Tuesday, June 21, 2011
These days I am painting hawks, Red tailed Hawks to be specific, and a particular individual named Pale Male to be even more specific. Whilst I paint away, a dove is in the room, convalescing from a run in with some glue that left him missing a tail and many feathers. A Mourning Dove to be specific, as pictured above: Zenaida macroura to give its Latin binomial.
It is good company. It bates when it sees me and seethes with rage at its dilemna, pining for the freedom I would be wrong to grant it at this stage. He knows not my reasons; I am in his mind only a warden, changing his food and water daily and cleaning his mess. His tail, after two weeks of this, has started to grow in well, but I see no sign yet of his breast feathers, and his primaries, which I had to clip on one wing, did not fall out hence they body does not know to renew them. He is no match for predators. Cats, or hawks, will find him a tasty morsel.
And I hope he finds my latest offering a tasty morsel as well: hemp. Hulled seeds which I got at Wholefoods here in Chelsea, and which I will share with friends and with birds on the Highline feeders. I am not yet sure if he is taking to the hemp, he goes for bread, which is cheap and abundant - but on which a dove cannot live alone.
Given his feather condition, I knew he needed some butter with it, at least this is an old falconer's tale - so he got that, along with powdered milk in his water. Not sure even if he drinks. He does not like to be watched. Our companionship is a solitary affair, limited to feeding and cleaning. He had bread, + millet, flax, sesame and bran in his bowl. Soon I will limit his rations to hemp so I can observe whether he takes to it or not. It has all the essential amino acids, so I know he will be getting the necessary nutrition at this time, and a high percentage of oil, 30%, which will give his feathers a shine.
When he has his plumage in good condition again I will release him to the Highline, which is near to where I found him, and where I spotted a juvenile Mourning Dove the other day. It is also not far from a spot in the city, the French Apartments, where these doves breed, so this makes sense. And just maybe, if feeling mischievous, I will add hemp to the 300 species of plants they have lavished on this structure so he will have a fresh supply.