Earth Almanac

Earth Almanac

Nature's walking stick; when a royal becomes a ragamuffin; a ubiquitous but rare species; mourning glory; more. 

By Ted Williams
Published: September-October 2012

In Canada and the northern United States, mourning doves, named for their doleful cooing, are starting to migrate south. But you'll still find some in all the contiguous states, southern Alaska, and even Hawaii (where they've been introduced). Listen for the sharp whistle of wings as they take to the air, and watch their swift, erratic flight. Mourning doves are our most popular game species by far. Each year American hunters kill something like 20 million--more than all other migratory game birds combined. Yet the population appears to be increasing. In this regard the mourning dove is the opposite of its cousin, the extinct passenger pigeon, described by Aldo Leopold as a "biological storm" and "the lightning that played between two opposing potentials of intolerable intensity: the fat of the land and the oxygen of the air." While the razing of forests and the plowing of prairies helped bring about the passenger pigeon's demise (probably more so than uncontrolled hunting), this same habitat destruction brought an explosion of highly adaptable, grain-swilling mourning doves, whose fall population is now estimated at about 400 million. What's more, mourning doves have the longest breeding season--February through October--of any North American bird, and in the warmer parts of their range they've been seen to fledge six broods a year.

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Ted Williams

Ted Williams is freelance writer.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


Utah Federal Land Grab

I love your articles for their clarity, forthright interviews and timeliness.
The State of Utah's Governor and legislature passed HR 148, a Bill to give the Federal Government a drop-dead date to hand over 30 million acres of Federal Lands in Utah, which includes National Parks and wild public lands under numerous Federal Management prescriptions. This is a land grab to take from the other 49 States, and to take from all the citizen's of the United States. Do we want Utah to keep our Federal Land for only their citizens or worse to sell off our national lands?
Already Utah is using RS2477 to lay claim to 25,000 roads. It is in litigation with our Federal Government.
Will you consider writing about this important land grab of bird habitat-what history does Utah have in protecting birds? No one bird watches from an ATV!

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