The phenomenal expansion of the Eurasian Collared-Dove across the southern US in the past decade, since its arrival from the Bahamas, has been fascinating to watch. In 2001, we had two at our backyard feeders and the sighting was noteworthy. Today, I easily count 60 collared-doves at the feeders at one time. (Visitors to my BackyardBirdCam.com site have probably seen the doves crowd the feeders.)
Also in 2001, we had a rare visit from a White-winged Dove, another dove making moves to expand its range, although certainly not at the explosive rate of the collared-doves. That dove, a native of south Texas, has expanded into central and western Oklahoma over the past six years, becoming a year-round resident even through the winter months.
Well, there is a third dove species that is making the move northward from Texas into Oklahoma although it is not present in the numbers of the other “range-expanding”doves. It’s the small and elegant Inca Dove! (pictured here) Where these doves seem to be present for long periods of time, they appear in sizable groups. In Lawton, Oklahoma, birders report up to 12 Inca Doves at feeders; in Norman (just 30 miles south of Oklahoma City), the Inca has also been seen in large numbers. But they are still a rare sighting in Oklahoma City and most other areas.
I’ve had brief sightings — as in gone after 30 seconds — of Inca Doves in my yard in 2002 and 2004. But the appearance of one Inca this year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend was very rewarding because the bird stayed for three days. It seemed to fit in with the flock of collared-doves, although it was out-sized and out-numbered! This little bird is only 8.5″ while the collared-dove is 13″. The Inca is pale gray in color but has dark edging on its feathers which make it look a bit like a rock when it’s sitting still, don’t you think?