Like many people I start a Year List on 1st January each year. Now, because
I live in Carlton North which is on the edge of the Melbourne CBD, my first
birds for the year are usually introduced birds; Rock Dove, House Sparrow
etc. Boring. For this reason I usually try for another common bird around
here, Rainbow Lorikeet, to start my list and this year I was lucky because
2 flew over as I opened the front door.
With the year safely underway with a native bird I then started on the
rest. Common Myna? Yes. Starling? Yes. Turtle-Dove? Yes. House Sparrow?
Yes. Rock Dove? Rock Dove? NO!!! For me this was a surprise because I live
in the middle of a strip of cafés and a park. There are always Rock Doves
around. They feed on pizza crumbs, picnic bits, dropped cake and anything
else they can find. They are ubiquitous. They are "trash" birds. Common as
muck. They are always here, but not on the morning of 1st Jan.
Over the last 19 days I have kept watch for them as I drive and walk
around. Walking to BirdLife in Carlton on Thursday I saw a total of 5 in
Lygon Street, 3 in Swanston Street and none in Lincoln Square, a favourite
lunch spot for local office workers. Driving to WTP on Friday there were
none on the footpath in the Kensington shopping strip. A few loitered on
the nature strips down the Old Geelong Rd through Footscray and Brooklyn.
Today, a gorgeous 26º with blue skies, and there are none outside my house.
The cafés are full, the park is full but no Rock Doves.Yesterday morning I
went to the supermarket and where there are usually 20 there were 4;
yesterday afternoon a walk around Princes Park football ground gave me 8; a
local nature strip had 4; my local park had 2.
Out of interest I went for a drive this morning. There was a group of 9 in
the Carlton Gardens; there were none outside the library in Swanston
Street; there were none on the RMIT campus; there were none in Flagstaff
Gardens; there were none on any city footpath and, more worryingly, there
were none that I could see at the Queen Vic Market. At Royal Park Wetland I
found 2. Outside Melbourne Zoo there were none. I guess they might all be
down at StKilda enjoying summer at the beach, eating fish and chips with
the Silver gulls; or over at Rod Laver Arena watching the tennis, but there
are not many in their normal haunts around here.
My search of Melbourne has definitely not been extensive or exhaustive and
maybe numbers drop off every summer, I don't know, but in 15 years of
living here I don't ever remember walking out the front door and seeing
none. Is it possible that they really do "migrate" to the beachside suburbs
in summer? Has anyone else noticed a change in their local Rock Dove
population or is it just in my area?
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