August 2017

Vol. 45, No. 4

At a Glance: June 2017 Revealed

Wayne R. Petersen

Wayne R. Petersen

This month readers are faced with two individual birds, thus affording a frontal and a dorsal view of the mystery species. The small size, round heads, and short tails of the birds suggests that they might be juveniles, especially when it is noted that the frontal-facing individual is scaly on the chest. There is little else in the photo to support the hypothesis that they are juveniles however.

A closer examination shows that the two birds have plain, un-patterned faces, and that there is some fine streaking visible on the sides of the neck of both individuals. Also, the on-line version of the photograph shows dark spotting on the wing coverts of the back-facing bird. And finally, the short straight bills of the birds are clearly bicolored with pinkish-orange bases and dark tips. The small, round-headed appearance of the birds, their distinctive bill shape, and the chubby appearance of the front-facing bird all suggest that the birds might be doves or pigeons of some sort. However the short, rounded, slightly notched appearance of the right-facing bird’s tail is very different from the familiar Mourning Dove’s long, pointed, and prominently white-bordered tail.

With the features described above, there are a number of things that are atypical of a Mourning Dove of any age. Instead, the birds’ short tails, scaly breasts, dark-spotted wing coverts, and dark-tipped pinkish-orange bills are collectively typical features of Common Ground-Doves (Columbina passerina).

Common Ground-Doves are vagrants in Massachusetts with only two records for the Commonwealth, the most recent being one in Lexington observed from November 13 – December 3, 2015. The author photographed the pictured Common Ground-Doves in Key West, Florida, on April 22, 2009.

Wayne R. Petersen

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