Millie, the determined Spotted Turtle Dove


Millie, the determined Spotted Turtle Dove


It was the middle of summer and we were five minutes from home after returning from a holiday, when I spied a young bird hobbling along on the side of the road. I instructed my boyfriend to quickly do a u-turn. It was a young Spotted Turtle Dove, only a few weeks old with just a few feathers on its scrawny body. It was walking clumsily but quickly in the gutter, determined to escape the ants covering it's body and the Minor birds attacking it from above. There were no signs of any other doves or a nest. We placed it in an esky and raced home. We must have arrived at just the right time as the young bird had no visible damage and appeared in good health. Having never reared a young bird I was unsure how to go about caring for this young dove and was sure it would die from shock. 

Millie however proved to be determined to live. After a few feeding sessions of me forcefully pushing food and water into her mouth she quickly learnt to call for food and opened her beak wide when she saw me coming. Millie traveled to work and to friends’ places. She seemed undisturbed about traveling in a car and meeting people. She grew strong and healthy and it was soon time for her to learn to fly. A few lessons on soft grass and she mastered the skill. I have had caged birds before and wanted Millie to have her freedom so as soon as she could fly we built a perch for her outside on the verandah. At night we encouraged her to go inside her cage for safety as she tended to often walk on the ground and was at risk of being eaten by a dog or cat. Millie enjoyed her freedom and would fly around the five acre property but clearly thought of herself as part of the family and always kept close. She repeatedly asked to come inside because she does not quite understand the danger of dogs.

One of her favourite past times was to visit my mother working in the nursery where she would slide down small piles of dirt and nibble at the plants. Millie thought of herself as human and liked to walk with us, unfortunately this meant she was often underfoot and in danger of being trodden on. She seemed to think of the car as her savior and would often sit on it and repeatedly slide down the windscreen. One day as I drove in she came to land on the open window sill of the car and sat there as I parked the car. Millie was an affectionate young bird. She would try to follow us as we drove out and would tilt her head to the side as we talked, pecking gently at our fingers. My sister would hold out her arm and call Millie. Without training Millie knew what to do and immediately swooped down to land on my sister’s arm, yet she would not do this for anyone else. We were proud of Millie when she finally gained her beautiful white spots around her neck. While the vet had said Spotted Turtle Doves were ‘pests’ we decided to give Millie a chance. Millie brought us much joy and happiness in her four short months of life. Sadly she was found dead one morning. The cause of her death is unknown but we miss the little bird a lot.


True story by Danica Bellamy of Australia




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Danica Bellamy
True Story?: