Friday, July 7, 2017

Spotted Dove in Waimea Valley on Oahu

In my other life as a geologist, we have a long-standing adage that you may spend an entire season collecting samples in your study area, and finding at the end that you have not collected a single specimen of the most common rock. That happens with birds too, I have found, and the picture above sort of proves it. It's pretty much the only decent shot I got of a Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) during my recent journey to the Hawaiian Islands (and of my previous 6 visits as well).

It's not for lack of trying. Upon arriving at the islands we had a three hour layover in Honolulu, and bored, I tried photographing the Spotted Doves running around the airport waiting areas. No dice. They never stopped moving. It wasn't until our last day at Waimea Canyon on Oahu that I finally found one that was still enough for a half-decent shot.

The Spotted Dove has been on the islands for a long time in human terms. They arrived in the 1850s from China, possibly as a food source for Chinese laborers. Some escaped and quickly spread to all of the main islands. Unfortunately they may have been the vector for the bird malaria that wiped out so many of the native species. They also seem to have aided in the spread of the invasive lantana plant. The damage was done long ago however, and since they are mostly found in urban areas, they don't seem to have much of an impact on the remaining native ecosystem.

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