Yesterday I wrote somewhat disparagingly about doves. The truth is that I kind of like having them around, so I decided to do some research and learn exactly what they contribute to life on Earth.
The answer is, not much.
The problem is that they are the pinheads of the bird world. Their heads account for about 1/10th of 1% of their overall body mass. Within that tiny head is a tinier brain, which has the processing power and equivalent mass of about a thimble full of water. It’s all they can do to make their wings work and their eyes stay open at the same time, which is why they flap a lot before they take off and why they only coo when they’re sitting still. Their nests are little more than random collections of whatever sticks will stay on a tree branch. Because eggs are constantly falling through these sad excuses for nests, they have to make multiple nesting attempts each year. Most of these are scientific facts that I just made up, but I’m pretty sure you can confirm them just by watching a dove for five minutes.
They don’t even eat bugs, which would at least make them useful. Instead, they eat seeds. This makes them somewhat helpful at pollination, but the most skilled in this regard is the white-winged dove, who is an important factor in saguaro cactus pollination. Since we don’t have saguaro in this part of Arizona, that makes even them suspect.
Some people like to eat dove, or squab as they call it because then people can’t tell if they’re getting dove or pigeon. We don’t shoot them or eat them, which leaves them pretty much useless to us. Except for that cooing. Sometimes I like that.