Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Friday, June 1, 2007

This year's Mourning Dove Survey

Every spring since 1988, I've headed out one morning at 4 am to conduct a Mourning Dove Survey for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It's a lovely little ritual. This year only one person stopped by and asked me what I was doing out there. Most of the time when people stop to question me, they're concerned that I'm having car trouble. The guy who stopped by today seemed more concerned that I was some sort of threat standing out there on a rural road early in the morning. It's frustrating to have to answer questions when I'm on a tight schedule to count for exactly 3 minutes, then drive to the next stop so the 20-stop count takes precisely 2 hours. My options are to be polite and risk chatty people or to be brisk and even curt, which isn't a very good way to serve as an ambassador for birds. It's a growing problem--as more and more people move to the countryside and commute to Duluth for work, I encounter more and more cars on this and my Breeding Bird Survey route, and have to deal with more and more people stopping. But when there aren't cars about, it's lovely to listen to all the bird song.

I heard two doves today, and saw one of them. The photos were taken in Amherst, Ohio, this weekend, right outside our motel room.