Monday, February 27, 2012

Doves, pigeons and breeding seasons

click photo to enlarge
One of the things I remember from my younger days, a time when I pursued bird-watching with a deeper interest than I do now, is the length of the breeding season of doves and pigeons. To my knowledge it exceeded that of any of the other species of British birds. The rock dove, woodpigeon and others of the Family Columbidae, often begin nesting in February and sometimes don't complete the process until November, having had several broods in the intervening months. That may, in part, account for the very large numbers of woodpigeon that the country now supports.

The collared dove is also a member of this family of birds. When I lived in the Yorkshire Dales I never saw a single example. However, my move to eastern England in 1971 immediately remedied that, and I soon became familiar with their insistent and monotonous call from March through to October. Given that this relative newcomer to our shores (it arrived in numbers only in the middle of the last century) has quickly achieved the status of one of the least liked birds, it cannot be good news for many that it is a prolific breeder.

I don't know a great deal about the habits of feral pigeons, but the fact that they are, in the main, descended from the wild rock dove, suggests that they too will have a long breeding season. Consequently, when I saw this white dove and a second parti-coloured bird in the porch at Sutterton church recently, I assumed that they were reconnoitring it for a nest site rather than seeking any kind of shelter. The bird in the photograph allowed us to get quite close, and never left its perch. Only when I came to process my photograph did it occur to me that it was trying to give some symmetry to the carvings on the column capital by reflecting the stone bird on the left!

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -1.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On