Love Those Doves!

This gallery contains 3 photos. We’re used to seeing that urban and cosmopolitan bird, the Rock Pigeon, in so many parts of the world–but have you ever seen the other members of the dove family–native and non-native–who inhabit North America? Two of the three species below showed up in my backyard on the same day. The Eurasian Collared Dove is not native; it is an introduced species to the Western hemisphere. It has managed to colonize rather well compared to the native Mourning Dove, whom it resembles to a large degree, except for a handful of field marks. A pair of ECDOs showed up in the backyard in mid-May 2017 for a lawn inspection–the first time in three years that I have seen these visitors. The males vocalize with “whoo hoo” calls in spring time to define their territory, and we are more likely to hear than see them. They can be found near farms and suburban areas. Learn more about the Eurasian Collared Dove by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology profile here.

scarlet feet, a black collar, and a propensity to coo are trademarks of the Collared Dove
f/10, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 800

The native Band-Tailed Pigeon is a forest/mountain dwelling dove and the largest pigeon found in North America. It is very quiet, and seldom coos, as other doves/pigeons are wont to do. Its purple-gray plumage, bright yellow bill, bright yellow feet, and an iridescent patch and white stripe on the back of its neck, set it apart from the beige-colored Eurasian Collared Doves and Mourning Doves. They prefer to perch at the very top of tall trees and very seldomly go to the ground. They have a weakness for bird seed, acorns, and elderberries. A flock of late migrating 8 BTPIs showed up, also in mid-May 2017, to the open style birdseed feeders we have, which can accommodate larger birds. It was quite amusing to see them jockeying for positions on the perch, but very difficult to get a photo. They are hunted, and extremely skittish. No sooner than I had very quietly opened the squeaky back door than they all collectively disappeared in a whoosh of wingbeats. It was my third day before I was able to shoot this solo act through the window. Between 2-6 have shown up every day since then to drink, splash around in the birdbath, and eat for the past two weeks. Learn more about the Band-Tailed Pigeon by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology profile here.

the BTPI is so named for the band across its tail. taken through the window.
f/10, 1/400, 500mm, ISO 2000

The third dove species that I have seen in Metro Vancouver (but not in my backyard) is the Mourning Dove. There is a small flock at Coquitlam’s Colony Farm Regional Park. Numbering in the hundreds of millions, the Mourning Dove is the most hunted dove species in North America. Not surprisingly, it is also quite skittish around humans, but not as much as its Band-Tailed relative. The Mourning Dove below was photographed at Colony Farm Regional Park in late May 2016, and shows the black speckling on its wing feathers plus the “beauty mark” on its cheek. Learn more about the Mourning Dove by visiting its Cornell Lab of Ornithology profile here.

in addition to the field marks mentioned, the Mourning Dove also has light blue “eye liner”
f/7.1, 1/500, 500mm, ISO 400

Did you know that pigeons/doves are monogamous? They pair bond with the same partner for life. If death should take one of them away, the survivor will mourn the other. Like many birds, they also show affection to their mate. They are also some of the few birds to feed their young “crop’s milk” — a milky substance secreted from the walls of their esophagus! By not being dependent on insects or an external source of protein and energy with which to feed their young, they can have multiple broods throughout the season!

Apologies to the readers who got a “sneak preview” of the Cackling Goose post today (minus the accompanying images) — that post has been rescheduled for a later date.


11 thoughts on “Love Those Doves!

  1. So very beautiful. We call the first dove a Ringed Neck Dove. One of them came to my yard so often that all I had to do was go outside and call her name and she flew to me. It was so wonderful. Beautiful birds. Thank you so much for the pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • although the Ring-Necked Dove looks very much like the Eurasian Collared Dove, both are actually two different species with different field marks. Ring-Necked Doves are smaller with paler primary wing feathers, and white undertail coverts. Eurasian Collared Doves have darker primary wing feathers and dark undertail coverts.

      thanks for sharing your experience! always nice to hear about wonderful encounters with wildlife!


      Liked by 1 person

      • no problem! all the collared doves (and there are several species) are quite difficult to separate visually. when we first discovered that pair of Eurasian Collared Doves in the backyard 3 years ago, we thought they were Ring-Necked Doves, and then moved onto our next guess of African Collared Doves (which was REALLY exciting as they would be a rarity here), before finally confirming that these were Eurasian Collared Doves. 🙂


  2. Thanks for the up close on the mourning dove – we have a pair and I believe they mate for life. My Mom rescued one with a broken wing – set the wing and kept it until it had knitted. When she set it free. its mate was waiting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • what a touchingly beautiful story, Noelle! Mourning Doves are indeed monogamous, and if your experience with them isn’t proof that love exists in the non-human world, nothing is or ever will be! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Your comments are like chocolate for my soul ... I can never get enough of them! Bonus brownie points for witty comments! I love a good turn of phrase. :)

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