Ross and Patti Griswold sit at their kitchen table, chatting with me, but their primary focus is elsewhere. Specifically, they're looking out toward their backyard. They're not being rude; it's just that they've got to be on their toes in case they trap a mourning dove.
Since May, the husband-wife bird enthusiasts have been taking part in "banding," whereby they attach a small metal tag to the birds' legs. It's part of a Department of Fish and Game program in which the public is allowed to take part.
Mourning doves are one of the most widely distributed and abundant birds in North America. Additionally, they are a popular game bird, with regimented hunting seasons established in 37 of the lower 48 states. And they're prevalent too. In fact, there are more mourning doves harvested than all other migratory game bird species combined in the entire country.
Due to the importance of the mourning dove as a migratory game bird, Fish and Game looks to track certain information about the birds so that officials can make appropriate harvest management decisions. The information gathered via the banding program on mourning dove survival and harvest rates is essential to understanding and analyzing the effects of annual hunting regulations on mourning dove populations.