Dove hunters in Texas have the opportunity to win a new pickup truck, an all-terrain vehicle or one of a number of prizes in this year’s 2020 Banded Bird Challenge.


The Texas Dove Hunters Association (TDHA) is now accepting early bird entries for the annual event.


"The Banded Bird Challenge is a research program that we started two years ago in efforts to conduct a more in-depth study of Eurasian Collared-dove in Texas," Bobby Thornton, co-founder of the Texas Dove Hunters Association, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. "We need three years or more, according to biologists, to start to be able to formulate good research."


Fewer than three percent of bands placed on mourning dove and white-wing doves by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are reported, so TDHA decided to incentivize hunters who call in their orange bands on the Eurasian Collared-doves.


"If you enter the contest for $20, and you harvest one of the birds with a band on it, the Eurasian Collared Dove, then you are eligible to win anything from a new truck to a Polaris Ranger to shotguns to exotic game hunts," Thornton said. "When the band says ‘winner’ on it, it encourages people to obviously say, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I win?’ So, they call the phone number on it."


Dove season in Texas does not start until September, but entries for the challenge are being accepted now to give Texas hunters a chance to win an early bird prize.


"You can purchase your entry from now until Jan. 23, and we do different promotions during this time prior to season," Thornton said. "From now until July 15, if you enter, you’re entered into a drawing for a special edition Texas Dove Hunters Association shotgun. It’s got the logo engraved in it, and it’s really super nice."


Eurasian Collared-doves are an invasive species in Texas, so TDHA wants to learn as much as possible about the birds’ habits.


"Is it affecting us or other species in a broad term or sense right now? No, not really. However, they are coming in or continuing to multiply. They’re gaining in populations in different parts of the state," Thornton said.


There’s a large population of the birds in the Texas Panhandle.


The concern is the effect these invasive Eurasian Collared-dove will have on native species.


"They’ve been observed pushing other eggs out of nests that are already inhabited by a different bird," Thornton said. "They will go in and basically take over that nest. They can be a detriment to other dove species over time."


TDHA hopes the Banded Bird Challenge will give them a better look at how the Eurasian Collared-dove is affecting birds now.


The association does not introduce new Eurasian Collared-doves into Texas for the challenge.


Instead, they trap current populations, band, and then release them.


"Where they’re released helps us gauge what kind of distances they’re traveling," Thornton said. "Are they traveling to go back to where they’re trapped? Are they traveling to a different type of habitat they prefer or are they happy staying right where they are? We study the habitat in those areas."


This year, 1,300 banded birds will be released by TDHA.


"Every year, we will put an additional 800 out," Thornton said. "The bands do not expire. So, this year’s contest, if you harvest a band that was released three years ago, you can still win."


Prizes this year include: a brand-new truck, a Polaris, two ultimate dove hunting packages and a TDHA fire pit. There is also a $1,000 scholarship for youth in high school.


The Banded Bird Challenge is $20 for adults and free for youth ages 10 to 13.


"We have a special, what we call the First Flight Youth Division for ages 10 to 13, which is free," Thornton said. "If they enter, and they harvest one of those birds, then they will receive an overnight hunting trip where they go to the lodge, hunt that afternoon, spend the night, are fed and lodged, and then hunt again the next day for two people—the youth plus one."


Hunters will know the difference between a Eurasian Collared-dove and a mourning or white-wing dove by their appearance.


"The Eurasian collared dove is bigger than the mourning dove and bigger than the white-wing. They have a black ring around their neck that covers about three-fourths of their neck and starts low at the throat on one side, runs around the back and comes down to the same place on the other side," Thornton said.


The Eurasian Collared-dove also have a touch of tan color on their feathers.


"In the sky, that’s basically what you’re seeing. Whereas a white-wing, on every downstroke of their wings, you will see that white stripe running across the top of their wing, and it’s a little bit easier to determine it’s also a darker bird," Thornton said. "The difference between this bird and the mourning dove is they’re a little bit closer in color though. The morning dove is more of a gray. This is more of a grayish tan, but it’s also a much bigger bird than the mourning dove."


Dove season in the north and central zones begins Sept. 1. The season opener in the south zone is Sept. 14.


Because Eurasian Collared Doves are an invasive species, they do not count toward a hunters’ bag limit as long as the hunter leaves evidence of the bird’s type for game wardens to verify.


"If you had 15 mourning and white-wing dove combined, and you harvested five Eurasians and go home with 20 birds, we encourage you—in fact I would say it’s a must— to leave one wing on the Eurasian," Thornton said. "If you remove both wings, and you have 20 birds, and you can’t prove it’s a Eurasian, then, yeah, he’s going to cite you."


Hunters can sign up for the Banded Bird Challenge on www.BandedBirdChallenge.com and www.TexasDoveHunters.com.


COVID-19 WEST REGION BEEF CATTLE MARKETING PROGRAM


Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is hosting a COVID-19 West Region Beef Cattle Marketing program on July 1, 2020. The program will be virtual through Zoom. How to Attend:


Join Zoom Meeting https://agrilife.zoom.us/j/97331419166 or call 346-248-7799 and Meeting ID: 973 3141 9166


The program will begin at 11:00am to 12:00pm, there is no fee required to join.


The topic of the program is: Beef Cattle and Range Program Update, Speakers – Dr. Richard Machen Professor, Paul Genho Endowed Chair in Ranch Management, King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, Beef Production for Texas A&M University Kingsville and James Jackson, Extension Range Specialist


For more information contact Scott Anderson at 325-646-0386 or by email scott.anderson@ag.tamu.edu.