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Collared doves

July 17, 2016
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

Last week's column was a "rehash" on an earlier article I had written about the Wild Parsnip plant and the apparent increase in numbers with conditions this spring and summer. This week is another such column dealing with the Eurasian Collared Dove.

Regulars readers are aware that I have raised pigeons and doves most of my life. My first reports of collared doves in the area came about 8 or 10 years ago. I thought at the time that the people were seeing ring-necked doves which have been caged birds for centuries.

Ring-necked doves are really pretty "wimpy" birds by many standards. I don't know if they could survive Iowa's winters or her predators for any considerable time. I have had a few escape over the years and the best that I have seen is a dove that lived around the yard for six or seven weeks before disappearing.

The Eurasian collared doves are similarly tan colored and also exhibit a black ring around their neck like the ring-necked but are considerably larger. They are also grayer and much larger than our native dove the Mourning Dove. They are maybe half the size of a pigeon. And thankfully, so far, there has been no evidence of their numbers having any adverse effect on our native dove population.

Like the wild parsnip, they too seem to be increasing around the area from the sightings that I have had. Early reports described them as liking or perhaps needing an urban setting. They nest in trees and feed on grain so are often around areas of human habitation.

The Eurasian collared dove spread across Europe earlier this century and now is moving rapidly across the United States. It first appeared in Florida during the early 1980s and since have been reported in most of the lower 48 states.

Perhaps I am just more conscious of the collared dove presence making it seem like I am seeing an increase but I don't think that is the case. I know that my sightings are getting farther and farther away from towns and cities.

I have read that some experts believe that maybe a harsher winter environment will control numbers a bit. Collared doves aren't known to cause any ecological or economic problems, but the arrival of any exotic species causes concern.



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