Lovey dovey Birds build nest in front door wreath

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Home is where the heart is.At least, that’s the situation for a pair of mourning doves who are nesting in a heart-shaped wreath on the front door of Alona Black Havens and Roy Havens’ home in Simcoe.The doves are believed to be the same pair that set up shop in the same location last year.When the doves arrived in the spring of 2018, the Havens stopped using their front door. They instead used the back entrance to their home on Victoria Street as often as possible.The difference this year is the Havens use their front entrance as usual. The doves don’t care and don’t flinch when the couple come and go. Alona Black Havens says there’s something magical about the arrangement that gives her and her husband great pleasure.“We are honoured and delighted to have them,” she said Friday. “They are such a joy. We are honoured and delighted that they’ve chosen our home to be their home.”The Havens have named the couple Prince and Princess. The birds take turns brooding their eggs. The Havens were surprised to hear that a famous hit song by the late musician Prince was titled When Doves Cry.“We get up in the morning and talk to her,” Roy Havens said. “We say ‘Good morning. You are such a good mommy.’“I think it’s absolutely amazing. They are so trusting. We go out that door gently and she just sits there and watches us. I love animals. I love nature, and I can’t get over it.”Kristyn Ferguson, a conservation biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, said wildlife living in close proximity to humans in urban areas is a growing trend.Locally, reports of rural animals such as hares, foxes, coyotes, skunks and raccoons turning up in towns and cities are increasingly common.While images of wildlife living in harmony with humans can be charming, Ferguson says this development is ultimately unsettling. Wildlife, she says, is forcing its way into the urban zone because its preferred habitat is disappearing.“Conservation groups would agree there are more wildlife-human interactions,” Ferguson said. “Sadly, that’s because this wildlife has lost its natural habitat. We have more pressures in the areas of agricultural land, roadways and the like. Their habitats are shrinking, and what’s left at the edges is us.”Mourning doves aren’t the first birds to move into town from the countryside. Ferguson cites the example of the cliff-dwelling peregrine falcon. Once an endangered species, peregrine falcons have rebounded since they learned to nest on the exterior ledges of skyscrapers.Ferguson says it’s fair to conclude that natural selection is at work here.With traditional habitats under stress, animals genetically disposed to trust humans and use their built environments are rewarded with secure breeding areas. They pass this disposition on to their young and the cycle continues.Conversely, wild counterparts who retain their fear of humans are at a disadvantage. Civilization increasingly encroaches and they are unable to cope. They eventually die out, creating even more space for those of their species who have learned to live with people.Conservationists are also disturbed by this trend because they can’t predict the impact on traditional food chains.Most animals prey on wildlife beneath them in the food chain while serving as food for animals higher up. Remove a link, Ferguson said, and there could be “cascading consequences” for entire ecosystems.“It’s not ideal to see what we’re seeing,” Ferguson said. “It should make us think about the habitat we’re losing and what we can do to preserve what we have.”[email protected]

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