Saturday I was heading out back to do some chores in prep for some afternoon company. I am half way down to the shed when the light clicks on in my brain and I decide I should get my camera from the house just in case.
So, back I go, get it and no sooner am I once again halfway down to the shed does this large Dove like bird fly in. At first I couldn't get over the size and thought that was the biggest Mourning Dove I'd ever seen in my life. Then I took notice to the lack of that whistling sound they make when flying. And then I saw the black collar on the bird. So I knew I was suddenly looking at something new to me.
I took some photos, then quickly but quietly booted it back to the house, told Angie to get her bins and to come out to see this bird. I grabbed the guide and quickly skimmed the Doves section.
My first guess, and the only one that seemed to fit was an Eurasian Collared Dove. Angie was in agreement. Excitement levels rose. But always play the part of caution with new bird sightings unless there's no doubt there. I posted a couple pics on a birding Facebook page called "Ontario Birds" and asking for confirmation or just ID'ing it otherwise.
I got a mix of replies from people saying it is an Eurasian to others saying it's an escaped pet of some variation.
I'm texting a few friends, Angie is calling some of our fellow bird enthusiasts. It's all very exciting and our friends agree. Of course we want it to be this countable species being the Eurasian that all the bird world would appreciate; but for us, we are happy for whatever it is, something new and a good story to tell in the future.
Jim and Lynda considered opening the store late just to come over for a peek. Our pal Dave was off in Milton otherwise he probably would have been over in a jiff. Same with our friends Murray and Debbie, having some errands to run in the east end, but were willing to come over asap to see him. Our new birding bud Len was willing to come over and assist us in giving confirmation on the bird's true species ID. Hoo boy! Can you not see how this was elevating?
We thought about the whole bit on IF the bird was an Eurasian, reporting him to Ontbirds and whether we'd post our address and give the opportunity to strangers with the same love of birds to come over and see him (if he stuck around). Wow! Really?!?! This is the stuff you see in movies! I could envision a line up of cars on our street and people single filing up the side of our house, creeping in to the backyard for a peek and a photograph. I wondered about the new people we'd meet, good people, and probably a few we would want to escort out of the yard. My day dreaming ability was in overdrive now.
Then there's the whole us taking Meadow (our cat) for her annual in a couple hours, plus us having company over for the afternoon and evening. Should we cancel the vet appt? What about the BBQ? So much to consider in a short time frame. Angie was willing to stay home while I went to the vet. A friend offered to come sit in our yard while we were gone. And we had more emails, texts, and a few phone calls still to answer or ignore because of this bird.
It was crazy!
Now back to the bird, he spent some time foraging in the garden, found one of the baths and had a drink. Then a few Pigeons flew in to check him out. Our new male on scene, still yet to be named, as "Bully Jerk Face" may be a little harsh... he attacked this Dove. He bit it on the neck and wouldn't let go. The Dove held it's own with the Pigeon but I finally stepped in and the scuffle stopped with one stomp of the foot. What I found surprising was the Pigeon retreated to another part of the yard and the Dove continued his business of feeding and exploring the grounds.
Peaceful times after the fight was broken up.
A few times he looked as he was ready for a nap. The fluffed out appearance... sign of stress and fatigue? Did he really blow in with some recent storms? Or is he totally freaked being a captive bred bird and set free at a wedding that morning?
He took flight to our north/west fence line and zoned out for some time. Our neighbour next door was outside doing her gardening. She's a huge animal lover but recently immigrating from Tibet, her understanding of the English language is lacking. I tried to explain to her as simply as possible that the bird was very tired, to give it some space and not disturb it. I saw no point in trying to explain that he may be a rare bird to Ontario or a pet of sorts out on his own. At one point she did get within 4 or 5 feet of the bird and start talking to him, saying "hello" and "pretty bird". I guess it was better than trying to shoo it off the fence and away from her rose shrubs.
He turned his back to the next door yard after her little conversation to him. I should have hung a "DO NOT DISTURB" sign next to him. LoL!
Please note that I am using my 500mm lens, and am keeping a respectable distance from this bird. I don't want to stress him any further, and wanted him to stay with us as long as possible.
Unfortunately about 10 minutes later, after the neighbour left him be, the bird suddenly opened his eyes and took off south/east. Damn! I was a little disappointed about this and had hoped for the bird to return at some point in the afternoon. But he never did.
Meanwhile on the internet and all the conversation on my photo post asking for ID help, Glenn Coady chimed in and said indeed it was an escaped pet or possible release at a wedding and the bird was actually an African Collared-Dove, sometimes called a Ringneck or a Turtle Dove or both words used in his species name (it's rather confusing once one starts looking this shit up). He gave a big explanation as to why he ID'd it that way, which helped us see the differences. I was cool with that. So was Angie. In the end only a handful of us still held the excitement of this bird visiting us.
If only I knew then when he was there with us, that he was a domestic, I know I would have made the attempt to capture him and help him out. I'm sure he will be okay for the next while outside since it is summer.
Oh well. It was fun. And I am counting this species on my own personal backyard list for us and our sightings. He's a cool bird regardless and we wish him well wherever his wings take him...
I don't think I will ever understand the concept of releasing Doves at ones wedding, whether this is this bird's story or not, as it happens often in our city.