Three weeks ago I last saw the mourning dove chicks in their nest. It was a Monday, beautiful day, and I managed to take a bunch of photos of the pair, and even some with one of the parents in the nest with them. But the next morning, I awoke around 8 a.m., and they were gone. No sign of them, neither parent in the nest, either. I crawled back into bed, rather sad. They were probably ok, and I figured I was just sad cuz I'd miss my routine of checking up on them, watching them, seeing them either stay perfectly still hoping I wouldn't bother them, or spread their wings and try to look threatening. But then one of the parents returned to the nest, fussy-ing around, and making noises. The other parent returned, and they both stayed for a while. Then the winds picked up, and soon the predicted snow began to fall. Both parents left, but throughout the day, each returned and sat in the nest for a while, as if they were taking turns looking out for the kids.
I had been emailing daily pics to a pal of mine who took great interest in the doves. This is the third year they've nested here, and the previous two ended in tragedy - the chicks, definitely too young for flight, were simply missing early one morning, either from falling out of the nest, or from that crow that lurked in the garden below. He half-jokingly threatened to stake out in my apartment this year to protect them from the crow. But meanwhile, he had been in contact with some "urban bird" website folks, who told him there really wasn't much he could do about the predators, and should just let nature take its course. He also forwarded them the pics I sent. So the day after the birds disappearance, he emailed asking how they were, and I had to confess I didn't know, and that they were gone. The "urban bird" folks assured us that they seemed ready for "fledging" but I just wasn't content with that info - I still worried that these two chicks hadn't made it.
But the bird folks told us that often the parents will return to the nest, and sometimes even the chicks would for roosting. I watched each day, and almost everyday would see one or both parents. I would even hear what sounded like the chirpings of the younger ones, without seeing them (a sort of weak, shorter version of the mourning dove's typical cry). One morning, eight days later, hearing noises, I carefully peaked out the window. I saw two doves in the nest, one clearly younger - who, seeing me, flew off to the fire escape above to join the other parent. Too fast for picture-taking, but at least I could finally relax.