Nesting Habitat of White-winged Doves in Urban Environments of Southern Texas

Changes in white-winged dove (Zenaida asiatica) distribution and habitat use have occurred in Texas since the 1940s. Breeding populations are now common in urban areas throughout Texas. These changes have resulted in unique challenges for monitoring populations in urban environments because of factors such as traffic, construction, and residential development. Delineating potential breeding habitat within urban areas may make surveys more efficient. Our objectives were to examine nest tree selection and identify habitat attributes associated with urban populations of white-winged doves. We conducted nest searches at 15 auditory-count survey points in Kingsville, Texas, in 2003 and documented trees used for nesting. We tested the relationship of white-winged dove density (n = 49 survey points) with associated fine-resolution (mesquite [Prosopis glandulosa] density, favorable tree density, and total tree density) and course-resolution (% mesquite canopy cover, % shade tree canopy cover, % woody plant canopy cover, and % open lawn) habitat variables throughout Kingsville in 2005. We documented that white-winged doves selected for live oak (Quercus virginiana) and against mesquite for nesting. The strongest relationships we found with fine-resolution and course-resolution habitat variables were between white-winged density and favorable tree density (R2 = 0.40; P < 0.001) and % shade tree canopy cover (R2 = 0.57; P < 0.001), respectively. Densely-canopied trees such as live oak may be the best indicator of suitable nesting habitat in urban areas. These data can be useful in predicting potential white-winged dove habitat in urban areas and for refining survey protocol regarding allocation and distribution of survey effort.

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