Bird Lady Blog

May 19, 2012

Doves and Pigeons

I can always tell when the hot weather is about to hit Phoenix.  The White-Winged Doves migrate back and are constantly cooing from tree to tree, cactus to cactus, roof top to everywhere:  “Who Cooks For You?”, “Who, Who, Who?”.  That is what it sounds like, and after a while the phrase does seem to get stuck in your head.  The White-Winged Dove is found in the southwest, prevalent in the desert, and its call was highlighted in Stevie Nicks’ song, “On the Edge of Seventeen”.  If you are not an avid Stevie Nicks fan (she is an Arizona native) and don’t know the song I’m talking about, go to YouTube and search for “White Winged Dove Stevie Nicks” and you can listen to the song.

We do not have White-Winged Doves in Munds Park because we don’t have cacti or experience 110 degree temperatures.  While this species of dove thrives in three-digit temperatures, the rest of us enjoy Munds Park’s much cooler temperature as well as two other species from the dove/pigeon families:  Mourning Dove and the Band-Tailed Pigeon.

Mourning Doves can be found everywhere in the continental U.S. except in the deep woods.  You will hear or see them in Munds Park, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they are in the large urban areas in Arizona.  They are the most hunted bird in the U.S., in part because they are so widespread, but also because they are challenging as a game bird.  They have a very fast flight, making sudden up and downs while racing and dodging through the air.  You can see them on the ground or telephone wires. You can hear their mournful call, but you can also hear their flight, a sharp whistling or whinnying sound when they take off.  We will often have more than 50 mourning doves picking at grass seed on the golf course and driving range in Phoenix, and when they take off en masse, the sound is unmistakable.

The Band Tailed Pigeon, larger than the Mourning Dove, looks a lot like the common Rock Pigeon/Dove you think of a New Yorker tossing stale bread and popcorn to birds in Central Park or birds lined up on the top of billboards along I-17.  Unlike the Rock Pigeon, the Band-Tailed Pigeon is native to the U.S. and is found only in the West.  It has a white collar on its neck and a white band at the base of its tail.  It will definitely come to your feeder, and a few of them at a time will wipe out your bird seed in a morning.  I had to change one of our seed feeders by taking off the round bottom tray because the Band-Tailed Pigeons would monopolize it, tip it sideways with their weight, and prevent any other birds from landing.  I have since installed a second feeder, a square tray, and the Band-Tailed Pigeons now use that one, sharing with an occasional squirrel.


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