We’re not either of us real good birders, but we do pay attention, and that’s the first three steps in the birding manual. So we stopped dead in our alley the afternoon we heard a new voice. Who. Who-whoo. Who.
“Is that an owl?” Dave was incredulous. It wasn’t out of the question. We’d seen a barred owl slumming right here in the city that summer.
“What kind of owl hoots in the middle of the day?”
Well, I’m not sure, but maybe a dumb one. And owls in general aren’t known for their intellect, no matter what you’ve heard. They’ve got the big fancy eyes and a real tiny head, and something had to give, evolutionarily. And that was the brain. It’s probably the size of a pistachio. Still, they’re smart at being owls. So they really should be snoozing in the afternoon, to gear up for a nice midnight rodentfest.
We stared into the likely owl crannies of our tall trees and came up short, even Dave.
“Sounds kind of like a dove, actually,” he said. It did. Not a very interesting dove, either. Who. Who-whoo. Who. Over and over. For the rest of the day. It was starting to get annoying. It was as if the local nuisance dog had had the bark spanked out of him and substituted a nose whistle.
And that is how we were able to pinpoint the actual day the Eurasian Collared Doves moved into our yard. I’d heard of them. And what I’d heard is they’re taking over. They’d gotten a purchase in the Southeast and fanned out from there. They breed all year long. They’re Catholic; that’s why the pope dropped some on Vatican Square, where they instantly got snapped up by a heathen hawk.
I’m not really a dove fan. They’re just pigeons in a different suit, and I’m not a pigeon fan. We’re talking about a bird so dim its head has to keep catching up with its own feet when it walks. Maybe it started when I was a kid. I knew the song about the two turtledoves, which, in my imagination, came complete with carapaces and plastrons and balanced delicately in the branches. So to find out they were more dove than turtle was a disappointment.
“Dove”comes from the middle-English “dufa,” from whence we also got “dufus.” And the Eurasian collared dove in particular comes from the old world, via the Bahamas. A bunch of them got released during a pet shop burglary, probably engineered by the doves themselves in a rare spasm of ingenuity. From that point they hied straight to Florida and began dropping anchor eggs all over the continent.
It’s bad, people. It’s all well and good to feel sorry for a few birds fleeing harsh conditions and incarceration in the Bahamas, but there’s no reason to stick out the welcome mat for the whole damn species. Even if only a minority of them is clever enough to have a criminal bent, they’re going to drive down wages for resident mourning doves. Nothing good can come of this. We’ve seen it right here: July 22nd, 2015, we saw our first Eurasian collared dove in the yard, or rather two, because they always have an accomplice. And then, by December, we had a whole cell of them, flappiting around the yard and whooing incessantly.
They’ve got nothing to say that didn’t get said in the first five seconds. And their main food is grain. We need to register them in a database to track them before it’s too late. They’re a direct threat to the beer industry.
I used to have two as pets until one killed the other. They live forever. We moved years later and had to give it away. I lived in Indonesia for years and that song reminded me of those days, so I got a ring-neck dove. I actually like the song, but too bad they are now an invasive.
That's quite the opening statement. This is also why we only have the one cat.
Whoa, back up … WHAT is why you only have the one cat? Are you saying what I think you're saying? Please no …
Well. I'm just thinking Tater might mount a serious 14-pound objection to another kitty. It's possible she wouldn't at all. We don't want to find out.
Do you have any hawks around? We used to have hoards of pigeons show up at our feeders, taking over. Once the hawks came through and saw the opportunity for easy pickings, they made sure to add us to their Zagat's guide to fine dining. Sure, they got some other birds, too, but they concentrated on the pigeons. Now we have no pigeons… but lots of mourning doves, which hawks seem to leave alone for some reason. I suspect some collusion in setting up the pigeons for the kill.
We have lots of hawks and also lots of pigeons, but not in OUR yard (the pigeons). They do roost on a neighboring house under the eaves (and above the poop).
I'm not sure if ours are the Eurasian Collared variety or some sort of cousin, but we've got the woo-woo birds here too. They seem to be seasonal or dropping in for a vacation now and again, because I don't hear them all the time, but they're damned annoying after the first few minutes.
Right? They are instantly boring. Weird, too–nuthatches don't do much but beep, but I love that.
They are so stupid when they eat bread they pick it up and shake off a crumb then fight over it. They come within a millimeter of stepping on the bread, but they never figure that out…in centuries of trying, they will not step on the bread.
