Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  Inca Dove - a NYS 1st Record

Published: December 08, 2017
Tags: General Observations, Inca Dove

A Chautauqua County birder, Tom, reported to the BOS that an Inca Dove was coming to his feeders.  This southwestern bird has never been documented in New York State before!  What was it doing here and what conditions brought it?!  And incredibly, it chose the home of a birder, otherwise, it might never have been noticed!

Unfortunately, Tom didn't want the sighting to leak out to the rest of the birding community, knowing well what a stir it would cause.  Birders from all over the state, let alone PA and OH would flock to the small, quiet neighborhood and he didn't want to risk his neighbor's yards, lawns, and good relations.  We felt very fortunate to be allowed to observe this mega rarity.

The Inca Dove is a small and petite dove and has a rather scaly pattern on its back - it's really quite neat looking.  And when this dove flies, a bright, rufous coloring can be seen on the underside of its primary wings which is quite striking.  I had seen my life Inca Dove when I went to Arizona last year but seeing it in New York would be a big thrill.

When our small group of three arrived at Tom's house, we learned that the bird had been seen early in the morning.  We were quite anxious to observe it and were ready to wait it out - however long it might take!  About an hour and a half later, it finally came back to Tom's feeders along with an array of other feeder birds.  Strangely, there were no Mourning Doves in its company.

The celebrity seemed quite comfortable foraging on the ground and we took many shots of it through the double-glass windows.  (You'll notice the compromised quality of the photos because of this - but we didn't want to risk flushing it by going outside.)  After awhile, the pale dove nestled under some pines and took a nap.  We waited - and waited - watching it breathe.  When it woke, it flew over to another row of pines, giving us the first view of its beautiful, rufous underwings.  We were delighted!  Very cool!  I got one, blurry photo of that when it flexed a bit while sitting on a branch after it landed.  Soon after that, the dove buried itself deeper into a pine tree and it was then that we left, giving our profuse thanks to Tom, our hero!

As a side note, this species has been known to simply wander.  No reasons can be given for its vagrancy but at times, an individual just decides to pick up and travel.  We were quite lucky to see this dove who was probably one of those to have the wanderlust gene.

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Inca Dove under the feeders

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Inca Dove

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A little better view...

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Back under the feeders

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Here you see the (blurry) rufous underwings

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