Mourning Doves: Little Birds Big Business

Mourning dove on a fence post.

Mourning dove on a fence post.

This is Passport to Texas

Dove hunting is big business in Texas.

As far as mourning dove go, Texas harvests 35-40% of the mourning dove taken in the US every year. So, it’s a huge business, and it’s a huge sport for Texas. We have a little over 400,000 hunters per year.

Owen Fitzsimmons is Texas Parks and Wildlife’s web-less migratory game bird leader. Texas has a large breeding population of dove, but it’s a migratory species.

Mourning dove breed everywhere from Canada to Mexico to even farther down south. We have a definite large breeding population here, but come September—during hunting season—hunters not only go after our Texas birds, but we have birds coming in from northern states. So it’s kind of mix of resident and migratory birds as well.

Before hunting season biologists like Fitzsimons, work with the Fish & Wildlife Service to collect data on dove.

One survey that we do is called the “call count survey”. It takes place in May and June every year. In Texas, we have our Parks and Wildlife field staff doing the surveys. And essentially it’s a series of points along the map. And they stop at a point and then survey for a couple of minutes, they write down what they hear and what they see. And all that information goes back to Fish and Wildlife service, and they look at it—on a much larger scale than we do here in Texas. But we use that information as well just to track our own populations.

The dove season opener in the North Zone is September first. It’s September 14 in the South Zone.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds Mourning Dove Density, Distribution, and Harvest surveys in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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