A Case of Mistaken Identity

Welcome back everyone! Had my first run this morning since the long event and the body is a little better than expected even though it was a short 7 miler. Most of the kinks are out and just need to work a bit more on the heat conditioning before hitting it hard again. All this rain, as of late, has been keeping the temps down – with the wet stuff moving on, the mercury and humidity are starting to creep up again. You could almost mistake this for summer again ha! Speaking of mistakes…

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

…tonight’s featured feathered friend managed to fool me in the field. This specimen was found at the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park back on our holiday trip to Texas in the beginning of the year. Ironically, we were there in hopes of tinning a rarity that had shown up. Eventually got that bird, the Ruddy Ground Dove and already posted on that experience (link here).

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hit the jump to learn about how I was deceived.

While hanging out at the feeders waiting for that South America rarity to show itself, a whole multitude of Doves were cascading by. The White-Tipped, the White-Winged and the Inca were all there taking in the free food. If you need to up your Dove game, the Texas border is a great place to get that done. Except if you’re Ron – for some reason were not able to find any of the Whites (Tipped or Winged) when he was down there with us a few years back. That would be the “He who owes me bigly” event that the world is STILL waiting for him to post on – come on everyone, let’s nudge him to get that done.

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

There is something to be said for birding where you sit in a covered swing and simply shoot the variety of birds that literally parade past you. Definitely a good learning experience for Linda as I could introduce her to a multitude of new birds without her having to expend any energy. She tends to get a bit cranky when I convince her to explore – especially when I get lost or the terrain ends up being very understated in the brochure. Not sure I’ll ever live down going out for the Peregrine Falcons at Acadia. Somehow our marriage survived that (by the way, Tuesday is our 30th anniversary – before you ask, yes, she is incredibly tolerant of all the crazy things I do ha!)

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

Hmmm, seem to be all over the place on this post – crisp it up Bri. On my behalf, it is pretty hard to spice up a post on probably the most common Dove in North America. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this series isn’t of the more exotic Doves, rather the nearly universal Mourning Dove. With the exception of the upper northwest, everyone else probably has a visit from one of these birds at least once a week. I usually do not get that excited about them – snap a few shots just to have a record for the outing’s bird count and start looking for a better target.

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

As you can tell, I ended up taking a number of shots of our pink legged friend. The reason for that is very simple – I thought it was a different bird. Yep, I was duped by what I thought was a field marking that ended up just being a wind fluff or a foot scratch that made it look like it had a line on its neck – Specifically, in the collar area which you can see best in the first shot above. I still contend it was a planned deception to get some attention from an often ignored species. Well, it worked – from within camera it looked like an Eurasian Collared-Dove. If I would have double-checked the placement of the supposed collar mark (this one was too low) and even easier, noted the black splotches on the back I could have righted my mistake and saved some space in the tin.

Mourning Dove found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in January 2021

This Dove was busy laughing its ass off having fooled me. “Hey everyone look at this birder noob that thinks I’m a… ummm, hey wait, crap, is that the damn Ruddy Ground Dove – great, now there won’t be any cameras pointed my way.” “Take the walk of shame Mourning, a quality bird be parading. ” For the record, I have not claimed an Eurasian Collared yet – actually have one in the backlog, so not a big issue on the miss here, just hoped I could use a more recent series as I know my readers prefer I stay in the 1-2 year range.

Just a quick one today in honor of the sunflower fields that just went full bloom in the state park where I train. Once the season is over, they mow lines in them for the Dove hunters. Their target – you guessed it, the Mourning Dove. Before you get worried, there are plenty of Mournings about. Cornell states there are 350 million which has stayed strong even with the 20 million shot per year.

24 thoughts on “A Case of Mistaken Identity”

  1. The Mourning Dove is a lovely bird, regardless of its “common” status. The soft buttery colors show very nicely in your photos. And, as for mistaken identity, we just have to keep shooting and learning. Don’t you love the fact that we don’t have to count and conserve our shots, like we did in the old film days. Although Linda Murdock reminded me gently the other day that camera bodies do have an “expected life”, expressed in the number of exposures. Ooops!

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    1. I have always claimed that the difference between a professional and an amateur back in the film days is the professional had a corporate sponsor that could afford the rolls of film they would go through to get the one or two shots that got them paid. I remember trying to get birds in flight with my Nikon film camera and then getting them back a week later and being VERY disappointed. These days I fire at will. Cameras definitely have a lifespan although you can replace the shutters which I did on my previous body which got me through a couple more years. Finally upgraded for my retirement present so I am good for some time now. By the way, awesome shots of the immatures.

