North Carolina, with its diverse landscapes ranging from the mountains to the coast, is a sanctuary for various forms of wildlife, including the gentle and melodious doves. These birds, with their soothing coos and graceful presence, have found a home in the Tar Heel State’s rich and varied ecosystems. In our exploration of doves in North Carolina, we will uncover the types of doves you can encounter, their unique characteristics, and their role in the state’s natural world. Whether you’re an avid birder or simply curious about North Carolina’s avian inhabitants, let’s embark on a journey to discover the world of doves in North Carolina.
Types of Dovess in North Carolina:
- Mourning Dove
- Rock Pigeon
- Eurasian Collared-Dove
- Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
- Lifespan: 2-5 years
- Size: 9-13 inches
- Native to: Southern Canada to central Mexico
The Mourning Dove is predominantly gray in color and possesses unique features including sizable black spots on its wings, an elongated slender tail, pinkish legs, a black beak, and a prominent blue ring around its eye. Interestingly, males and females of this species have the same appearance.
In North Carolina, the Mourning Dove is not only common but also quite familiar. Frequently, you can observe them perched at elevated positions in trees or on telephone wires in the vicinity of your residence. They are also commonly sighted on the ground, where they primarily engage in feeding activities.
Mourning Doves are commonly observed at bird feeding stations, where they often visit for food. To attract them, consider offering their favorite foods, which include millet, shelled sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, cracked corn, and safflower seeds. These doves prefer flat feeding surfaces, so trays or platforms make excellent feeders. They are quite comfortable feeding on the ground as well, so providing food there is a good idea.
These doves are highly prolific in their breeding habits. Female Mourning Doves frequently produce 3 to 6 broods during each breeding season. Although the young doves spend a maximum of 15 days in the nest, they remain in close proximity to their parents, who continue to feed them for about another week. It’s a common misconception for people to think that these young doves have fallen out of the nest, as they can barely fly. However, they may not realize that their parents are nearby, ensuring their sustenance.
Regarding their vocalizations, Mourning Doves are renowned for their unique low cooing sound, which can be described as “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.” This mournful sound is the origin of the dove’s name and is sometimes confused with the call of an owl by many residents of North Carolina.
- Scientific name: Columba livia
- Lifespan: 6 years
- Size: 11-13 inches
- Native to: Europe North Africa and India, it now lives in wild or semi-wild conditions in cities all over the world, including most of North America
The Rock Pigeon is a plump bird known for its small head, short legs, and thin bill. While the typical pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars, their plumage can vary significantly. It’s not uncommon to see pigeons with all-white or rusty-brown feathers.
In North Carolina, Rock Pigeons are extremely common, but you’ll primarily find them in urban areas. These birds are commonly referred to as “pigeons.” You’ve likely seen them in large flocks gathering in city parks, hoping to find birdseed or leftover food.
Rock Pigeons are quite easily attracted to bird feeders, particularly if there’s leftover food on the ground. However, their high numbers can sometimes make them a bit of a nuisance in your backyard. A lot of individuals might feel overwhelmed by their presence and seek methods to deter them.
When it comes to identifying Rock Pigeons, their distinctive soft, throaty cooing sounds are quite recognizable.
Rock Pigeons have a well-documented history of interaction with humans. There is evidence from Egyptian hieroglyphics that indicates the domestication of these birds began more than 5,000 years ago. Due to this long history, scientists aren’t entirely certain about their original range.
- Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
- Lifespan: 3 years
- Size: 12-14 inches
- Native to: Bay of Bengal region (India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is primarily a sandy brown bird with a distinctive long, square-tipped tail. As its name suggests, you can identify it by the black collar on the back of its neck.
In North Carolina, Eurasian Collared-Doves are considered invasive. Regrettably, in the 1970s, an individual introduced them to the Bahamas, and since that time, their numbers have increased quickly. They continue to spread even today.
One reason for their rapid colonization is their comfort around humans. They have thrived in proximity to bird feeders and in urban and suburban areas. It’s common to spot them on the ground or platform feeders, where they feed on grains and seeds.
When it comes to their song, listen for a “koo-KOO-kook” sound, which both males and females produce. Notably, their song has a distinct pattern where the middle syllable is longer than the first and last ones. Male doves often sing louder when they are defending their territory or trying to attract a mate. To distinguish Eurasian Collared Doves from Mourning Doves, there are some key differences. Mourning Doves are smaller in size and feature black dots on their wings, whereas Eurasian Collared-Doves are larger and have a distinctive black crescent-shaped collar around their necks.
Final Thoughts on Doves in North Carolina
Doves in North Carolina lend a touch of grace and tranquility to the state’s diverse and captivating landscapes. These gentle birds, with their soothing coos and elegant presence, are not merely avian residents; they are an integral part of North Carolina’s rich wildlife tapestry. Through our exploration of the various aspects of doves in the Tar Heel State, from the species you can encounter to their unique behaviors, it becomes evident that they hold a special place in the hearts of bird enthusiasts and nature admirers.
Frequently Asked Questions on Doves in North Carolina
What types of doves can be found in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, you can commonly find mourning doves, which are the most widespread dove species in the state. White-winged doves, Eurasian collared-doves, and occasional rock pigeons are also spotted.
Do doves migrate through North Carolina during specific seasons?
Yes, mourning doves migrate through North Carolina in the spring and fall as they travel to and from their breeding and wintering grounds.
Are doves in North Carolina protected or hunted?
Mourning doves are game birds in North Carolina and are legally hunted during specific hunting seasons. North Carolina has regulations in place to manage dove hunting sustainably.
How can I attract doves to my backyard in North Carolina?
To attract doves to your North Carolina backyard, provide them with a food source like seeds, grains, or dove-specific bird feed. Having a birdbath or water source can also be appealing to doves.