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Monday, July 26, 2010

San Juan Island Eurasian Collared Doves

On June 28th I saw my first ever San Juan County Eurasian collared-dove along Bailer Hill Road. Since then, I've seen anywhere from 1-3 there regularly, and today I finally stopped to take a photo. The lighting wasn't the best, but it was good enough to show the field marks.

I reported this sighting, and while it wasn't the first San Juan County record it was one of only a handful and I was learned that they have really just started colonizing the island this year. In addition to where I'm seeing them in the center of the island, there have been reports of more down near Cattle Point at the south end of the island.

Wikipedia describes this species as one of the great colonizers of the bird world in the last 100 years, dispersing from an original range of subtropical Asia to now being found all over Europe, throughout Russia, and into Northern Africa. After being introduced to the Bahamas, in 1974 it has colonized Florida and rapidly expanded its range across all of North America. The first sighting in Washington State was in 2000, and sightings have increased dramatically since 2005, with confirmed sightings in all of Washington's counties.

Originally many birders feared this would be the next great invasive bird species, a la the European starling. Of particular worry was that it would displace the similar native mourning doves. I heard one birder say that it seems Eurasian collared-doves may be inhabiting more urban settings while mourning doves prefer suburban areas. I have also heard speculation that perhaps the Eurasian collared-dove is filling the niche left empty by the extinct passenger pigeon - an interesting notion!!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Keep you feeders full Monika they can't half eat those Collared Doves!!! our senior birders remember the excitement of twitching their first UK and then seeing their first patch records of these invaders some 50/60 years ago. They probably would have got to N.AM via Iceland & Greenland without 'having to be' introduced.
Wonder what sparked their wanderlust - genetic change of some kind? Sort of happening on a smaller slower scale with Mediterranean Gulls across western Europe too.



Warren Baker said...

There was some fears that the Collared dove would oust the Turtle Dove from our shores Monika. It never happened.