The Elusive White Ghost

When I go on my short walks after work I don’t carry my binoculars or any other birding gear.  I do what Ted Eubanks would describe as “bare-naked” birding.  The point of these short walks is for exercise and to get in shape for longer weekend walks.  Don’t get me wrong, I still watch the sky and listen to the birds, I just don’t bird at the usual slower pace.

So Wednesday I’m walking down the Greenway Trail in Franklin at a good clip when I hear what sounds like the call of a distant Barred Owl.  At 5:45 in the afternoon?  I have heard many Barred Owls in the afternoon so it doesn’t strike me as real odd.  Sorta odd, but not unusual.  As I proceed the call is much closer and I’m sure it is the call of a closer dove, not a distant owl.  But what throws me off is the call is not that of a Mourning Dove.  It sounds like the call of the Eurasian Collared-Dove.  But that can’t be since Eurasian Collared-Doves don’t exist in Johnson County.

Eurasian Collared-Dove - Fort Lauderdale, FL - October 2013
Eurasian Collared-Dove – Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 2013

When I moved here last year I made out my initial list of birds I should see in Johnson County.  I included Eurasian Collared-Dove in the second set of birds. Birds I should see that might take a little work.  I figured that since Illinois had Eurasian Collared-Doves in every town with a grain elevator, and even most towns without elevators, I shouldn’t have a problem finding them in semi-rural Johnson County. Not so.  After a few months of hanging out at grain elevators and not seeing any, I went back and checked the status and distribution charts and maps.

From Birds of North America Online
From Birds of North America Online

And what I found is that Eurasian Collared-Doves are basically not in Indiana.  Which completely stunned me since they are all over Illinois, less than a 100 miles away.  I know they are scattered around Indiana but aren’t widespread.  And I eventually saw them last year in Indiana in towns far from Johnson County.

So you can see my surprise when walking along I heard what sounded like a Eurasian Collared-Dove.  After twisting my neck around 18 directions I finally found the bird on a power line, not a telephone line but a power line.  So it is pretty far up.  The bird looks whiter and bulkier than a Mourning Dove.  The tail looks square and dark on the underside.  But I am “bare-naked” birding and even with my new glasses I’m not 100% sure since a Eurasian Collared-Dove shouldn’t be here.  The bird eventually flies and I walk on home rethinking this “bare-naked” birding.

Thursday I have rethought “bare-naked” birding and stick my binoculars in my coat pocket, just in case.  I don’t figure on a Eurasian Collared-Dove but you never know what my turn up.  No camera though, I don’t want to be that bogged down.  So I am walking the same path and who should be at the same spot?

Eurasian Collared-Dove on the Greenway Trail.  Photo taken on phone through binocs.  03/13/14
Eurasian Collared-Dove on the Greenway Trail. Photo taken on phone through binoculars. 03/13/14

That’s right, the Eurasian Collared-Dove. And in the same spot.  I really hadn’t expected that.  So I make the ID through my binoculars and take the above ID photo through my phone and binoculars.   Phone and Binocular picture taking is something I need to practice since I only got one decent photo.

The sighting of the Eurasian Collared-Dove has really got me thinking why they aren’t in Indiana or the NE part of the country.  If anyone has an idea I would like to hear it.  I checked all my sources with no answer.  So I will probably write a post on some of my thoughts.


2 Replies to “The Elusive White Ghost”

  1. I’ve wondered about their distribution a lot since for most of the country they’ve proved to be a most successful invasive. I know there are some few seen regularly in south MI but that’s exceptional as far as I know.

    All I can think of is that the present boundary limits indicate a place where perhaps the balance tips for some reason in favor of a similar bird…Perhaps something–Mourning Doves–still manages to out-compete them there.

    Or is it the approximate boundary of the infamous Alberta clipper?

    1. Yes, it is strange to me why they haven’t invaded Indiana and Ohio since both states aren’t that different from Illinois. Or as you point out Southern Michigan. I had looked at a few climate maps but none matched up with their distribution. Only thing close was a Photovoltaic Solar Map but I looked at a map of Alberta Clippers and it’s close also. So you might be correct on that. I’ll have to do more digging on the topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *