Collared Doves really are the most stupid of all birds. Currently there is a pair of them trying to build a nest in the eaves of my house (X marks the spot) and, it has to be said, failing pretty spectacularly. After six weeks it still hasn’t occurred to them that the spot that they have chosen is completely unsuitable. Every day they deliver beak full’s of twigs to the narrow ledge above my bedroom window and everyday it falls down onto the drive and gives me a failed nesting debris sweep-up operation.
Each morning starting at dawn they sit there cooing away to each other, stopping every now and again for an avian wing-trembler, which I have to say doesn’t look very thrilling or satisfying, and then they return to their hopeless nest building task and if, against all odds, they ever get it built I am only going to take it down anyway!
The story of the Collared Dove is an interesting one.
Only a hundred years ago, the species was found primarily on the Indian subcontinent, although its range extended slightly into Europe but certainly no further than Turkey. In the early 1900s, however, the species began significantly expanding its range and colonised as far as France, the Low Countries and Denmark and then in 1953 reached it the United Kingdom when it was spotted in Norfolk for the first time.
Today, Collared Doves are living above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia.
The spread of Collared Doves across the United Kingdom has been very rapid. From the first breeding report in 1955 the species was subsequently reported breeding in Kent and Lincolnshire in 1957, with birds also seen as far north as Scotland. Two years later Ireland was colonised and by 1970 there may have been as many as twenty-five thousand pairs in Britain and Ireland and between 1972 and 1976 the population increased five fold.
The Collared Dove, it turns out, is one of the great colonisers of the avian world. After it was introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s it managed to spread to Florida in the United States by 1982. Its stronghold in North America is still the Gulf Coast, but it is now found as far south as Veracruz, as far west as California, and as far north as British Columbia and the Great Lakes.
All of this goes to show that although they are hopeless at building nests they regardless of this they are good at breeding and pretty spectacular at colonisation.
Collared Doves are quite big birds and have a buff grey colour that makes them quite conspicuous. Although on first site they may look uninteresting they are really quite attractive with the half collar marking on the back of the neck, a pinkish flush on the chest and really wonderful black eyes with a red ring. This is a picture of the visitor to my garden so you can see just how close, without a massive telephoto lens, he will let me get to him (or perhaps her, because actually I can’t tell the difference).
Other posts about birds: