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March 23, 2005

Birds Of Iraq: The Eurasian Collared Dove

What we have here is metaphor overload. It's a Symbol of Peace! Yet it's sitting on concertina wire! But it's in Iraq! Facing to the Right! Captured by a Marine!

I gave up after getting to "And its foot is giving you the finger!" I'll leave the metaphors to the professionals.

The Marine in question is our Major Ed, the newest addition to the rapidly burgeoning roll of Hraka Iraqi avifaunalists.* What's his secret when it comes to great bird photos?

I dragged a Marine from Combat Photo with me as I walked the river. Unfortunately, you can bring the cameraman but you canít bring the birds. Really wanted the Kingfishers, Crakes and Moorhens.

Now that is the absolute best way I've ever heard of when it comes to getting quality bird photos. Order a professional to do it. More power to you, Major Ed.

The Eurasian Collared Dove is a species that has graced our pages before, though in a different context. It's one of the most successful, and therefore one of the most common, birds on the planet, even managing to spread to North America.

The story of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is captivating. A century ago, this species was found primarily on the Indian subcontinent, although its range extended slightly in Europe, in Turkey. In the early 1900s, however, the species began expanding its range significantly and by 1950 had reached the British Isles. Today, collared-doves are living above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia.

Eurasian Collared-Doves were introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s, and their populations soon expanded around these islands. What happened next was unclear. At some point in the 1980s, Eurasian Collared-Doves migrated, without assistance, from the Bahamas to Florida. And because they look much like the Ringed Turtle-Dove (below), the collared-doves started to spread unnoticed. It wasn't until the mid-1980s that ornithologists realized the suddenly prolific and quickly spreading "turtle-doves" they were watching were actually Eurasian Collared-Doves.

Like the English House Sparrow, rattus norvegicus, and ever-present Rock Dove, the spread of the Collared Dove has a lot to do with the fact that it gets along quite well in human dominated environments.

For all that, I think the Collared Dove is considered an invasive species only in the U.S., since populations here were introduced by the hand of man, rather than spreading naturally. Also, it's a fairly pretty bird, so it might not raise quite the ruckus over here that other invasives do. Of course, the European Starling was once considered to be quite the looker as well. Now look at their reputation.

You can pick off single European Starlings with your pellet rifle (or .22 shooting CCI CB ammunition), but you shouldn't be to hasty about knocking off the single European Starlings either, as sometimes these single European Starlings act as scouts for the flocks.

I've seen single scouts come in, then fly off, returning with a couple more scouts, then they leave and all of a sudden a flock of European Starlings will return. Now go to work with you shotgun knocking down the groups that have landed with the Modified Choke and then the Full Choke as the remaining European Starlings try to get away.

You may also try shooting your double barreled shotgun in reversed order starting with a Full Choke to cut through dense foliage or to knock down European Starlings that are above a group that you are shooting at below as the shot will pass through the European Starlings below to hit those above, then use your Modified Choke to hit those that are trying to get away.

Shotguns are nice, but when it comes to dispersing doves, other weapons are more effective.

* Say that fast three times

Previously: The Red-Wattled Lapwing

Next: The Black-Winged Stilt

Update: I've set up a fotopage for Major Ed's pictures to go along with LTC Bob's. Right now I've got his pics of the Mesopotamian Crow and the Iraqi Babbler, as well as the Collared Dove, posted.

Posted by Bigwig at March 23, 2005 01:15 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments

Bigwig, You sick bastard.

On a related note, I've discovered that using a modified blow gun to deliver bait from a camouflaged position is quite helpful.

And for the record, the 22. is far more sporting than a shotgun.

Posted by: Sully at March 23, 2005 06:26 PM

Bless you Bigwig. The hare of the doggerel that bit them.

