At a Glance
The soft, whistled no-hope of the Inca Dove is a familiar sound in southwestern cities. These little doves are often seen walking about on lawns with dainty steps, or fluttering up with a rattle of wings. In much of their range, they are found around human dwellings, and rather seldom seen in natural habitats away from towns or farms. Probably absent originally from areas north of Mexico, they have spread northward as settlements have grown up in the southwest.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Pigeon-like Birds, Pigeons and Doves
Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Urban and Suburban Habitats
California, Plains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
Mostly a permanent resident. Sometimes wanders northward in fall and winter; birds that stray north and then remain to breed help to expand the species' range.
8" (20 cm). Small and long-tailed, with a dark scaly pattern all over. When it flies, rusty red wing feathers and white outer tail feathers are obvious. Wings make dry rattle on takeoff. Common Ground Dove also shows reddish wing flash in flight, but its tail is short, with tiny pale corners. See juvenile Mourning Dove, which also looks somewhat scaly.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Red
Long, Rounded, Square-tipped
Songs and Calls
A soft coo-coo or no-hope, often repeated.
Towns, parks, farms. In the United States found mostly around human dwellings, especially where there are green lawns and plantings of trees. Will inhabit desert yards or very urbanized areas as long as water is available. Sometimes nests away from human habitations along lowland streams or rivers.
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2. White. Incubation is by both parents, 15-16 days. Male incubates mostly during middle of day, female at other times.
Both parents presumably feed young "pigeon milk." Young leave nest at about 12-16 days, are tended by parents for another week or so. A pair may raise up to 4-5 broods per year.
Forages almost entirely on the ground, walking about on bare soil or among short grass or weeds. Will also come to bird feeders (which may be important in maintaining city flocks). Regularly swallows grit (small gravel) to aid in digestion of hard seeds.
Mostly seeds. Feeds on a wide variety of seeds, including waste grain, grass seeds, birdseed. May sometimes eat fruits, such as those of cactus.
Male defends breeding territory against other males, displaying with one wing raised over back; males will sometimes fight vigorously. In courtship, male bobs head, raises tail high over back and spreads it widely to show off black and white markings. Nest site varies, usually in tree or shrub 5-20' above ground, sometimes as high as 50' or on ground. May be on building ledge, wire, other artificial site. Nest (built by female, with material gathered by male) a small platform of twigs, stems, leaves, sometimes lined with grass.
Abundant, and still expanding its range to the north.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Inca Dove. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Inca 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.