Photography by Jay Schwisow
2018 is a year Texas Dove Hunters Association (TDHA) hopes will be remembered for many years to come. It was the beginning of an ongoing annual research project that will provide valuable information on Eurasian Collared Dove and also marked the beginning of an annual event in which hunters from all over the state began to search for the elusive collared dove with a prize band on its leg. The Banded Bird Challenge (BB Challenge) was developed as a means of tracking Eurasian Collared Doves to learn more about their migration patterns, habitat preferences and life span.
460 birds were trapped and banded in August of 2018 and released in various areas all over Texas. Of these birds, 16 were harvested and reported to TDHA. Unfortunately, only four of those 16 hunters had entered the BB Challenge to qualify for the prizes. The good news? All four of those who entered won very nice prizes. This year there will be an additional 800 birds banded and released.
In the 2019 contest entrants have the chance to win a new truck. Other prizes include a Polaris Ranger, shotguns, an exotic game hunt, coolers, snake boots and more. Each qualified entry will also receive an Ultimate Gun Rest for your guns in the field. Outfitters who enter the Texas BB Challenge have a chance to win a trophy trout fishing trip in Baffin Bay if one of your paid hunters harvests a TDHA banded bird on your property.
With each passing year as bands are turned in, we will learn a considerable amount more about the Eurasian Collared Dove. In the first year, the results confirmed an assumption that they would not travel much during the fall and winter if food availability and accessibility were within a short distance. We anticipate their travel to be in the spring and summer. Most birds traveled between 2-10 miles in a two-week period of time, over the course of 4 weeks they ranged from 10-60 miles. One bird, in particular, traveled 70 miles before being harvested 26 days after its release. This bird was released in a very high concentrated area of brush and not a typical grain producing area. We hope to be able to establish a better science of aging as the years’ progress, and more bands are reported.
Bands do not expire form one year to the next, increasing the odds of winning. Hunters must enter annually to be eligible to win. Entry fee is $20 and free to youth ages 10-13. Entries can be purchased online at bandedbirdchallenge.org or by calling the office at 210-764-1189. Don’t go to the field without your entry in the BB Challenge; you may be one of our next winners!