Spotted Dove: Medium dove with gray-brown upperparts and pink-brown underparts. Head has a pale gray cap, dark eye-line, and white-spotted black nape patch. The tail is long and gray with black edges and white corners. Bill is black, legs and feet are pink. Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.
Range and Habitat
Spotted Dove: Native to India through Southeast Asia. Occurs from Santa Barbara south to San Diego along the coast, and inland in the central valley from Fresno south to Bakersfield. Uncommon, but may be found in some California desert oases and riparian areas. Also introduced in Hawaii, northern Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. Preferred habitats include suburban areas and parks.
Pigeons and Doves (Columbidae)
The taxonomic order COLUMBIFORMES (pronounced koh-LUM-bih-FOR-meez) is composed of just one family, the pigeons and doves.
A large family with a nearly worldwide distribution, there are three hundred and twenty species of pigeons and doves in the Columbidae (pronounced koh-LUM-bih-dee) in forty-one genera.
North America has forty-nine species of pigeons and doves in eleven genera that have occurred (including the extinct Passenger Pigeon). Included in the Columbidae family are the tiny ground-doves, the hefty Band-tailed Pigeon, and the familiar, highly urbanized Rock Pigeon.
Pigeons and doves are known for their swift flight and distinctive cooing calls. Several species have also become adapted to living with people, the most well known of these being the Rock Pigeon.
In North America, pigeons are bulky, medium-sized birds, while doves are smaller and more delicate in appearance. Most members of this family have rather long tails and long, pointed wings that can give then a falcon-like appearance in flight. They have short legs, thick, longish necks, and a small head with a dainty bill and prominent cere.
North American members of this family tend to be plumaged in dark gray, various shades of brown, and white (morphs of the Rock Pigeon showing all of these colors). Some species have rufous in the wings and tail, and several have black and white markings on the face, wings, tail or body. Brighter colors such as red and yellow are seen in the legs and bills of several species, while hues of green, violet and other colors are found in the iridescent plumage of some species.
Except for the far northern tundra, members of the Columbidae are distributed throughout North America and occupy both forested and open habitats. The most forest based species is the large Band-tailed Pigeon of the west, other species more or less dependent upon forest being the Red-billed Pigeon of southern Texas, and the White-crowned Pigeon of the tropical hammocks in southern Florida. Other members of the Columbidae found in the United States and Canada are adapted to edge and non-forest habitats.
Pigeons and doves are mostly resident birds with migration limited to short distance movements by some populations of the Band-tailed Pigeon.
Extant North American pigeons and doves do not nest in colonies, but most flock together while foraging. While the Band-tailed, White-crowned, and Red-billed Pigeons pick fruits and nuts from high up in the trees, the Rock Pigeon and various doves forage for seed and grain on the ground.
No living North American pigeons or doves are threatened although populations of White-crowned and Red-billed Pigeons have declined because of deforestation.
The Passenger Pigeon was once one of the most abundant species of North American birds. The historical descriptions of this species are legendary; flocks of more than a billion birds that darkened the skies, nesting colonies of tens of thousands of birds, and mass hunts that slaughtered pigeons by the thousands. This latter description gives the main reason why this formerly prolific bird went extinct in 1914 and is sad testament to the impact people can have upon any species no matter how abundant they may appear to be.