I Found Some Birds
Still cleaning books and processing archives … Look what I came across the other day rolled up in a big box with many different plans associated with the MMA’s buildings from across the ages of renovations, additions, and master plans.
This is a chart of North American birds published by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1898. The twenty-six life sized bird images were created by, I believe, Louis Agassiz Fuertes and it was printed by none other than the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield, MA. Considering how and where it was stored over the last fifty years or so it is in quite good shape except for the dirt and grime of time, a large water stain at the bottom and a small tear over the body of one bird.
Yet another treasure unearthed in my work!
Mrs. M. Dove and One of Her Young
Over the years in the spring, birds occasionally attempt to nest somewhere near the Mitchell House, usually in a less than choice spot. Typically, after a day or two of attempting a nest, a bird will give up and realize that the grape arbor is not the perfect spot because it is right over the entry to the Curator’s Cottage where my office is located. The arbor holds the original Concord Grape vine that belonged to Peleg Mitchell Jr, Maria Mitchell’s uncle and the owner of 1 Vestal Street after the William Mitchell family moved to the Pacific Bank.
Last summer, the Mourning Dove who attempted a nest in the arbor quickly gave up. This year, the couple – maybe the same one – gave up after a day or so but quickly returned to build their nest over Saturday evening and all day Sunday while it was quiet. I came to work on Monday morning to find the Mrs. ensconced. And there she has sat for about four weeks.
Earlier in the week, she finally revealed what I suspected. I had not heard a “peep” from above, but I started to notice tiny little bird droppings – of the baby variety – that she has been tossing out of the nest onto the light fixture and flagstone below. She has successfully hatched two tiny babes – I have never seen a Mourning Dove chick – and they are quite adorable. The Mr. hangs about on the roofwalk keeping a sharp eye out and the Mrs. has been feeding their young.
I was able to take some images of them last week which I share with you here. Who says a historic house museum has nothing new and no life in it? Not only do we have these doves, we have a recently fledged brood of baby Robins who chase their parents around the yard screaming to be fed – they were born in the hedge – but we have all kinds of great activities for families and children here at the Mitchell House and there is always something new to learn – and to share – even if it is a brood of baby doves in the arbor. Wouldn’t the Mitchells be proud?!
P.S. I also attach a later image – the babies fledged and this is soon after while they awaited the return of their parents with take-away.