Saturday, November 1, 2014

Mourning Doves

My friend Greg (of Greg's World fame) is a very avid birder. Last year he did a NJ Big Year and totaled 310 species. An avid citizen scientist, Greg did his big year to raise money for NJ Audubon's Citizen Science program.

And Greg's favorite bird in the whole world is the Mourning Dove.*

So he would have really enjoyed the show outside my window this past Friday.

There were at least twenty-five of these birds in the yard, enjoying their lunch at the same time I was enjoying mine.

Mourning doves are one of the most common birds in the United States with an estimated population of 350 million birds.

Think about that for a moment. Think about how often you see a mourning dove. And how often you see multiple morning doves. Now imagine instead of 350 million there were 5000 million or 5 billion of them. That was what it was like to be alive when the passenger pigeon, a now extinct cousin of the mourning dove, was.

We, Homo sapiens, are responsible for the demise of the the passenger pigeon. Let that sink in. There were five billion. Now there are none. And the prime culprit was our outright killing of these birds.

And we are still doing it. Some times directly, as with the bushmeat trade. And other times indirectly by destroying habitat. For some species it is too late. For others there is still time to make a difference.

And that's one of the reasons that Greg did his big year. And why I too volunteer my time as a Citizen Scientist for NJ Audubon (and other worthy organizations). To help gather the data needed to prevent other species from going the way of the passenger pigeon.

Click here or search the internet for citizen science projects to find a project you can join. And if you can't donate your time you can always donate your money. It can be as simple as recording what you see at your bird feeder. Or you could plant milkweed and other native plants in your yard to help native fauna. Or you can go out in the field and do surveys.

Please help. The other inhabitants of our world will thank you.

* Did I write "favorite bird"? I meant "least favorite bird". Sorry for any confusion.

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