Illinois' first White-winged Dove specimen

The only White-winged Dove that I've seen in Illinois, on the campus of Northwestern University, Evanston, on 27 May 2007. © Josh Engel

The first White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) in Illinois was seen in 1998, and many birders predicted that it would be the first of many. The species, which looks like a short-tailed Mourning Dove with a broad white stripe on its wing, is abundant in its normal range of the southwestern United States south through Central America and the Caribbean. By 1998, it had been expanding its range dramatically, spreading north and east at an amazing rate, and if the trend continued it would be no surprise if they found their way to Illinois with some regularity. Indeed that's what happened, and there have been dozens of sightings throughout the state since then.

However, it wasn't until 2015 that Illinois got its first specimen, a bird collected by the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors in downtown Chicago on 12 May, during the peak of spring migration. Like thousands of birds every year, its life ended in the glass-and-concrete maze that is downtown Chicago, but it has found immortality in the collection of the Field Museum.

The dove may have died from colliding with a window, like so many birds do, but it had a wound on the back of its neck and a hole on the right side of its breast, leading us to think it may have been predated. Our local Peregrine Falcons eat a lot of doves--could one have caught an unsuspecting White-winged Dove? If that's the case, for some reason it dropped its prey before fully consuming it.

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