Many of us are familiar with the sound of a mourning dove and one state wildlife biologist working to monitor this population of game bird.
Out on the remote plains of northeastern Montana, wildlife biologist Ryan Williamson sets out to trap and band mourning doves.
“To think of how many tens of thousands of miles these birds could have put on in the last few years, to me is the coolest part about it. I know people who can’t get from Culbertson to Glasgow without a GPS," Williamson said.
He started banding doves a few years ago to help monitor this population of game bird, "normally the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was the big bander of mourning doves, but Montana hasn’t been big on banding doves."
“In 2014, I volunteered my time and i started banding here in outlook Montana, so far i’m up to about 900 birds, just today we hit the 900th bird today,” he added.
Although the dove hunting season is short in Montana, it is one of the most popular hunted game species across the country, especially in southern states where these birds migrate annually.
“Hunters are a crucial link to these band returns, that’s the only way we’re gonna know that banded bird was harvested,” Williamson said.
Despite hunting, predators and vast migration routes, some doves from years past do make their way back.
“What I find is most interesting about this banding is not so much the hunter harvest but these birds that i banded three years ago and they’re coming back, and they are finding the same little town on the prairie in northeast Montana,” Williamson said.
The efforts of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees like Williamson ensure that Montana is able to maintain a healthy population of mourning doves year after year.
FWP is expanding efforts to band mourning doves across the state.
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