Animal Encounters is pleased to introduce one of our new avian animal ambassadors: Lucienne the Mourning Dove! Lucienne came into our hospital last year after being found on the ground. She was an unusual patient not only because of her dark coloration (uncommon in Mourning Doves) but also the obscure shape of her beak. Lucienne has a soft beak that has grown in an abnormally twisted shape. This causes her to have difficulty foraging and eating seeds so she is unable to return to the wild.
Her home care keeper, volunteer Marilyn Fowler, brings her in every Sunday for an appointment. Lead keeper Rachael and Dr. Krystal Woo cope, or trim, Lucienne’s beak on a weekly basis to help keep it at a manageable length for picking up seeds and to try to slowly ease it into a normal shape. After her coping, Lucienne had been spending some time in a shared aviary with her future enclosure-mate, Zenaida! Their introduction was mostly unremarkable. They share branches on occasion but spend most of their time preening. We are going to start doing shared time in Zenaida’s enclosure to see how they act around each other there. So far, so good!
Mourning Doves are very social animals so we’re sure they’ll spark a friendship and cohabitate perfectly. Lucienne is still currently at Marilyn’s house but we are excited for everyone to meet her when she comes back onsite permanently.
Marilyn had this to share about her time with Lucienne:
“When the pandemic started and I was no longer able to do my usual husbandry volunteer duties at Lindsay, I missed the joy of interacting with the animal ambassadors. I’d like to think that they missed me too! In early April, I was asked if I’d like to care for a Mourning Dove that was destined to become an animal ambassador once all the paperwork and permits were in place. Here we are four months later, and I’m privileged to have her at my home. I could go on for pages about this wonderful bird, but I’ll try to be brief and yet give you some idea of the joy she’s brought me.
Her name is Lucienne. Where did that come from, you might ask? Charles Lucien Bonaparte, an ornithologist in the 1800s, named the genus of American Doves “Zenaida” after his wife Zenaide. Since we know that Lucienne is female, I selected the feminine version of Bonaparte’s middle name. I think it’s a fitting name for a beautiful bird with unusual coloring. Also, I think it goes well with the name of the male Mourning Dove who has been an animal ambassador (Zenaida) for a number of years.
Lucienne is non-releasable due to a malformation of her beak that makes it difficult for her to eat. Although I do give her some challenging food presentation methods, she is safe to take whatever time she needs to eat. I transport her to Lindsay weekly to have her beak trimmed to facilitate her ability to eat. She’d be at a distinct disadvantage had she not been brought to Lindsay’s hospital early in 2020.
She’s adjusted to life in captivity very easily. She readily steps up on my hand and hops into her kennel for the reward of her favorite safflower seed treat. She often coos to me and I do my best to coo back. Unlike Zenaida, she loves a spray bath, and I’m happy to give her one several times a day.
In mid-June, Lucienne began gaining a lot of weight. Voila! She presented me with two lovely non-fertile eggs. She sat on them only briefly before abandoning them. Perhaps she knew that they wouldn’t hatch?
One of her favorite early morning and late afternoon activities is sunbathing – even in the extreme heat we’ve had. Currently, she’s inside (an unusual resident in my guestroom!) due to the toxic air quality from all the fires in the area. I’m sure Lucienne will be thrilled when I can move her cage back to my screened porch. Then she can watch the world go by at treetop level and resume those sun baths!
I know that someday, Lucienne will leave my home and reside at Lindsay full time, most likely in an enclosure with Zenaida. I will miss her but I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve had a part in giving her a solid start to a quality life in captivity. I can’t ask for more than that!”