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Eurasian Collared-Dove

Streptopelia decaocto ORDER: COLUMBIFORMES FAMILY: COLUMBIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

With a flash of white tail feathers and a flurry of dark-tipped wings, the Eurasian Collared-Dove settles onto phone wires and fence posts to give its rhythmic three-parted coo. This chunky relative of the Mourning Dove gets its name from the black half-collar at the nape of the neck. A few Eurasian Collared-Doves were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s. They made their way to Florida by the 1980s and then rapidly colonized most of North America.

Birds of North America Online
Yard Map Birds Eye View

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
11.4–11.8 in
29–30 cm
Wingspan
13.8 in
35 cm
Weight
4.9–6.3 oz
140–180 g
Relative Size
A large dove, larger and heftier than a Mourning Dove but smaller than a Rock Pigeon.
Other Names
  • Tourterelle turque (French)
  • Tórtola (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Eurasian Collared-Doves made their way to North America via the Bahamas, where several birds escaped from a pet shop during a mid-1970s burglary; the shop owner then released the rest of the flock of approximately 50 doves. Others were set free on the island of Guadeloupe when a volcano threatened eruption. From these two sites the birds likely spread to Florida, and now occur over most of North America.
  • People have helped make the Eurasian Collared-Dove at home in North America. Bird feeders and trees planted in urban and suburban areas are cited as two of the main factors in the species’ colonization of the continent.
  • The Eurasian Collared-Dove’s species name, decaocto, comes from Greek mythology. Decaocto was a servant girl transformed into a dove by the gods to escape her unhappy treatment; the dove’s mournful cry recalls her former life.
  • While most birds meet their chicks’ protein needs with insects, doves feed their newly hatched chicks a fat- and protein-rich “crop milk.” This whitish fluid comes from liquid-filled cells that slough off the lining of the crop, a portion of the esophagus. After 5 or 10 days, the chicks switch to a diet of regurgitated seeds or fruit.
  • Eurasian Collared-Doves are one of very few species that can drink “head down,” submerging their bills and sucking water as though drinking through a straw. Most birds must scoop water and tip the head back to let it run down into the throat.
  • The oldest recorded Eurasian Collared-Dove from the wild was 13 years 8 months old.

Habitat


Town

Eurasian Collared-Doves are found throughout much of North America in urban and suburban settings with access to bird feeders and other seed sources. In agricultural areas they seek open sites where grain is available, including farmyards, fields, and areas around silos. They avoid areas with heavy forest cover or extremely cold temperatures, which may explain their absence from the Northeast.

Food


Seeds

Eurasian Collared-Doves eat mainly seed and cereal grain such as millet, sunflower, milo, wheat, and corn. They also eat some berries and green parts of plants, as well as invertebrates.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–2 eggs
Number of Broods
3-6 broods
Egg Length
1.1–1.2 in
2.7–3.1 cm
Egg Width
0.8–0.9 in
2.1–2.4 cm
Incubation Period
14–19 days
Nestling Period
17 days
Egg Description
Smooth, white, slightly glossy.
Condition at Hatching
Covered in down.
Nest Description

The male dove brings the female twigs, grasses, roots and other nesting materials, which he sometimes pushes directly under her. Over 1 to 3 days she builds a simple platform nest, which may include feathers, wool, string and wire. A pair often uses the same nest for multiple broods during the year, and may renovate old nests.

Nest Placement

Tree

Males show females potential nest sites in trees and on buildings, giving a low- pitched, slow koo-KOO-kook call at each site. Nests are usually built 10 or more feet above the ground. In warmer regions, Eurasian Collared-Doves can nest year-round, which may help explain their success as colonizers.

Behavior


Ground Forager

Eurasian Collared-Doves roost on utility poles, wires, and tall trees in open areas near feeding sites. Mainly ground foragers, they peck at grain and seeds scattered beneath backyard feeders and on feeding platforms, or spilled at farmyards. Flocks of 10 to several hundred doves may gather at prime spots. Although they can feed peacefully in mixed flocks, Eurasian Collared-Doves will also chase off other birds, including Mourning Doves, cardinals, and Blue Jays. The male advertises for a mate with an insistent koo-KOO-kook call from a high perch, repeating the call up to a dozen times in a bout, sometimes starting before dawn and continuing into the night. Calls are followed by a flight display in which the male flies steeply upward, clapping his wings, then descends with tail spread, often spiraling down to the same or a nearby perch. Once a pair has formed, males show females potential nest sites, usually in tall trees but occasionally on buildings. In between these “site visits” the pair vigorously preen each other. Male doves bring females sticks and other material for the simple nest, and aggressively chase away other collared-doves, as well as predators—venture too close and you risk getting hit by a flapping wing. The monogamous pair may raise up to six broods a year; the female can lay a new clutch while young are still in a previous nest.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Since their introduction into Florida in the early 1980s, Eurasian Collared-Doves have spread rapidly and now occur throughout much of the U.S., especially in areas converted to agriculture and urban uses. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population at 8 million with 5 percent living in the U.S. They rate a 5 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2012 Watch List. Both intentional and accidental introductions have likely hastened their spread. Studies on interactions between collared-doves and other species have not yet shown a negative impact on populations of native birds, including Mourning Doves. As an introduced species, Eurasian Collared-Doves are not protected from hunting and have become popular game birds in rural areas of the Southeast and Texas.

Credits

Range Map Help

Eurasian Collared-Dove Range Map
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Migration

Resident (nonmigratory) throughout North American range.

Backyard Tips

Eurasian Collared-Doves readily come to seed and grain, particularly millet, strewn on the ground or placed on platform feeders. They often nest near houses and other developed areas where food is easily available.

Find This Bird

Eurasian Collared-Doves continue to expand their range and can now be found across much of the country. If you live in this species’ range but haven’t yet identified it, take a second look at your Mourning Doves: look for the collared-dove’s prominent white patches in the tail, dark-tipped wings, and the black collar at the nape of the neck, as well as the overall chunkier size. The collared-dove’s mournful koo-KOO-kook call is shorter, more impatient, and more frequent than that of the Mourning Dove.

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