Pigeons and Doves

Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Rock Pigeons are ubiquitous throughout the county and can easily be found along core urban areas, especially around power lines at just about any major intersection, supermarket, or “big box” store. They are uncommon in our more natural areas, so don’t expect them at places like Huguenot Memorial Park, or the Talbot Islands State Parks.

Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius
I did not come across any reports of the now extinct Passenger Pigeon in any of my research, but based on their abundance and range maps that extended into north Florida, it is not too far of a stretch to presume they occurred here. Further, Howell noted “William Stork, writing in 1769 of northern Florida, says, ‘The wild pigeons, for three months in the year, are in such plenty here that an account of them would seem incredible.'” Stork lived south of Jacksonville along the Saint Johns River at Lake George, so it seems very unlikely that Passengers would not have been present in Duval County.

Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
The first known county record for Eurasian Collared-Dove is of five birds observed on 12 September 1992 (Stevenson & Anderson, 1994). Today, they are uncommon in the county, but can be found with a little effort. There are two very reliable spots along Heckscher Drive, which is convenient because anyone birding in the county will undoubtedly end up at Huguenot Memorial Park and / or Fort George Island anyway. On Heckscher Drive, about 1.5 miles east of the I-295 exit you’ll come to Browns Creek Fish Camp. There are almost always a few Eurasian Collared-Doves on the power lines here; if you miss them there check again further up Heckscher Drive across from the Fire Station.

Inca Dove Columbina inca
On 12 February 2012, an Inca Dove was photographed in Riverside Park but unfortunately wasn’t reported for about a year. The photograph was provided to the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee (FOSRC case 2013-951) and they unanimously accepted the record, which was only the third Florida record for this species. It is a terrific state and county record, but it is unfortunate that only one person was able to see the bird.

Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
Common Ground-Doves are a year round breeding species, and can be regularly found at Huguenot Memorial Park, Little Talbot Island State Park, Hanna Park, and Pumpkin Hill State Park. They are more uncommon at places like Fort George Island, Seaton Creek Historic Preserve, or Durbin Creek Preserve. At Huguenot, check around the “free” parking lot or along the sides of the road just past the entrance gate / pay station. They often can even be found sitting on the power lines along this stretch of road or in the playground area. At Little Talbot Island, they can be found along the boardwalks from the parking lots to the beach and roadside throughout the park.

What I find interesting is that when looking at the distribution of doves in eBird, Common Ground-Doves are more evenly widespread in the county than either Rock Pigeons or Eurasian Collared-Doves. In particular, there is a vertical “corridor” from Beach Boulevard north to the river between Southside Boulevard to the west, and A1A to the east. This area is mostly developed residential, with many large communities and neighborhoods. Ground-Doves pepper that area on the map while the other two, more urban species, are notably absent.

White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
The first county record of White-winged Dove comes from 20-24 February 1962 (Stevenson, 1962); they now occur annually in the county but are very localized in the beaches areas, including Atlantic Beach where they are reported at feeders at private residences in winter months. Other early county reports include 26 May 1988 (Langridge, 1988), 27 May 1997 (Rea Stoll), 21-27 May 1998 (Pranty, 1998), 16 November 2000 (Pranty, 2001), 14 May 2002 (Pranty, 2002), 25 May 2005 (Anderson, 2005), and 12-16 November 2006 (Pranty, 2007). Note three of those reports were from Little Talbot Island SP.

Most reports are from late spring and winter, but I am aware of at least one observation in summer: one in Shell Bay on 4 July. I photographed three at Huguenot Memorial Park the week before the Christmas Bird Count in 2011 as they were sitting on the power lines just before the first camp site. Almost all observations are coastal, but from 12-13 November 2006, some visited feeders in Mandarin along the St. John’s River (Powell). In early 2015 and again in November of that year through February 2016, a pair could be found visiting a feeder outside the education center offices at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Mourning Doves are very abundant breeding species throughout the county, and can be found in virtually any park or place you find yourself birding. They are also regular on any of the power lines running from 95 to Huguenot along Heckscher Drive. Look for them in any and all seasons.

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