Bird GuidePigeons and DovesCommon Ground Dove

At a Glance

Quiet and unobtrusive, the little ground dove walks on the ground in open bushy places in the southern states. If it is startled, it flies up into the brush with a fluttering rattle, showing a short black tail and a flash of rusty-red in the wings. The male may repeat his short cooing song incessantly, even in the heat of the day.
Pigeon-like Birds, Pigeons and Doves
Low Concern
Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Florida, Mid Atlantic, Plains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas
Direct Flight

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Permanent resident in most areas, but in parts of the southwest it is much more common in summer, suggesting a regular migration to the south.


6 1/2" (17 cm). Small and short-tailed, with a scaly pattern on chest and head. Base of bill pink. In flight, the wings show bright rusty red and the short black tail shows pale corners. See juvenile Mourning Dove, which has scaly pattern and may be short-tailed at first. Wings make a soft rattling sound on takeoff.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Pink, Red
Wing Shape
Rounded, Short
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Soft cooing notes, coo-oo, coo-oo, coo-oo, each with rising inflection.
Call Pattern
Call Type


Farms, orchards, wood edges, roadsides. Mostly in semi-open habitats with low brush and grass. In the southeast, found mostly in brushy fields, understory of open pine woods, forest edges. In southwest, occurs in similar habitats including orchards, ranch yards, mesquite thickets along streams.



2, sometimes 3. White. Incubation is by both parents, 12-14 days.


Both parents presumed to feed young "pigeon milk." Young leave nest after 11-12 days or more. 2-3 broods per year, sometimes 4.

Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly on the ground, walking about and picking up seeds. Often forages in pairs, sometimes in small flocks; may associate with Inca Doves where their habitats overlap. Will come to bird feeders for seeds, especially in the southeast.


Mostly seeds. Feeds on a wide variety of seeds, especially those of grasses and weeds, also waste grain in farm fields. Also eats small fruits and berries, and reportedly eats some insects.


In courtship, male struts with stiff steps, chest puffed out and head bowed, while cooing. Several males may compete for attentions of one female. Members of mated pairs often perch very close together, and may preen each other's feathers. Nest site varies, may be on ground, or in shrubs or low trees up to 25' above ground; usually 3-12' up on horizontal fork of branch. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is flat, flimsy platform of sticks.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

In recent decades has declined seriously in many areas, especially in the southeast. Reasons are not well understood.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Common Ground Dove. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Common Ground Dove

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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