Thursday, August 19, 2010

Molting Mourning Dove

Among the common feeder birds here are Mourning Doves, which walk under the feeder and pick things off the ground. I am not entirely sure what they are finding, whether they are picking up bits of seed that were sloppily dropped by other birds at the feeder or catching invertebrates. It might be a bit of both. While their plumage is understated, their shape and gait makes them appear more elegant than some other feeder visitors.

As I was examining my photographs, I realized that this dove has two ages of feathers – in other words, the bird is molting. It is most obvious in the wing coverts: some feathers are grayish and others are brown. Which ones are newer is not as clear, but it seems that the darker ones have crisper edges while the lighter ones look frayed, so the dark ones are probably fresh.