Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mourning Doves

This past weekend was the Audubon bird count, which my wife always participates in. This year there was a surprising group of 14 mourning doves both mornings. (Clearly the same birds.  They don't get counted twice.) Because we had not seen them the previous week, I wondered aloud how much range each individual birds feeds on in our region. Is it just our neighborhood (about 0.25 sq miles), or do they feed over a square mile, or even more?  It is hard to find an answer to that question, as searching under "range" usually brings up a map of North America and where they are found in what seasons. "Individual range" brings up the same.

What caught her attention was the claim that it is the most frequently hunted species in North America.  This seemed completely impossible to me.  I have never heard of anyone hunting for mourning dove at all, much less saying "I got my dove this year." Yet it is true. The New England states are among the few places it is not hunted, and hunting them with shot is a very big deal in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia. Apparently it is usually a community affair, and despite their small size and the amount of labor it takes to get meat off them, it's an important source of food for some folks.  Huge, dense, flocks will do that. Across history, poor people have got time to dress down reliable food, and rich people sometimes like the nostalgia of what they ate when they were poor.

Dove recipes. They look interesting.  Do they taste like other game birds, such as grouse?


Aggie - said...

Very delicate, all dark meat, lovely flavor. Takes some work to get it off such as small bird though.

Texan99 said...

I mostly hear of white-wing dove hunting, but the internet tells me that mourning doves also can be hunted here. I think most people breast them out and discard the carcass. A little like turkey in flavor.