EIGHINGER: In my next life, I might want to be a mourning dove - Quincy Herald-Whig | Illinois & Missouri News, Sports

EIGHINGER: In my next life, I might want to be a mourning dove

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I'm not sure, but it might be another sign of old age.

Whatever the reason, I find myself more and more drawn to what goes on in our semi-wooded backyard that also has a creek running through it. It's like my own personal ecosystem.

I have become so fascinated with the great outdoors of late that I find myself pulling out a lawn chair (that I never even knew we had) to sit and watch the birds and other creatures, but mostly the birds.

First, if you know me at all, you know I do not get along with the outdoors. I hate bugs, especially the gnat-like insects, so for me to be outside more than five minutes has to be either important or enthralling.

In this case, it's enthralling.

My wife is equally amazed at this borderline epiphany.

"How did you even know we had a lawn chair?" she asked. (See, I told you that alone was headline material.)

In recent days, I have become incredibly amazed at the blue jay, cardinal, woodpecker and mourning dove. Yes, "mourning" dove, not morning dove. I had originally thought they were birds who only came out before noon.

The blue jay's "uniform" as I call it, is amazing. The blue, black and gray all mixed in as one is kind of intimidating. The blue jay also is bigger than any other bird except those hooligan blackbirds.

The blue jay is also a rather finicky eater, I have discovered. He only prefers certain bird goodies we put out. The hooligan blackbirds will eat Tostitos, Cheetos or any other stale snack we toss out in the yard. But the blue jay says, "Not so fast, my friend." He prefers the filet mignon of birdseed.

The cardinal is another interesting sort. They're actually kind of wimpy, seemingly scared of their own shadow. They don't mess with my blue jay buddies. Not at all.

The male cardinals are the most interesting, because they are the most colorful. The girl cardinals look like they've been washed one too many times. They need a new dye job.

My second favorite winged friend is the woodpecker, especially the ones with the red heads. They look like Lucille Ball with wings.

We have one woodpecker, however, that appears to be challenged. He can't tell spouting from a limb. Occasionally, he'll land on the spouting in the back of our house and start drilling. It's noisy, but hilarious.

Then there is the mourning dove. If I am ever reincarnated, I want to come back as a mourning dove. All these guys do is walk around the yard slowly, constantly eating, never worrying about what goes on around them and taking their good old time to do just about anything and everything.

"They're just like you," my wife says.

This is the same woman who moments later told me if she were of the avian persuasion, she would like to be a songbird.

"But you can't sing," I said matter-of-factly.

I told her I would have a much better chance at being a mourning dove than she would a tone-deaf songbird.

Then she made the best point of all.

"There's no way you could be a mourning dove -- or any other kind of bird," she said, looking me right in the eye. "You don't like to fly."

Well, she got me on that one. Not only don't I like to fly, I refuse to fly. To get from point A to point B is why there are cars and SUVs. If you can't drive there, it's not worth going there.

So now what? Does this hinder my new appreciation of birds?

Let's just say those squirrels got a lot more interesting. Except for the flying squirrels, of course.

-- seighinger@whig.com/221-3377

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