RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The soothing coo of a White-winged dove is the song of the Rio Grande Valley.
Their soft grayish brown feathering with distinct white wing patches and vibrant violet eyeliner highlighting bright orange irises encircles glistening dark eyes.
Deep South Texas is home to several species of doves. Joining the iconic White-wing is the abundant Mourning dove, gathering in large numbers at ranch country ponds at dawn and dusk.
If you catch one in just the right light, you will behold a flash of shimmering iridescent colors on the neck. Trim-bodied birds possessing long tapering tails; their overall plumage is subtle brown with a spattering of spots on upper wings.
Residing with White-wing and Mourning dove is the White-tipped dove. This plump dove is slightly larger than a White-wing, with a grayish brown back and pale underparts. The rounded tail has white corners, hence its name White-tipped dove.
The large White-tipped dove dwarfs the diminutive Ground dove. This chunky little dove at a mere six inches is the smallest of all our native doves. Slightly larger than a sparrow, the Ground dove sports a short blackish tail, and as its name implies is primarily terrestrial.
The slightly larger Inca dove, measuring a scant eight inches, has grayish feathering with dark edges imparting a rather scaly appearance distinguishing them from other doves.
Joining these native doves is a relatively new arrival, the Eurasian collared-dove, which was first documented in Texas in 1995 and is now found throughout the state. This big-bodied dove is easily recognizable with its distinctive black collar.
The special White-wing dove season in the Rio Grande Valley traditionally opens the first weekend in September, and if backyard feeders are any indication, then it appears there are a bountiful number of doves this season.