Doves are arguably the greatest challenge for small game hunters. Although these fast flyers are Colorado’s most plentiful game bird, you’ll need to bring your “A” game to fill your daily limit of this high protein food source.
In addition to native mourning and white-winged doves, Colorado is now home to non-native Eurasian collared-doves (ECDs). ECDs were accidentally introduced to the United States in the 1970s when several of the birds escaped from a pet shop in the Bahamas. The birds soon made their way to Florida and, over the last four decades, have quickly spread across the Western United States and Canada.
Unlike native doves, ECDs do not migrate and stay in Colorado throughout the winter. Because the birds breed easily, wildlife managers are worried that ECDs may out-compete native species for food and habitat. To manage populations, Colorado has named ECDs an invasive species and has put in place a year-round hunting season, coupled with unlimited bag/possession limits.
Though ECDs are extremely abundant, finding the birds in places where hunting is allowed can be challenging. ECDs mostly live in urban areas and congregate at suburban bird feeders or near busy agricultural centers like feedlots and farms. However, with a little scouting of Walk-In-Access properties, you can find localized populations of the doves in more rural settings.
- Colorado Small Game Brochure
- Colorado Walk-In Hunting Atlas
- Hunter Education
- 10 Tips for hunting Doves in Colorado
- Mourning Doves – Jump Shooting (video)
Bryan Posthumus is the Statewide Hunter Outreach Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.