Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday bird blogging

Here is a white-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica, on a sawed-off branch out back. Its presence is possibly a central Texas manifestation of global warming. When I was a boy, the northern limit of the range of this species was roughly 80 miles south of here. They were common in San Antonio, but unknown even as summer visitors in Austin. Oddly enough, they are not displacing either of our other two large urban doves, the mourning dove and the common pigeon. Whitewings are, however, displacing the Inca dove, a small dove once common in Austin but now seldom seen.

Why, you may or may not be asking, is this bird called "asiatica" when its range is restricted to parts of the Americas? Well, Linnaeus got in wrong in 1758. According to Choate's Dictionary of American Bird Names, Linnaeus named this bird on the basis of a specimen that came labeled as coming from "Indiis," which was actually from Jamaica in the West Indies. If we follow the rules of zoological nomenclature, an error of this kind does not invalidate a scientific name. So it sticks.

The white-winged dove is now resident in Austin year-round.

white-winged dove

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