The other day while hanging out on my back porch, I was startled to see a sandgrouse--native to the deserts of the old world--fly past my green (if only weedy) Pennsylvania yard! I only saw it for a couple seconds, without binoculars, and as it flew off, but that's sure what it looked like. In reality, the only thing wild about this sandgrouse was probably my imagination. It was probably just a beefed up superhero version of a Mourning Dove, looking odd in the evening light. So much for quick views of distant birds without binoculars!
It might be easy to dismiss these ubiquitous birds outright, but in my daily quest to see at least 20 species, few native birds are as obliging as the MODO (Mourning Dove). Their plaintive whooo-whoooo-whhoooo calls are easily picked out on a walk of any duration, or even from bed as I lay there thinking about getting up in the morning. They perch out in the open on powerlines, so they are easy to see on my commute into work. They fly around and are easy to identify (unless you have sandgrouse on the brain) at even freeway speeds. In short, if you need a quick bird fix, MODOs are the birds for you!
And surprisingly, this common yard bird is also the source of a multimillion dollar hunting enterprise--hunters kill upwards of 45 million of them each year! While I'm not a hunter myself, I'm not anti-hunter by any means. In fact, I have to wonder, if hunting can help keep a species as common as are MODOs, I might be inclined to supporting expanded hunting on several other species!
A Shorebird Search in Costa Rica, Late April
8 hours ago