Common Ground-Doves are one of my favorite birds. (Yes, I know. I have many.) But this little bird just went up a notch in my heart, because guess what? It eats Casuarina seeds.
Casuarina equisetifolia and Casuarina glauca are two incredibly invasive trees from Australia. Some people call them Australian Pine or even Bay Cedar. In the photo, the dark brown fruit scattered on the ground are typical with 20 to 30 winged seeds. Larger fruit may have 50 or 60 seeds. The winged seeds can travel up to 11 miles in hurricane force winds and germinate after prolonged exposure to salt water. They grow up to ten feet tall in the first year, rapidly out-competing native plants. Then they poison the native plants with chemicals from their leaves. And to top it all off, their horrible little fruit poke you in the feet when you try to walk barefoot on the beach.
But COGD (the abbreviation for the Common Ground-Dove) is helping to put pressure on the population. seed predation will (hopefully) help to slow down the spread of the Casuarina. now, we just need a bit of research to know if the seeds are the best quality for the little guys and if there is anything we can do to help them get better food, find more of the seeds or just basically know if they are having a significant impact.
Common Ground-Doves, I salute you. With your tiny little heads.