They were Just Talking

Digital illustration from a photo: They were Just TalkingI listen to the mourning doves that coo and call in the shadows nearby and think that they do indeed sound ineffably sorrowful. The low, guttural sounds they make seem to my ear quite melancholy and, no matter how musical, to convey a kind of tragic news that makes me wonder just what it is that they say to one another. In my mind, they are exchanging the saddest of sad information, a litany of lachrymose lugubriousness.

In addition, I fear that I don’t give them enormous credit for wit and intellect, so if you’ll pardon the expression, I suspect that what conversation they do have is probably akin to what we American human-types sometimes call pidgin English—any actual content of worth being marred by the lack of intelligible vocabulary and syntax. But, to paraphrase what someone wiser than I has also said, if pigeons are the arbiters of intelligence in the same way that we humans are when we assume ourselves to be the wisest and brightest beings in creation, then all other creatures will by default be found wanting. No wonder the pigeons deign to unload their critiques on the heads of our celebrated effigies in the park.

The truth, I imagine, is that mourning-dove conversation is no less and no more wise and scintillating than our own, at least in the context of pigeon society. Heaven knows that anyone who translated my quotidian chitchat into ‘pigeon English’ would probably be violating the Columbiformian (I just made that up from their Latin name, thank-you-very-much) Geneva Conventions by boring them to death with my inanity and my extreme dull-wittedness when it comes to where to find the best yucky trash to eat, how to maintain the pecking order in the flock, or why one must always look for the shiniest surface on an automobile for proper deposition of one’s automotive excretions. So no matter how tragic the tone of the mourning-doves’ vocalizing sounds to a mere humanoid like me, it could be that they were just discussing their plans for world domination and the swell soirée with which they intend to celebrate it.Digital illustration from a photo: They were Just Talking 2

15 thoughts on “They were Just Talking

    • It’s interesting to me that cooing doves and purring cats can sound a little similar, too—as I’m reminded, sitting on my sister’s sofa just now listening to Mercer have his very chirruping purr motor going softly in the background. Mercer does have lymphoma after all, sadly, but despite being fairly thin and definitely easily tired, he doesn’t seem to be suffering much pain and has tolerated a lot of company here in the last few days, so he’s managing at least to put up a brave front.

  1. I love mourning doves. And since they tend to mate for life, I think they probably are cooing over the day’s upcoming activities, who ate the last weed seed and didn’t replace it, and how junior only has a week left before he’s on his own; will he be ready? Yes, so much to discuss!

  2. We have dovies here. The little morning dove flock stays year round – they have the funniest personalities. Recently the white wing doves migration arrived (they are bigger and there’s always a bit of shuffling at the bird feeder and best fence positions. There’s a 3rd larger variety with a ring necklace marking.(they generally move on south after a bit) It gets pretty crowded at the feeder in very cold winters.
    I love that first picture with the contrast of warm soft birds and the dark harsh branch. Well done!

  3. Oh the sound of the doves is my favourite Kathryn! They give me a feeling of safety and warmth. I may well post my poem as a result of your post! I wrote it quite a while ago but never shared it anywhere. So thank you for the nudge. It’s not a brilliant poem I don’t think but it is meaningful to me 😊 xx

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