Inca DoveColumbina inca

adult
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult
Sid & Shirley Rucker/VIREO
adult male and female
Greg Lasley/VIREO

Description

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.

Habitat

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.

Feeding Diet

Mostly seeds. Feeds on a wide variety of seeds, including waste grain, grass seeds, birdseed. May sometimes eat fruits, such as those of cactus.

Feeding Behavior

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.

Nesting

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. Eggs: 2. White. Incubation is by both parents, 15-16 days. Male incubates mostly during middle of day, female at other times. Young: 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.

Eggs

2. White. Incubation is by both parents, 15-16 days. Male incubates mostly during middle of day, female at other times. Young: 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.

Young

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.

Conservation

Abundant, and still expanding its range to the north.

Range

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.

Listen

captives calling
song

Similar Species

adult male Western

Common Ground-Dove

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.

adult male

Ruddy Ground-Dove

Very common in the tropics, this little dove ranges north to northern Mexico, and recently it has been showing up increasingly often in our Southwest. These visitors appear mainly in fall and often stay through the winter. They have been found at various points from southern California to southern Texas, often associating with Inca Doves.

adult

White-tipped Dove

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.

Vireo

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