Ringed-Neck Turtle Doves

Ring-Necked Turtle DovesWe have a variety of winged wildlife frequenting our yard. Most are desert birds, with plumage of varying shades of gray and tan. Even our hummingbirds are a Sienna brown.

The larger doves seem to control the territory, and dictate what other birds they will tolerate in their kingdom when they are around.

Ring-Necked Turtle DoveThe Ringed-Neck Turtle Doves (sometimes referred to as Ring-Necked Doves) are the head of that hierarchy. They allow the ground doves free reign; the Ground Doves are most common, and congregate en-masse as they forage for seeds and grasses on the ground.

We have the common Mourning Dove, which control the area until the Ring-Necked Doves appear. The Ringed-Necks always arrive in mated pairs – they are monogamous, and the males always challenge any other pair that attempts to intrude in ther domain. The boldest males win.

Arizona has both African and Eurasian Ringed-Neck Doves, which in fact are cousins to the Mourning Doves.  The Ringed-Necks that frequent our yard have proved elusive to photograph, what with my cheap-ass Canon A3000 point and shoot. They are African doves, slightly smaller than the Eurasian – still, the size of a pigeon – and have mottled patterns on their feathers rather than solid gray or tan backs.

They are solitary, and very cautious – quickly exiting whenever they sense movement. I have been trying to get good close-ups of them for the past three seasons. I have been rewarded for my patience.

Usually the birds would take flight as soon as I made a move to position the camera towards them. The males are very protective of their mates, preferring to escape to risk. The ground doves, on the other hand, are rather stupid and will mill around the ground until you encroach on their personal space.

The pair in the photographs have been hanging around the patio for quite a while now, venturing close to the house to eat Jade’s unfinished meals from her dog dish. This food source has become such a staple that this duo return daily to scavenge. They have become comfortable enough to ignore me when I am relaxing in my chair on the patio.

Apparently, once you gain their trust, these birds are easily tamed, as the Eurasian versions are often sold as pets overseas. I have been placing kibbles of dog food on the wall to encourage them, and the male has actually allowed me to approach to within a couple of feet before retreating to a nearby roof. I think with some more patience, I might actually get him to eat from my hand.

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