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    1. Ugh, I just watched it – feel like I need wrap myself in my blanket and think about bunnies, sunflowers and other calming things just to get to sleep tonight. Evil Timothy, pure evil I tell ya’.

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    1. There is something about this bird that has a calming effect. Maybe it is the muted coloring or more likely their soothing call. Just one of those birds I see so often I tend to get bored with it. Thanks from dropping in Puzzleblume!

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    1. Definitely and issue if the hunting is not controlled. I remember reading about the flock of Dodo birds that The Beagle came upon. The sailors/biologists were completely mesmerized that the birds would get started by the gun shots, fly in a circle and land right back where they started. This didn’t stop them from shooting until every last one in the flock was dead. It’s those kind of accounts from supposed early environmentalists that concern me the most. Same with Sibley and Audubon who “collected” specimens to build their references from. Oh well, it is what it is. Good to hear from you again B!

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  2. Happy 30th Anniversary! And like a long successful marriage, cameras need TLC from time to time if you want to max out their life. (BTW, all three of my D300’s are north of 125,000 clicks each and still going, one of them has 125k AFTER the shutter has been replaced). Doves aplenty at my feeders each day. I like to hear their mournful cry echo off the trees. You should experience their different call in HI, PR or UK.

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    1. Thank you! I have to give Nikon credit, their higher end cameras are solid and are incredibly reliable in the field (should probably knock on wood). I haven’t looked at the click count on my previous camera, but based on my typical outing it has to be incredibly high even on its second shutter. Linda’s was less used before she got her full frame so I can always fall back on that if needed – right now the new one is just getting broke in. Haven’t had the opportunity to hear the other region calls, but I have to admit when I was younger I used to think they were Barred Owls whenever I heard them calling from afar. Appreciate you dropping by Brad.

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  3. I’ll admit it is much more an accomplishment on her part than mine. I’m totally blessed to have someone who takes care of me this well and puts up with all my crazy hobbies. I’ll take some credit as I do Sherpa her dog events so I have that going for me hehehe. The hunters I know claim they eat them, but by time you take the effort to remove the pellets and pluck them, there really isn’t much there – seems like a lot of trouble when you can just hop down to McD’s and get some nuggets. Not complaining though as I can’t imagine how much feed it would cost me if they didn’t thin them out – they basically just come and sit right down in the middle of the feeder and gobble until they are full.

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  4. Wow, 30 years, kudos to you! And Linda, too! Doves are lovely creatures, and these are all great shots. I HATE the idea of mowing down sunflowers for dove hunting. If hunting animals can be justified by saying there are too many of them, shouldn’t that apply to humans as well? Or, should it not apply to any animal? Just a thought. 🌞

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    1. Thank you Lisa, it has truly been a joy since the day we met, which happened to be the first day we started our careers – we were placed in a college grad training program together and the rest is history (an added fact, Linda ended up retiring with 30.5 years and I put in 31.5 at that same company!) On the hunting front, I try not to take a firm opinion on it. I do not have a big problem with controlled hunting especially out here in the country where the deer herd up and they will absolutely destroy any landscaping they fancy. The hunting fees/stamps go to a lot of good wildlife programs in the area and Linda and I were even asked to document an expensive Pheasant reintroduction project funded by Pheasants Forever. Will definitely not touch the humanity connotations as that becomes a murky quagmire. I will note that having a government paying families for the number of kids they have as a supposed COVID relief action (vs forcing additional reliance on the government teat) is an “anti-pattern” for population control. As always, appreciate you dropping in and joining the conversation. Always good when someone makes me ponder!

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  5. Thanks for sharing this post. I’ve always had a fear of birds growing up because my mom had one as a pet and occasionally it’d end up flying around the house. In college (can’t recall which course) I learned about various species of birds which required field work. Why the feet and beaks of some are created for specific reasons and so on. I eventually grew to have such a great appreciation for their role in the world therefore I will be stopping by from time to time.

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  6. There are some pretty nasty birds out in the wild – some year-round, some seasonal and definitely some regional, but for the most part they kind of do their own thing and leave us alone. For the most part, no need for fear and the more you learn about them the more you get comfortable being around them. Appreciate you dropping in Tammy.

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