Moderate weather conditions at the end of January and early in February have meant territorial expressions by some local birds in the vicinity of Valentine. Temperatures into the 40s meant a reduction in the extent of snow and warmth enough for there to be some open water at the Mill Pond for the Canada geese.
It was a appreciated tinge of spring.
Most obviously expressive have been some Eurasian Collared Dove. On 31 January 2016 a pair arrived mid-morning north of the Mill Pond. After feeding for a time in the horse corral along west Lake Shore Drive, their perch of choice was on its west fence. One sat a bit above the other for a time, but eventually they sat together near the ground for a few hours, as the afternoon winds were drafty, but their spot was sheltered behind big, round hay bales. Sunny conditions provided warmth throughout the day.
The territorial proclivity of these doves was very prevalent during the middle morning on the first day of February. There were three of the Eurasian Collared species on the north side of the Valentine Mill Pond. Two were territorial, either perched atop a power pole or among the topmost, and barren branches of a deciduous tree.
Within the heart city, notably along Main Street, the call of the doves was readily heard, especially close to the north end at 7th street, and then while walking southward to the central government and business district. Not every bird was seen, but each were distinctly heard along the blocks.
It would seem that the winter congregation just west of the livestock market has started to disperse and spread about the city to establish their claim on a future nesting site.
These first birds are claiming a bit of territory as the first claimants get the prime places to nest and raise young.
With pending inches of snow fall overnight on the 1st and continuing on the second day of February, there may be some change in the dove's expressive behavior. Finding food on snow-covered ground might get more attention?
It would take some close bird-watching, observant skills to determine specific activities, and typical behavior for of these prominent birds amidst the city community.
North of town by the ridge of pines beyond the pond, the locally territorial Red-tailed Hawk was also indicating his presence on Monday. Its calls were readily appreciated, as the bird could not be seen among the tree-scape.
The always boisterous Red-bellied Woodpecker was prominent on a tree snag stark on the western edge of the Valentine City Park. Another of these birds was vocalizing, but more subtly, nearby. Perhaps it was a mate?
The so few Northern Cardinal remain mute. And Dark-eyed Junco remain as a reminder that it is still winter. Blustery snow on the 2nd, reinforced this condition.