More on the Turtle Dove

The flight to Gambell yesterday was a little bit intimidating.  Not because I was traveling by myself, it’s the 3rd trip this year for goodness sakes, but even though the flight left at 9:00 AM it was pitch dark.  To make matters worse when we tried to land in Savoonga, a snow squall kept us from landing initially.  But by the time I landed on Gambell, my nerves had settled. It was now finally dawn (at 10:15 AM).  After checking in with Hanson, renting an ATV and getting my warm cloths on, it felt like old home week.

The Oriental Turtle Dove did not come easy.  This is a big dove, even larger than Eurasian Collard Doves, and yo’d think it would be pretty easy to find.  More than once, a queasy feeling came over. What if the bird was gone, or one of the Yupiks shot it?  After a couple of hours of searching, Hanson’s brother, Clarence, sauntered up and said he had found fresh tracks of the bird in the snow which he showed to me. The snow had fallen early Saturday morning so the dove was still here and alive.

I took a break for lunch

Three days worth of food for Gambell (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

and then checked out the far boneyards where I found a Golden-crowned Kinglet, but soon returned to search again for the turtle dove. There was another interesting bird of note in the near Boneyards, a bunting of some sorts that I had first seen around 11:00 AM so I concentrated on photographing it.  Eventually, Clarence joined me and we worked the Near Boneyard slowly, tracking the bird.  Suddenly the turtle dove flew up in front of us. It was awesome. Here are several photographs.

Oriental Turtle Dove in the Near Boneyard (Photo by John Vanderpoel)


Oriental Turtle Dove Chased by a Dog (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

Oriental Turtle Dove Feeding in Old Town (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

So now about this bunting/finch.  I’m not certain on the identification of this but here are five photographs.  It’s wiser to get the photos out to the birding community than wait (I think)

Unidentified #1 (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

Unidentified #2 (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

I have my thoughts as to what this might be, but for now if you’ve got experience in Eurasian birds, I welcome your ideas.

Unidentified (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

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23 Responses to More on the Turtle Dove

  1. Pamela Righter says:

    Hi John, I met you on the Shearwater pelagic trip in Half Moon Bay on September 16. Your Big Year odyssey has been such a delight for me to follow. I check your wanderings daily. Congrats on the Oriental Turtle Dove. Also, the photo of your food supplies for Gambell was very amusing. Good luck to you in the next two months. BTW, if you want to see the Gray Partridge, there is a covey of them at my stepdaughter’s house in Livingston, Montana.
    Best regards, Pamela Righter

  2. DS says:

    I believe it’s a Purple Finch. Not exactly what you wanted it to be.

  3. Virginia L. Vandermeer says:

    Congrats, John. Gary and I are following and enjoying your adventures! Good luck the next few weeks.

  4. Alex Brown says:

    John — check the pink in the tail and wings really carefully

  5. Alex Brown says:

    ….. and particularly pink/rose on the rump

  6. Alex Brown says:

    looks promising for Common Rosefinch

  7. fred says:

    “Early in the fall some HY Purple Finches have less distinct superciliums.”

  8. Tom Wilberding says:

    Tracking a bird like a weasel? Cool!
    Congrats, John.

  9. I’m not an expert but my vote is perhaps female Purple Finch.

  10. Mike Schwitters says:

    Gutsy move to go up north this time of year.
    Finch is tough…I will go for juvenile Common Rosefinch.

  11. Bill looks good for PUFI

  12. LindaVanderpoel says:

    Happy Anniversary my dear. . . . . .

  13. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for that. Unfortunately, the finch is a Purple Finch.


  14. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hi Pam,

    Thanks for dropping me a line. Could I get contact information for your stepdaughter?



  15. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, Virginia

  16. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks Alex. I’ll check the photos very carefully.

  17. Seagullsteve says:

    I am also not very familiar with Eurasian finches, but I have seen several female Common Rosefinches in the Aleutians. The rosefinches I saw lacked any sort of supercilium and resembled House Finches more than anything else. They also had noticeably curved culmens.

  18. Pingback: Blog Birding #53 « ABA Blog

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