White-winged doves are exceptionally beautiful birds. Their soft gray feathering is accented by a distinctive swath of white in the wing, but it is the shimmering iridescence just behind the neck and the brilliant blue around the eye that really sets them off. And of course, they are very tasty table fare.
The traditional two-weekend whitewing dove season begins the first Saturday in September and runs from noon until sunset.
South Texas hunters can anticipate good numbers of dove as ample rainfall has set the stage for this weekend's opener.
Texas boasts fall dove populations in excess of 40 million birds and the states 300,000 dove hunters annually harvest about six million birds.
Dove hunting also has a major economic impact, annually contributing more than $300 million dollars to the state economy.
While still abundant in the Valley, whitewing dove once numbered in the million in deep South Texas, but by the late 1940's extensive brush clearing had devastated nesting habitat. Historically, whitewings did not venture much farther north than the Valley, but by the late 1980's the birds began to appear in increasing numbers in San Antonio and Austin.
There are now more whitewing in the metropolitan area of San Antonio than in the Valley, and whitewing are nesting as far north as Kansas.
If you are headed out into the field this weekend don't forget hunting licenses expired August 31, and you will need a new one for opening day along with a migratory bird stamp.
With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.