A couple of bird notations of interest, or perhaps of significance:

Back on Jan. 10, I speculated in this space that Eurasian collared doves were likely to appear in Jackson Hole in the near future. Unhappily, probably, that day arrived last week. Loy and John Kiefling noticed a stranger at their bird feeding station in Jackson on Thursday,  and Loy identified it.Eurasian collared doves are not native to North America. They apparently migrated without human assistance from the Bahamas to Florida in the late 1970s. If an immigrant species succeeds in a new environment and doesn't simply die out, it seems compelled to investigate all the possible friendly niches it can investigate; think house sparrow, starling, white men. Eurasian collared doves reached the Pacific coast in a quarter century, and are now found in much of the United States. It has been a year-round, nonmigratory resident, in Lander and Riverton, and in Rigby, Idaho, for several years now. Not there's one in Jackson Hole.

Or, another bird of the opposite sex may not make it into the Hole right away. Or as in the case of the cattle egret, a few of these doves may try it out here for a few seasons and not thrive.

Eurasian collared doves are larger than the familiar mourning dove and of a much paler grayish-buff color. They have a black mark across the back of their necks - the collar. Their tails are long and blunt-ended, not pointed as with mourning doves, and have obvious black feathers. The birds' underparts are pale gray. Adults have unmarked heads, blackish bills and wing primaries noticeably darker than the rest of their wings. The feet are dull reddish. Adult male and female look essentially entirely similar.

This dove's voice is described as a monotonous repeated cuk-cooo-cook with emphasis on the middle note. A harsher note is sometimes given in flight: a kwrr. Their rest, a flimsy platform of twigs, is made on man-made structures or in trees. Multiple broods yearly are the norm.

Three months ago, I wrote: "The 2004-05 Audubon Christmas Bird Count found Eurasian collared doves in 32 states and four Canadian provinces, most in the south and western parts of the continent. Interesting that the northeastern tier was not yet invaded from a start in Florida!

"It's not a surprise that the Eurasian collared dove hasn't reached Jackson Hole yet. For wild things, the Hole remains relatively isolated. It took a prolonged warm/dry cycle to bring house finches and breeding turkey vultures (and a thistle invasion to support large numbers of goldfinches). However, keep and eye and ear out."

Loy Kiefling kept an eye out and scored a first.

The other observation concerns the timely return of osprey to the Hole. Just right spang on the opening of fishing season on the Snake River, give or take a day or two either way. Coincidence or a particularly appropriate action by your friendly Game and Fish Department?

Field Notes: Spring is such a captivating time. Something happening in the plant and animal kingdoms by day and night. Some critters are already having young, others are mating and preparing for new life, still others are on their migration paths. Exciting, but migration has its own dangers along with its rewards.

Former OneWest.net subscribers and customers can tell you horror stories now about "e-mail migration" as mismanaged by some hopeless outfit called Sitestar, but this is a family newspaper, so I can't. won't.

In can instead tell you about the first reported Eurasian collared dove in Jackson Hole. Loy and John Kiefling, in Jackson, Thursday. This non-native species has been expanding its range in North America for about 25 years and a single bird, so far, is - or perhaps was? - in Jackson Hole. It's a large bird, so its fate perhaps can be chronicled.

Sporadic reports of osprey keep coming in, but many nests are still awaiting their occupants. Three noisy killdeer announced their return on March 26; Hannah Wresten, in Red Top Meadows. Tom Hahn found a long-eared owl with the help of red crossbills on Friday, near Moose. A pair of nesting pine siskins alerted Tom to a merlin on Saturday, also near Moose.

Waterfowl are coming in; widgeon, coot, shovelers, green-winged teal. Red-tailed and Swainson's hawks are increasing their numbers, while ravens are nesting, white pelicans will begin showing up.

Sage buttercup can be found in bloom now (Joan Lucas, Judy Herman) and for the really sharp-eyed and strong-kneed, the Indian potato plant (Oregenia or salt- and-pepper) actually exists and is in its tiny flower.

Tortoiseshell butterflies were reported in Buffalo Valley (Debra Patla). Any day now those pesky house flies will emerge from somewhere to go about their unfathomable ways.

The Jackson Hole Bird Club will hold its April meeting at 7:30 p.m on Sunday in Jackson Town Hall. Observations on natural history, socializing, and a presentation, "Confessions of a Balloon Pilot in Africa" by Andy Breffeilh. Everyone, visitors or locals alike, is welcome to attend. It's free.

© Bert Raynes 2007


Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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