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August 2000 Edition

This First Edition of Anecdotes
Is Dedicated to the Memory of
Ginny Goodrich
And the Wonderful Way She Knew Animals

Gentle Blue-Ringed Eyes:
A Journal

~ Winter. An assortment of birds and squirrels have been visiting the back porch. Leaving my kitchen, I was about to open the outside door to leave seeds on the ledge, when I noticed the presence of four doves. I paused, not wanting to disturb them, as they patiently searched for remnants of yesterday's offering, tiny round seeds left in crevices.

One fluffed up her feathers, to hold in heat; and the wind lifted groups of plumes, like a cloak. She had a tawny peach breast, a beauty spot, and large black spots on wing feathers. Dove blinked at me; the blue circles surrounding her pupils made them appear large and gentle.

Suddenly, the circle slid up from the bottom of the eye, to cover it. An eyelid! Intrigued, I blinked back, to indicate peaceful intent. As a wildlife transporter, I have learned not to look directly at wild animals; it can appear to impart aggressive intent. But after a while, I could look at the dove's eyes, both of us continuing to blink often.

The other doves began sidling my way, until even the farthest one turned and padded over, to blink with me. I remained with the doves for half an hour, moving nothing except eyelids. Finally, my body was getting very cold. As I noticed this, simultaneously, three of the birds made a slight shift. Fwoosh! All were gone, without the usual fluttery clamor. We had created a trust.

-Excerpt from: "Freed to Write the Sky." In Seasons of Swans. c1996. Sue Holloway


The dove often symbolizes the Holy Spirit in Christianity. Yet, in the United States, the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is considered the "Number 1 game bird." Reliable estimates of the annual mourning dove "harvest" are not readily available, since figures are not adjusted for "unretrieved kill." This is a tragedy of suffering for these gentle creatures.

Estimates in 1975 by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the total 1972 columbid "harvest" at more than 50 million birds. This is still in effect today.

See Banks, R.C. "Human related mortality of birds in the United States." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife No. 215, 4.

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