Doves of Mosul

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Jul 20, 2006
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25 February 2008
On 23 February at FOB Marez in Mosul, I saw a dove on the ground. The bird was still alive but obviously sick. It looked up at me blinking, yet made no move to escape. The feathers were not groomed and it appeared to have a small growth near or at the leading edge of its right wing.

The next day, I was talking with Captain Brad Warr, an Army physician’s assistant whom I got to know during 2005 in Mosul when he was with the “Deuce Four.â€� For an hour or so, we caught up, rambling on about this and that. CPT Warr told me about a relative who was studying photography. I said that bird photography is much more difficult than combat photography (if less dangerous). CPT Warr then mentioned that over the past summer, he had seen hundreds of doves and pigeons die on base. Walking out of his clinic, we found another dead dove on the ground, its heart apparently having been picked out by a crow or raven. The weather is cool during the day and dips to freezing sometimes at night, so it couldn’t have been heat that killed the two doves I saw.

Even though many birds apparently have died from unknown causes, the trees are usually filled with doves every morning. I got up early today just to make sure. The sky is cold and overcast-gray. At least two jets have been prowling overhead. Patrols test fire machine guns while rolling out the gates. And the trees are filled with doves.

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