The Common Ground-Dove is an easy species for us to overlook during our morning walks in the Wounded Wetlands. Only about 6 1/2 inches (17 cm) long and drab in appearance, it does not gather in flocks which are so characteristic of other members of its family of pigeons and doves. Instead, it forages quietly in the grass or at the edges of woodlands, flying away low before being approached too closely.
It has a sprightly scientific name, Columbina passerina, which could be danced to a Macarena or a salsa tune and translates as "tiny dove sparrow."
We usually see them in pairs or with one or two of their offspring. Indeed, they are said to mate for life. Its major population is in the tropics, but it ranges into the extreme southern USA, including all of Florida and parts of the other Gulf States, southern California, southwestern Arizona as well as much of Mexico, Central and South America.
A brown bird with a lighter grayish head, the Common Ground-Dove's plumage has a scaly appearance, especially on its neck, breast and undersides. The similar but slightly larger Ruddy Ground-Dove wanders north of Mexico and sometimes breeds in southwestern US.
The Common Ground-Dove's song is also unassuming, a repetitive and monotonous soft "woot, woot, woot..." Yet it has a strikingly brilliant plumage feature-- bright reddish brown primary wing feathers and underwing linings, which only show when the bird bursts into flight.
I have only captured a few (very poor) views of a Common Ground-Dove in flight:
Adult female Common Ground-Dove:
The male is more brightly colored, with pink highlights on its neck, breast and crown, and bluish gray crown and nape of his neck:
I encountered this male up fairly close and in bright sunlight:
By accident, I discovered an active Common Ground-Dove nest on August 17, 2014, the first ever reported in Broward County. While I was walking along the side of the gravel road, a dove flew up out of the grass just to my side. The flimsy nest contained two white eggs, barely visible the vegetation. (Photos from the roadway with telephoto lens):
This is the female which had been sitting on the nest:
During the next several days I checked the nest without disturbing it and the eggs remained intact. This was the nest on August 22:
However, ten days after I had located the nest, the landscapers came through and mowed all along the side of the road (August 27, 2014):
They left no sign of the nest structure or remains of the eggs:
An encouraging sign-- Two years later, on August 19, 2016, a pair was tending to two fledgling young (to the left), along the same roadside weed patch:
This is one of my favorite photos of a Common Ground-Dove. It seems such a peaceful setting:
Trees felled by Hurricane Irma almost two years ago reflect chaotic beauty in the wetlands, now flooded after our area's wettest July ever:
On August 8 it was 80 degrees F (26.6 C) just after sunrise. A westerly breeze, so welcome, stirred the surface of the lake:
An adult Bald Eagle often passes over just around sunrise, flying from the nearby nest tree to forage in the large lake to the southeast:
Butterflies are still scarce. I have not seen any Monarchs for several weeks. A Gulf Fritillary rested on a grass stem:
This is the view to the south along the large canal on a fair morning. The Wounded Wetlands are on the right (west) side, opposite "civilization" (August 14):
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