Sunday, March 1, 2009

Uncommon Beauty

Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura

The Mourning Dove is one of the most common birds seen across the United States (coming in second to the Northern Cardinal according to this year's Great Backyard Bird Count).

I think many might agree that the word "common", when applied to the Mourning Dove, fits the bird in multiple ways:
  • Widespread; prevalent
  • Not distinguished by superior or noteworthy characteristics; average
  • Of no special quality; standard
  • Unrefined or coarse in manner; vulgar
I would have to challenge all of those assumptions about the commonness of the Mourning Dove, though. Have you ever stopped to really look at one? They are quite lovely. There is nothing common about their beauty.

Mourning Doves, fluffed out during preening

In the midst of preening

Being polite and keeping its feet OUT of the food supply...

Zoomed in on the plumage (this would have been a good Plume Zoom subject!)

Ice/snow accumulation on tail

Such ice/snow accumulation can cause Mourning Dove tail feathers to be pulled out if they get stuck to a branch (thanks to Julie Zickefoose for this information and feather ID).

Unfortunately, I can't do much to defend that last definition of "common" when applied to the Dove ("Unrefined or coarse in manner; vulgar"). I mean, c'mon, a bird that poops that much and leaves his poop right in among the seed and the bird bath? There's no defending that. Good thing they're pretty...!

This is my first submission to Bird Photography Weekly, hosted every Monday over on Birdfreak's site. Go check it out and see who else is showing off their birds.

By the way, what bird do YOU find to be beautiful?


An Open Heart said...

Your photography is spectacular! Oh and the birds are pretty cool, too! I also enjoy your commentary, informative or otherwise. I agree that the Mourning Dove is beautiful and the way you narrated your montage was lovely>

Thank you,
S - stop by my little home

Kallen305 said...

Great photos!! I think mourning doves have very pretty eyes and feathers.

The backyard bird I find most beautiful is the male goldfinch. I could photograph him all day if allowed.

The Early Birder said...

Not unlike the Collared Dove here in the UK and continuing to spread around the world but didn't get the prefix of 'common'.
Enjoyed the very informed post & excellent images Heather. Well done.

Jenny Clark said...

I haven't checked your blog in a while so I was treated to a lot of gorgeous photos when I finally did.

Brian and I are also enjoying the Dairy Barn photo on the calendar.

Mary said...

I agree that they are very pretty, even if "commmon"! I love the blue eyelid when they close their eyes and the pinkish feet. The feathers are pretty, too! But....dumb....I'm sorry, but they appear to be very dim witted.

Heather said...

S. - Thanks for the comments, I'm glad to have you here. I will stop by your place.

Kallen - I like their eyes and feathers too, especially when you can catch the iridescence in their neck feathers. The goldfinches are starting to brighten up with spring around the corner!

Frank - Yes, the Eurasian Collared Dove is making its way into the U.S. I will be interested to see how far it spreads across the continent. Thanks for the nice comments.

Hi Jenny! Glad to hear from you, and thanks for stopping by! Hope things are well in the Clark household. Please give my love and hugs to the kids and Brian.

Mary - Their colors are quite fantastic. Yes, they might be a little "slow", but that's okay. They're funny, too. Have you ever watched one walking real fast, with that little chicken-walk they do? It's pretty comical.

Shellmo said...

Your photos highlighted their sweetness perfectly! I love em (even though they drive me crazy with all their bird bath pooping and 20 crazy babies running around come spring!)

Kelly said...

Ahhh...I love Mourning Doves. They are beautiful. Great photos...the first one is gorgeous.

MaineBirder said...

The plaintiff coo of a mourning dove...

Beautiful photos! The feathers sticking to ice/snow and pulling out is a new one for me.

Sparverius said...

I agree. Mourning Doves are still one of my favorite birds. I never tire of their company.

Anonymous said...

I am fond of doves. And while Mourning Doves are certainly prolific, they are beautiful in a quiet, gentle way. But then I only have a few up here in the woods.

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

They might be common in terms of occurence but I agree with you that they are never common when it comes to beauty.

Thanks for the info regarding the tail feathers being caught in branches due to snow. I learn something new everyday. :-)

mick said...

A very nice series of photos - I especially like the second one.

Red said...

Very nice series! LOL @ last definition. That was one I was thinking of defending.

Vulgar? They have such a soft mournful coo :) But now that you mention the poop, well, I can't defend it either.

Kathiesbirds said...

Heather, wonderful post. I love the subtle coloration in their neck feathers, especially the bits of irridescent lavender. I find the Vermillion flycatcher to be vibrant and gorgeous but I also like the cryptic and simple beauty of the brown creeper.

Neil said...

Very nice photos Vulgar I dont think so.

Larry Jordan said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful bird Heather. I love the subtle coloring of the Mourning Dove and the whistling sound they make when they fly!

North West Birds said...

Doves are very pretty :-)

RuthieJ said...

Male Ring-Necked Pheasant -- now that's a beautiful bird!