Dove or "The Pigeon"
Hunters refer to the mourning and the white-winged dove as "the pigeon" in their hunting. The white-wing is a western variety and the mourning is a species found all over the entire country from southern Canada to Mexico. While classed as a migratory bird, they usually stay the winter when the weather allows.
They are both related to the passenger pigeon which is now long extinct due to overshooting and market-hunting, plus disease, which plagued the huge flocks that covered the land a hundred years ago.
The mourning dove is recognizable by its long triangular tail and its white border. The wings are long, slim and pointed, giving them a swift and erratic flight that appeals to gunners who try to sight it correctly in pass shooting when the doves are returning to their feeding or roosting locations.
They are ground feeders and their chief staple of diet is grains. They can be seen quite often along highways taking dust baths and eating gravel for their digestion. They generally nest in trees, the nest being made of small twigs.
Two or more eggs are laid and sometimes they lay as many as three clutches a year.
Their mournful cry or coo is a sure way of locating them for identification and pictures. They are exceedingly tame and will come in to the feeding station in your yard.
The whitewing is a hunters' favorite particularly in California and other western states. Its habits are somewhat similar to the mourning dove except that it can live in much
drier climate. Patches of white on the wing are the main identification marks. The two species are distinct and could never be confused.
They are fun to hunt, and the only time that they can be taken is during their flights from roost to feeding locations and back. While on the wing from these two locations they fly fast and usually in a direct course, appearing out of nowhere, dashing between the trees or suddenly veering off at the sight, sound or feeling of danger.
They are an excellent table bird, though small in size.
The number of wild pigeons is holding up well and they are in little danger of extinction, particularly the mourning variety.
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