June 13, 2013
Over the past 30 years, the non-native Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) has spread across North America. Since it was first discovered nesting near Miami, Florida in 1982, it has rapidly spread northwestward and can now be found as far away as Alaska. Project FeederWatch has been a crucial source of information on the spread of this species, and now our sister project NestWatch needs your help so that we can learn more about the nesting biology of Eurasian Collared-Doves in North America. NestWatch is a citizen science project in which volunteers find and monitor bird nests so that scientists can study status and trends in the reproductive biology of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. By reporting information on nesting Eurasian Collared-Doves, you can help us better understand why this species has been such a successful colonizer.
Eurasian Collared-Doves live in urban and suburban areas throughout much of the United States and southern Canada except for the northeast. They also can be found in rural areas, such as farms, where grain is readily available, and increasingly in other habitats as well. They are a bit larger than Mourning Doves but slimmer than Rock Pigeons, and have a characteristic narrow black crescent around the nape of their necks. Eurasian Collared-Doves build a simple platform nest, consisting of twigs, grasses, roots, and sometimes feathers, wool, string, and other materials. Pairs of doves often use the same nest for multiple broods during the year. In warmer regions, Eurasian Collared-Doves can nest year-round. Nests are usually located in trees or on buildings at a height of at least 8-10 feet above the ground. They lay 1-2 white eggs per nesting attempt, which hatch after 14-19 days of incubation. Young doves are ready to leave the nest approximately 17 days after hatching.
If you know the location of a Eurasian Collared-Dove nest, please report it to NestWatch.org. You can log in to NestWatch using your FeederWatch username and password. To get started, read the NestWatch Code of Conduct and Nest Monitoring Protocol, and then take a short online quiz to become a certified NestWatcher. Next, watch a few short tutorial videos to learn how to register nest sites and enter data. Nest monitoring tip: If you would like to monitor a nest that is above head height, simply attach a small mirror onto the end of a pole or stick. You can then carefully raise the mirror above the nest to see what’s going on inside!
Don’t know where any Eurasian Collared-Dove nests are? Not a problem! NestWatch is seeking observations of all species of nesting birds, so you can also help by monitoring American Robins, Northern Cardinals, Tree Swallows, or whatever other species may be nesting near your home.
If you are in Canada and would like to monitor nests, visit the Project NestWatch website.