Saturday, June 27, 2015

Melanistic Dove at the National Butterfly Center 6/27/2015

All indications are this is going to be a strange year.  I spent a few hours this morning looking and listening for Dan J's Yellow-green Vireo at the National Butterfly Center (don't call me NABA) in Mission.  While I didn't have any joy with the vireo, which was singing heartily for Dan, I did have a pair of Bullock's Orioles pass through the area of the feeding station and cross the levee twice before 9 AM.

By far the oddest bird was an apparently melanistic White-tipped Dove.  Now you might ask why "apparently" melanistic or "apparently" White-tipped, and those are both good questions.  The bird was "apparently" melanistic because it was black, however it was missing a lot of feathers on the neck and the bases of the feathers was pale.  The area seemed "greasy" as though perhaps the bird got into something, but other areas of the plumage didn't appear to be anything but normal feathers that happened to be jet black.  So why "apparently" White-tipped?  Well, it's hard to imaging identifying a black dove until you are faced with one.  This bird had a yellow-orange eye but lacked the shocking light blue eye skin of a White-winged.  The tail wasn't pointed like a Mourning Dove, and the bird was large.  The bird also left the feeding station by walking through the brush barrier at the back and not flying out of the area.
If you go to NBC keep your eyes open for this stunning bird, I'd love to see some better photos of it!  The bird landed behind the food can and walked rapidly into the feeding station, almost immediately going nearly out of view behind the water feature.  As I saw it out of the corner of my eye I though "pigeon" but the second look obviously wasn't.  I wish it had been more cooperative, or I'd seen it a second sooner.  But that's birding!