Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

June 2, 2011

Fledgling White-winged Dove

Filed under: backyard, Birds, light, technique — richditch @ 5:19 pm
White-winged Dove fledgling

White-winged Dove fledgling

A few White-winged Doves hang out in our backyard every summer, joining the abundant Mourning Doves and a few Inca Doves to feed on on scattered birdseed. Each year we see young MoDo’s that loaf around waiting for the adults to feed them. but we’ve never seen a young white-wing until earlier this week, and never suspected that they were nesting nearby.

I was surprised to see this very young dove waddle past the window just after 2:00 pm on Monday May 30, 2011. There were no adult doves accompanying it. It hoped up on this old piece of wood in dappled sunlight a few feet from the house and settled in for the next 2.5 hours.

We watched in fascination, and of course I grabbed the nearest camera and lens to see what I could manage. I started working with my Nikon D200 body with 70-300 VR lens, shooting hand-held through the dirty glass. Light along this side of the house is always a problem, and the sunlight hitting the dirty window rendered these early shots with very low contrast and marginal detail.

I mitigated the dirty window problem a bit by digging out my seldom-used SB-800 flash and connecting it to the D200 with a remote cable – that allowed me to place the flash well away from the part of the dirty glass where the lens was pointed out.

Since the dove stayed on the log for such a long time I was able to try other things, and also to wait for the sun angle to change enough that the dappled log became evenly lit. I brought the D300 into play mounted on the very sharp 300/2.8 AF-S Nikkor that I use for most of my bird photography. For me this is definitely a tripod lens, especially when I add either the Nikon TC14E (1.4x) or TC20E (2x) converter between the body and lens. I moved the SB-800 and remote cable from the D200 to the D300 for this as well.

My final “adjustment” was slowly opening the large sliding window enough for a few clear shots. This involved first moving the clutter of plants that my wife keeps on the window seal, and also making sure that both indoor-only cats weren’t lurking about waiting for a chance visit the outdoors.

I ended up with about 180 shots from this unique opportunity.

The top image was taken at 4:36 pm with the window open. Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 with TC14E (1.4x), ISO 400, 1/60th second at f/5, fill flash at -2.3 stops.

The bottom image was with the D300, 300/2.8 plus TC20E and fil flash, through the dirty glass. It needed more corrective work in raw conversion and post processing to minimize the lower contrast and loss of critical detail due to the glass.

White-winged Dove fledgling

White-winged Dove fledgling

At the end of the day this fledgling ambled farther back in the yard, making one brief visit tot he edge of the patio. It was still in the yard the following morning, but hasn’t been seen since.



  1. Beautifully ugly!

    Comment by Robert Mortensen — June 2, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  2. I chuckled while reading this. Your wife’s “clutter” of house plants and the cats. I have many cat tails in my photos of birds taken from inside, and a lot of experience doing the same thing with the “clutter.” Beautiful results here. I wish I knew where you were and your habitat for these great birds.

    Comment by Andree — June 3, 2011 @ 4:51 am

  3. Very interesting finds with the WW dove and Mourning dove fledgling’s. My wife and I have been seeing Gambel young in the desert behind us but we were just commenting about how come we never see young dove’s. Wonderful closeup’s images of something you do not see very often.

    Comment by Jim — June 16, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

  4. I have an adult white wing dove who comes to my back yard to eat. My question is when another white wing dove comes to my yard to eat this one white wing dove will go after them. This evening I fed them and a younger white wing dove came to eat and this same adult flew over to the young one, batting his wings at the young one to make him leave the area. Does the white wing dove possibly claim my yard as his territory? I don’t like to see him be mean to the other white wing doves, but yet he’ll eat right along side of the sparrow’s who come to eat and other species of doves. Can you tell me why this adult behaves like this?

    Comment by Norma — July 22, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  5. Sorry, but I don’t have any insight to what is happening with this dove in your yard. We see this behavior in our yard with the Gambel’s Quail while they are driven by their reproductive hormones or while they have chicks with them. At other times of the year the same adults are quite tolerant of each other.

    Another possibility is that what you seeing is actually mating behavior. Male White-winged Doves display at females by facing them, flaring their wings and raising their spread tail to show off the white markings.

    Comment by richditch — July 22, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

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