BY WALLY NORTHWAY, MISSISSIPPI BUSINESS JOURNAL : MAY 13, 2014 : Updated: May 13, 2014 3:38am
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The state's newest invasive species of birds has conquered the Magnolia State and is now a common resident of backyards, farms and all points in between from the Tennessee border to the Gulf Coast.
The good news is that the impact of the Eurasian collared-dove, at least for now, seems to be minimal on native species — particularly the mourning dove, a long-time favorite of hunters. In fact, the coming of the Eurasian collared-dove offers more opportunities for sportsmen and birders alike.
Scott Baker, a wildlife biologist who leads the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks' Dove Field Program, it is nearly impossible to taste the difference between the Eurasian collared-dove and the mourning dove.
Identifying the new dove seems to be the biggest challenge. The Eurasian collared-dove superficially resembles the mourning dove — the black "collar" around the nape of the neck is not visible from a distance, and they share many habits and habitat with their cousins. However, there are distinctive differences.
The Eurasian collared-dove is larger than a mourning dove with rounded, black-tipped wings and broad, squared tail that shows white feathers in flight. It is more like the native rock dove, or common pigeon, in its appearance, and its call is similar to the pigeon's "coo" as opposed to the mourning dove's "sad" lilting song for which it gets its name.
However, hunters and birders alike are getting more and more chances to positively identify the bird as its range continues to grow.
Introduced in the Bahamas in the 1970s — allegedly from birds that escaped during a robbery of a pet shop — Eurasian collared-doves reached Florida in the 1980s and quickly expanded their range across most of North America. According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they rate a five out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and were not on the 2012 Watch List.