May 20, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Eurasian Collared Doves

Responding to a rare bird e-mail alert, I drove up to the town of Sangerville, in northern Augusta County late this afternoon, and was fortunate to spot a Eurasian collared dove within a few minutes. It was almost exactly where it was supposed to be. The black collar was clearly visible even from a distance of 100+ yards, and the white-tipped tail was obvious when it flew. I noticed they have a very pale tan color. It seemed to glide and swoop more than a Mourning dove, almost reminding me of a swallow in flight. It did seem to respond to my dove calls, and after 15 minutes or so I saw two of them flying at the same time, so it may well be a breeding pair. LIFE BIRD!

Eurasian Collared Doves somehow expanded their range from the Old World through the Caribbean and became established in Florida during the 1980s. They are gradually expanding in range and numbers, but I don't know if they pose a threat to their cousins, the Mourning doves. Another example of our failed immigration policy!

It so happens that Sangerville is almost exactly one mile east of where State Senator Emmett Hanger lives. Of the two candidates running in the Republican primary election on June 12, he is the one who is more concerned with environmental and conservation issues, and he has the legislative record to prove it.

Purple Martin, house

On the way up to Sangerville, I saw a Solitary sandpiper (first of season) and a Least sandpiper in the Mount Solon pond, which is mostly drained for some reason. Also, the Purple martins (see photo; first of season) are settling in to the housing complex at the Spring Hill Rd. corner just north of town, but they've got competition from Starlings. Other birds of note seen today:

Late migrating warblers

Blackpoll Warbler Blackpoll warblers have been zipping about the tree tops almost everywhere for the past few days, it seems, which is a clear sign that bird migration season is almost over. Darn... Here is what I have seen along the Staunton-Augusta Rescue Squad trail over the past few days:

Colombian hummers in peril

A new species of hummingbird was discovered in the jungles of Colombia recently. Unfortunately, the existence of the "Gorgeted Puffleg" (!) is threatened by coca farmers, who slash and burn trees to clear more land for coca cultivation. The researchers put their lives at risk -- the FARC guerrillas kill or kidnap anyone suspected of working for the government -- just to gather evidence about this tiny, unique creature of God. See