A pair of Eurasian Collared Doves sit on a power line.

Invasion of a foreign species

Fort St. James is being invaded - by Eurasian Collared Doves, that is.

Fort St. James is being invaded – by Eurasian Collared Doves, that is.

The foreign bird, originally from Asia, first landed in North America – via the Bahamas – somewhere in Florida, and the first recorded sighting of the animal was in Miami, Florida in 1982.

Since then, the invader has wasted no time in making its way across the continent, with an apparent ability to adapt well to human-altered environments.

Unlike other invasive species, however, so far the bird has not had any apparent impact on the native species of doves, but this will need to be watched over time to ensure there are not long-term implications of the invader.

But while Canadian “snow birds” may be winging their way down to Florida via motorhomes, the Eurasian Collared Dove has been slowly winging its way north and westward over time, and appears to have managed to make it to Fort St. James.

Biologist and local bird enthusiast Joanne Vinnedge said a pair of Eurasian Collared Doves was first spotted in 2011 at Tchentlo Lake, and successful nestlings were spotted in Fort St. James in 2012.

Since then, she said she has had numerous queries from folks about these birds, which do not appear in older bird books, being relatively new to North America in general and especially the north.

To get out and learn more and have a look for the rare sighting, you can join in with experienced, amateur and beginner birders for this year’s 34th Annual Fort St. James Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

The event begins each year at Joanne Vinnedge’s home and volunteer birders spread out in teams to record all the birds seen within a count circle, centred on the post office and cover a specific area.

If this sounds like a little too much outdoor time at this particular time of year, there is also the option of doing a bird feeder count, or joining the birders for part of the day.

For more information, contact Joanne Vinnedge at 996-7401.