Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Turtle Doves

Yesterday morning I was delighted to find a Ringed Turtle Dove strolling around my back yard. The doves we usually see in Tucson are Mourning Doves and White Winged Doves. Both of our common doves have black cheek stripes and blue eye rings and are darker gray than the Ringed Turtle Dove. The black collar and lack of cheek stripes are the most diagnostic features of the Ringed Turtle Dove.

This is only the second time I have seen a Turtle Dove. They were domesticated in Los Angeles from an African dove species. The ones we see are escaped or released pets or their descendants.
The really weird thing is that my fabulous client, David Kuster, emailed me a photo he took of a Ringed Turtle Dove in his yard just a hour after I took my photo! David's dove has a darker neck ring. Maybe it's more mature than mine? Anyway, I thought that was remarkable because David had never before emailed me a photo of anything.

Update: Just got this from another fabulous client, Jonathan Horst.

Hope you're getting rain tonight; sprinkling here.

I think the bird you saw is a Eurasian Collared Dove - their range is spreading pretty quickly and they're getting more common each year in Tucson (the first I saw was four years ago; now they're all over my back yard). Might be a Ringed Turtle Dove, but that'd be a super-rarity. And apparently they're generally difficult to tell apart (song is easiest) though this page is helpful : http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/EucdovRitdovID.htm
I could be wrong though, maybe it's a Turtle Dove...if so, rare bird indeed.
Jonathan's an ecologist, so he knows what he's talking about.

I sent photos to the Rare Bird Alert at the Tucson Audubon Society.  I received this very informative email from Andrew Core:

Thanks for the pictures. Ringed Turtle-Doves are occasionally released into the wild and have on a few occasions bred in Arizona, but they don't show any signs of becoming established; their numbers are continually replenished by more releases.
However, the two pictures show what I think is the closely related Eurasian Collared-Dove. Only a view of the underside of the tail would be conclusive, but Eurasian Collared-Doves are generally darker and a little larger than Ringed. Eurasian Collared-Doves have a very interesting history in the United States. You can read more about them here: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eurasian_Collared-Dove/id

Okay, so not as rare as I thought, but Turtle Doves just the same.