clockwork. I know it does not belong to this flock. I have been feeding this flock every day for years and I recognize every one of them. I know this bird exhibits behavior I have never seen in the flock of pigeons that come. Not one of the pigeons have ever come up to the deck to eat or drink. I know that it is just learning the behaviors of the pigeon flock. The pigeon flock warns each other. If something sudden happens and one pigeons is startled, the entire flock responds. This white dove just looks at them as if it's not sure what this means. The flock will often fly off and this white dove will stay. I never see the entire flock fly off and just one stays. I know this dove has been around humans. On the very first day it showed up, I went outside to try and get more pictures of her. She let me get very close and seemed to be listening to me and trying to coo back.

She has been here for about a week. ( I have no clue if it's a he or she but I like to think it's a she). She comes up to the deck every day and sits on our owl statue before jumping to the fountain. The owl statue was gift from a dear friend that knows my love for owls. I have it on the deck for decorations. However, owl statues are sold to ward off pigeon flocks. If you look around, many businesses have owl statues on their roofs to prevent pigeons from nesting on the roofs. That usually proves to be a waste of money because it never takes the pigeon long to realize it is fake; but I have never seen a pigeon go as far as landing on the statue's head. Pigeons are a very easy food source for owls. Owls can swoop into a flock of pigeons without them knowing what hit them. Pigeons inherently know to avoid owls but this white dove didn't get the memo. She is used to people and struggles to fit in with the pigeon flock. For this reason, I believed she was someone's pet or maybe released at a wedding or something.

Doug Harling

The white dove flying about with some of the pigeons that frequent my habitat.

Pigeons or doves like this are bred to be pure white to be specifically used at weddings and such. An albino bird is different and is rare to see in nature. Albinism is a genetic mutation causing the absence of tyrosinase in the pigment cells. Albinos have pink eyes. This white dove has dark eyes. This type of white dove does not happen naturally. Nature has built in ways to help protect animals and a bird born all white like this would stand out to prey and would be a target to a predator. Knowing all of this, I am certain this bird was a pet that got loose or it was released at some event. Most white doves that are released at weddings and such are homing pigeons that are breed to be all white. After a release, these birds will instinctively return to their home. They will also have a band on the foot which I do not see on this one. It leaves me to assume that it was a pet. It makes me happy to see the pigeon flock in my yard accept it. Pet birds often get loose and are on their own to learn to survive. It is not always good ending but I believe this beautiful white dove will be fine. I truly believe she came to me as sign. I will leave that in my heart. Happy birding!


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