Ghost Bird… An Unusual Photo

Mourning dove leaves ghost-like impression on window. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A crash-landing Mourning Dove left its impression on a window of our home on the Applegate River in Southern Oregon. It looks like a ghost bird hovering outside.

“This can’t be good,” Peggy commented from her office. I suspected that the deer were chowing down on her flowers and walked in to watch. Instead, neatly imprinted on her window, was the image of a bird with a 16-inch wingspan. It looked like a ghost. The Mourning Doves now had something to mourn about. One of them had taken a beak-dive into our window. I grabbed my camera– like what else was there to do– and recorded the crash landing from inside and outside of the house.

Black tail deer visits the Mekemson house in Southern Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

What I expected to see– a hungry black tail deer lusting after Peggy’s flowers.

Impression left by dove after crashing into a window. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

What I saw instead. I took this photo from the outside looking in with our trees being reflected in the window. Note the eye. Eerie, isn’t it?

I fully expected to find one very dead birdie on the ground, but none was to be found. Peggy and I are hoping that the dove picked itself up after the incident and flew off, a wiser bird with a headache.

Since I decided to put up a blog between blogs today, here are a few more photos from yesterday that I took while Peg and I hiked a section of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail. The trail follows an historic 26-mile ditch that was built in 1870s to carry water to Sterling’s hydraulic mining operation outside of Jacksonville, Oregon. Its relatively flat nature makes it an excellent beginning of the season trail. Backpacking season is coming soon and Peggy and I have to get in shape! In the next couple of months we hope to explore the Red Butte mountains that look down on our home and I have a 40-mile hike along the Rogue River planned.

Peggy and I have looked out on the Red Buttes since we moved here three years ago. Now it is time to meet them up-close and personal. Recent snows may delay our backpacking trip.

Peggy and I have looked out on the Red Buttes since we moved here three years ago. Now it is time to meet them up-close and personal. Recent snows may delay our backpacking trip.

Peggy will be floating down the Rogue River in late May with our friends Tom and Beth Lovering. Since I need the exercise, I am going to hike the 40-mile backpacking trail that follows the river. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Peggy will be rafting down the Rogue River in late May with our friends Tom and Beth Lovering. Since I need the exercise, I am going to hike the 40-mile backpacking trail that follows the river. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Photo of the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon taken by Curtis Mekemson.

The historic 26-mile Sterling Mine Ditch Trail wanders through a variety of terrains ranging from dry, brush covered slopes to cool, pine and madrone filled valleys.

Shooting Stars found along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

Early spring flowers, including Shooting Stars, added color along the trail.

Oregon Grape flower found along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

We also found this impressive Oregon Grape flower, which happens to be the state flower of Oregon. Later in the summer these flowers turn into berries that wildlife find quite tasty and supposedly make good jelly.

Old tree stump along the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail in Southern Oregon.

A rotting tree stump caught our attention for a moment. You can see tunnels left by insects as they feasted off of the wood.

A vine-twisted madrone tree found on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail.

Our most interesting find of the day. Peggy and I love Madrone trees and their silky, almost sensuous bark. But we have never seen one twisted like this. Close inspection showed that it had been caused by a vine that had worked its way up the tree.

NEXT BLOG: My choice for the title of the book on my Peace Corps experience.

26 thoughts on “Ghost Bird… An Unusual Photo

  1. We have twice had imprints on two separate windows. One I left for several months as I had to climb on a roof to remove it and anyway I liked it. The second one I witnessed and assumed that the pigeon, lying on its back and twitching, was a goner. Five minutes later it had vanished. I searched, but it had definitely revived and flown.

    • The birds are tough. We have several hits a year, although the imprints have never been so clear. I thought it might be a pigeon. We have some band tailed pigeons that hang out in the area. But its wingspan was only16 inches, which led to think the dove was the most likely bird. I’ve often seen the birds fly away, but occasionally they don’t make it. –Curt

    • We spent a lot of time looking for this place.:)

      Doves spend a lot of time on the ground, so I am assuming they pick up a fair amount of dust. Other birds hit our windows from time to time and they occasionally leave similar marks. I’ve never seen one as complete as the dove, however. –Curt

  2. Now that is just plain freaky.. It’s like it was dusted in powder to leave such a clear imprint!
    You and Peggy do one adventure after another.. I admire the fact you two live life to the fullest and take full advantage of all the beauty our world has to offer!

