Bird of the Week


Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Eurasian collared-dove.

It’s hard to imagine that a bird so commonly seen and heard here now was not found in North America prior to the 1980s. The Eurasian collared-dove, which first showed up in North America in Florida, has colonized the United States at a rate unmatched by any other non-native species. It is now found in every state except in the far northeast.

Several factors have contributed to the success of these birds. They mainly eat seeds and grains, which they can store in the crop for later digestion. Bird feeders and agricultural fields provide a readily available food source, so these doves are most commonly found living around people.

Although the female typically lays only one or two eggs at a time, in warmer climates, these doves nest year-round. Pairs may raise from three to six broods per year — a factor in their abundance. In some cases, they may start a new nest even before their fledglings are completely independent.

These birds are not dependent on insects to provide the added protein and fats needed by hatchlings. Instead, both parents produce a rich substance in their crops known as crop or pigeon milk to feed young for the first 10 days. Chicks stick their bills deep inside a parent’s bill to stimulate regurgitation of this nutritious food.

The chunky Eurasian collared-dove is pale gray tinted with pinkish tones and has a black half collar on the back of the neck. It is found walking across the ground in search of food or singing its three-note call while perched on poles, wires or high in a tree. So far, negative impacts to native birds from the spread of this species seem to be minimal.

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