Monday, May 14, 2012


I spend my days off from work in my city home, off the island. Since the weather has been so nice, we sleep with the windows open. And so early in the morning the sounds of the birds (and the neighbor's fighting dogs) greet me. European starlings are always among those voices, sometimes American robins, and much more often lately has been the call of the dove - unfortunately it has been the call of the Eurasian Collared-Dove.

Not too many years ago, the only dove I'd hear in this neighborhood was the Mourning Dove.

Mourning Dove by Jim Huddle
 I love that sound. And I miss it. I haven't heard it in far too long.

Rather, the sound I hear now is the collared-dove.

Eurasian Collared-dove by Milt Moody
 While in and of itself, it isn't a bad sound, nor is it a bad looking bird, the fact that these birds have all but displaced the mourning doves virtually everywhere makes me annoyed when I hear their call.

The first sighting of a collared-dove in Utah was in May of 2000 and by March 2007 it was reported in every county. I remember a couple of years ago I was on a birding field trip and the leaders told us to watch for the collared-dove, as it was still quite rare and a treat to find. We didn't see any that day. However several months later I heard a new and unfamiliar coo-ing sound. At first I thought it was a mourning dove, but the pattern of the coo-ing was all wrong. So I looked it up. And sure enough it was the collared-dove. I was quite excited to have found one, as it was still not too common.

However, it wasn't long before that was the only dove I was hearing and seeing. The mourning doves had been displaced.

The story of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is captivating. A century ago, this species was found primarily on the Indian subcontinent, although its range extended slightly in Europe, in Turkey. In the early 1900s, however, the species began expanding its range significantly and by 1950 had reached the British Isles. Today, collared-doves are living above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia.
Eurasian Collared-Doves were introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s, and their populations soon expanded around these islands. What happened next was unclear. At some point in the 1980s, Eurasian Collared-Doves migrated, without assistance, from the Bahamas to Florida. And because they look much like the Ringed Turtle-Dove, the collared-doves started to spread unnoticed. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that ornithologists realized the suddenly prolific and quickly spreading "turtle-doves" they were watching were actually Eurasian Collared-Doves.
 So if you have doves in your neck of the woods, give them a good listen to see who's out there. If you still have the mourning dove, treasure that sound. It may soon disappear.


Sybil said...

Double-checked my feeder, still have "ordinary" mourning doves. I'm in Nova Scotia.

Kim said...

We have both here but we definitely hear more Eurasian Collared Doves than Mourning Doves. Dave just told me that it's always open season for the Eurasian Collared Dove.

Anonymous said...

Collared doves appeared here in north central Oregon about two years ago. Now that is all I hear -- no more mourning doves, which I have known since childhood in the 1950 's. Sightings of the newcomers are common in both urban and wheat-farming rural areas.