Hoover, the semi-tame feral African Collared Dove who frequented our yard, is no more.
I’ve been postponing the task of writing an obit for a couple of weeks, hoping that the white dove taken by the wintering Cooper’s hawk wasn’t Hoover. But I can’t put it off: we no longer hear his soft, two-note cooing, and he doesn’t appear on the back porch to beg for a seed or two, perching on our palms to accept safflower, sunflower hearts, or millet, all the while his dark red eye making sure that we’re not up to something. His habit of rapidly vacuuming up seeds earned him his nickname. This habit of coming to the porch for handouts was also likely his demise: I saw the Cooper’s flash past the back door, and heard him strike the studio roof, where Hoover lurked hoping for a handout. Later, I found the sad pale feather pool in the back of the garden near the lemon tree, where the Coop’s had stood on the ground to pluck his prey. The clear place on the left is where the hawk stood, leaving a “feather shadow”. >>
In some ways it’s surprising that a non-native and bright-plumaged individual lasted in our predator-rich corner of the Phoenix area as long as he did. The first photos we have of Hoover date from April 2005. He’s been a part of our yard experience since then, mooching, alerting us to owls, courting and contributing his exotic genes to the local columbid gene pool. He would occasionally “help” me pack the truck for a sales event, walking into the garage to see what was up, and if there were seeds involved.
He was a cheerful presence, and we miss him.
For more photos, and to read more about Hoover and the small (now nearly extirpated) population of African Collared doves in our neighborhood, click on the category “Hoover the Dove” in the left-hand sidebar. (All photos A or E Shock)