Oct 10, 2013 | Featured Web Article

Eurasian Collared-Dove: Coming to a Backyard Near You

The Eurasian collared-dove is larger and chunkier-looking than the familiar mourning dove and about the same size as a rock pigeon. It shares the mourning dove's pale tannish gray coloration, but where a mourning dove's tail is long and tapered, the collared-dove's is squared off at the end. The call is a repetitive (and somewhat owl-like) who-HOO-huh, who-HOO-huh.
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Some North American bird species are native and are beloved backyard friends. Others are like obnoxious relatives who come from far away and overstay their welcome. The Eurasian collared-dove is one of these. A medium-sized dove that is native to Asia, the Eurasian collared-dove has spread across much of the globe, usually preferring to live in close proximity to humans. If it weren't for a messy burglary of a pet shop in the Bahamas in the 1970s, we might not have the Eurasian collared-dove as a common (and spreading) nesting bird in the New World. After its release, it began colonizing Florida in the 1980s. Today this bird is found all across the western two-thirds of North America, as far north as Alaska. In some areas its numbers have grown so significantly that it is considered a pest. Look for these doves perched on utility poles, wires, and on rooftops, where its chunky, square-tailed shape is easily recognized.

How Do I Identify It?

The Eurasian collared-dove is larger and chunkier-looking than the familiar mourning dove and about the same size as a rock pigeon. It shares the mourning dove's pale tannish gray coloration, but where a mourning dove's tail is long and tapered, the collared-dove's is squared off at the end. Adults have a uniform black half-collar on the nape of the neck, which gives this species its name. The Eurasian collared-dove is a powerful, direct flyer and, when in flight, it shows obvious white patches in the tail. The bill is black and the legs are reddish. The call is a repetitive (and somewhat owl-like) who-HOO-huh, who-HOO-huh.

Where Do I Find It?

The short answer is: almost everywhere. This dove is a resident throughout its range, meaning that it does not migrate seasonally as do many of our songbirds. It thrives in human-altered habitats. They are at home equally successful in urban, suburban, and rural settings as long as there is a reliable food source available, such as a bird feeder, croplands, a grain elevator, or a farm feedlot. For most of us, we'll hear this bird before we see it, since it calls regularly all day long, especially during the breeding season. Having said that, the Eurasian collared-dove perches in obvious places, so it's not that hard to see.

What Can I Feed or Do to Attract It?

Eurasian collared-doves are ground-feeders that eat seeds and grain for much of their diet. Their rapid spread across North America has been abetted by backyard bird feeders, and by spilled grain at silos and in animal feedlots. They need open, grassy spaces for foraging and areas of thick vegetation (medium-sized trees and vine tangles) for nesting. They will also forage in areas where weed seeds are left over after the growing season. Thanks to their adaptive nature, the Eurasian collared-dove will take advantage of almost any bird-friendly habitat you provide. This species will regularly visit a backyard water feature or birdbath.

Nesting

The male calls to the female from various possible nesting sites on buildings and in trees. After she selects one, he brings her nesting materials (grass, twigs, feathers, rootlets) as she builds it. Two white eggs are laid and incubated for slightly more than two weeks. Young doves fledge about 17 days later and shortly thereafter the parents may begin another nesting cycle.

Excerpted from Midwestern Birds: Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson, III and the editors of Bird Watcher's Digest. View all five regional guides in this exciting new series for backyard bird watchers »

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    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018