White-tipped Dove Life History

Habitat

Habitat Open Woodlands

In southern Texas and northern Mexico, White-tipped Doves occur along the Rio Grande in the interior of native brush and woodlands, usually in areas with dense vines. Main plant species include Texas sabal palm, Texas ebony, cedar elm, Texas live oak, Mexican ash, Edwards's bluewood, Mexican leadtree, Texas lignum-vitae, southern hackberry (sugarberry), spiny hackberry, black willow, honey mesquite, Jerusalem thorn, and sweet acacia. Some 95% of this habitat has been cleared for agriculture and other development, so White-tipped Doves also use citrus groves and sometimes well-wooded suburban areas. Farther south, the species inhabits many kinds of dry second-growth, brushy, and open woodlands as well as agricultural environments such as orchards, coffee farms, banana plantations, and gardens (up to 10,500 feet elevation). It is usually absent in deep interior forests occupied by relatives such as Gray-headed Dove and Gray-chested Dove.

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Food

Food Seeds

White-tipped Doves eat mostly seeds, fruits, and insects, which they find by ambling along, jerking the head as they walk, and searching the ground and lower vegetation. The only documented foods in the United States are fruits of Texas ebony, cedar elm, anacua (knockaway), saffron plum, Texas nightshade, rougeplant, Texas prickly pear, southern hackberry (sugarberry), and honey mesquite. In citrus groves, they eat fruit and seeds of oranges and grapefruit, and at bird feeding stations they take milo, sorghum, sunflower, and corn.

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Nesting

Nest Placement

Nest Tree

Nests are usually in a forked branch in a tree about 6–10 feet above ground, most often in a Texas ebony, anacua, or spiny hackberry.

Nest Description

Both male and female participate in nest building, the male bringing the nesting material and the female placing it. Nests are bulky, shallow bowls made of twigs, measuring about 6 inches across and 3.5 inches tall.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
Egg Description:

Cream-colored and unmarked.

Condition at Hatching:

Naked except for bristly feather tips. Bill is pinkish brown with a black band and a white tip.

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Behavior

Behavior Ground Forager

In southern Texas, White-tipped Doves nest from March through September. Courtship and nesting behavior are evident through most of the year. Males deliver a low, cooing song mostly early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Males courting females may run at them with lowered head and tail, then stop to coo while pumping the head. Males then often chase the female in the direction of the desired nest site. When paired, male and female preen each other’s head and neck feathers and often touch bills together. Farther south in the range, male White-tipped Doves perform a flight display near the nest, in which they rise up, clap the tips of the wings together loudly two or three times, then glide back downward. Males are often aggressive toward other White-tipped Doves, particularly around food, and frequently chase away competitors or doves of other species. White-tipped Doves appear to be monogamous. Both parents feed the young at the nest. After fledging, the young are independent but usually remain near the area where they hatched. During winter, White-tipped Doves tend to be solitary and somewhat skittish, quickly flushing when they see a human or potential predator. They fly a short distance, then land again, peering back at the source of disturbance while bobbing the head and jerking the tail upward, much like a quail-dove.

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Conservation

Conservation Low Concern

The White-tipped Dove is an abundant bird in its large range in the Americas. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 20 million, with fewer than 10,000 breeding in the United States. Partners in Flight rates the species an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, indicating a species of low conservation concern. Habitat destruction and hunting certainly have some impacts on local populations. In southern Texas and adjacent Mexico, more than 95% of the habitats used by White-tipped Doves have been removed in recent historical times, and these land types continue to be lost.

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Backyard Tips

To attract White-tipped Doves, try scattering small seeds on the ground or placing seed on a low platform feeder.

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Credits

Hogan, Kelly M. (1999). White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Rosenberg, K. V., J. A. Kennedy, R. Dettmers, R. P. Ford, D. Reynolds, J. D. Alexander, C. J. Beardmore, P. J. Blancher, R. E. Bogart, G. S. Butcher, A. F. Camfield, A. Couturier, D. W. Demarest, W. E. Easton, J. J. Giocomo, R. H. Keller, A. E. Mini, A. O. Panjabi, D. N. Pashley, T. D. Rich, J. M. Ruth, H. Stabins, J. Stanton, and T. Will (2016). Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan: 2016 Revision for Canada and Continental United States. Partners in Flight Science Committee.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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