Friday, September 14, 2012

Creation Corner: Eurasian Collared Dove

My friend Philip Cox just bagged a Eurasian collared dove.  The bird was a mature male and when I saw a photo of his huge and perfect specimen, it made me jealous.  Phil has now officially joined the honorable ranks of an ever growing number of Midwestern hunters who have successfully added America’s newest gamebird to their dinner table menu.  Although I’ve been hoping to do the same for the past two seasons, I’ve yet to receive the opportunity.

Weighing halfway between our native mourning dove and the feral rock dove [barn pigeon], the Eurasian collared dove is an invasive species that is currently in the process of colonizing both hemispheres.  In the New World, the bird got its start in the Bahamas.  Although details are less than complete, the story begins with the [accidental] escape or [intentional] release of more than 50 caged birds from an island pet store.  The scenario is somewhat similar to how another invasive species -- the ring-necked pheasant -- got its start in Iowa when around 2,000 birds were [accidentally or intentionally??] released from a Cedar Falls game farm in 1901.

By the 1980s, collared doves were nesting in Florida and have since expanded -- exploded might be a better description -- across most of the U.S.  In America, Eurasian doves prefer living in small rural communities where they are commonly seen foraging beneath bird feeders.  In Iowa, their distinctive calling can be heard in virtually every small town across the state.  Although the species has become extremely common, surprisingly few are bagged by hunters since most collared doves stick to their residential habitats. 

By contrast, the Eurasian collared dove has become a relatively important game species in portions of the southern U.S. -- particularly in the state of Texas.  Over the weekend, my cousin Ben Anderson who lives in Nashville, told me that collared doves are also commonly bagged in Tennessee.  Ben, along with two friends, recently bagged a total of 42 Eurasian doves on a single hunt.  Due to their invasive species status, there is no season or bag limit on the birds in Tennessee.

Unlike other invasive species, Eurasian collard doves do not appear to displace or otherwise cause harm to native flora and fauna -- including their nearest relative the mourning dove.  Personally, I enjoy hearing and watching them and think they make a nice addition to Iowa’s rural communities.

From Lowell Washburn...

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