Great Backyard Bird Count 2017

Dove

We are blessed with a multitude and variety of birds that frequent the winter feeder but, alas… these unruly mourning doves, beautiful as they are, have overwhelmed the feeder during Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend. There are only 6 on the feeder pictured here but sometimes there are six more standing on the backs of those feeding…. all jostling and shouldering their way to a little sunflower seed. The rest of the mob is on the ground pushing and shoving for spillage. They are fast eaters and can clean the feeder in record time, fill their crops, and fly off to digest their meal.

Not all doves migrate and the ones I see could be sticking it out for the winter or they may be the males arriving way too early for the best breeding territory. Although New Hampshire is one state that does not allow hunting of doves, it’s still a tough life for the birds that stick around all winter. I have seen frostbitten and missing toes… and feathers on the snow tell me they are a link in the food chain for birds of prey.

The diversity of birds in our weekend count will not be as great this year, but we will continue to welcome these gentle birds to our feeders.

Good Mourning!

Mourning DoveThis graceful mourning dove (zenaida macroura) is a regular visitor at our breakfast window. Normally shy and retiring, the love of sunflower seeds overrides his wariness.

It’s a very common backyard bird in this country, a protected bird in some places yet it is hunted in season in many states…. not in New Hampshire since they aren’t numerous enough.  Other states that ban dove hunting are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Alaska.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Alaska. – See more at: http://www.ussportsmen.org/hunting/dove-season-equals-safe-fun/#sthash.ZzhBDjNQ.dpuf

Interesting facts:

  • They are monogamous and mate for life.
  • Some migrate. Some do not if food is plentiful.
  • They are named for their ‘mournful’ song.
  • They are the Wisconsin state symbol of peace.
  • Nests are so loose you can see the eggs through the twigs.
  • They are the most frequently hunted species in North America.
  • Up to 45 million are killed by hunters annually, yet they remain plentiful.
  • They eat approximately 12 – 20 percent of their weight daily.
  • The oldest mourning dove lived to 31 years 4 months old.
  • They are one of a handful of birds that enter a shallow state of torpor at night when fasting.
  • …and finally, many years ago, my young daughter adopted and raised an abandoned chick.