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Eurasian collared-doves & dove season: Illinois hunting

A Eurasian collared-dove, a non-native species spreading across the United States, below a feeder this summer,
Credit: Dale Bowman

At least four pairs of Eurasian collared-doves nested around our town this year, but none of the hunters I’ve asked has had one in his (or her) bag during hunting season. That makes me wonder whether Eurasian collared-doves adapted better to residential areas than to fields.

It’s just one of many questions about doves, the most harvested but understudied game in the United States.

Dove hunting opens Friday in Illinois, signaling the general start to hunting.

What the tail of a Eurasian collared-dove looks like.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman
What the tail of a Eurasian collared-dove looks like.
Credit: Dale Bowman

Three things make Eurasian collared-doves, which are thicker and bigger than mourning doves, easy to identify. I notice their raspy call first. Then, up close, their longer tail (squared off rather than pointed, as a mourning dove) and the dark collar on the back of their necks are noticeable.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology notes they ‘‘were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s. They made their way to Florida by the 1980s and then rapidly colonized most of North America.’’

That invasive quality is why Eurasian collared-doves, like ringed turtle doves, don’t have a daily bag limit. The daily bag for mourning and/or white-winged doves is 15 total. But Eurasian collared-doves and turtle doves must be hunted during regular dove hours and season dates, and hunting must stop when the daily bag for mourning/white-winged doves is reached.

In pulling together the annual report on field conditions at the public sites around northeastern Illinois, I anticipated poor sunflowers and prospects because of the cool, wet summer.

But field conditions look pretty good. The real question might be where doves are or will be by Friday. When I was making my usual assessment of doves on wires, I had a hard time finding more than a few in any one spot. (Click here for that annual preview of prospects and field conditions).

But prospects for private lands look good.

Wildlife biologist Bob Massey messaged: ‘‘I am seeing lots of doves on private properties, with lesser amounts at the parks. Another week of drying time would have helped immensely. The wet midsummer hurt us. We could probably use a push of birds from up north, as well.’’

Hunting

Early Canada goose season also opens Friday. Finding a spot might be tough. The Illinois Crop Progress Report on Monday listed no corn and beans harvested. . . . Thursday is the final day to apply online for free upland-game permits, Illinois’ coolest hunting program.

Wild things

Lots of cicada shells can be found on trees. . . . Common nighthawks are a regular night sight. . . . Hummingbirds appear to be on the move.

Stray cast

President Donald Trump pardoning Joe Arpaio in a free multicultural society is akin to a biologist releasing a bighead carp above the electric barrier on the Chicago Area Waterway System. Real professionals don’t do it.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.