Bird of the Week


Photo courtesy Byron Greco

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the white-winged dove.

This semitropical bird formerly occurred in the United States only in the southern parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. While they continue to breed primarily in these regions, they are expanding their range northward and eastward. After breeding season, some birds wander widely and individuals have been spotted in our area from late July into December. Last year, we missed being able to include a sighting of this bird on the day of our Christmas Bird Count by two days.

These doves inhabit dense, thorny forests, streamside woods, deserts and, increasingly, urban and suburban areas. Unlike many seed-eating birds that depend on the extra protein of insects for feeding young, these birds are strictly vegetarian. Adults feed nestlings a rich substance known as “pigeon milk,” which they produce in their crops.

White-winged doves feed on a wide variety of seeds and grains, and will come to raised platform feeders. In desert areas, they feed on the fruits and seeds of saguaro cacti and serve as important pollinators of these plants.

Larger and chunkier than the related mourning dove, this brown-gray dove gets its name from the white wing patches seen in flight which appear as a white edge on folded wings. With small heads, they have a dark line on the cheek and blue skin around red eyes. Their tails are short and squared with white corners.

Many people hear the question “who cooks for you?” in this bird’s song.

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