Good news everyone, looks like you are in for a surprise with tonight’s post! Unless you happen to live in southern Central America or a large swatch of South America, in which case I probably overplayed the hype for just a Dove.
However, if you are not from those specified places I get to introduce you to …well, a Dove which you probably deduced from the general shape of our featured feathered friend. A relatively small rounded profile sitting atop a plump chest walking along the ground – yeah, definitely a Dove. The shape may be similar to the local variety you may be used to, but maybe the colors are throwing you off a bit.
Hit the jump to discover what kind of Dove this is!
This isn’t “your average ordinary everyday dude”. Confession, not positive if this is a dude or dudette, but according to the references the male is more rufous than the female (she has more grey and standard brown hues) and has more contrast between the head coloring and the body. Audubon’s website chose to lead with a juvenile photo for some strange region, but did have some distinguishing shots in their gallery – they also didn’t bother to provide a region map and allocated exactly three sentences for its profile.
While I dig up some interesting facts about our little bird, let’s take a step back and provide some background on how he came to be in my tin. First off, we found him during our Texas exploration trip in January. As mentioned in the previous post, I was keeping an eye on the rare bird alerts for the various sites we had planned to visit down there.
There were two birds that caught my eye at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. One was the Blue Bunting – an empty box on my bird list. Sorry, like the Rose-Throated Becard at Quinta Mazatlan, no Blue Bunting made its way into the tin. Not a huge miss as their region maps indicate they migrate through that area so maybe next year.
The one that really got me excited was the Ruddy Ground Dove and folks, you are looking right at it. Naturally, it wasn’t keeping a regular hourly routine, but was at least being seen and reported consistently through to the first day we made it to the park. The very helpful visitor center staff confirmed it was still hanging around and directed us to the first feeder area.
Linda gave me the stern “don’t be a crazy birder and sprint out of the center” look. Yes, the same look she gave me at Quinta and the same look she gives whenever she sees my inner excitement reaching dangerous (translated embarrassing) levels. I sheepishly looked down and we made our controlled progression to the specified feeders. There were a few birders there when we arrived who promptly informed us it had been there earlier, but had not been seen for a while. Telling you, this is why you should accept your fate and RUN to the spot hehehe.
We gave it a good effort, but alas, no luck. Disappointed, we made a quick round of the key spots in the park and headed out. The drizzle had turned to rain and it felt like a good time to go get waffles. Spent the next day getting the Elegant Trogon (link here). With luck restored, we made another run at the Ruddy. On our way to the feeders we find out from another birder (running back after his friend at the visitor center) that it was just there. This time we hurried over there to learn we MISSED it by 30 seconds. We set up camp to wait this sucker out.
Slowly a guy walks up and takes a seat near us. He looked a bit dejected which was confirmed 20 minutes later when he told someone on the phone he had missed the bird thanks to leaving and going to the bathroom earlier – he was the guy the other birder was running after. We sat and commiserated a bit. He actually told me what features to look for that turned out to be extremely helpful. Sometime later, I spotted the Ruddy hanging out on the ground with the Incas. Two happy birders started working their shutters at blistering speeds.
From the shot a couple back, you can tell the Ruddy is a small Dove roughly the size of the Inca (link here). Beyond the region info, that is the sum total I knew about this visitor from the South. Took Mr. B.’s advice, grit my teeth and headed over to Wikipedia so I could give you a few more facts about the Ruddy Ground Dove.
There have been other incidental sightings along the south eastern border usually during winter months. They are primarily seed eaters. Wikipedia stated that the female is all brown which is contrary to the Audubon description. They are supposedly aggressive with each other. This specimen was getting along quite well with the other Incas, Common Grounds and White-Tipped Doves that were busy cleaning up under the feeders.
Well, that is pretty much all I have for you. Super stoked to officially add it to my bird list even if it is not technically considered a North American bird. Hope you enjoyed a new friend from the South.