Craig Zondag took a picture of these Mourning Doves in New Haven with damaged tails covered in ice after a recent ice storm. These birds seek the shelter of thick shrubs and trees when the encounter inclement weather. But in an ice storm, when rain freezes on impact surfaces, Mourning Doves can run into a problem. Rain that lands on their bodies is dealt with by their body heat, but rain that falls on their long tails away from their warm bodies can freeze and accumulate there. Then, whether in an attempt to clean the feathers by preening, or by the act of flight, the ice coated feathers can become damaged, and as you can see in the pictures above, even pulled out.

Fortunately for them, it would take much more damage than this to their feathers to greatly impact their flying ability, and these feathers will be replaced during their next molt cycle.

– Ron Payne