Posted by: Stephen at March 23, 2005 07:55 PM

Well, what this means is we've now a first rate imperial mili-tree. When your officers have the time and inclination to become first rate eccentric bird watchers and naturalists, you've achieved imperial status. See, e.g. Empire, British; cf. Empire, Roman, Galen & Biology.

If DOD announces new joint headgear based on pith helmets and bear skins, I'll know we've really made it.

Posted by: Blackavar at March 23, 2005 09:15 PM

Oh, look! A guy who read a book once!

Blackavar, the concept you're looking for is called the Citizen Soldier. Fella by the name of George Washington said something about it once.

Shame you don't like us. I think we're pretty nice people.

Posted by: Chap at March 24, 2005 05:27 PM

I won't put words in friend Blackavar's mouth, Chap, but from what I know of him his comments were closer to bragging than remonstration.

Posted by: Bigwig at March 24, 2005 07:20 PM

Um, yeah, I'd say Bigwig reads that correctly. I happen to love us, and what I especially love is that our imperial exploits are spreading a "do it yourself empire," by revealing an attitude that encourages people to shoot for self rule and to build peaceful, prosperous democracies. As I've explained to foreign friends, the U.S. isn't a place, it's a bunch of people with a certain state of mind and a set of beliefs permitting self determination. The irony of it all is that we don't own the mindset or the beliefs, anybody can use them if they want, and enjoy similar benefits. It's a pretty good kind of empire to spread, especially if we stick to our promises and depart eventually, leaving the resources in the hands of the indigenous governments.

And I note in passing that the scientific exploits of the Roman and British empires, especially the naturalist discoveries of their serving officers, were exceptional, and nothing to scoff at. Empire isn't necessarily a bad thing, if it's the right kind of empire, just the same as a dictatorship isn't necessarily the worst kind of government to live under.

Posted by: Blackavar at March 24, 2005 09:14 PM

Roger Bigwig and Blackavar's comments, and appreciate the clarification. I still bristle at being compared to the British Empire's colonial masters, whether or not our American influence in the world is comparable or not.

The reason why is twofold:
1) The common denigration of the colonized, coupled with the "gentlemen of leisure" that populated some colonies' imperial armies, are not for this man's American military. We work pretty hard to do what was once considered jobs "beneath" the officer of those militaries. Compared to some of those guys back in the day, our free time is much more limited, making guys like our birder give up sleep or a movie. We also try as hard as possible to not be there as a unit if we don't have to be, and to work with the people who actually live in the places we are at. We don't have catered candlelit dinners every evening with our wives in our state-sponsored cabanas in theater.

2) Kipling's "Tommie" likely wouldn't be following pursuits like this major. Ours do, enlisted and officer. Ours do because they're citizen soldiers who come about their interests not by nurturing of gentlemanly leisure activities, but by having a life as a citizen outside the military. (Look at how many WWI ambulance drivers became first rate writers--from all sides!) When the shooting slows down we get to work on those. When it gets calm we leave, unlike those who supplanted the local governmental structure.

For example, one of my junior petty officers was an astronomy buff. Is he the equivalent of the Modern Major General? No, he's a twenty year old kid with a telescope who volunteered to do this job and plays with his telescope when he gets a day off.

Maybe you have an argument to make about the American influence being imperial, and that's one I have seen debated. I'm not saying I agree, just saying I've seen people have that discussion.

That's not the point. You directly compared the American military officer (that's the "us" to which I refer) to a British Empire colonial. That's a role that we do not wish to play and would directly work against the missions we are doing. I don't want to have to deal with that mindset in my work.

Posted by: Chap at March 25, 2005 12:56 AM

Where are my manners?

Bigwig, you've had some great posts recently, including this one. Thanks!

Posted by: Chap at March 25, 2005 02:02 AM

Thanks, Chap. We have been feeling rather pukka recently.

Posted by: Bigwig at March 25, 2005 10:19 AM

Jolly good! Well on, lad.

Ps. GO HEELS!

Posted by: Blackavar at March 25, 2005 03:58 PM
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