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One morning, a few weeks ago, I heard a loud “woo-OO-oo-oo-oo” outside my living room window.

I went to the window and spied a mourning dove perched on the balcony railing, facing my open window. I stared at it, and it stared at me.

“Shoo,” I said loudly. It stared at me and didn’t move.

“Scram,” I said, as though I expected the bird to understand the meaning of this word, if not the other. It still didn’t move. It just sat there staring at me as though there was something wrong with me (paranoia seeping in).

Finally, I rattled the metal window vent. This made enough noise to make the bird flutter away, but … not for long. It returned to the railing, but this time it kept its back to me.

Well, I never! Such disrespect! I refused to say another word to it.

The next morning I again heard “woo-OO-oo-oo-oo.” I went to the window and saw that it was perched across from the adjoining window with the air conditioner.

Uh, oh. This bird was awfully persistent. I bet there was some nest-building going on.

I went to the window with the air conditioner and looked down. An eye looked up at me. Another bird! The rest of this bird couldn’t be seen; it was tucked into a small area on the sill between the air conditioner and the window frame.

Out of the sunshine and out of the heat,
Out of the dust of the grimy street,

A song fluttered down in the form

of a dove,

And it bore me a message, the
one word – Love!

(“The Dove” by Paul Laurence Dunbar; African American poet, 1872 – 1906)

In time, my suspicions were confirmed. A nest had been built, and little chirps could be heard coming from it.

Since I was now a landlady, I decided to look up information about my tenants.

I learned that mourning doves (Zenaida macroura, for those of you waiting with bated breath for the scientific name) are monogamous; the male brings material to the female to build the nest; both take turns incubating the eggs; and the pair will get together again in the same area the next breeding season.

Oh, no. They may come back. I wish I could say “No Vacancy” in their language.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike birds. I just don’t like their roosting near my air conditioner.

I dread what I’ll find when I remove the air conditioner this year, and I fear that when my air conditioner is in the window again next year, I’ll mourn the sound: “woo-OO-oo-oo-oo.”

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...