Critters In The Garden #2 – White-Winged Doves

“Just like the white winged dove…
Sings a song…
Sounds like she’s singing…
ooo baby… ooo… said ooo”

Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Seventeen”

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

While not everyone appreciates all the many critters that thrive surprisingly well in urban gardens, I enjoy most of them on a daily basis, from lizards and snakes, to possums, flying squirrels, butterflies and moths,  and of course, birds.  I’d venture a guess that most gardeners enjoy avian visitors, and many, like me, put out feeders and birdbaths to ensure their comfort.  Here in central Florida, we have a wide variety of  birds that will visit and nest in our backyards.  In addition to the usual songbirds, I have red-shouldered hawks that nest in my oaks, barred owls raising young across the street, and woodpeckers of several types.  I’ve had my share of white ibises foraging in the front yard, and even had vultures scrabbling over a piece of roadkill who fought their way up my drive way and onto the front stoop, once.  Occasionally, a bald eagle lands in one of our trees, and we often see and hear sandhill cranes flying over.  All of these visitors will be discussed in future posts, I’m sure.

For now, I’m thinking about the change in our local dove population.  Our most familiar dove has always been the mourning dove, which frequents backyard feeders in great numbers.  Most anyone who pays attention at all has heard their sad call, which is what they were named for:  “Oh, woe, woe, woe….”   But shortly after we moved into this house eight years ago, I noticed a much stouter and larger dove at my feeders, with a shorter, squared off tail, and bright white wing markings.  I was surprised to find out I had a pair of white-winged doves residing in my backyard.  These birds are primarily a western species, not originally native to Florida, but were  introduced here a few decades ago. They  are becoming more and more common throughout this area.  A year after we moved in,  I had 4 of them at my feeder, and the next year, 8.  Now there are more white-wings visiting than there are mourning doves.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing, ecologically, but I’m very fond of them, with their “oooh, baby, ooooh” calls.  Somehow I find them more handsome than the mourning doves, as well.  Perhaps that’s because I didn’t grow up seeing them everywhere, so they are still a novelty to me.  It remains to be seen whether their increasing numbers will affect the mourning dove population, which has always seemed more than just abundant to me.  For now, I will just enjoy the white-wings along with my other feeder visitors.

Here is a picture of a mourning dove  for comparison.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Check out these links to hear the typical call of these birds. (Just scroll down until you see the sound bar & click on the “Play” arrow.)

White-Winged Dove

Mourning Dove

Photos found online.

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