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.


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2 Responses to The Elusive White Ghost

  1. cestma says:

    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?

    • BobC says:

      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.

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