The coo of a mourning dove is very distinctive. Likewise the whistling noise their wings make as they fly. The two sounds alerted me to some mourning dove action in the pine trees outside our apartment window last week and I was delighted when it appeared a pair of them were building a nest.

At first they only worked half days, appearing in the morning, back and forth with twigs and branches. Eventually the hen settled in while the male did the work; she waited patiently for hours at a time for him to return.

Earlier this week she took up full nesting behaviour, and settled into her spot for the long haul. They had chosen a lowish branch about 15 feet outside the kitchen window that seemed to accommodate the nest, and also gave me a good view of the proceedings. I named them Irma and Irving and found myself checking on them regularly.

Irma sat there through Tuesday’s rain, Wednesday’s drizzle and was hanging on for dear life through Thursday’s wind storm. Her branch whipped back and forth like a rollercoaster.

I went out for lunch and when I returned, I noticed with some concern that she was gone. That soft cooing noise had stopped and more wind gave me a clear view of an empty nest. A really empty nest.

Directly below Irma’s branch were two tiny smashed eggs.

Mourning doves build more of a platform than the typical cupped nest and the wind must have been too much for her. It’s probably too late for her to lay more eggs this season.

It’s foolish to anthropomorphize them and assume they’re sad because of their loss, but as the self-appointed birdie godmother, I must say I’m pretty disappointed that I won’t get to watch those baby birds hatch and grow and learn to fly.