The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a (surprise!) Eurasian species that was introduced in the Bahamas, spread to Florida, and has slowly but surely expanded its range north and west across the southeastern United States. It is a still-rare visitor to New York but one was reported recently in Port Crane, a small town in New York’s Southern Tier. Since my job required me to go today to Binghamton, a city just west of Port Crane, I figured I would leave extra-early and stop off to see if I could find the bird.

I had pretty detailed directions, gleaned from a listserv posting by a fellow birder who also posted pictures of the bird. The area was a residential community, which fit with the Smithsonian Birds of North America description of the Eurasian Collared-Dove’s behavior: “Feeds close to houses; trusting of human contact.”

How hard could it be to find a bird that is “trusting of human contact” anyway? Pretty darn hard. As I drove around the sun did its best to break through the fog:

sun through fog with trees

But the problem wasn’t really visibility; the problem was actually multiple problems, and they were the ubiquitous Mourning Doves.

Mourning Doves are very nice birds and all but when you are looking for a slightly different dove they are a real pain in the rear. Every time I stopped because I saw a bird on a wire it turned out to be a Mourning Dove. Unless it was a European Starling. I tend to not pay too much attention to Mourning Doves but today I had no choice. I had to examine each and every one until I was sure it wasn’t my quarry. This rapidly got repetitive and frustrating. An example:

Not a Eurasian Collared-Dove

most assuredly not a Eurasian Collared-Dove

So looking at birds on wires lasted an hour and then off to work. On the way home, because I am nothing if not stubborn, I tried again. And failed again. All of this for an introduced species that twenty years from now will probably be as common as House Sparrows. What a weird, weird, hobby I’ve become obsessed by. Oh well, at least no local homeowners called the cops on me for driving and walking past their house twenty times.

What? I'm not good enough for you?

one more of the 5,000 Mourning Doves I saw

And if you European birders are snickering to yourselves about this failed twitch (yes, this means you Charlie), well, how many Mourning Doves did you see today?

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.