In Nebraska, there are three types of doves and pigeons that can be found. These stocky birds are characterized by short necks, short slender bills, and a diet heavy on seeds. Known for their peaceful nature, doves and pigeons are commonly seen in backyards. The first species is the Mourning Dove, easily identifiable by its grayish appearance, black spots on the wings, and a long thin tail. They are frequent visitors to bird feeding stations, and to attract them, offering their favorite foods such as millet, sunflower seeds, and cracked corn is recommended. The second species is the Rock Pigeon, often seen in urban areas, gathering in large flocks hoping for food. They are easily recognized by their gray back, blue-grey head, and two black wing bars. The third species, the Eurasian Collared-Dove, is an invasive species in Nebraska. They are sandy brown with a black collar on the neck and can be found in urban and suburban areas. Each species has unique characteristics and can be identified by sight and sound.
The Mourning Dove is a commonly seen dove in Nebraska. It is a mostly grayish bird with large black spots on the wings and a long thin tail. Look for pinkish legs, a black bill, and a distinctive blue eye-ring. Both males and females look the same in appearance. The Mourning Dove is known for its peaceful nature and can often be found perched high up in trees or on a telephone wire near homes. They are also frequently seen on the ground, where they do most of their feeding.
Mourning Doves are common visitors to bird feeding stations. To attract them, try putting out their favorite foods such as millet, shelled sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, cracked corn, and safflower seeds. They need a flat place to feed, so the best feeders for them are trays or platforms. However, they are most comfortable feeding on the ground, so throwing some food there as well can be beneficial.
Mourning Doves are known for their prolific breeding. It is common for females to have 3 to 6 broods each breeding season. The young only stay in the nest for a maximum of 15 days, but they stay nearby to be fed by their parents for roughly another week. Many people mistakenly think these young doves have fallen out of the nest since they can barely fly, unaware that the parents are nearby and still providing food for the hatchlings.
The Mourning Dove is frequently heard in Nebraska. Listen for its low, mournful call that sounds like “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.” This sound is how the dove got its name and is often mistaken for an owl’s hoot.
The Rock Pigeon is another dove species that is commonly found in Nebraska. This bird is plump with a small head, short legs, and a thin bill. The typical Rock Pigeon has a gray back, a blue-grey head, and two black wing bars, but their plumage can range from all-white to rusty-brown.
Rock Pigeons are predominantly found in urban areas and are often referred to simply as pigeons. They can be seen gathering in large flocks in city parks, hoping to find birdseed or leftover food.
These birds are easily attracted to bird feeders, especially if there is food available on the ground. However, their presence in high numbers can become a nuisance to some people. If they become overwhelming, there are ways to discourage them from visiting backyard feeders.
The Rock Pigeon is also recognizable by its soft, throaty cooing sound. It is a familiar sound in urban environments and can be heard throughout Nebraska.
Rock Pigeons have a long history of association with humans. Egyptian hieroglyphics suggest that people started domesticating them over 5,000 years ago, and their original range is still uncertain due to their close relationship with humans.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is an invasive species in Nebraska, meaning it is not native to the area and has been introduced by humans. These doves are mostly sandy brown with a long, square-tipped tail. As the name suggests, they have a black collar on the back of their neck.
Unfortunately, someone introduced Eurasian Collared-Doves to the Bahamas in the 1970s, and since then, their population has rapidly spread. They have thrived around bird feeders and in urban and suburban areas, making them common sights on the ground or platform feeders where they eat grains and seeds.
The song of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is a distinctive “koo-KOO-kook” sound, given by both males and females. The middle syllable is longer than the first and last ones. Males sing louder when defending their territory or searching for a mate.
Distinguishing the Eurasian Collared-Dove from Mourning Doves can be challenging at first glance. However, Mourning Doves are smaller and have black dots on their wings, while Eurasian Collared-Doves are larger and have a black crescent around their neck.
To get a better understanding of where these doves can be found in Nebraska, refer to the range maps provided below:
- Mourning Dove Range Map
- Rock Pigeon Range Map
- Eurasian Collared-Dove Range Map
These maps can help birdwatchers identify the specific areas where these doves are typically found in Nebraska.
If you have seen any of these doves in Nebraska, be sure to leave a comment and share your sighting! Observations from birdwatchers are valuable for tracking bird populations and distribution.
For more information on birds in Nebraska, check out these related articles:
- “The 31 MOST Common Birds in Nebraska!”
- “The 6 Wren Species in Nebraska! (ID Guide)”
These guides provide insights into the wide variety of birds that can be found in the state and offer tips for identification.
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