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January 9, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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Page 2B RepOrter January 9, 2019 MONROE OUTDOORS by Terry W. Johnson he mourning dove is one of our most recognizable birds. It is also the most harvested game bird in North America. Each year, hunters harvest some 70 million mourning doves. Amazingly more mourning doves are bagged annually than all of the ducks, geese and other migratory birds combined. Remarkably, the bird is also a favorite of folks that enjoy watching birds. Since it nests in all of the 48 contiguous states, it should come as no TERRY W, surprise the mourning dove is one of the birds most commonly seen frequenting backyard bird feeders. Mourning doves are at home in cities, subdivisions, farmlands, and wfldlands alike. However, regardless of where they live, all of these fast-flying doves depend upon seeds for survival. Food habit studies have found 99 percent of the mourning dove's diet is seeds. In fact, mourning doves consume one of the largest variety of seeds of any North American bird. This means doves are not only eating seeds in fields where they are hunted or at backyard bird feeders; they are also dining on seeds elsewhere throughout the rest of the year. A mourning dove consumes some 71 calories of food daily. ais amounts to anywhere from 12-20 percent of their body weight. Whereas birds such as tufted titmice, brown-headed nuthatch- es and Carolina chickadees feed by plucking a single seed from a feeder, then fly off to a nearby tree limb, crack the seed coat open and then swallow the nutritious food found within, mourning doves em- ploy a far different feed- ing strategy. Mourning doves quickly pick up and swallow one seed after another in rapid succession. Although it appears that they are appar- JOHNSON enflypassing the seeds directly on to their stomachs to be di- gested, such is not the case. The birds have the ability to store the seeds in a structure called a crop. From there the seeds pass on to the stomach for digestion. "/Iris allows the bird to eat lots of seeds as quickly as possible. It can then fly to a safer location and digest its food. This reduces the chance it will be captured by a predator. Mourning dove crops can hold an astonishingly large number of seeds; one crop was found to be full of 7,000 wood sorrel seeds. However, the most seeds ever recorded in a single crop were 17,200 ryegrass seeds. Although they eat seeds of all sizes, they prefer smaller seeds above all others. Research has demonstrated mourning doves select seeds more on taste than a seed's texture, color or shape. Asany dove hunter knows, mourning doves are attracted to cereal grains, such as millet, wheat, oats, and rye. However, they also dine on other crops, such as canola, corn, cowpea, vetch, buckwheat, cantaloupe, watermelon, amaranth, sun- flower, safflower, and sorghum. Unfortunately, the availability of these seeds is limited to a short period of time. This necessitates the birds seek out a smorgasbord of seeds to meet then" nutritional needs through- out the majority of the year. Here is a short list of some of the wild food plants that provide seeds to this popular bird when cultivated crop seeds are not available: pokeweed, crabgrass, pigweed, chickweed, doveweed, paspalum, panicgrass, ragweed, knotweed, and smartweed, canarygress, bluegrass, croton, sweetgum, longleaf, loblolly and shortleaf pine, and bahiagrass. In one study, biologists used captive mourning doves to determine seed preferences. They learned the seeds most preferred A mourning dove feeds on bare ground. Mourning doves will search for seeds under leaves but will not scratch through heavy ground lit- ter like wild turkeys and brown thrashers do. (Photo/Terry Johnson) by the doves were all millets- -white proso followed by dove proso and browntop. Doves don't feed just anywhere. They rarely pluck seeds from a plant, preferring instead to dine on seeds that have fallen to the ground. Unlike wild turkeys and brown thrashers, they will not scratch through heavy ground litter to reach hidden seeds. While they will push aside leaves and other light litter to reach seeds, they prefer to feed on bare ground. It behooves hunters and wildlife watchers alike to realize that a mi- gratory bird such as the mourn- ing dove requires a wide range of habitats and foods stretched over hundreds of miles stretching from where it breeds to its winter home. As such, it is more important that a wide variety of feeding habitats and the seed- bearing plants that flourish in them be maintained than to provide mourning doves with food only during the fall and winter. Obviously, mourning dove populations are doing well right now. However, we cannot take it for granted that they will continue to do so. In the not too distant past Americans thought there was an endless sup- ply of passenger pigeons. How- ever, destruction of habitat and overhunting completely wiped out what many experts believe was the most common bird in the world. m 5 ,J L Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame- Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column "Monroe Outdoors'for the Reporter for many years. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net. / L' About 30 members of the Monroe County chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of Cen- tral Georgia received bicycles "- as Christmas gifts from an 7 anonymous donor on Dec. 13. . The children were delighted with the surprise, as director Joel Tolliver and his staff set the bikes up in rows at the old k' Hubbard Middle cafeteria. (Photo/Richard Dumas) 4 Continued from Front derachievement with three World Series titles since 2004, the Dodgers entered the 2018 World Series try- ing to snap a 30-year title drought. The Red Sox, who had the best record in fran- chise history with 108 wins, took a 2-0 series lead over L.A. with a pair of wins at Fenway Park to set the stage for a pair of drama- filled contests at Dodger Stadium. In what would turn out to be the longest postseason game ever in terms of innings (18) and time (7 hours, 20 minutes), the Dodgers narrowed their series deficit to 2-1 in a 3-2 Game 3 victory that ended at 3:30 a.m. Eastern time on a walk-off homer by L.A.'s Max Muncy. In a remark- able historic note, Game 3 alone took longer to play than the entire 1939 World Series. Meeting again 15 hours later on limited rest for Game 4, the Dodgers seemed poised to