Just Another White-Winged Dove

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White-winged Doves are seasonal residents in the Tucson area, showing up in numbers some time after the first week of April and staying here until mid-September.  They more or less time their arrival with the blooming of Saguaro Cacti.  The doves love to feed on Saguaro blooms and later, they will feast on the ripened Saguaro fruit.

A lot of people disdain these birds.  They regard them as nuisances.  I’ve heard White-winged Doves referred to as “flying rats,” and many seem to think that we’d be better off without them.

It’s true that these birds can leave huge messes wherever they hang out.  It’s also true that they disrupt bird feeders and drive away other songbirds.  But, they are as much part of our desert ecosystem as are the Saguaros and these big doves, along with bats and bees, serve as important pollinators of these plants.

Besides, they are beautiful.  I doubt whether most people ever bother to look closely at White-winged Doves but I find that their  beauty is truly extraordinary.

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This bird, which I photographed a couple of days ago, displays a remarkably subtle range of colors, from the blue skin surrounding its burnt orange eyes, to the hints of lavender and gold on its neck, to the delicate shades of brown and gray in its wing and tail plumage.

Now, if they’d only stay away from our backyard!

Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/3200.

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