When Doves Attack!

Living in New York City is a huge contrast from the countryside. Instead of a yard where I could have a garden, I only have an iron fire escape of which I grow a few potted flowers. I am blessed to have an apartment that faces a quiet sunny courtyard with some trees, so I am shielded from the barrage of city noise. At times I open the window to the fire escape and enjoy the peacefulness of the trees, flowers and birds.

Also living in this courtyard with me are doves. I hear them cooing and flying among the trees and I think of the reputation of doves as quiet and peaceful creatures. I remember the story of Noah and how he sent a dove from the ark to see if the floodwaters had receded and that dove returned with an olive leaf in its beak. I am reminded that doves were commonly used as a sacrifice and sin offering in Hebrew cleansing rituals of the past.

One day in the fall, I opened my window and saw a mother dove with two baby doves sitting on my fire escape. The mother flew away when she saw me, but the babies stayed because they could not fly yet. I decided to put out a dish of rice for them.

I soon found that the other doves would come around to feed on the rice. Eventually the baby doves were able to fly, but I continued to feed the doves.

New York City is not a good place for birds. The sidewalk streets and concrete structures prevent any plants from growing so there are no grasses that bear seeds. Pigeons, doves and sparrows feed on the crumbs of food left on the sidewalks by people. I felt feeding the doves was the right thing to do, as there is no place else for them to get food.

So I regularly put out a dish of birdseed onto the fire escape and now the doves gather on the tree in front of me whenever I open my window. They know now when the window opens, that food is coming. They even sit on the fire escape waiting for me in the morning or when I come home from work!

Well I learned very quickly that the doves were not exactly the peace loving creatures I had always imagined them to be.

Because I place the seeds in one big dish, the doves have to congregate around the dish and only a few birds can eat at a time while the others must work their way in and wait for a space.

My apartment is several stories up, so I can't just scatter the seeds around, as they would just fall through the spaces in the fire escape to the ground. So I have to put the seed in a dish.

Well I discovered to my dismay that doves can and do FIGHT.

Once a bird starts eating, he/she doesn't want to stop.
If another bird comes and tries to feed at the same time, a bird may begin to open its wings as a warning to stay away and flap and "PUNCH" the other bird with its wings. They also resort to lunging towards each other and chasing each other away, jabbing with their beaks, jumping on each other's backs, yanking their tails and PLUCKING each other's feathers out to get their message across!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but doves can be VICIOUS!

Seeing this can be upsetting. I find myself yelling at them, "STOP! You guys have to SHARE!"

But they just look at me and continue fighting.

It is the same scenario every time.

I put out a big dish of seeds. They all hover in closer. One decides to jump into the dish to eat and the rest move in. Then the one in the dish starts to chase the others away and the outsiders are left watching and afraid to eat. The one dove guards his food, wolfing it down as fast as he can. It is only until another bird comes and attacks the first bird does another bird get to eat.

Occasionally I will see 2 or even 3 birds who do not fight and will eat all together peacefully. But usually a bully barges in and breaks up the harmony to grab all the food for himself.

It's a dove eat dove world.

Of course once the food is gone, the birds are back to their sweet peaceful selves, preening and cooing.

Whenever I see this scenario, I wonder if this is how it is with God and us.

In our world, the richer get richer and the poor get poorer.

Politicians attack other politicians trying to grab as much power as they can, resorting to lying, accusing and slander.

People of one race, ethnicity, religion or society always try to edge out the other.

Men dominate the world and continue to keep women from participating fully.

Corrupt totalitarian governments hold onto their power and money by preventing their own people from ever prospering or participating.

Owners of multi-national corporations get billions of dollars in profits but pay pennies to their workers in third world countries so they can keep as much money for themselves.

The straight majority demands that the government prevent the minority of gay people from marrying or adopting. Many also want to kick out the minority of illegal immigrants because they don't want others having what they have.

And many churches criticize and accuse each other of not being the true church. They teach their members that gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people can't go to heaven. They want to reserve the power to decide who is saved and who is not, securing salvation for themselves and their loved ones.

Yes, we are VICIOUS!

I wonder when God sees our power struggles, fighting, corruption, discrimination, greed and selfishness...if He is also saying to us in frustration: "STOP! You guys have to SHARE!"

Jesus IS saying that to us.

If each of us loved our neighbor, the person nearest to us...as much as we loved ourselves...everyone would be covered...and the world would be a place of love, sharing, equality and peace.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”- Matthew 22:39b

"In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 7:12

© 2010 Edrick

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