Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Monday, 9 April 2018

Whitey returns

A White-winged Dove in Ontario is an unusual event. They do show up somewhere in the province from time to time. However for a species that is normally not a long distant migrant, and its usual breeding range is limited to southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Florida, to have one arrive in southern Ontario is notable indeed.

This first image was taken of a bird in a creosote bush in southeast Arizona in early 2012.
 The first record of White-winged Dove (WWDO) for the Rondeau checklist area was surprising. Now seeing a WWDO in winter in Arizona is one thing, but in the snow of southern Ontario is quite another. In late January 2013, Jim Burk was the first to notice a WWDO at Rondeau, at the feeder at the Visitor Centre. Needless to say it looked a little out of place surrounded by snow. When it wasn't feeding, it stayed in the sunlight with its feathers ruffled.

The bird disappeared after about a week, and since there had been a Cooper's Hawk seen in the vicinity, it was thought that possibly the hawk enjoyed a southern taste to its normal menu of sparrows and finches more typical of the area. Or the dove had just decided that while some folks from Ontario spend parts of the winter in the sunny south, for a resident of the sunny southern USA to spend part of the winter in snowy Ontario just wasn't to its liking, and hastened back to where it had come from.

No more thought was given to this species until the spring of 2015, when in May a WWDO had been seen by various birders in scattered locations along the east side of the park. It seemed to wander about quite a bit, and was not easy to find. It seemed to have disappeared, or at least there were no reports of it for several weeks. However in late June I re-discovered it along Lakeshore Road close to the Visitor Centre.
Where this bird spent most of its time was a mystery, and it eventually disappeared for good. Or so we thought.

Fast forward to 2016, and a WWDO showed up again along the east side of Rondeau, found by Steve Charbonneau on May 2. It moved around a bit, but was fairly easily found by the numerous birders that were visiting the park during the month of May. It deposited nesting material on a cottage owner's car, trying out both a Toyota Venza and a Lincoln from time to time. It vocalized regularly, but never did attract a mate, not surprisingly. It was around until well into July.
Tight-rope walker
nest material on a Lincoln
On Sunday, April 9 2017, Steve Charbonneau and Blake Mann discovered a WWDO at the same location that it had spent most of its 2016 time at. As usual, it was seen or heard along this same east side of the park, but ventured more regularly to a point farther south where it attempted to place nesting material on the top of a stove pipe. Due to the slope of the top of the pipe and the very exposed nature, the nesting material did not stay in place for more than a short time.

At Mel's place

A single bit of nesting material deposited by Whitey
This time the bird stayed into August.

As the spring of 2018 arrived, local birders regularly checked out the east side of Rondeau wondering if the WWDO would return. On Saturday, April 7, Jim Burk and Steve Charbonneau were looking at the dove in its usual area. It has been seen by quite a few birders in the last couple of days, as it spends much of its time exhibiting the same early season behaviour roaming around the cottage lot community between the Visitor Centre and Dog Beach (beach access #11).

It will be interesting to see how the White-winged-Dove saga at Rondeau unfolds.


  1. Am loving this dove story.I wonder if it escaped from a cage? It would be grand if a mate turned up! A real lovey-dovey romance that would be.

    1. It is indeed an intriguing story....who knows how many more years it will go on for. The oldest WWDO ever banded was almost 22 years old, so this could go on for awhile!

      I don't think it is an escaped caged bird. Its behaviour and appearance do not lead anyone to think that is the case, and since the species does have a tendency to wander on occasion, this one likely just got a little too adventurous. Now if a mate came along with it sometime, that would really make this event significant!