Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Invaders

I spoke, a few days ago about invading species and how they seem to be taking over from our native species. Well, one of our most familiar birds, well known to us all, is just that - an invader. I refer to the Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).
Before the 1950's, you wouldn't have seen one of these beautiful doves anywhere in Britain. They spread from their native, hot and dry homeland of India, across Europe, reaching these shores by 1953. Their spread was closely linked with human activity, especially the increase in movement, shipping and subsequent spillage of grain. By 1964 there were 3,000 breeding pairs in the UK. By 1972 this had increased to between 30,000 and 40,000.
A truly fantastic increase in numbers, one which is only matched by the human population. These small doves, closely related to Turtle Doves (Streptopelia turtur), have become one of Britain's best known species, commonly seen in gardens and on bird-tables everywhere. Strange to think it was such a recent addition to our 'native' fauna.
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