Inca dove makes unexpected trek to Minnesota

Jim Lind of Two Harbors has a couple of birding "thirds," but the little white and orange dove that buzzed through his back yard was his first "first."...

Jim Lind of Two Harbors has a couple of birding "thirds," but the little white and orange dove that buzzed through his back yard was his first "first."

On Oct. 30, Lind, an avid birder, spotted the first Inca dove ever seen in Minnesota.

"I wasn't even birding," Lind said. He had just finished changing the oil in his car that afternoon and was standing on his back porch, staring into space, when the dove flew by and into his neighbor's yard. Lind noticed the orange on the bird's wings and knew that was something out of the ordinary. He dashed into the house to grab his binoculars, but the bird had vanished.

Birds that have never before been seen or recorded in Minnesota pop up every year or so, Lind said. He's recorded two "third" sightings: a black vulture and a common ground dove -- a lookalike to the Inca dove -- also in Two Harbors. But Lind has never recorded a first sighting, so he wasn't about to give up on this new bird.

He ran back inside, grabbed a spotting scope and a camera and headed for his neighbor's yard.


There, pecking at birdseed scattered on the ground, was the dove. Lind snapped a few pictures to be sure, ran back home, posted the photos on the Internet, called other avid birders and ran back to see if the dove was still there.

"I was shaking, I knew it was a very big deal," Lind said.

Sure enough, by dawn the next morning, a group of birders -- one from the Twin Cities who had left his home at 3 a.m. -- were out looking for the lone bird.

Inca doves are common in the American Southwest, in warm climates such as those in Texas and Arizona. The birds thrive alongside humans and are expanding their range, Lind said. New populations of Inca doves have become established in Ohio and Colorado.

Why and how the dove ended up in Two Harbors is anyone's guess, Lind said.

"The North Shore, in October and November, has a tendency to catch these wandering, vagrant birds," Lind said. About eight years ago an ash-throated flycatcher, which also is a Southwestern bird, was spotted in Two Harbors, Lind said. Some birders are speculating that the Inca dove might stay in Two Harbors for a while yet.

For now, the dove is still hanging out in Lind's neighborhood. At least 100 birders, many of whom have driven for hours, have visited Two Harbors for a glimpse. The sighting still heads up the daily list of hot birds to see on the Minnesota Ornithologist's Union Web site and telephone hot line.

"The neighbors are all good about it," Lind said, useful because birders roam the alleys around Lind's neighborhood and point their binoculars towards people's homes, trying to catch a glimpse of the dove. "Everyone is really happy about it; we don't have to worry about ticking anyone off."

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