Monday, August 3, 2009

Coming to a backyard near you... Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-DoveEurasian Collared-Dove, Dilley, Oregon on 28 February 2009 by Greg Gillson. Note the square tail, dark undertail coverts, brownish primaries, and black hind-neck mark.


Introduced to the Bahamas in about 1974, this species made it on its own to Florida about 1980 and spread across the North American continent. The first Oregon record was in 1998 and first Washington state record was in 2000 (Birds of Oregon: a general reference. 2003. Marshall, Hunter, and Contreras).

In my home area of Washington County, in NW Oregon, the first birds were found in July 2006. In a recent day of traveling around the county doing errands (not birding), I spotted 12 birds in 8 different areas around Forest Grove, Oregon.

Eurasian Collared-Doves are larger and paler than Mourning Doves. They are quite similar to the cage birds, Ringed Turtle-Doves (domesticated African Collared-Doves), escapees of which may be found in the wild, occasionally. Ringed Turtle-Doves are smaller than Mourning Doves, thus Eurasian Collared-Doves are huge compared to any escaped Ringed Turtle-Doves.

Eurasian Collared-DoveThree years after the first bird was found in the county, Eurasian Collared-Doves are now daily feeder birds in my yard in Forest Grove, Oregon, as seen in this photo from 19 July 2009 by Greg Gillson.


The Eurasian Collared-Doves are very pale cream. In fact, some birders have begun to call them "Sky-Rat Lattes." This is in reference to another invasive species, the European Starlings ("Sky-Rats"), and this dove's pale coffee-and-cream coloration. I'm not sure that the link to starlings is all that fair, though. Eurasian Collared-Doves have shown no signs that they will displace Mourning Doves or any other species as the European Starlings have done to native North American cavity nesting birds.

The undertail base of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is dark slate and the tail is square with pale corners. This is in contrast to the long pointed tail with white tail sides of Mourning Dove. There is a black crescent on the back of the neck of the Eurasian Collared-Dove.

As do Mourning Doves, Eurasian Collared-Doves like agricultural areas, and can be found in residential and urban area feeders. Often they seem to choose nest sites in dense conifers (non-native blue spruce) in yards in small communities on the edge of agricultural areas. They frequently perch on telephone wires--looking like Mourning Doves bulked-up on steroids. They have a loud, unique cooing coo-COO-cook.