Eurasian Collared-Doves

Late this afternoon – a cool, sunny, windy day – three Eurasian Collared-Doves perched in the bare limbs of a pecan tree in a yard in our neighborhood. It’s the first time I’ve seen them here.

I was walking along the road and had stopped to look at four Blackbirds perched in the top of a tree in the distance. Although they were too far away for me to see well, I thought they were Rusty Blackbirds, two males and two females, and I was trying to see them well enough to be sure. As I moved my binoculars from one of them to another, one of the Doves come into sight, much closer to me and lower. When I brought it into focus, it was immediately clear that it was not a Mourning Dove, which is what I had expected.

Instead, I saw a large very pale, chalky-gray Dove with a slender neck and a dark, neat half-collar, like a crescent around the back of its neck, edged with white. Two similar Doves perched on branches near it.

Eurasian Collared-Doves belong to a non-native species that began showing up in Georgia in the 1990s, after first being introduced to the New World in the Bahamas in the 1970s. They quickly spread in the southern part of the state, and are now apparently spreading throughout the Piedmont and other parts of Georgia. It’s not clear what effect, if any, they might have on native populations, such as our common Mourning Dove.

These three were perched near a flock of a dozen or more Mourning Doves, and when the Mourning Doves flew up in a flurry of whistling wings, the Eurasian Collared-Doves flew with them. It’s possible that they’ve been around for some time now and I just haven’t noticed them, assuming that any dove I see is a Mourning Dove – another instance of my assuming and not being observant enough of what’s really there. On the other hand, their appearance is different enough that I think they would stand out in any crowd of Doves, and I’m sure I haven’t yet heard their Hoo-HOO-hoo calls – but will be listening for them now.

I don’t know whether their presence here is good or bad or neither, but it’s interesting.

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