Friday, April 29, 2016
I am in the midst of my annual Pacific Rhododendron photo hikes in Deception Pass State Park. These wild, native rhodies are blooming now providing some incongruous color to favored Pacific Northwest forests. Usually, I encounter more than flowers on these hikes. Yesterday, after visiting the rhododendron grove, I continued up the Goose Rock Summit Trail. Along the way, I met a pair of Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), Washington's only native dove.
These extremely wary birds always flee in terror when humans approach. While one flew off into the trees, its mate perched on the trail uphill from me long enough for a photo.
Until about two years ago, Mourning Doves were daily visitors in my garden. I suspect they nested somewhere nearby, perhaps even in the yard. They were especially fond of safflower seed. They came to the feeders and liked to hang out on the basement patio to get some sun. Then, the non-native Eurasian Collard Doves moved in and took over the 'hood. I have not seen a Mourning Dove since. That's why I was especially pleased to spot this pair in the park.
There has been concern that the Collared Doves would displace the native Mourning Doves. That seems to have been the case in my yard. The interlopers were probably attracted by the feeders. We put them up to attract birds to our yards, but feeders can also have negative effects.
Besides a beautiful call that sounds like a tenor recorder, Mourning Doves make a whistling noise when they fly. It would be a shame to have this music disappear from our natural environment.