Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River:  We are all probably familiar with the soft coos of the mourning dove.  Some of us know well the whistling sound of their wings when they take off and land.  What some of us have not seen is just how differently the mourning dove lands when it does so on the ground.  I have been photographing the landing sequence of the mourning dove for a number of years, trying to catch the moment that their feet touch the ground.  The dove is extremely fast and erratic in take off, flight and landing.  But, I was determined to show you the vertical, yes vertical, landing of the mourning dove. The bird comes in, pulling himself upright, lands on his tail feathers and drops immediately into a more horizontal position and then rapidly walks forward.  It is neat!  I have made the video loop twice and on the second pass, please note that the further away bird also landed vertically and rapidly walked forward. The back dove is blurred and this is how too often my photos turned out as I tried to catch that vertical moment of a dove’s landing.

Usually it is my feet that has startled the mourning dove.
It will burst out of the grasses, wings whirring distinctly –
flying far faster than I can adjust my camera, as they go from very near to me to very far within a wing beat.
This dove was startled not by me but my friend and I caught the bird as he flared for his landing.

mourning dove