Tuesday, March 6, 2012

White-winged Dove discoverd at backyard feeders on Staten Island NY...

How would you like to find a rare bird at your backyard feeders? I know I would and that is exactly what happened when Anthony Ciancimino a 14 year old junior high school birder discovered a White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) while scanning a flock of Mourning Doves roosting in a tree near his feeders. Let's back up a second here to focus on what should not be missed. "Scanning a flock of Mourning Doves"! Right there you know that Anthony is not your casual birder, one who did not casually chalk up the MODOS as well...MODOS.

What makes the White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) rare for our area you ask? Well, its mostly a tropical dove, that can be found in Texas and the Southwest. However, it is increasing its range northward and an introduced population has become established in Florida. From my observation, this looks very much like a wild and not a caged bird - strong flight with no visible "cage wear" and no bands on the legs. I would be very surprised if this candidate is not accepted by NYSARC (New York State Avian Record Committee) as a Staten Island first record for this species.

Note the white line along front of wing on the perched bird.

 I first met Anthony last year while birding Cloves Lake Park on Staten Island. He was attending a bird walk led by my friend Howie Fischer and stood out from the birders in attendance as he called out birds as fast as the leader. Howie had spoken highly of him and it was evident why. Equally impressive was the presence of Anthony's mother who was in attendance, showing her support for her son's passion. And it is a passion because Anthony is pretty much in the field with every spare time he gets. Are you getting the picture already on how serious this kid takes his birding?

I met Anthony for the second time as I finally made it over to his house with his permission to see the White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica). I enjoyed speaking with him about birds and the plants he was tending in his yard. I hope the bird sticks around and many more get to see it. If you are interested in seeing the bird, check out the Staten Island List Serve for information on recent sightings and to contact Anthony. It seems proper birding etiquette not to show up unannounced. Oh and given the recent sighting of another rarity, in Gray-crowned Rosy Finch at another backyard feeder, you may want to consider putting out some feeders too... you never know what bird may show up in your backyard.

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Linda Rockwell said...

Very informative post Andrew. Interesting to read how one of my common feeder birds is rare elsewhere. That young man sound like quite the young birder!

Cindy said...

On the wings of a snow white dove ;-) Nice to hear of passionate young birders..

Gene said...

What an amazing sighting. Anthony seems like quite a birder.