Saturday, April 22, 2023

Eared Dove

I initially thought the eared dove was a mourning dove and didn't get too excited about it. When I asked a guide I was told what I was looking at was an eared dove and I couldn't really see much difference between the two species. The mourning dove has a crescent-shaped dark spot below the eye. The eared dove has a dark spot below the eye, but a little more to the right, and a black streak behind the eye. Between these two lines there is often a circular set of feathers that are a slightly different color on some birds and I believe those feathers, which look like a large ear, are the reason for the name. 
Note the light round patch below the eye to the right and between the two dark marks. 
In the fields around Cordoba, Argentina there are millions of eared doves. I've seen estimates between 23 million and 50 million. They say that a single shotgun can shoot 1,000 doves in a day. I wondered if there is a limit on the number that can be shot by a single person and here is a link to an outfitter in Argentina that offers "limitless dove hunting" and states that shooting 2,000 rounds in a day is not unusual (which seems like a horrible waste of life as no hunter is going to be able to collect, clean and cook that many birds no matter how many people that hunter intends to provide the game to). Wikipedia notes that it is "the last big-bag shooting experience in the world" and "the scale of this wing-shooting recalls the numbers of passenger pigeons taken by North American gunners in the 1800s. That hunting pressure brought the passenger pigeon to rapid extinction, but the eared dove seems to be more resilient." It is also reminiscent of the American bison that was indiscriminately shot and barely saved from extinction. 

At Tinamu Reserve they would throw grain on the driveway in the morning and eared doves would flock to it. So they were a regular and common presence. 

They are found in most of South America except for a very large portion of inland north South America that appears to cover the Amazon Basin and a little more.

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