In late July I noticed that the dove I call Placida, because she has an unusually placid nature, even for a dove, was standing apart from the rest, not looking happy. Later, when I found her on the doorstep shivering I let her inside. Her behaviour, and her pale beak, showed plainly that she was not well, and she ended up staying inside for two nights and nearly two days, while I looked after her, hand-feeding her with food and water. After that she left of her own accord and was back to her old self.
A week or two into August I noticed that another did not look happy. This one had a decided limp, and her head-feathers had been stained a ginger colour--I assume by rainwater dripping through epiphytes above where she roosts at night--so I dubbed her Limping Ginger. She had no mate, which is why her head-feathers were never cleaned; only the birds with mates to groom their heads can keep them white.
I thought at first that the reason she was favouring her left leg was because she had injured it somehow, perhaps by coming in for a heavy landing one day. But she did not lose her limp, and because that was affecting her balance she took to nestling for the night on the doorsill--obviously because if she had roosted on tree-branch for the night and had lost her balance she would have fallen uncontrollably into the dark unknown.
But she carried on eating, even being in the thick of the breakfast melees in the mornings, so I thought she would get over her limp and get back to normal. Her variable balance did prevent her from grooming herself properly because she would soon fall on her beak or her side, so she became very unkempt, especially at the end of her tail.
Two days ago she came inside, and pecked about, but as evening came she was obviously not interested in going back into the cold air for the night, so she stayed inside. She went off her food yesterday, but she took water from time to time, and I expected that what happened to her would a repeat of what had happened to Placida. She would stay inside till she recovered.
Last night her eye was bright, and she seemed alert, and as late as ten o'clock she was pecking up bits that I had put down on the floor for her. But at eleven I noticed that her breathing had become quicker and shallower, which was worrying.
I woke not long after four this morning and rose to check on her, and to my dismay found that she had died. At the very first of first light I took her out and buried her in the forest at the foot of the large boulder where I had buried the other doves that had died.
There is something especially poignant about the death of a dove.