We should build a wall…oh wait…never mind.
Very funny post.
It's possible they're not actually stupid, but those big blobby bodies and itty bitty heads sort of tip it for me. And the head-bobbing thing.
I wonder some days whether we are the pigeon/dove that another species sneers at. Noisy, greedy, and breeding very, very successfully.
And don't forget invasive!
We have 3 different varieties at the back feeder/seed pan. The dufus ones attempt to eat at the hanging feeder all the time. Hanging on looking stupid and flapping like all around idiots for the most part. Who-whoo, my ass
I've got just one squirrel-proof seed feeder and I can't even imagine a dove on it, but occasionally I get flickers. They're heavy enough to trip the pull-down part but their bills are so skinny they can get seeds out anyway. When they're on there, the other birds quietly wait their turn.
There are owls that are out during the day, like the pygmy owl, the burrowing owl and the great horned owl.
Hmmm,…the doves around here say coo, not who. Maybe yours are immigrants.
Great horned owls are pretty much nocturnal. And yes, the Eurasian collared doves are definitely immigrants!
And yet…Cher Ami was awarded a medal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cher_Ami. I think there was one that saved Rome, or perhaps that was a goose.
Not my favourite bird and a right bloody pest when they get out of hand.A bit like humans…
Guess what? I don't even need to look up Cher Ami. I know exactly what she got medalled for. Poor thing did all that good work for the Allies and then perished when they stuck the pin in her breast…
We had doves move into our area a few years ago, too – and had the same conversation about owls. Finally my husband was able to spot one and hear it at the same time. Otherwise I'd STILL be telling anyone who will listen that we have OWLS in the neighbourhood IN TOWN, AMAZING!!!
Yeah, I embarrass myself easily, also. I'm a blurter.
Oh, no. Which bird species is most deserving? I fear "Trumpian" thinking is taking over.
Mark mah words, little lady, it's gonna be all starlings and kudzu from here on out.
You're so funny.
We're inundated here.
The good news is that they're open season year-round, don't move too fast, and quite tasty.
They also have beautiful poo. Totally fascinating design. I think you ought to respect them, Murr, for that feature alone.
Well, since you bring it up, I will make a point of noticing. You kinda had me at tasty, though.
Awww, and I thought we were getting owls, right here in the Nation's Capitol, just 15 blocks north of the White House! This is the second season in a row that I've heard the "Who, Whooo-who" and I was so excited that owls had finally figured out that our now-popular neighborhood, with new restaurants springing up everywhere, had become a destination for rat-seeking predators. And now you tell me that Owls are probably too dumb to figure that out? And worse yet, you tell me that what I've been hearing probably wasn't even owls? Well, there goes my theory of some kind of urban ecological balance between pests and predators….You'll have to excuse me now, while I head over to the hardware store to pick up some more rat poison for our bait boxes…….
Dude! Speaking of ecological balances…poisoned rats kill hawks.
Rat poison should be outlawed. I'm an eagle cam nerd, and an eaglet just died yesterday in Iowa from eating a tainted mouse. Mother eagle looked pretty bad, but fortunately recovered. It's little things like this that make me misanthropic.
Most people don't think about this consequence. I get misanthropic about all sorts of other things…
I love your use of dufus. These birds are rather dim. But I love their song. We call them "morning doves". The population is kept in check by the numbers of hawks and crows.
Mourning doves are diff'rent. But you were joking, right? I would LOVE to see a crow take one of these fat bastards on. I mean one of these stellar examples of God's creation.
Several years before I retired from teaching in Houston, Texas, I went on a birding trip to see the first recorded specimen in the coastal area of Texas. A few years later, they were everywhere in Texas. Then a few years ago, when I volunteered at Sacramento NWR in California, they were also everywhere. And last year I documented the first known visit of a Eurasian collared doveto Red Rock Lakes NWR which is in southwest Montana. They are really doing a number on morning doves and inca doves. But they are delicious and more people need to be eating our invasives to help keep our native species.
I'm sorry, I spluttered so happily as I was reading your dire account and ran into "but they are delicious."
We have a few mourning doves, but no Eurasian Collared doves. Yet. In the last 20 or 30 years, however, there are more species moving farther north and the species that are at their southern edge here are disappearing.
Check back when you finally hear them. You will.
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