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10 – Purebred PIGEON

laid pairs of eggs in the boxes and dutifully took turns

incubating them, with the hen taking the longer shift

from late afternoon through the following morning and

the cock relieving her during the middle part of the day.

(Years later, I was surprised to learn that both parents

of very few animals, outside of most birds and humans,

share in the responsibility of child rearing.) Waiting for

the eggs to hatch seemed to be the longest 18 days of

my young life. Some 58 years later, it still is!

It is like magic – a miracle –

when the tiny, naked babies finally

appear under the hens. I still feel

excitement seeing the new hatch-

lings for the first time. So small and

seemingly fragile, it’s amazing that

they all aren’t crushed or able to find

food those first couple of days. And,

of course some don’t make it. But, a

little Darwin (over 200 million years

of evolutionary history, starting with

their earliest ancestors, various the-

ropod dinosaurs) and a lot of luck

goes a long way in helping baby

pigeons survive this most vulnerable

period of their lives.

A pair of baby pigeons, pestering and pleading to

their parents to be fed, is surely one of the cutest sights

in nature.

After the first week, the babies have become

pincushions of sprouting feathers. Every morning I lift

the hens up a little, hoping to see that both babies are

healthy (alive!) and their crops are bulging with food. I

anxiously wait for the feathers to open. It’s like watch-

Bernburg Trumpeters (black)

Eight-day old yellow Saxon Priests