Mourning Dove Banding Resumes in Outlook
July 25, 2018
For the fifth year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Outlook-area wildlife biologist Ryan Williamson is in full swing of trapping and banding the mourning dove.
Mourning doves are one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America and are also a popular game bird with hunting seasons established in 40 of the lower 48 states. As part of an effort to estimate population size, harvest rates and regulations, mourning doves are banded throughout the United States including within Montana’s Region 6.
“Banding mourning doves is the primary method to estimate population size and harvest rates for the species, and this in turn is used in the federal framework to establish dove hunting regulations for each state,” said Williamson, who is assisting with banding operations in Montana.
“Doves are marked with metal leg bands containing a unique number and a website that hunters can use to report the band,” he explained. “In return, wildlife managers receive important information on the number of banded doves harvested, and the locations and dates of harvest.”
“Recaptured birds and band numbers reported by hunters are the only way we know what happened to that bird and where that bird traveled,” Williamson went on. “By checking all harvested doves for bands and reporting banded doves, you help manage this important migratory game bird.”
He also says the same goes for any banded bird. “I have used the website to report bands found on birds I have harvested, and it’s very quick and easy. The story that band will tell can be very interesting.”
“What I still find the most rewarding about dove banding is the returns from previous years,” said Williamson. “Again this year, I have recaptured birds from all years I have banded starting in 2014, including birds banded as adults in 2014. It’s amazing to think of how many miles some of these birds have flown in their lives, considering how many critters are trying to make lunch of them along the way.”
Because some bands are very small, hunters can easily overlook them. Williamson reminds hunters to carefully check all harvested doves and waterfowl for the presence of a leg band. If you harvest a banded migratory bird, please report it by logging on to http://www.reportband.gov.