Archive for Dove/Pigeon

Mourning Dove 12/2/18

Mourning Doves—also known as Rain Doves or Carolina Turtle Doves—are abundant and year-round residents across the continental US. They are the closest living relative to the now-extinct Passenger Pigeon, and are in fact one of our most prolific birds, the US population alone being estimated at over 350 million. Like their exterminated cousins they are a popular game bird, indeed the most hunted of all game birds. Roughly 50 million of them are taken every year.

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Mourning Dove pair 4/27/18

When I first came upon this pair of Mourning Doves they were kissing and lightly pecking each other but as I got out my camera and aimed, they got shy, moved apart, and almost like teenagers pretended they didn’t know one another or at least weren’t being lovey-dovey. Mourning Doves are fast flyers and prolific breeders, usually raising 2 squabs at a time, but 6 broods a year is not uncommon. The male is on the left and you can see that he’s pinker around the neck and breast than the female, but otherwise they are quite similar. They forage exclusively on seeds they find on the ground.

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Mourning Dove female 5/15/16

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She’s demure and coy, while around the backside of this tree her mate is cooing up a storm. Mourning Doves are fast and straight flyers with peculiarly long tails more reminiscent of parrots than pigeons. They are a close relative of the now extinct Passenger Pigeon, and today are one of the most abundant birds in all the US with a population close to half a billion. They are also the most hunted game bird—with 20 to 70 million shot every year,

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Mourning Doves 12/25/14

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Merry Christmas!

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Rock Pigeons 12/13/14

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The Rock Pigeon, aka Rock Dove, or just plain Pigeon isn’t at all native to North America, and even more than that it was originally domesticated at least 5000 years ago and has since been introduced and widely spread over every continent but Antarctica. A name that would better reflect its peculiar heritage is the “wild-now-but-once-domesticated-pigeon.” Feral Pigeon is a more concise name but doesn’t quite convey as much. Feral Rock Pigeons come in a variety of forms, the gray winged morph with 2 dark wing bars is thought to be closest to the original stock, but there are also black, red/brown, and white morphs and a whole range of intermediate color mixes. Not to mention all the many hundreds of still-domesticated fancy breeds, but you won’t often come across those in a wild setting. Female Rock Pigeons look nearly identical to the males, except for being less iridescent.

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Mourning Dove male 10/16/14

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The Mourning Dove, once known as the Carolina Turtle Dove for its similarity to the Turtle Doves of Eurasia, is one of the most abundant of all North American birds, as well as the most hunted with between 20 and 70 million shot and killed every year. They withstand that hunting pressure by virtue of being prolific breeders, with monogamous pairs producing up to 6 broods a year in the warmer parts of their range. They are found all across the US and in parts of Canada and Mexico, and with some exceptions in their southern and northernmost populations, they are for the most part non-migratory. Only the males have bluish gray caps.

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Mourning Dove female 2/10/14

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All puffed up against the sunny but frigid cold, the slender, long-tailed Mourning Dove is one of North America’s most numerous birds and  a common visitor to winter feeding stations as their diet depends exclusively on seeds. Sexes are superficially alike, however females lack the pink iridescence on the side of the neck and breast and the blue-gray crown of the adult male.  They are year-round residents throughout most of their range except for the Canadian prairie population which migrates to Mexico and Central America. Audubon’s painting calls them the Carolina Turtle-Dove, and they’re also known as Rain Doves depending on where you find them.

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