A collared dove came up to visit Lightnin’ Ridge yesterday. My wooded ridgetop is of little interest to him as far as a nesting site. Mourning doves fly up here and feed on bird-feeder seed that is scattered on the ground.

There is a farm down the road where the visitor and his mate nest and spend most of their time, but on occasion both come here for a short time. They are found around farm-steads and barns all around the Ozarks, sort of like their cousins, the pigeon.

But pigeons dwell in large flocks and collared doves do not, at least here in the Ozarks. And unlike the mourning doves and pigeons, the collared doves clear out during the winter, migrating south. I am told they are thick as flies in the southwest and hunted there, particularly in Texas and west Oklahoma and further west.

In some of those states, including California, there is no limit on them and no season restriction. That is because of how common they have become there, and the fact that they are known as an ‘invasive species’. They are an Asian bird that moved into Europe over a period of time more than 100 years ago. Then a bunch of them were brought into captivity in the Bahamas, and escaped during a hurricane about 1970. The group of less than two-dozen ended up in Florida and just exploded in population.

I suppose where they are the most numerous, they are the closest we have come to what was the extinct passenger pigeon. Now they are found in growing numbers in California and up into Oregon and Washington. Dumb birds, why would anything want to go to one of those states?!!! Well, smarter individuals are also moving into southern areas of Canada’s western provinces.

The ones that visit me are about 20 percent larger than my mourning doves and much lighter, a buff color more than gray. And they have that distinctive black collar on the neck. It is said they are a little better flavored than mourning doves, and easier for a hunter to hit. ‘Invasive species’ designation makes it sound as if they are a problem, but I can’t see how they cause any difficulty in the Ozarks.

I have never seen any while dove hunting in the fall. They can produce up to 8 or 10 young per summer because just like other doves, they lay 2 eggs at a time several times a year from February into September.

Another invasive critter up here on Lightnin’ Ridge is the gray squirrel. They invade all our bird feeders! And amongst them is the darndest thing I have ever seen… a gray squirrel, (Sciurus carolinensis) which is colored totally like a fox squirrel, though more blonde than red. I have seen white and black grey squirrels but never a blonde one. To see a photo of that little rascal, and recent photos I took of collared doves go to www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.

You can also see details of my plans there to renew the old “Common Sense Conservation” organization. Twenty years ago that group united to oppose the Missouri Department of Conservation’s plan to take away landowner permits, and was successful in stopping it. Other progress was made when the group worked with Enforcement Chief Larry Yamnitz to curtail some agent abuse in the Ozarks.

I want to get 250 new members to stand up for common sense changes in the way things are done in what is, in my opinion, a very corrupt and wasteful state agency. I have 5 very important objectives which I will put forth, and I think it is time for those of you who contact me with concerns about the MDC’s directions to meet with me and help form this group. Complaining doesn’t work; actions we can take will indeed work. Our first meeting will be at Buffalo, Missouri on Sunday afternoon, July 16 at a big restaurant with a meeting room. It is known as Jem’s restaurant.

This is the most unusual color grey squirrel I have ever seen, one in a million. The second is the collared dove.

We will then follow up with meetings in Houston, Owensville, Steelville, Lamar, El Dorado Springs, Joplin and perhaps one or two other towns in the state, in August and September. Please read the details of this plan on that website above, or contact me to get a flier about our group to put up in your area. Again, if we can get 250 members before the fall, the MDC might listen to some ‘common sense’ again.

You can reach me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo, 65613 or email lightninridge47@gmail.com You can call me at my office, 417-777-5227 if you want to become a leader in this organization. This is important and I need a dozen devoted leaders to make it work. Lets do it.