Crop-Gland Activity in Mourning Doves During Hunting Seasons In Virginia

Breeding populations of the mourning dove (Zenaidura macroura) have been declining over the past decade while at the same time hunting pressure and harvest have increased. Thus, minimization of conf1ict between nesting activity and hunting is important in stabilizing populations. As the crop-gland activity of doves provides an indication of post-hatching nesting activity the proportion of doves with active and regressing crop-glands was studied during the 1971 and 1972 hunting seasons in Virginia. Examination dates, number of adult doves examined, number with active (A) crop-glands, and number of regressing (R) crop-glands were as follows: 4 September 1971,82 doves, 12.5 percent A, 8.4 percent R; 2 September 1972, 279 doves, 22.6 percent A, 8.2 percent R; 9 September 1972,89 doves, 23.6 percent A, 14.6 percent R; 16 September 1972, 34 doves, 29.3 percent A, none R; 23 September 1972, 14 doves, 21.4 percent A, 14.3 percent R, 23 December 1972, 11 doves, none A, and none R. Mean weights (+ S.D.) of active, regressing, and inactive crops were 3.50g (± 1.26), 1.38g(± 0.49), and 0.87g (to.26), respectively. The differences in crop-weights between the above categories were significant (P<0.00 I). Crop weights above 3.0g could be used to segregate active from regressing or inactive crops and crop weights above 2.0g to segregate active from inactive crops (but not regressing). Adult females had eggs in the oviduct on 4 September 1971 (4.3 percent of adult females) and on 2 September 1972 (5.8 percent of adult females). No females had evidence of ovulation on 9 September 1972 or later. The results indicate that substantial proportions of mourning doves were involved in nesting activities during the hunting season in Virginia.

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