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Doves all around

8/29/2014

Monday marks the opening of the 2014 dove season, and there should be plenty of them to shoot at.

Monday marks the opening of the 2014 dove season, and there should be plenty of them to shoot at.

Plenty.

As in, they're abundant as mosquitoes following a month of higher-than-normal rainfall totals.

I could write that in all-capital letters, italicize it and bold-face it. But it still wouldn't do it justice.

There's just that many doves out there, and I'm figuring there's at least one behemoth with my name on it.

You see, I'm figuring the doves have to be in about as good a shape as they've ever been, what with the sheer abundance of grasshoppers in the area. Well, at least in my yard, which essentially moves when I walk through it.

While they're now almost big enough to feast on some of the smaller doves now, they once were small and likely tasty morsels for birds. I only wish they had eaten more.

But the doves that have taken up residence in the trees in my yard seem to have done well this year.

I'm certain at least some had more than one hatch given the separation of time when they were stuck like glue to the trees.

The Eurasian collared doves picking out an evergreen tree seemed to nest only once, given they were there early -- much to my surprise -- and then disappeared.

They are among the big ones, seeing them up close and personal like that.

It's the first time I've had collared doves stick close to the house, something of an oddity as they seem to prefer the settled confines of cities and towns, where perhaps food is readily abundant.

It wasn't that long ago, actually, when collared doves were an oddity. Today, they're seemingly everywhere.

Except, that is, in areas where they're fair game, so to speak.

In other words, where they can be shot by hunters.

That abundance shows in the state's decision to open the seasons for both collared and ringed turtle doves.

There's no limit -- in daily bag or possession limit -- on either, but they need a fully-feathered wing during transport.

Hunters are limited to a daily bag limit of 15 mourning doves or white-winged doves. Possession limit is 45.

I hope to get out a bit this year to photograph a few birds, or perhaps waste some shot on the fast-flying birds.

Target practice hasn't been on the schedule of late, so I'm sure they'll humiliate me.

It won't be the first time.

* * *

On another note, the state's sora and virginia rail and snipe -- the stuff of urban legend -- seasons open Monday.

No kidding. Snipe season.

Of course, there are about 25 species of snipe, perhaps the most popular being Wilson's snipe. They stand 10 to 12 inches tall and weigh in at a whopping 3 to 5 ounces. That's slightly smaller than a mourning dove.