Tricia Booker Photography

Not A “Mourning” Dove


Our “happy” Mourning Dove after a successful rescue, rehabilitation and release.

It seems happy endings aren’t always easy to come by these days. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are regularly filled with angry, sad and frustrated posts, with the occasional cute puppy or gorgeous landscape thrown in by a well-meaning friend to break up the mood.

So, it was with much happiness and relief that over the past two weeks we had our own small miracle here when one of our resident birds was saved by my friends at the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.

Cameron came home from school one afternoon and noticed a Mourning Dove sitting on on our front walkway. It didn’t move when he stepped up to it, and so he told me right away there was something wrong. We went out, and I immediately realized it was injured. I easily caught it and placed it in the “bird rescue box” (a prepared shoebox with a soft towel) I keep in the hall closet for such situations. And, after a quick phone call to BRWC, we were off to see if it could be saved.

When we arrived at the facility, Heather Sparks, the manager of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and resident veterinarian Jennifer Riley were waiting for us. They quickly assessed that the dove had internal injuries.

In their words on Facebook:

“The dove was coughing up blood and had compromised lung function, but responded quickly to oxygen therapy. The oxygen cages we use are supplied by oxygen concentrators, which pull oxygen directly from room air. This dove started out on the highest concentration of oxygen and was lowered gradually until it could breathe normally in standard caging. Once behaving normally, it was moved to outdoor caging while it regained weight and strength that had been lost. 

“The finder released the dove back on her property this weekend, and we have some amazing photos of the event! The bird has since been seen back at the feeders and the finder sent us a photo of the dove doing well in the recent snowy weather.


Thank you to the finder for getting this bird to us so quickly and for the beautiful photos!”

Cameron carefully opened the box and shot some video with his phone while I took photos as the dove soared up and into a tree in our yard. It rested for about 15 minutes before it flew off into the woods.


I’m so grateful to have the BRWC in my neighborhood to rescue, rehabilitate and release our native wildlife back into their habitats after injury, illness or abandonment.

As noted in their Mission Statement: “The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center is dedicated to the rescue and conservation of Virginia’s native wildlife. Each year, the Center rehabilitates more than 2,000 reptiles, mammals and birds. Through ongoing education and outreach initiatives, the Center furthers its impact by preventing environmental maltreatment, disease and pollution. Though the BRWC receives no state or federal funding, the Center never charge for our services.”

After taking many injured small mammals and birds to the BRWC over the years, I’m so grateful to now play a small part in supporting the Center as a member of the Board of Directors. I believe in what they do and their mission, which stems from my lifelong love of all types of wildlife, a passion that has enriched my life so much.

Since the dove’s release, I’ve seen it regularly at the bird feeders this week, and I’m hopeful that it will continue to thrive here with all the rest of our resident birds and mammals that enjoy the bountiful feast we provide during the winter. Although there are squabbles between species from time to time, most days it’s a happy place to be.



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