Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 114: Mourning Dove

One of the first birds I remember learning to identify by both look and sound is the mourning dove, several of which often could be heard calling to each other outside the windows of my first-grade classroom at Eames Way School in my hometown of Marshfield, MA.  I've always been very fond of this bird and its distinctive coo-ing as well as its light brown and grey coloration, which makes it look so very soft and vulnerable:

This morning, I ran past a lovely mourning dove splashing around a bit in a small puddle.  Having these types of "urban wildlife" viewings is one of the reasons I enjoy running, not only around Sacto but also (and especially) around the places we travel and visit.

I looked up some more info on the mourning dove and found the following overview on Wikipedia:
The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is a member of the dove family (Columbidae). The bird is also called the turtle dove or the American mourning dove or rain dove, and formerly was known as the Carolina pigeon or Carolina turtledove. It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year. Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name. The wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).

Mourning doves are light grey and brown and generally muted in color. Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.

I was shocked and saddened to learn that mourning doves are considered "gamebirds" and are hunted extensively in the US - how awful!  I'm glad they've evolved sufficient adaptations to re-populate their species despite the human attempts to decrease their numbers.


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