At a Glance
The birder visiting woods of southern Texas may be startled to realize that some of the doves walking about on the ground are of an unfamiliar type. Round-bodied and short-tailed, they keep close to cover; if disturbed, they walk away rapidly through the undergrowth, or fly away low with a whistle of wings. These White-tipped Doves are the northernmost representatives of a distinctive group, the genus Leptotila, widespread in wooded areas in the American tropics.
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
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
Permanent resident throughout its range.
11 1/2" (29 cm). May suggest a Mourning Dove, but much rounder-bodied and shorter-tailed, has pale eyes, and lacks black ear spot and black spots on wings. In flight, it shows rich dark chestnut under the wings.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Black, Brown, Gray, Red, White
Broad, Rounded, Short
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped
Songs and Calls
Deep, drawn-out, descending coo, lower pitched than most of our pigeons and doves.
Shady woodlands, river thickets. In southern Texas, found in any kind of dense low growth; most common in native woodland, but also found in second growth. Within its wide range (from Texas to Argentina) found in many habitats, but mostly drier or more open woods, avoiding unbroken rain forest.
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2. Pale buff, fading to white. Incubation is probably by both parents, about 14 days. Young: Both parents presumed to feed young "pigeon milk." Development of young and age at first flight not well known.
Both parents presumed to feed young "pigeon milk." Development of young and age at first flight not well known.
Forages mostly on ground, walking about in woodland undergrowth; may sometimes forage in low trees or shrubs. In some parks in southern Texas, will come birdseed or other food put out for them. Several may concentrate at sources of food, but usually solitary, not sociable like many doves.
Probably seeds and berries. Diet not well known. Evidently eats many seeds, including those of grasses, mesquites, and elms; also berries and fruits, including those of hackberry and prickly pear cactus. May eat some insects.
In courtship on ground, male may hunch shoulders, lower head, run a few steps toward female, then stop and coo. Also may have bowing display. Nest site is in dense low tree, thorny shrub, or tangle of vines, usually less than 15' above the ground, perhaps sometimes on the ground. Usually placed on horizontal fork of branch. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is a platform of sticks and weed stems, usually quite flimsy.
Numbers holding up very well in undisturbed habitats in southern Texas. As long as habitat remains, probably not too vulnerable to hunting pressure in tropics.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the White-tipped Dove. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the White-tipped 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.