Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

White-winged Doves (and more!)

I know serious bird people don't pay much attention to doves.  They're ungainly on the ground and eat up all the food meant for the "good" birds.  But I like them -- all of them.

I'm interested in the white-winged dove because we never had them around here when I was a girl.  White-wings were definitely a South Texas bird and only rarely ventured this far north.  Now they are everywhere.  Although they are supposed to be a migratory bird, it seems we are never without them.  White-winged doves are large pigeon-type birds with a noticeable white band on the underside of the wing and a blue eye-ring.  I don't know why they are extending their range so far north - up to 20 km per year.  There is some talk that the destruction of South Texas scrub forest (for conversion to citrus groves) sparked their migration.  Most of the references still count the mourning dove as the most numerous dove in Texas, but white-wings are by far the most common ones on my driveway.

We do also get mourning doves, which are a bit smaller than white-wings and lack the white stripe.  The blue eye ring is there, but not as noticeable.  The picture above shows a mourning dove and a white-winged dove together, for comparison. 

From time to time, we see Inca doves, which are adorable -- they weigh less than 2 ounces.  Here on the outskirts of town, we don't see too many pigeons, but we do occasionally see the imported Eurasian Collared Doves at the feeders.

The call of the white-winged dove sounds like "Who cooks for you?"  Click here for an audio clip.


  1. Do they need more citrus groves in South Texas? Is at least part of the scrub forest protected for the birds?

  2. Elephant's Eye, we aren't that good about setting aside land for wildlife here. It's not the cowboy way. And the bird isn't threatened or endangered -- it's just been forced to move from South Texas to points farther north. It appears to be adapting to suburban life very nicely. It remains to be seen what impact that will have on the doves that were here first. But we do have a thriving citrus industry here...

  3. Thanks for the info on the different doves. We have many in our garden. I think they are morning doves, but I will have to look more closely to see if we have others. I always enjoy watching them.

  4. I love to watch the mourning doves that have made themselves at home in my garden. A week or so ago I was able to get a picture of a pair who were just hanging out on top of the bird feeder - not eating, just sitting there, bird watching!