    • Our doves spend much of their lives in the dust. 🙂 As for the rest, Peggy and I are fortunate. Plus– we have always believed it is experiences in life that are important, not things. So we have budgeted both out time and resources accordingly. 🙂 –Curt

  3. Very unusual photos here. I take it that dove didn’t live thru such a collision? We have some strange tree formations due to invasive vines, but nothing like that Madrone tree. The rotting tree’s insects almost made it look like a totem pole.

    • I don’t know for sure on the dove. It wasn’t anywhere near it’s crash landing. Usually we find the birds that don’t make it near where they have hit the window. We used to have two or three per week hit our windows until I eliminated bird feeders on opposite sides of our house. And yes, we found the Madrone quite unusual. I suspect the ‘totem pole’ won’t be standing much longer. 🙂 –Curt

  4. I have a friend who showed me just such an imprint on her front door, not so many months ago. Neither of us had seen such a thing. In fact, I just sent her a link to this entry. My hypothesis is that with these “full body” imprints, the fact that the force of the collision is spread out over a bit of an area may be what allows some of the birds to survive. My friend never saw the bird. There was only that “shadow”.

    The madrones are lovely in any case, but that last photo is a truly special one.

    • My experience is that larger birds tend to be more likely to survive there window encounters. We’ve had band tailed pigeons that have ‘rocked’ the house and then flown away. In addition to being glad they have survived, I am glad they haven’t broken the windows. 🙂

      Madrones have become one of my favorite trees since moving to Oregon, Linda. We have a large, beautiful one that graces our back yard. But we were awed by what the vines had been able to accomplish. I was reminded somewhat of bonsai… nature’s equivalent. –Curt

    • Certainly couldn’t find it, FeyGirl. We do what we can to discourage birds from flying into our windows, but it still happens. Interestingly, some birds are more prone than others. For example, we have scads of Scrub and Stellar Jays and I have never seen one hit a window. Is it a matter of intelligence? –Curt

  5. Nice! Very Very Nice! wonderful photos, the boys and I are seriously thinking about heading out. One Day I will make good on this threat! It seems to be too cool to miss. Ghost Bird. Totally awesome.

  6. Lovely shots!

    When we go to visit family in Sydney we leave the back door ajar for our Jack Russell to get in and out. A while ago we found feathers here and there inside. I am sure it would have been the Indian Myna bird. They are brazen creatures. Heaven knows what Milo did to get rid of it. Anyway, no funny smells inside so it must have been clever enough to have flown upstairs and then downstairs again and back out through the gap in the sliding door. It had left its marks of impact on many of the windows. Lucky bird!

    • Pretty sure the dove survived and went away a wiser dove. As for making up for bad behavior, I need all of the credits I can get. The trail was actually a reward, however. It could be I reward myself for bad behavior. Hmm. Peggy would probably argue that. 🙂 –Curt

  7. Wow – I’ve never seen anything like those dove impressions. They’re so haunting and beautiful with the trees in the background. Your photos make me want to get outside for a long walk. Hope you enjoy your 40-mile hike!

  8. You know, I had shown my little girl the photo of the “ghost bird” and the deer closeup…but forgot to do anything else! Duh!

    Sir, I hope you will get “back” into shape safely; Peggy, too. And when that 40-mile hike takes place, we sure hope you will remain in contact with civilization somehow in case something unexpected were to happen. Nature is beautiful but can be hazardous as you very well know.

    You all certainly have different flowers up there…and trees. I had never heard of that last tree before but then again, that’s just silly ole me. It sure looks odd! And the X-rated description sure caught my eye…. 🙂

    By the way – my little Cake Boss didn’t believe me at first about the bird. She got sad after reading about the bird…but sure loved the deer closeup!

    • Tell your little Cake Boss, Koji, that the dove almost surely flew away and probably won’t repeat that mistake. 🙂 As for the deer, they can be really humorous. It’s even funnier to listen to Peggy lecturing them. (Better the deer than me, I think.) The 40 mile hike will be good for me. I’ll be by myself but on a well used trail. Usually my solo backpacking trips are simply disappearing into the wilderness. –Curt

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