Originally published a few years ago, but very pertinent now as well . . .
In light of the fact September 1st marks the beginning of Dove Season and I’ll be hearing shotgun fire all Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to write a little something that might offset the hunt. (I know, I know – in Texas, we can only hope . . .)
Well, most of you know by now that I feed the birds in my backyard. The blue jays squawk and peck at my gutters every morning when they see me go outside to feed my wire fox terrier, Buzz, on the patio. They know the birdseed is coming right after.
I also have a few cardinals and mockingbirds that hang out by the feeder every morning too. Most recently, my brown thrasher has shown up on a daily basis.
In addition, there are always plenty of Mourning Doves around. One or two of which are more like piglets – plopping down right in the center of the platform feeder and eating to their fill. They also love to nest in my hanging baskets as you’ll see from the pictures in this post. You might say “Dove Season” is year ’round for me!
Speaking of Dove Season, about a year ago, I was home sick with pneumonia for a couple of weeks and thus, was able to view my birdfeeders for several consecutive days during work hours. One day I was admiring a couple of huge pale doves on my fence. Not paying too much attention at first, I thought they were just extra large Mourning Doves, but then I began to notice they were almost white in color and each had a black crescent on the back of their neck. I decided to look them up. Upon initial research, they appeared to be a pair of Turtle Doves. Turtle Doves aren’t typically seen in the wild, although there are a few feral flocks here and there in the southern US – escapees from breeders or pet keepers. Could be the two were indeed feral Turtle Doves, but then again, most likely they were Eurasian Collared Doves. Eurasian Collared Doves were introduced to the Caribbean in the 1970’s and have since migrated to the Gulf coastal states of the US. Apparently the differences are ever so slight between the two species, but the Eurasian Collard Doves tend to be plumper. As healthy as the ones were that I saw, my money is on the Eurasian Collared Dove. Although, to make things even more complicated with regard to bird identification, it is thought feral Turtle Doves and transplanted Eurasian Collared Doves interbreed in the wild. I indeed may have been visited by hybrid offspring! Regardless, they were an unusual, yet calmingly, beautiful pair.
The next morning I waited patiently for the Turtle Doves/Eurasian Collared Doves to arrive, but didn’t see them right away. As I was staring intently at the other doves around the feeder, I noticed there was one that looked, again, just a tad larger than the others. He wasn’t pale, but I noticed he had a white stripe fully outlining his wings and he also had a definite rose/purple tinge to the back of his head. What do you know, I had a 3rd variety of dove at my feeder – a White Winged Dove! You know, like the one in the Stevie Nicks song, Edge of Seventeen?
Of course, this led me to look up all species of doves inhabiting North America and I found there is also a Ground Dove (closely resembles the Mourning Dove and is the smallest of the group) and an Inca Dove (looks like it has scales and prefers the arid areas of Mexico and southwestern states) in the US. Then, there are the pigeons that are close relatives of doves.
During my research, I discovered a few other interesting tidbits about doves:
- Most will mate for life and at the very least, will be monogamous seasonally.
- As sad as it may sound, their cooing isn’t about mourning or sadness, but is likely a mating call.
- Both the male and female incubate and care for their young. I personally have witnessed male and female Mourning Doves trade shifts sitting on their eggs. I’ve also witnessed each of the pair take turns feeding their young “seed milk”.
- Dove chicks typically do not chirp – not even when their parent returns with food. You’ll never know they are around unless you just happen to come across them by accident.
- They are tropical/sub-tropical birds, thus in the US you’ll find more dove species inhabit the warmer southern states.
- Species found in the rainforests of Oceania and Asia are as colorful as parrots! See
All in all, I am happy to have had the honor of three different species of North American doves visiting my backyard. I am also happy my daily birdfeeding routine assures a huge flock of them will remain protected during the other Dove Season –
Until next time-