Posts Tagged ‘Mourning Dove’

For the last two weeks of 2012 and the first week of 2013, we have been treated to impressive event around our condo in West Sacramento, CA.  The sycamore trees that grow in the area all dropped their seeds.  It began quite suddenly with humdreds of little seeds covering the sidewalks in our neighborhood.  The trees that are right outside our front door were the first trees to start dropping thier seeds, and the trees across the street started about a week later.  One of the most dramatic outcomes of this sudden seed fall are all the birds that have arrived to eat the seeds.  A very large flock of American Goldfinches showed up and spent their days draped over the spiky round fruits pulling ripened seeds before they fell.  An only slightly smaller flock of House Finches have spent their time hooping around in the grass and walking along the sidewalks picking up the seeds that have fallen to the ground.  With them are a group of a 40 Mourning Doves that doing the same.  At times, birds crowd together on the ground under the trees seeking food.

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Mourning Doves, House Finches, and American Goldfinches eating fallen sycamore seeds out of the grasses.

One of the most impressive aspects of this event was how synchronized it was.  In a three week period, all the sycamore trees in the area dropped all their seeds.  What was the trigger?  Was it some specific weather pattern?  Was it simply the calendar time of year?  Is there some signal that passes between individual trees that can be used to coordinate reproduction (hormones secreted into the soil perhaps)?

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My wife and I just returned from a short trip to Ashland, OR and surroundings.  It was a great trip filled with Shakespeare, rain, hiking and birds!  We have visited this region every year for several years now, and this year there was a new arrival there waiting for us…Eurasian Collared-Doves.  Lots of them!  This non-native species has been spreading quite dramatically across North America in recent years.  A small, but growing, population has been breeding in Davis, CA for the past few years.  The existence of this species in North America is largely the result of escaped birds that decided not to return to their cages.  As a result, this invasion started in large urban areas.  In California, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego were the first locations that reported having feral groups of these birds.  The range that this increasing population covers has been growing faster and faster, and this is the first time I have seen them in southern Oregon.  They were all over Ashland and Jacksonville and the smaller towns in between.  How this species interacts with the native Mourning Dove or Whtie-winged Dove, or the fellow invasive Rock Pigeon has not been studied, but it seems that these species have close enough natural histories that interactions will occur, and since the Eurasian Collard-Dove population in increasing, it seems likely that some or all of the others are suffering.  So, keep an eye out for this large pale-gray dove, and also take time to notice how many Mourning Doves you see around.  The earlier we can catch on to a possible problem, the more likely we are to be able to influence the eventual outcome.

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