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When doves die

Citizen Staff Writer

A dead bird on my driveway has haunted me for days, and it only seems right to pass along the pleasure.

The fact that the bird is dead was not the daunting part – it kind of fit right in with my wacky metal yard art and the shrine to my dearly departed pet rats.

Besides, even though the bird’s head appeared to have been eaten off, the body was not yet infested with maggots.

The troublesome aspect was trying to figure out how the heck the dead dove got there.

My dogs couldn’t have done it. Their birds are much more mangled.

Thus my first guess was revenge. That very morning, I had been rude to a man who was behind my back fence until he introduced himself as a neighbor working with the HOA putting down mulch.

Or it could have been a strategically placed offering from another neighbor who I’ve heard more than once complain loudly about my dogs.

“Damn things barking all morning” is one of his catchphrases.

The workings of a satanic cult was another option, since there is at least one kicking around town.

“The Society of Dracul is a LeVeyan Satanist community whose aim is to provide a Satanist presence in Tucson,” reads part of its blog introduction.

The site also mentions the group’s monthly black mass and includes a link to the trendy Satan Shop, where one can purchase a stylish black T-shirt emblazoned with a pentagram.

But the site says nary a peep about sacrificing doves or leaving them with their heads chewed off on random driveways.

So I called the Tucson Audubon Society.

“A predatory bird could have had it and dropped it for some reason,” said Carrie Dean, education program director with the Society.

“Maybe it was a juvenile (predator) who didn’t have a handle on it yet, or it could have been disrupted by a bird, another animal or a person.”

Perhaps the dove had a disease, died, and then something came along and ate its head, she said. Or maybe it ran into a window, became stunned and fell, then something came along and ate its head.

“There’s all sorts of theories when it comes to critters eating critters,” Dean said. “Maybe it was ants. It could have been a cat that got it.”

Quite a few felines lurk about the neighborhood, one of the reasons my dogs like to bark in the mornings.

Dean also said such phone calls are not uncommon, especially as the weather gets warmer.

Not necessarily calls about irate neighbors or satanic cults, but calls about dead birds popping up in yards or on driveways.

“Good old trichomoniasis,” she called a deadly condition that infects and kills off a number of birds across the nation every year.

The protozoa like to attack doves and has also been found in Cooper’s hawks in urban Tucson, according to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Web site. People cannot be infected, the site said.

“It’s the bird version of rabies in a sense,” Dean added, “but it doesn’t make them act weird.”

We all know about rabies.

But what we may not realize is we can turn the dead birds into more than worrisome or wearisome additions to the yard.

“Dead birds have been the subject of many great photographers,” said longtime Citizen photo editor P.K. Weis. He brought up Edward West and Don McCullum, both of whom magically captured striking images of our dead feathered friends.

And I thought I was the only one who included things like garbage, fallen New York City sewer rats and roadkill in my photo portfolio.

Too bad all I was thinking about with the dead dove was grabbing a garbage bag, not my camera.

At least I can sleep easy without fretting about vengeful neighbors or the threat of being infected with trichomoniasis.

Ryn Gargulinski is an artist, poet and Tucson Citizen reporter whose most gruesome photo is probably of a sea lion rotting on the beach in Oregon.

E-mail photo ideas or job leads to ryndustries@hotmail.com.


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