One Invader Colonizes Better Than the Rest

Photograph by Horia Varlan/ Flickr Creative Commons

One Invader Colonizes Better Than the Rest

The Eurasian collared-dove may be the most prolific avian invasive.

By Jesse Greenspan
Published: November-December 2013

Forget the house sparrow. The fastest-spreading exotic bird in U.S. history is the Eurasian collared-dove, plumper than the mourning dove and with a black stripe on its neck.

Since the 1990s it has expanded from Florida to Alaska. Native to the Indian subcontinent, a few dozen escaped in the Bahamas after a 1974 pet store robbery. Some of the escapees (or their offspring) presumably flew to Florida, where, in 1982, researchers first recorded them breeding.

The doves, which prefer suburban and agricultural landscapes, now cover most of the Lower 48--except the Northeast-- and a swath of western Canada to southern Alaska.

"It's almost unfathomable how successful they've been and how quickly they've spread," says David N. Bonter, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's assistant director of citizen science. "I don't think anyone saw it coming."

They've likewise colonized Europe from southeast to northwest, leading scientists to surmise that juveniles are genetically wired to disperse in that direction. While little is known about whether the doves displace native species, the potential is certainly there, says Bonter, particularly in the food-scarce North.

This story originally ran in the November-December 2013 issues as "Fits Like a Dove."

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I've been seeing these

I've been seeing these beautiful doves in my backyard in Mississippi for several years. I love to hear their quick "coo-coos" and watch them at my feeders. They're even used to my 4 dogs, who mutually ignore them!

thanks for informative share!

thanks for informative share! your writing really make sense for reader.

We had about 2-4 pairs visit

We had about 2-4 pairs visit us last year and now we counted about 16 this morning, we love them! We also have Juncos, Red Polls, the odd woodpecker, chickadees and various other birds. They are not a nuisance as far as we can see, so far!

We have a bonded pair at our

We have a bonded pair at our feeder daily, (Los Osos, CA)

In Tempe, Az, we occasionally

In Tempe, Az, we occasionally see a pair on our block, but they don't seem to be taking over by any means. We are heavily populated with Inca, Mourning, and Rock Doves.

In Tempe, Az, we occasionally

In Tempe, Az, we occasionally see a pair on our block, but they don't seem to be taking over by any means. We are heavily populated with Inca, Mourning, and Rock Doves.

My mom and I used to have

My mom and I used to have some of these sweet little things as pets when I was growing up. I hadnt known their offcial name though, we always just called them ring-necked doves lol.

My mom and I used to have

My mom and I used to have some of these sweet little things as pets when I was growing up. I hadnt known their offcial name though, we always just called them ring-necked doves lol.

I have had them at my feeders

I have had them at my feeders in Vail, Colorado for about 6 years. A group of about 6 descend each morning around 10am. Remember Vail is at 8000 feet!

I have had them at my feeders

I have had them at my feeders in Vail, Colorado for about 6 years. A group of about 6 descend each morning around 10am. Remember Vail is at 8000 feet!

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