Once again I was required by my job to take the two-hour drive west on I-88 to Binghamton, New York. So, foolhardy and obstinate birder that I am, I awoke well before dawn so I could spend some quality time searching for the Eurasian Collared-Dove that had avoided my gaze on my last attempt. I was smart this time though: I called for backup!

And it wasn’t just any old guy off the street from whom I asked for aid. I tracked down Doug, a Brooklyn birder educating himself at my alma mater, SUNY-Binghamton. Not only did he break the 300 bird-barrier in New York last year, topping out at 314, but he also had seen and taken pictures of the object of my cross-state quest.

We met early, while the sun was still trying to fight through thick clouds. Within minutes we saw this:

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Actually, that was a total lie, and the picture is actually one that Mike took in the Bahamas. No, the Eurasian Collared-Dove wasn’t going to give itself up that easily; we had to work for it!

Doug drove while I sat shotgun, peering carefully at every bird on a wire, but only Blue Jays, Mourning Doves and European Starlings were passing time on the lines. He parked and we walked, seeing a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a large flock of Cedar Waxwings, Chipping, Song, Field and White-throated Sparrows, to say nothing of the Black-capped Chickadees that seemed to have lost their warbler tag-alongs. We walked and walked and walked and saw no collared-dove. Back in the car to drive through the residential neighborhood with Doug pointing out all of the different spots the bird had been seen. Still no collared-dove. We went around again and still no collared-dove.

I was frustrated and it was time for me to get to work. We pulled out onto the main road and spotted three doves on wires on Doug’s side of the car. He pulled over and we both put our bins up. His view, unobscured, allowed him to identify one of the doves as the object of the quest. My view, on the other hand, was most unsatisfactory due to the warping effect of the windshield. So I stepped out of the car, put the bins up and there it was!

Eurasian Collared-Dove with Mourning Doves

ignore the two birds on the right and my dirty camera

Eurasian Collared-Dove! Number 287 for the year in New York! And a lifer! Whoo-hoo!

I crossed the street and got these shots:

look!  some collar!

note the namesake collar

in flight

the tail is squared, unlike the pointy tail of the Mourning Dove

Lessons learned:

  1. Persistence pays off.
  2. Call for help.
  3. Get your camera cleaned.

And many, many, thanks to Doug.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.