THE INCA DOVE AND ITS SCALED APPEARANCE
The Inca Dove, scientifically known as Columbina inca, is a small and delicate bird species, notable for its unique appearance and gentle behavior. These doves are often found in Bisbee, Arizona, particularly in the Mule Mountains region, where they thrive in the semi-arid climates.
Inca Doves are small birds, measuring about 6.5 to 9 inches in length. They have a slender build and a long, square-tipped tail, which is often seen fanned out when the bird is perched. Their feathers have a distinctive scale-like appearance, primarily in shades of brown and gray, giving them a somewhat reptilian look. Their undersides are typically lighter, ranging from a soft cream to a pale pink hue.
The Inca Dove's call is a soft, haunting cooing sound, often described as “no hope” repeated several times. This melancholic call is a distinctive feature of their presence in the Mule Mountains.
Habitat and Distribution in Bisbee
In Bisbee, and more broadly in the Mule Mountains, Inca Doves are found in a variety of habitats. They prefer open areas with scattered trees and shrubs, often near human habitation. They are commonly seen in gardens, parks, and around feeders in residential areas.
Inca Doves are primarily ground feeders. Their diet consists mostly of seeds, which they forage from the ground. In urban settings, they are also known to visit bird feeders for grains.
These doves are social birds and are often seen in pairs or small flocks. They have a unique behavior called “pyramid roosting,” where they sit on each other’s backs in a stack, presumably for warmth during cooler temperatures.
Inca Doves are monogamous and are known for their extended breeding season, which can last almost year-round in warmer climates like that of Bisbee. They build flimsy nests of twigs, often in trees or shrubs. Females typically lay two eggs, which are incubated by both parents.
As of now, the Inca Dove is not considered threatened or endangered. However, like many bird species, they are susceptible to habitat loss and changes in their environment.
Significance to Bisbee's Ecosystem
Inca Doves play a vital role in the ecosystem of Bisbee and the Mule Mountains. As seed dispersers, they contribute to the health and diversity of the local flora. Their presence also adds to the region's biodiversity and offers birdwatching opportunities for residents and visitors alike.