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Four species of doves are legal to hunt in Kansas: mourning dove, Eurasian collared-dove, ringed turtle-dove, and white-winged dove. Pigeons, also known as rock doves or rock pigeons, are classified as a pest species, not a game species, and can be shot year-round.
Mourning and white-winged doves are native to North America, while Eurasian collared- and ringed turtle- doves were introduced. Of these four species, white-winged doves are the largest, followed by Eurasian collared-, ringed turtle-, and mourning doves. Mourning doves have a pointed tail, whereas the other three species have rounded tails. As their name implies, white-winged doves have a large, white wing patch.
Mourning doves are one of the most common bird species in North America. They are hunted in 39 of the 48 conterminous states and their harvest exceeds that of all other migratory game birds (ducks, geese, swans, cranes, rails, woodcock, and snipe) combined. Currently, Kansas is participating in a nationwide mourning dove banding study. Hunters are asked to check their doves for leg bands and if found, report them to the Bird Banding Lab (1-800-327-BAND, www.pwrc.usgs.gov).
Kansas typically has one of the highest breeding indices for mourning doves in the U.S., as measured by the annual Call Count Survey in May. Mourning doves nest in trees, shrubs, and on the ground in crop fields and grasslands. A mourning dove pair can produce up to 3-4 broods of two young per year in Kansas.
Although most mourning doves migrate south by October, many remain in Kansas throughout the fall and some throughout the winter. Kansas’ dove harvest is in the top five in the U.S. Doves in Kansas are primarily hunted in harvested grain fields (particularly sunflowers and millet) and small water holes or windmill ponds in pastures. Some KDWP wildlife areas, mainly in the southeastern and southcentral portions of the state, manage some crop fields for dove hunting.
The Eurasian collared-dove is a native of Europe and Asia. It was accidentally introduced to the Bahamas in the early 1970s when some birds in a pet store were released. By 1996, collared doves had reached Kansas. Collared doves are very similar in appearance to ringed turtle-doves and these two species apparently interbreed. Ringed turtle-doves, however, are more dependent on humans than collared doves. Because these two species are so similar in appearance, most people assume that all light-colored doves with a partial black ring across the back of the neck are Eurasian collared-doves. Thus, there is little distribution information for ringed turtle-doves and the hybrids of these species. In Kansas, collared doves have been reported throughout Kansas in all but eight counties. However, hunters are not likely to shoot one because they tend to stay close to towns, where shooting is not permitted.
Historically, the white-winged dove was a native of Mexico and the southwestern portion of the U.S. and was rarely seen in Kansas. During the past 10 years, numbers of whitewing sightings in Kansas have increased substantially and have been reported in 36 counties. Although white-winged doves are more rural than Eurasian collared-doves and ringed turtle-doves, hunters are unlikely to encounter them because their densities are much lower and sightings tend to occur more in spring and summer than in fall.