Friday, 25 January 2013

Collared Dove

 The Eurasian collared dove was originally a bird which ranged from Turkey to southern China, but something about its behaviour and ability to adapt to new conditions has made it one of the avian success stories of the last century.  From about 1830 it began an amazing expansion, crossing Europe and finally arrived in Britain in 1953.  It has now reached the Faroe Islands, Norway and the Ural mountains.  It was then introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s, from where it has spread across North America, reaching California, Alaska and Nova Scotia.  While it's common in most parts of the UK, it has only arrived in this area over the last few years - we don't remember them coming to the bird table when we first had the shop.

As one would expect of a dove, it's a peaceable bird, feeding quite happily with smaller birds, but it's shy, flying away as soon as it is approached.  Yet its success seems to have come from exploiting a close relationship with humans - it comes to bird tables close to houses, and nests close too.

While it can be found in groups of six or so - for example near the Ferry Stores - it doesn't build large flocks like pigeons, so isn't such a threat to farmers' fields.  It's usually found in pairs, particularly through the summer, and very loving they are.  Its call, cu-coooo-coo, is usually heard when pairs communicate.  We had two pairs in the garden throughout last summer, but three of the birds disappeared, leaving the one in the top two pictures to survive a lonely winter.


  1. Sometime in the late 50s (aged about 8) I watched a TV programme about the recent arrival of the collard dove with my dad. The following day I heard one in our garden "Dad, that's that bird off the telly" I said. "I think you're right, son" he replied. It was my first ever tick. Richard Clubley

  2. One of my earliest memories of bird song was of the African first cousin of this bird, which I particularly remember coo-ing during the dead heat of midday. Jon