even the series after L.A. star Yasiel Puig blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Dodgers up 4-0. But in the top of the seventh, Dodg- ers manager Dave Roberts made the ill-fated decision to pull starter Rich Hill in favor of struggling reliever Ryan Madson, a move that later illicit a critical tweet from president Donald Trump. Madson proceeded to give up a three-rtm homer to Boston pinch- hitter Milch Moreland to get the Sox right back in the game. Boston would then tie the contest in the top of the eighth when journey- man Steve Pearce went yard off Dodgers' doser Kenley Jansen. With L.A.'s bullpen having hemorrhaged the lead, Boston's powerful lineup went for the kill, scoring five runs in the top of the ninth, includ- ing a go-aheadRBI single by Rafael Devers, to take command of the contest and the series. Although, the Dodgers managed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox would win the game 9-6 to take a 3-1 series edge. The Fall Classic would never make it back to Boston as Sox ace David Price completed a redemptive postseason with a 5-1 victory one night later in Game 5 to close out the Series. In manager Alex Cora's first year at the helm, the Red Sox franchise captured its fourth World Series title in 15 years as Pearce was named Series MVP. 2.) National Football League Super Bowl HI -- Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots (Feb. 4) The superpower AFC champion New England Patriots entered Super Bowl LII in search of the franchise's third Super Bowl title in four years and sixth overall, which would tie the Pittsburgh Steelers'aIl-time record. But the Pats' op- ponent, the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, had their own ideas and were willing to re-write the NFL playoff record books to topple the defending champs. Led by a second- year head coach, Doug Pederson, and a journey- man backup quarterback, Nick Foles, the Eagles were trying to bring an end to their own 57-year cham- pionship drought, which pre-dated the Super Bowl era. In a game that featured the most combined total yards, 1,151, in NFL his- tory, Foles matched Pats legend Tom Brady throw for throw over 60 heart- stopping minutes. Among the game's most memorable plays came with 34 seconds left before halftime when Foles caught a one-yard touchdown pass from tight end Trey Burton in a play that will be remembered as "The Philly Special" to put the Eagles up by 10 at halftime. But Brady, who threw for a playoff record 505 passing yards, fired three second-half touch- down passes to give New England the lead for the first time at 33-32 with 9:22 left in the fourth quarter. With Philadelphia needing a clutch final quarter drive, Foles took the Eagles 75 yards on 14 plays, eating up 7:01 of clock before hook- ing up with tight end Zach Ertz on a go-ahead 11-yard touchdown over the middle with 2:21 to play. Clinging to a five-point edge at 38-33 against the always resilient Brady, Eagles' defensive end Brandon Graham got the game's lone sack, forcing a fumble recovered by Philly that set up a field goal with 1:05 to play. Trailing 41-33, Brady heaved a despera- tion Hail Mary into the end zone on the final pla) but the Eagles' defensive backs batted the pass down to finish offthe win. As Foles, who threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, collected his most unlikely Super Bowl MVP trophy, the victory set off a memo- rable celebration on Philly's Broad Street as the city en- joyed only its second major professional sports title in the past three decades. 1.) College Football Playoff Semifmals -- Geor- gia Bulldogs vs. Okla- homa Sooners (Jan. 1) & College Football Playoff National Championship -- Georgia Bulldogs vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (lama. 8) In their first-ever trip to the College Football Playoffs, the Georgia Bulldogs endured over the span of a week, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in collegiate athletics. The No. 3 seeded Bulldogs made their first trip in 75 years to the revered Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif where they faced the high- powered, second-seeded Oklahoma Sooners and their Heisman Trophy- winning quarterback Baker Mayfield. With thousands of Georgians packing Rose Bowl Stadium, the Bulldogs fell behind by 17 late in the second quarter before mounting a thrilling come- back. Georgia scored four second-half touchdowns, including a Nick Chubb score with 55 seconds to play in regulation, to tie the game at 45-all and send the contest to overtime. After the two squads exchanged field goals in the first over- time, Georgia's Lorenzo Carter blocked Oklahoma kicker Austin Seibert's field goal attempt in the second OT, setting the stage for UGKs dramatic win. Two plays later, Georgia run- ning back Sony Michel ran down the left sideline for a 27-yard score and a 54-48 victory, advancing the Bulldogs to their first national title contest in 35 years. The contest, which was the first Rose Bowl ever to go into overtime, set new Rose Bowl records for most combined points (102) and largest comeback win (17 points). One week later, the Bulldogs returned to their homestate to face then" SEC rival, the Alabama Crim- son Tide, in the national championship game at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz , Stadium. Taking a 13-0 halftime lead, the Bulldogs appeared poised to break through for the progr 's first national title in 37 years, but a dynastic Bama squad, playing in its fourth = straight national champion- ship game, would respond. , Legendary Tide coach Nick Saban improbably benched - starting quarterback Jalen 2 Hurts at halftime and ,- g* inserted true freshman Tua Tagovailoa, who cut UGKs -- lead to seven at 20-13 midway through the fourth = quarter. Then, with 3:49 to play, Tagovailoascrambled = around, eluding UGKs pass rush, and connected with ;7 receiver Calvin Ridley for '* a seven-yard touchdown , on 4th-and-goal. However, Bama kicker Andy Pap- panastos missed a 36-yard field goal try at the end of regulation, maintain- ing a 20-all tie and forcing ' overtime. After UGA Rodrigo Blankenship booted a 51-yard field goal "' to put Georgia ahead 23-20, Tagovailoa saved his great- est heroics for last, finding receiver DeVonta Smith on a go route on 2nd-and-26 .1 for a 41-yard walk-off score and a 26-23 Tide win.' Tagov;ailoa captured Of- ' fensive Player of the Game honors, throwing for 166 yards and three TDs, as Saban led Bama to its fifth national championship in nine seasons.