Friday, January 20, 2017

Mourning Dove

On 19 January 2017, a lonely Mourning Dove landed below our snowy bird feeders. These doves occasionally attempt to winter in Minnesota. Sometimes you can find flocks of a couple of dozen or more. Eckert considers them to be uncommon and local during Minnesota winters.

More interesting to me is the molt on this bird’s shoulder.  To see these pin feathers, you may have to enlarge the image.  The shoulder feathers may be being replaced after some sort of injury.

Another explanation for this molt is possible. Mourning Doves can molt all year, although they usually do not molt in December or January. Look at the feather tips at the end of the wing.  If you look closely, you may also notice that the outermost primaries are brown rather than gray. This brown color means that these feathers are unmolted, while the others are fresh. These doves go through a prebasic molt (into winter plumage), and they lose their outermost primaries last (Otis et al. 2008). Sometimes this molt may pause, so perhaps this bird is just finishing its fall molt.

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