I have recently taken up bird counting and the other day I spotted something unusual.
With Jane Goodall and Jacques Cousteau as my childhood heroes, it should be no surprise that I love watching animals. As a kid, animals were my thing. I didn’t have baby dolls like most girls, I had animals and not just teddy bears and unicorns or whatever was trending. No, I had stuffed wild animals. On my bed were an otter, a beaver, a red fox and a python. I did have a stuffed puppy. Not just a generic, non-descript puppy, but a wired-haired fox terrier. I knew the breed. As a teenager, my boyfriend, now husband, got me one of the greatest gifts ever – a membership to the NC Zoo so I could go and take photographs of animals whenever I wanted to.
But you know the busy work of adulting with jobs and kids happened and I never got to do much nature observation. I would just “accidentally” drop some fries in the parking lot for the waiting sparrows or speak to the cows on my way to somewhere more important. Now, thankfully, I have a bit more time to indulge my childhood pleasures.
So, now I count birds in my backyard and send the data to Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I like to take photos of them – well just because I do.
So, this past week I kept seeing certain doves show up in my yard. They didn’t look like they typical Mourning Dove, their color and markings were different. I looked them up and found they were Eurasian Collard Doves. So, I reported it in my data. Then I got an email from Cornell saying that I must have misidentified the birds because they are very rare in my location. So, I sent them a photo I took and the link from The Audubon Society that I used to identify them. They wrote back and said that I did indeed spot a rare species and congratulated me on my excellent birding!
Here they are all the way to Texas from the Middle East through Europe, the Bahamas and into Florida. They have expanded into most of the US, but I guess they don’t get many reports of them on the coast of Texas.
I like to think that Jane and Jacques would be proud of me.