On this day in 1997, Paul Lehman found a Eurasian Collared-Dove perched on top of a utility pole on Alexander Ave. in Cape May Point. Although word went out immediately, the bird had departed by the time the first chaser arrived ten minutes later (Lehman 1998). The bird could not be relocated.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove made an explosive colonization of Europe in the last century and now looks poised to add North America to its portfolio. The original source of the North American population is unclear, and the issue is muddied by birds that have escaped or been released from captivity (Romagosa and McEneaney 1999). What is apparent is that NJ birders need to be prepared for more records of these doves. At this writing, there are five accepted records for NJ: four from Cape May and one from Sandy Hook (Barnes et al. in litt.). There are two records each for May and September, and one for July.
Since doves may give only fleeting views, it's crucial for birders to concentrate on details of the wing pattern and undertail pattern to clinch this identification. Hybrids with Ringed Turtle-Dove need to be ruled out. Knowing the distinctive call of this dove may help, too.
When House Sparrows and European Starlings arrived in this country, many bird students of the day found them beneath notice because of their captive origins. As a result, we have a spotty record of the nature of their expansion across the continent. Hopefully we will not make the same mistake when it comes to tracking the Eurasian Collared-Dove.
Barnes, Scott, Joe Burgiel, Vince Elia, Jennifer Hanson, & Laurie Larson. In litt. New Jersey Bird Records Committee: Annual Report 2006. New Jersey Birds Fall 2006 issue.
Lehman, Paul. 1998. A Eurasian Collared-Dove at Cape May: First Sighting in New Jersey. Records of New Jersey Birds 24:5-6.
Romagosa, Christina M., & Terry McEneaney. 1999. Eurasian Collared-Dove in North America and the Caribbean. North American Birds 53:348-353.