Saturday, 24 July 2021

California Outdoors: How do I get better at identifying doves in flight?

A Eurasian collared dove. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Eurasian collared doves

Q: I am aware that there is a year-round open season on Eurasian collared doves and no limit. Can I hunt them in the middle of summer? How am I supposed to tell the difference between all the doves in flight?

A: Let’s start with the first question! Yes, you can hunt Eurasian collared doves all year long. And you’re right, mourning doves, white-winged doves, spotted doves, ring turtle doves and Eurasian collared doves look similar, but hunters are expected to know the difference.

Stated more explicitly: wildlife officers expect you to know the difference! Over time, dove hunters need to develop the skills to differentiate between different dove species on the wing. We have a dove identification graphic that may help get you started. Learning more about dove species can help, too.

For example, there are areas of the state where Eurasian collared doves are more prevalent (mostly in the southern half of the state).

We recommend two strategies. First, hunt with a partner who has a significant amount of experience in telling the difference between each type of dove in flight.

As you see doves while hunting, ask the experienced hunter to explain what characteristics they are looking at to differentiate the birds from one another. Hunters will look at markings such as the black band across the back of the Eurasian collared dove’s neck. They also pay attention to flight patterns and listen to different sounds generated by the doves’ wings.

Second, when you begin hunting doves, we suggest hunting during the mourning dove and white-winged dove season. That way if you make a mistake, you’ll have a reduced chance of inadvertently violating the law. For example, if you hunt dove on Sept. 1, the most popular dove hunting day of the year, you will have some room for error.

Bird identification is a skill in and of itself. Duck hunters are faced with the same requirements yet have many more species to differentiate from. Many duck hunters are known to visit popular waterfowl migratory areas to watch birds even after the season is over for the purpose of improving their identification and calling skills. There’s no reason why dove hunters can’t do the same.

With a decent pair of binoculars and an attentive ear, you can more quickly learn the subtle differences between dove species and gain a better understanding of their behaviors. Finally, remember that Eurasian collared dove are a game species, and hunters must possess both a license and an upland game bird validation.

Steelhead Report Cards

Q: The state collects data from steelhead report cards. I would like to see this data. Is it ever released or summarized for public viewing?

A: Some data collected from steelhead report cards is summarized and updated on our website. The website also includes the last legislative report which summarizes data from 2007 through 2014.

A legislative report summarizing data from 2015-2019, which includes total report cards sold, amount of revenue accrued and spent, angling data, and benefits of the report card program has been submitted for review and will be made available once approved.

Requests for steelhead report card data can also be submitted directly to the Program Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through a formal request for public records.

Taking mollusks by hand

Q: When limpets are taken from shore can gloves be used to protect your hands?

A: Yes, gloves can be used to take any number of intertidal invertebrates, including limpets. Limpets are a type of saltwater mollusk. California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 29.10(a) permits the take of saltwater mollusks by hand. Nothing in the regulations prohibits gloving the hands. If you think about harvesting California Spiny Lobsters by hand while on SCUBA for example, just try to take a spiny lobster without wearing gloves! Ouch!

Fishing license

Q: I have a fishing license but my friend doesn’t. When I catch a fish, can my friend help me by netting the fish while I hold the rod?

A: No. The California Fish and Game Code defines take in section 86. It states: “Take” means hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill. If your friend is assisting you with the “catching” of fish, by the letter of the law, he or she would need a license too.

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