There is a lot of interesting stuff to know about the Collared Dove but the thing that has put it in my mind today is the rain. It is tipping down outside and rain has no empathy. It brings life to many and death to many others. Caterpillars are being washed of the bushes (as if they didn’t have enough to worry about) and that is bad news for the Blue Tits who are trying to feed their young as well as the flies who are looking for a place to lay theirs.
Collared Doves are less at the mercy of the weather, they have a different way of feeding their young.
“Crop Milk” (Obviously if you are a pigeon fancier you will already know all about crop milk) All of our dove’s and pigeons produce it and the only other birds that do this are the Flamingo and Penguin. So in the UK it is just the doves.
A crop is part of a bird’s digestive system, it is a pouch in the esophagus (the tube that goes from mouth to stomach) that is primarily used to store excess food that the bird can’t fit in it’s stomach. A “Doggy Bag” for birds that dine. It enables a bird to take some food home for later.
Lot’s, but not all, of birds have crops. Eagles, Hawks and Gulls all have them and so do some other species like snails and earthworms but only our pigeons and doves produce crop milk from them.
As I said Crop Milk is a secretion produced in the crop. It is not like mammal milk. Both the male and female bird produce it and both feed their young. It looks more like cottage cheese than milk and is much richer in protein and fat than mammal milk.
People who keep Pigeons can buy formula Crop Milk to raise their squabs.
They came from Turkey and the Middle East where they lived happily for hundreds, maybe thousands of years (Evolution doesn’t happen quickly). Then suddenly around 1900 they decided to go and see the world. They spread rapidly across Europe and ended up here in the 50’s. I just wonder why they all suddenly got the wanderlust?
A brood normally consists of just two eggs but they can breed throughout the year. Three or four broods would be normal but six are possible.
They are welcome visitors to the garden. They don’t come here in large numbers. We have a resident pair and sometimes there are a few other birds that drop by.