DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

THE COLLARED DOVE--WHAT A SUCCESS STORY.

According to one of my favourite possessions The Collins Guide to British Birds {seventh impression 1961} The collared dove is referred to as the Eastern Dove a bird breeding in widely scattered places.

In 1955 a pair of collared doves was observed and recorded in a garden in Norfolk, breeding was recorded there in the following year.Records reveal that by the end of 1956 at least three pairs of doves had bred at each of three sites on or near by the Norfolk coast, and other single birds had been recorded. So rare was the species at that time that bird watchers invaded Norfolk in an attempt to see the species for themselves.

How times have changed now one only needs look through the window in many areas to see this charming little dove. According to the latest B.T.O. figures {year 2000} there were 298,000 territories in the U.K.

The bird originates fro the Middle East and Turkey. However, the birds have found Britain to their liking, thriving on cereal grain so abundant around the endless acres of arable land throughout the land. Yet they seem to have adapted well to towns and villages. Here in the north of England they are a common sight and there is hardly a day goes by without me seeing these small doves. They often announce their presence by the strident call they cry before alighting. The sound is reminiscent of the sound made by party "Blowers".

Below-- A pair of collared doves on autumn woodland floor.

photograph by Dal

Description

The collared dove is a small slim dove 31-33 cm long weighing 170-240 gms. They are of a uniform pale grey or sandy buff upper parts, paler crown and a white edged, black,half collar . The face, neck and breast have a pinkish hue fading to a cream colour on the belly and under side. They have a long square ended tail  marked beneath with a band of brown and white. They have dark flight feathers.

The bill is relatively short but strong of a slate colour. The eye is dark red with a linear pale eye ring.

Every now and again one may encounter unusual and very attractive colour variations in their plumage.

Below--- collared dove in ivy

photograph by Dal

Nest and eggs.

Spring sees the birds foraging for split grain and seeds and even peanuts which will help to build up their strength for the breeding season. They will take peanuts from bird tables.All the food is eaten greedily and they take as much as they can before flying to a perch so that they may digest it at leisure. They also take in grit to aid digestion. as they continue to build up their strength they become more evident in gardens where food is freely available.

Although they may build nests in most months of the year the bulk are constructed from April until October. As with most doves and pigeons the nest is a flimsy structure of twigs and plant roots. Only rarely do they make a more substantial nest. However, they will add to the structure for each new brood.

The female lays the two smooth, oval, glossy white eggs which are incubated for 14-18 days. The female tends to sit at night and the male during the day. The young hatch out within a day of each other and are born blind downy and helpless. They are continued to be brooded continually when small. They are fed with crop milk {a secretion from the parents crop--SEE WOOD PIGEON}- which is very nourishing and the young birds crow quickly. When they are young they are vulnerable to predators and unseasonable weather.

They fledge at 15-19 days. By the autumn they will be fully independent but may be tolerated in their parents territory until the new breeding season commences. The birds are capable of raising up to six broods per season, another reason for their success.

photograph by Dal

Reuse of images.

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The typical life span of the collared dove is 3 years

First breed at 1 year old.

According to the results of the BTO Garden Bird Watch survey {released 2012} the numbers of collared dove sightings in gardens has declined somewhat. In 1995 the percentage recorded was 70.2% while in 2011 the figure was 65.5%. however, this may be related to the increase in wood pigeon numbers that visit gardens. Wood pigeons' out compete the collared dove for food and for nesting sites.

Related pages---WOOD PIGEON AND MAN.

BIRD WATCHERS

THE B.T.O.

Also see Birds via links banner { Birds of Europe} in depth articles with notes and observations from past ornithologists and other eminent writers.

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