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Inca Dove

Columbina inca ORDER: COLUMBIFORMES FAMILY: COLUMBIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The tiny Inca Dove is covered in tan scaly-looking feathers and blends right in with its suburban desert habitats. That is, until it bursts into flight, making a dry rattling whir with its wings while flashing chestnut underwings and white in its tail. It nods its head forward and back with each step and coos a mournful "no hope" from the trees. In recent years, this dove has expanded to the north and is now being seen as far north as Colorado, perhaps due to increased human settlement.

Calls

The male and sometimes the female Inca Dove call a low mournful coo that sounds like they are saying “no hope.” Each call lasts less than 1 second, but the bird repeats the same notes over and over. It also makes a more aggressive stuttering coo of 4–5 distinct notes for about 2 seconds.

Other Sounds

When the Inca Dove takes off, its wings make a dry rattle unlike the sound made by the wings of the Mourning Dove when it takes off. The sound is quiet, but it is distinctive; a dry shuffling that sounds almost like running a finger rapidly over a fanned deck of cards.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

This species often comes to bird feeders. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

Inca Doves frequently visit ground and platform feeders in the Southwest. Learn more about what types of feeders and seeds to use on Project FeederWatch.

Planting native trees and shrubs around your yard can provide Inca Doves with places to rest and nest. Learn more about providing bird friendly habitat at Habitat Network.

Find This Bird

Despite this bird’s repeated calls of “no hope,” there is hope of seeing them, as they are not shy. In the U.S., Inca Doves only occur in the Southwest, but they are expanding their range, tend to live near people, and are not habitat specialists. A stroll through a town or farm at any time of day is likely to turn up a few Inca Doves. They tend to hang out in open areas near buildings where they forage on the ground. If you don't see them at first, try walking through dusty open areas in a park and they may startle you as they flush at your approach. They usually fly to a nearby tree, so even if they do flush you still have a chance of seeing one. They also visit feeders regularly, so stop by a feeder or put one up to bring them to you.

Get Involved

Tell us how many Inca Doves and other birds are at your feeders during the winter. Become a participant of Project FeederWatch and help contribute valuable data. Learn more and sign up at Project FeederWatch.

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