“Koo, koo, kook. Koo, koo, kook.” From a tree on a boulevard on Second Street, Le Sueur, came a semi-familiar, semi-unfamiliar bird call.
Our thoughts turned to “The time of singing comes, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in the land,” Song of Solomon 2:12 KJV. However, this was no sweet “coo, coo, coo,” call. At 8 a.m. March 1, the melody was rather raucous.
In that a couple of mourning doves are regulars at our bird feeder, we rounded a corner of the apartment expecting to find that species of dove with a sore throat and in poor voice. Instead, we were greeted by an ungainly dove, a splashy flash of white feathers and dark-tipped wings. Upon its landing in a tree, one noted a black half-collar of feathers about its neck and a very pointed bill. Another difference from other doves was its size (12–14 inches long) a small head and a broad white tail. Also, it gave off an aura of aggressiveness, unlike gentle mourning doves.
The ‘new’ bird on the block turned out to be an Eurasian collared dove, an invasive species of dove. (As it fled so quickly, we had no chance of snapping a photo, the bird in the photo is a gentle mourning dove.)
Just a few years ago, in the bird world, this feathered creature would not be found in Le Sueur, as they hadn’t arrived yet. Originally native to Europe, Asia then the Caribbean Islands, bird fanciers brought them to Sri Lanka, then to the Bahamas. As fate would have it, during a burglary in a pet shop in the Bahamas, ECD’s escaped from their enclosure and began to spread, finding their way into America via Florida.
The Cornell experts share that the birds are aggressive and territorial, they elbow other birds away from food sources. In that they are very smart, they live and nest near humans, as bird feeding stations are a steady and ready source of nourishment, and farms where grains are stored and spilled are ideal living quarters.
Thus, to Le Sueur they’ve arrived and thrived. First spotted about eight years ago in the tall evergreen trees in Le Sueur’s Calvary Cemetery, thence to South Main Street coniferous trees, residents in Cleveland and Le Sueur areas find them competing with other birds, especially the mourning dove. Some bird fanciers have given up feeding birds altogether, due to the amount of food consumed by the Eurasians.
Doves mate for life and have fidelity to their mates. As a result, the word ‘dove’ is found in the Bible at least 50 times. Breeding season begins in March, which explains the “Koo kook” on Second Street, Le Sueur. Nests look like shipwrecks — bare twigs here, a feather there. One becomes concerned that the eggs/young will drop through the flimsy construction.
Yet, why the population explosion of this bird? Laying two eggs at a time, the couple might have five nestings in a summer. Sometimes, before batch No. 1 is raised, eggs for batch No. 2 may be laid.
If you are lucky enough (maybe unlucky enough) to have Eurasian Collared Doves in your yard, feel free to phone 507.665.2658. We sometimes come home to roost.
In other environmental notes: winter is taking its toll on wildlife. This week a dead red-tailed hawk was found dead of starvation in the Ottawa area. Another red-tailed (no, not a Cooper’s nor a sharp-shinned) dropped down in mid-Le Sueur and made off with a large chunk of suet, which it dropped but couldn’t recover its lunch. A tiny screech owl succumbed in a chimney, starved, perhaps looking for mice. Animal fatalities continue to mount along roadways. Creatures seeking food find auto headlights instead. Green grass, where are you?