Years ago, while visiting California friends, I heard of a teenage acquaintance who was putting most of his earnings into CDs. My enthusiastic approval was met with peals of laughter. The lad was spending his pay on discs at the local music store.
The new CDs in Sequim are collared-doves - Eurasian collared-doves, to be precise - which were mentioned here last month.
I first encountered these doves in Florida several years ago. For birders who often seek new birds in remote places, it is rare to find a life bird in one's own backyard. OK, it was at my mother-in-law's residence and in her front, not back, yard - but close enough. That's not as dramatic as having a life bird sit on my head, as happened elsewhere in Florida with their rare scrub-jays, but rather amazing nevertheless.
Having Eurasian birds appear in Sequim isn't a new phenomenon.
Which way to Asia?
Cinnamon-headed male Eurasian wigeons are regular wintertime visitors here. Last year one of them hung out at Carrie Blake Park all season. A few others generally are found in the large, seasonal wigeon flocks along the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait, such as at Three Crabs.
Those birds typically have spent the breeding season and summer in eastern parts of Siberia. They have become confused about directions in fall migration and have flown south through North America rather than Asia.
Not so with the collared-doves, however, as their appearance here has a totally different explanation.
Known for centuries in South Asia and the Middle East, their population exploded across Europe in the 1900s. From there, they were
introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s and they soon jumped to Florida and flourished in urban areas.
Their population exploded across the U.S. in the 1990s, reaching Washington (Spokane) in 2000. It wasn't long before they had spread to several other locations in our state.
Sighted since 2006
The first local sighting was at Diamond Point in 2006. Collared-doves first appeared in our count data in 2007, first in May (three birds during Birdathon), then in December (four birds during Christmas Bird Count). Those totals rose to six and 13 respectively in 2008.
This January, Dow Lambert found 10 of them in a single tree near Marine Drive (see his photo on Page A-13, in which the two starlings provide scale).
In early July this year, I heard a distant collared-dove from the far western end of our regular Wednesday morning bird walk but I couldn't locate it despite walking much farther down the Olympic Discovery Trail. A few weeks later we spotted our first such dove on the walk. By the end of August they had become regulars.
Divvying the doves
Collared-doves are fairly easy to identify. Although roughly the same size as mourning doves, the former are lighter in color and chunkier. Collared-doves also lack the markedly tapered tail that gives mourning doves their distinctive profile - most obvious when they are sitting on telephone wires.
The dark half-collar on
the back of a light-colored neck is diagnostic for collared-doves in this area. We don't have the similar-looking ringed turtle-dove, which is found in city parks in places such as Los Angeles.
If in doubt about these two doves - as a local, pet turtle-dove could have escaped - check the underparts near the tail ("undertail coverts" for the purists). The turtle-dove is very light in that area, whereas the collared-dove is gray with a broad white band at the end of the tail.
Collared- and mourning doves usually are distinguishable by voice, although sounding much alike. A collared-dove's voice stays on a single pitch or frequency throughout a series of coos. By contrast, a mourning dove typically includes one coo that rises in pitch.
Collared-doves are largely seed eaters. They favor urban areas over remote fields, perhaps in part because they, more so than mourning doves, are comfortable visiting bird feeders.
The best places to see these doves locally are on the main street of Dungeness and along Marine Drive. They have a penchant for sitting on the flat tops of telephone poles, unlike mourning doves, although both are commonly found on phone wires.
I wonder whether collared-doves will move into my neighborhood, where underground utilities exclude their favorite perches.
Dave Jackson is series coordinator and Web master. Send him comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or 683-1355. The next OPAS meeting is at 7 p.m. today, Oct. 21, at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. Please join us. Details of our classes and trips are on Web site www.olybird.org.
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