Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Doves

We certainly didn't circle the globe like old Saint Nick yesterday, but I did log a considerable number of miles during the holidays. One part of the trip required a day in Celina Ohio, which provided the perfect opportunity to drive past the granary on Mill St. where Eurasian Collared-Doves have been seen by other birdwatchers in the past year.

And although it was raining and spitting snow, there they were- a small flock of seven total- hanging out in a tree across the street from the grain silos.

Eurasian Collared-Doves were originally found in Europe and Japan, but apparently they colonize quicker than a contagious disease. They were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970's, spread to Florida by the mid-80's, and are now moving north.

We have had several small groups reported in Ohio, and it is worth taking a second look through flocks of doves for their neck-bands and characteristic square tails, unlike the Mourning Doves' long pointed tail. Birdwatcher's Digest just published a great article written by Alvaro Jaramillo (Jan. 2010) on the difference between these two species, and a few other close relatives.

One of the doves in Celina was considerably lighter in color (rear left) than the others, and Alvaro wrote of possible variants of this species or the interbreeding with Ringed Turtle-Doves. Ringed Turtle-Doves are the domestic dove breed most commonly used by magicians. Maybe someone near Celina can get a few better shots than these sorry, damp doves cowering in the wind, and we could have a closer look at this mystery dove.

Either way, it was interesting to see them first-hand, and they provided some of the magic in my Christmas!

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