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With a flash of white tail feathers and a flurry of dark-tipped wings, the Eurasian Collared-Dove settles onto phone wires and fence posts to give its rhythmic three-parted coo. This chunky relative of the Mourning Dove gets its name from the black half-collar at the nape of the neck. A few Eurasian Collared-Doves 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.
Collared Doves typically breed close to human habitation wherever food resources are abundant and there are trees for nesting; almost all nests are within a kilometer of inhabited buildings. The female lays two white eggs in a stick nest, which she incubates during the night and which the male incubates during the day. Incubation lasts between fourteen and eighteen days, with the young fledging after fifteen to nineteen days. Breeding occurs throughout the year when abundant food is available, though only rarely in winter in areas with cold winters such as northeastern Europe. Three to four broods per year is common, although up to six broods in a year has been recorded.
The male's mating display is a ritual flight, which, as many other pigeons, consists of a rapid, near-vertical climb to height followed by a long glide downward in a circle, with the wings held below the body in an inverted "V" shape. At all other times, flight is typically direct using fast and clipped wing beats and without use of gliding.
The Collared Dove is not wary and often feeds very close to human habitation, including visiting bird tables; the largest populations are typically found around farms where split grain is frequent around grain stores or where livestock are fed. It is a gregarious species and sizable winter flocks will form where there are food supplies such as grain (its main food) as well as seeds, shoots and insects. Flocks most commonly number between ten and fifty, but flocks of up to ten thousand have been recorded.
It is closely related to the Island Collared Dove of southeast Asia and the African Collared Dove of sub-Saharan Africa, forming a superspecies with these.
Identification from African Collared Dove is very difficult with silent birds, with the African species being marginally smaller and paler, but the calls are very distinct, a soft purring in African Collared Dove quite unlike the Eurasian Collared Dove's cooing
February 18th, 2013
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