The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


July 13, 2014

Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

CAMERON — Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

Since then biologists and birders have reported collared-doves in Alabama (1991), Texas (1995), South Dakota (1996), Montana (1997), Minnesota (1998), Iowa (1999) and Oregon (1999). Today collared-doves occur all across the U.S., though for some reason their numbers are small in the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states.

Though the rapid expansion of collared-dove populations has been impressive, it is neither unprecedented nor entirely natural. Originally native to the Indian subcontinent, Eurasian collared-doves began to wander northwestward into Asia and Europe in the 1600s. By the 1930s collared doves began a rapid range expansion in Europe. It is not known if these movements were natural or facilitated by man. They reached Germany by 1945 and Great Britain in 1955, when four birds were counted. By 1970 the population in Great Britain had increased to approximately 20,000 pairs.

Though Eurasian collared-doves do not migrate, the birds disperse when local populations begin to grow. This may help explain their ability to rapidly expand their range. Furthermore, they seem genetically predisposed to move in a northwesterly direction when dispersing. This may explain why so few collared-doves are seen in northeastern states.

Since the 1970s, many additional intentional and accidental releases have occurred in California, Colorado, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and throughout the Caribbean. Collared-doves visit bird feeders for sunflower seeds, millet, and various cereal grains, and seem to do best in areas with higher human populations. In some places collared-doves have become relatively common backyard birds. The availability of backyard bird feeders is certainly one factor that has helped fuel their range expansion in North America. It seems inevitable that collared-doves will continue to expand their range and become increasingly common.

When exotic species invade new areas, a major conservation concern is the impact the invader may have on native species. In this case, biologists worry that mourning doves may be negatively affected. And in some towns and cities collared doves have displaced mourning doves. In more rural areas, mourning doves hold their own.

Regulations vary from state to state, but often species that are classified as “exotic” get no protection and can be killed at will. House sparrows and European starlings are examples of unprotected exotic species. The concern is that if collared-doves are designated as an unprotected exotic species, native mourning doves might be killed by mistake or out of season.

In West Virginia all members of the dove/pigeon family (Columbidae) are classified as game birds and subject to hunting regulations. So invading doves of any species are immediately subject to existing laws.

Earlier this year the Pennsylvania Game Commission took a different approach. To protect native mourning doves, the Game Commission classified the Eurasian collared-dove as a game bird for hunters possessing a general hunting license and a migratory bird license. They must be counted as part of the bag limit for mourning doves. The rationale is that if collared-doves had been classified as an exotic species, they could be taken year-round, and that could lead to out-of-season kills of mourning doves. The intent is to ensure that mourning doves not be killed by mistake or out of season.

Some states have simply offered collared doves no protection — no closed season and no bag limits. It will be interesting to see how mourning doves fare in states where collared doves are totally unprotected.

Compounding the problem is that collared doves and mourning doves can be tricky to identify, especially on the wing. Collared doves are larger (7 ounces vs. 4 ounces), and their tails are square rather than pointed. And of course, collared-doves have a distinctive black band across the back of the neck.

Dove hunters should get to know the new species they may encounter this fall, and birders can add a new target species to their life list.

— Dr. Scott Shalaway can be heard 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 WVLY-AM (Wheeling) or

online at Visit Scott’s web site www.drshalawaycom or contact him directly at or

2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.

Text Only
  • Some books for the rest of summer

    Stretching out in a hammock with a good book is a great way to relax on a warm summer afternoon. Here are a few titles that have recently caught my eye.

    July 27, 2014

  • Creating a week to remember

    After my traveling shoes were placed neatly beside the door, it was time to spend some much needed time around home.

    July 27, 2014

  • There are some changes on the way

    Hunters who have found themselves driving out of their way to check in a deer, turkey, or bear will no longer have to waste the time or gas starting in 2015. 

    July 27, 2014

  • The cure for the summertime blues: Go camping

    In case you haven’t noticed we are looking right down the gun barrel at winding down on another summer.

    July 26, 2014

  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 2014

Web Special Sections
  • Special Web Sections

    Click HERE for stories about natural gas and Marcellus shale gas extraction.

    Click HERE for stories about the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

    Click HERE for stories about the passing of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

    Click HERE for stories from The Greenbrier Classic PGA TOUR event.

    August 6, 2010

Helium debate
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage