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EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES LEGAL TO HUNT

Non-native species difficult to distinguish from mourning dove.



The Eurasian collared dove isn’t native to Pennsylvania, but it’s turning up in the state in larger and larger numbers.

And, especially while in flight, the bird has few characteristics that distinguish it from the mourning dove.

Dove hunters won’t need to make a distinction between the two when they head afield in the coming license year.

The Board of Game Commissioners on Tuesday approved classifying the Eurasian collared dove as a game bird, meaning they can be hunted with a general hunting license and migratory bird license, and collared doves taken can be counted as part of the bag limit for mourning doves.

Native to Europe and Asia, collared doves were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s. The first recorded collared dove sighting in Pennsylvania occurred in 1996. And The Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas found possible breeding populations in 15 survey blocks in eight counties.

Studies on interactions between collared doves and other species have not yet identified a negative impact on populations of native birds, including mourning doves.

While the Eurasian collared dove is an introduced invasive species, it must be classified as a game bird in order to establish a hunting season for its take. Game Commission staff recommended the collared dove’s classification as a game bird as a way to better protect the mourning dove. If the collared dove was classified as an exotic species and subjected to taking year-round, it could lead to mistake kills of mourning doves, staff said.
 

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I never knew they existed in PA. Do they hang in the same habitat as the Mourning Dove? Are they located in eastern PA?

So many questions..........
 

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I looked online to find out where these doves have been seen in PA.

This is what I found.

Eurasian Collared-Doves in PA and MD, and White Ibis in PA, August 2012



A trip to visit relatives in PA and MD has to include at least a little birding time, right? Of course it does for a "total ticker". Though since I grew up in the area I've got pretty good lists for all the mid-atlantic states (and especially MD), and there's not much in the way of likely state birds. I started off spending a little time checking the listserves and didn't see much to chase. Then on to e-bird where I started to research Eurasian Collared-Doves - I need them for every mid-atlantic state except DE. There has been a colony of ECDs in the little town of Shady Grove, PA for some time, and recent e-bird reports included up to 4 birds. Plus there were a number of recent e-bird sightings of 1-2 birds just to the south across the stateline into MD. Two possible statebirds within a 90 minute drive of the relatives - certainly critical mass and worth the try.

I got up early on my first available morning only to find that it was raining heavily in the general vicinity of the doves. So I decided to make that trip the next day. But I had free time on my hands that morning before anyone else was awake. What to do... I checked the PA listserve and read that an immature White Ibis had been found the previous day just an hour away with pretty good local directions. After a few minutes of looking at the map, I was off to the Susquehanna River a bit northeast of York to try for the ibis.

The bird had been found in a small stream channel a short distance from the Susquehanna. When I arrived I found some excellent riparian habitat along a small dirt road, and realized that the stream channel was at least a mile and half long. And some of it was obscured by trees. This could be a challenge. I slowly drove along the channel 2 times checking at each opening in the trees, but with no luck. A calling Screech Owl was a nice find though. I decided to give it one last try, and as I reached the mouth of the channel I noticed a small wader on the rocks - it was the White Ibis. Wonder where it was on my first 2 passes? PA is now my 13th state for White Ibis (see the map below) - 8 southeast states in its normal range, along with 3 in the mid-atlantic and 2 in the northeast as a vagrant.




And the next day I was off for an early morning try for the ECDs. After a pleasant drive through the beautiful PA countryside I neared the small town of Shady Grove, en route to Kline's Grocery in the middle of town which has been the center of dove activity. One of the first birds I noticed on the eastern edge of town was a chunky dove on the wires - a most cooperative Eurasian Collared-Dove. I drove a 1/2 mile to Kline's Grocery and had another 4 ECDs within just a couple minutes. A nice colony of doves!

Next was a quick drive across the MD line to the small crossroads of Reidtown where ECDs had been reported this year. Just 5 miles "as the dove flies" from Shady Grove, perhaps this is the beginnings of a satellite colony. Soon after I arrived I found many Mourning Doves on the wires but no ECDs. Then I noticed a dove in flight and got a brief view of a chunky square-tailed bird flying away. A couple minutes later I saw the same bird in flight, and again at the same angle, as it flew off to the northwest out of sight. I had wished for better views, but the bird didn't return in the next 2 hours. So that would have to do to add Eurasian Collared-Dove to my MD list.

Those are my 33rd and 34th states for ECD, with most being in the southeast and out west. (I haven't birded in NM and MT since ECDs arrived there.) And now I have them in MD, PA, DE, and VT in the northeast. Just as it did in Europe, this species expands its range to the northwest before colonizing to the northeast. And for statelists - that gives me 326 in MD and 238 in PA.
 

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I remember seeing what folks called "ring neck" doves in the evergreens down in Greenbelt MD. That was about 1996, Saw small groups of five or six a few times. Locals said they were somebody's pets that got loose. But when I look up ring neck and collared, they all look alike to me.
 

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No closed season no limit - kill all on sight. Ring neck dove, Eurasian and collared dove all the same bird.
 
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