Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Winter Visitors

With realistically no cover in the yard, coupled with the heavy snowfall we've had this season that covers feeders and conceals seed, avian visitors have been few and far between during the winter months. In the past few weeks, however, a pair of Eurasian collared doves have made regular visits to the feeder, even more frequently now that the snow is nearly melted and the seed is more accessible.

This pair is extremely camera shy; it took me several days to sneak in a photograph that showed both of them enjoying a treat. Their markings are very distinctive, and their recurring visits to my backyard demonstrate the mobility of the species, since it was originally introduced east of the Rocky Mountains but has now increased population sizes to span more of the continent.

They're delightful to watch. One of the pair will generally perch on the roof or one of the two small trees nearby to serve as guard while the other begins to feed, though the temptation is overwhelming and very soon both doves will be on the feeder platform (they are too large to comfortably feed from the hopper perches). If they spot an observer through the window, they flit off immediately and may not return for several minutes, if at all.

They are most welcome. They eat the larger seeds in the mix that are disdained by smaller birds, and so they help keep both the feeder and the patio clean. In the summer there may be another pair that visits, but in these colder weeks it is only the one pair that continues to drop by for dinner, and I'm pleased to be their hostess.

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