Come Sept. 1, dove hunters going afield can expect to see: (1) more birds flying and (2) two new species of doves.

Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, reports that:

The white-winged doves, a migratory game bird species historically found mostly south of Utah, are becoming more common throughout the state each year.

Beginning in 2004, Utah dove hunters will be allowed to legally harvest white-winged doves, as well as mourning doves. Bag and possession limits for white-winged and mourning doves is 10 birds in aggregate.

The exotic Eurasian collared-dove is being observed in greater numbers and in new areas in Utah each year. If taken during the dove season, these doves will not count as part of the aggregate dove bag and possession limits. Hunters who harvest Eurasian collared-doves while dove hunting should leave them unplucked during transport, so they can be identified from mourning and white-winged doves.

Data collected by DWR biologists from 15 mourning dove "call count survey" routes scattered across the state indicated that 2004 mourning dove breeding populations were up dramatically from 2003.

During surveys conducted during the last weeks of May, the number of doves heard calling along the 20-mile-long call count survey routes was up 49 percent from 2003. The number of doves observed along routes was up 44 percent.

Despite good numbers of birds in Utah right now, many could head south before the season opener because of the snap of cold weather.

In addition, regardless of what the weather is doing, some mourning doves begin leaving Utah during the first two weeks of August every year. These birds begin their annual southward migration based on the photo period or length of the day.

Dove hunters who normally hunt in northern Utah but get discouraged when there are few birds around should give Utah's southern counties a try.

The 2004 dove season will remain open through Sept. 30. Bag and possession limits are 10 and 20 in the aggregate, respectively.

Dove and band-tailed pigeon hunters are reminded that they must register in the federal Migratory Game Bird Harvest Information Program prior to going afield for these migratory birds.

To find the most success, hunters should keep in mind the daily activity routine of doves. Birds normally feed early in the morning and again late in the day. Doves are almost exclusively seed-eaters and prefer areas with wheat/stubble, barley, corn, oats and all kinds of weedy patches.

Annual sunflowers often harbor many doves and provide birds with an excellent source of food and cover.

After feeding, doves pick up grit along roadways and then fly to water. The middle part of the day is spent loafing and roosting in trees. Doves especially like to roost in dead trees.

Hunters should plan on spending time in the coniferous forests of southern Utah for the native band-tailed pigeon. Band-tails are most common in woodlands, from the Pine Valley mountains in the west to the La Sal and Blue mountains in the east.

In 2004, bag and possession limits for bandtails are five and 10 respectively. The season closes Sept. 30.

Hunters must register in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program before hunting this season. Hunters who don't register risk a fine of up to $299.

There is no charge to register, and registration takes about five minutes to complete. Utah migratory game bird hunters can register by calling 1-877-UTAH-744 (1-877-882-4744) or by visiting the Internet at www.uthip.com.