Bird of the Month: Eurasian Collared-Dove
By Andy McCormick
Scientific Name: Streptopelia decaocto
Weight: 7 oz (200 g)
AOU Band code ECDO
In the middle 1970s a local breeder in the Bahamas was burglarized and several Eurasian Collared-Doves were released. Soon thereafter he released the remaining 50 birds he had. “By the late 1980s, [sightings were] reported from several Florida counties, Georgia, and Arkansas. From that point, range expansion has been explosive and these doves have been first-reported from Alabama in 1991, Texas in 1995, S. Dakota in 1996, Iowa and Montana in 1997, Minnesota in 1998, and Oregon in 1999. Populations [are]established in all southeastern states, as well as California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas” (Romagosa, 2000) (See range map). Additional releases have been made during this time. Eurasian Collared-Doves are now being seen in Washington. Continued expansion into Canada is expected. It has been an amazingly fast bird species invasion.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a large, pale buff-gray dove with a black collar and noticeably larger than a Mourning Dove. The wing has three color tones. The primaries are dark and appear blackish next to the gray secondaries and the wing coverts are brown. The tail is dark and black at the base when seen from below. Its call is a monotonous repeated kuk-koooo-kook with an emphasis on the middle note (Alderfer).
It is in the genus Streptopelia from the Greek streptos, a collar of twisted chain mail, and peleia, a dove or pigeon. Its species name decaocto is Greek for ten and eight. There is a Greek folktale about a servant girl that was paid only 18 pieces a year. She prayed to the gods to help her escape and they turned her into a dove, so she could fly off. The common name reflects the bird’s natural range and it’s black and while partial collar. Dove is from the Anglo-Saxon dufan, to dive, for its irregular flight pattern (Holloway).
Like most doves it builds a flimsy nest of loosely arranged sticks in a tree or shrub but also on human-made structures. There is little data on North American birds, but studies in Europe and India find that generally two eggs are deposited in the nest and incubation takes only two weeks. Both parents feed the young crop milk or “pigeon milk,” a substance rich in fat and protein produced in the crop from cells sloughed off the upper esophagus (Kaufman). Eurasian Collared-Doves do not migrate but will disperse a great distance from the nest. A pair can produce several broods per year and up to six in warmer climates.
“Continued conversion of natural habitats into suburban, urban, and agricultural areas, should allow for continued range expansion and population increase across North America and the Caribbean” (Romagosa). As an introduced species the Eurasian Collared-Dove is not protected from hunting and is becoming a more popular game bird in the Southeastern United States, a factor that may control its population growth.