More Shots of the “Mystery Dove”

We just got some more shots of what I’m pretty sure is the same odd-looking dove I posted about yesterday. This is the dove I speculated might be White-tipped, but which Dr. Selma Glasscock of the Welder Wildlife Refuge said she thought was probably a Mourning Dove. Here are the shots I just got; I’ll update with any different shots obtained by other users when the images move out of the one-hour embargo:

Update: Here are three more shots. These were taken by robin54, txbird, and txbird again, respectively:

So, what do we have here? I have a real hard time seeing “Mourning Dove” in these. It it’s a Mourning Dove, something really unusual happened to its tail. I guess that’s possible, but I’m also not seeing the dark spots on the wings, and overall it doesn’t seem slender enough for me.

Look at the fourth shot of the initial batch (the ones taken by me). Is that a white corner on the tail? I think I’m seeing that, which pushes me in the direction (again) of either White-winged or White-tipped. The dark wings contrasting with the lighter body make me think White-tipped, but then again, maybe that’s an illusion caused by the foreshortened view we’re getting. And is there a hint of white under the edge of the wing, especially (again) in that fourth shot by me? The overall color seems more White-winged than White-tipped to me, at least judging by the illustrations in Sibley, but the head markings, especially in that last shot by txbird, seem more consistent with White-tipped.

I don’t know either of those birds from direct observation, so I hesitate to try to call this based on the available images (especially with Dr. Glasscock, an on-site expert with a long history in the area, disagreeing). But I am familiar with Mourning Doves, and I’m having a really hard time interpreting these shots as being one of those.

I’m interested in what others think.

Later update: After googling for photos on the web, I can see that White-winged is right out; the white border on the wing would be clearly visible if this were White-winged. And I’ve found several photos of White-tipped that look an awful lot like this bird.

Even later update: Dr. Glasscock posts in the comments that after seeing these latest shots, she’s changed her mind, and thinks these (and those earlier shots) are in fact a White-tipped Dove. Woohoo! Now let’s see if we can get an official ID in the game.

Still yet later update: The first image I took (the one showing the dove from the back) has now received enough votes to be ID’d as White-Tipped Dove. Yay!

4 Responses to “More Shots of the “Mystery Dove””

  1. selmaglass says:

    I’ll retract my first statement as I think after looking at the last few images that your identification on the first images was correct. These last few photos definitely look like White-tipped Doves. I went back and looked at the first images and if you will look, the tail on the first image appears shorter and not quite as pointed as a Mourning Dove. This is true of White-tipped Doves. In the wild, usually they are easily distinguished by color and size. Perhaps the lighting wasn’t as good on the first images because they don’t look as light as a White-tipped Dove. Anyway, good call.

  2. vireo says:

    How would we distinguish them if we didn’t have a full view of the tail if the lighting is not good? thanks for your feedback.

  3. […] Later update: Based on some later images (see More shots of the ‘mystery dove’), Dr. Glasscock has changed her mind, and says she now thinks these shots do show a White-tipped Dove. Yay! […]

  4. selmaglass says:

    There is generally a fairly apparent contrast between the wings and underparts in the White-tipped Dove, with the underparts being much lighter. (This is why I didn’t think the first images were a White-tipped Dove.) The White-tipped Dove will have a whiteish face (again that wasn’t apparent in the photos). They will also have a red orbital ring, (which one of photos seemed to show). Mourning Doves will have some black spots towards the tips of their wings when folded. The Mourning Dove will also have a longer, more pointed tail than the shorter, ‘stubbier’ tail of the White-tipped Dove (see the image of the dove facing away from the camera – also no spots on wings on this one) Mourning Doves have a pale blue orbital ring. I think White-tipped Doves look considerably chunkier, but I have the opportunity to observe both species at the same time. (FYI – If you could hear the White-tipped Dove it would sound like someone blowing into an old-fashioned Coke bottle – a really cool call!)

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