Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

August 11, 2009

Young Mourning Dove

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 6:38 pm
Young Mourning Dove

Young Mourning Dove

Before we moved to Arizona I mostly ignored Mourning Doves. They are such a common bird that we take them for granted and seldom look closely at them. They don’t have the bright colors of warblers, the grandeur of hawks, the panache of hummingbirds, or the challenge of shorebirds. But with a much shorter yard list for our AZ backyard than the yard we left behind in NJ we’ve had a lot more opportunity to look at these doves and gain a better appreciation for their subtle beauty.
One thing we’ve noticed is how much the juvenile Mourning Dove can remind a viewer of an Inca Dove. Although there’s an obvious size difference between the two (with the Inca substantially smaller), the young mourning dove’s feathers look scaled almost as much as hose of the Inca Dove. The young Mourning Dove also lacks the pale blue around the eye of the adult, so it looks a lot like its smaller cousin.
We sometimes see the young birds sitting around in our yard, but far less often than you’d imagine given the species’ propensity to mate and breed. When we do see them they are usually just sitting around in some shaded spot by shrub.
The bird in this image was photographed along the trail at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, on May 23 of 2008. It was a rare afternoon visit – the image is time stamped at 2:08 PM. It was alone on the edge of the trail, probably because there are very few people out walking at that time of day. I brought the tripod off my shoulder slowly and lowered the legs so I could get closer to the ground, then took a few frames with the 300 and 2x at ISO 320. This let me shoot at 1/160th second and f/11 (enough depth of field to keep all of the dove sharp, but not so much as to make the gravel behind the bird sharp and distracting).

Before we moved to Arizona I mostly ignored Mourning Doves. They are such a common bird that we take them for granted and seldom look closely at them. They don’t have the bright colors of warblers, the grandeur of hawks, the panache of hummingbirds, or the challenge of shorebirds. But with a much shorter yard list for our AZ backyard than the yard we left behind in NJ we’ve had a lot more opportunity to look at these doves and gain a better appreciation for their subtle beauty.

One thing we’ve noticed is how much the juvenile Mourning Dove can remind a viewer of an Inca Dove. Although there’s an obvious size difference between the two (with the Inca substantially smaller), the young mourning dove’s feathers look scaled almost as much as hose of the Inca Dove. The young Mourning Dove also lacks the pale blue around the eye of the adult, so it looks a lot like its smaller cousin.

We sometimes see the young birds sitting around in our yard, but far less often than you’d imagine given the species’ propensity to mate and breed. When we do see them they are usually just sitting around in some shaded spot by shrub.

The bird in this image was photographed along the trail at the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, on May 23 of 2008. It was a rare afternoon visit – the image is time stamped at 2:08 PM. It was alone on the edge of the trail, probably because there are very few people out walking at that time of day. I brought the tripod off my shoulder slowly and lowered the legs so I could get closer to the ground, then took a few frames with the 300 and 2x at ISO 320. This let me shoot at 1/160th second and f/11 (enough depth of field to keep all of the dove sharp, but not so much as to make the gravel behind the bird sharp and distracting).

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