Last week I noticed these mourning doves (Columbiformes: Columbidae: Zenaida macroura) perched in a tree at daybreak. The rising sun cast their pale feathers in an orange glow, lending to the serenity on that particularly calm winter morning. Although these individuals were silent, I find the sorrowful coos of these birds to be a welcome sound.
Mourning doves are one of the most common birds in North America with a population estimated around 350 million. They’re also the most popular game bird, with hunters bagging around 20 million annually. In spite of hunting pressure these birds have prospered as humans have settled the continent. They prefer open areas like fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards–places that have only increased in area over the last two centuries.