Native to Europe, Southern Asia and the Arabian Peninsula this dove’s rapidly expanding range from the mid 1970s now includes the Caribbean and North America where its numbers continue to increase.
This is a medium sized, slim dove with a small head which is easily recognisable by its pale grey and light brown body with contrasting solid black collar edged with a narrow white stripe situated on the back of its neck. The adult is a greyish brown on its upperparts but lighter on the underside and with the head and breast tinged with a pinkish hue. The upper wing is grey with dark tipped primary and secondary flight feathers. The long uppertail is a greyish brown with the outer feathers tipped white, whilst the undertail is a dark grey with a black base tipped white across the trailing edge. The legs are a deep pink or red and the bill, black. Whilst the iris is a deep dark red it appears almost black and is surrounded by a thin circle of skin giving the impression of a narrow white eye ring. Adult male and female birds are identical. The juvenile is similar to the adult but mainly sandy brown overall and will not display a dark collar until attaining the age of at least twelve weeks.
Collared Dove preening feathers
The call is a loud three syllable ‘cu -coo-cuk’ or ‘coo-coo’ repeated frequently and can sometimes be mistaken for that of a cuckoo.
Collared Dove in flight
A ground feeder with a main diet consisting of buds, shoots, grain and seeds it will also visit gardens and take food from bird tables. Occasionally it will feed on insects and also berries and small fruits directly off bushes.
Collared Dove drinking water
The range of the Eurasian collared dove is vast and covers continental Europe and the United Kingdom, eastwards through Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia into North and West China and south east through North and East Africa, the Middle East, India and Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Japan. Populations have been recorded across the Caribbean including the Bahamas, Montserrat, Cayman Islands and Cuba. Limited numbers have been recorded in Canada’s western province of Saskatchewan and the Northwest region of the United States. Larger populations within the US are found throughout the Midwest and the South with Montana and California also recording significant numbers.
A pair of Collared Doves
A common site near human habitation, Eurasian collared doves are moderately easy to identify both in flight and on the ground. They are often seen in small flocks or found roosting in trees in parks and gardens and it is not necessary to venture far within their range in order to find one. Farmsteads and cultivated fields are also a favoured location when looking for food.
Collared Dove perched on a branch
Collared doves are monogamous and breed throughout the year although rarely in winter in colder latitudes. Realistically the breeding season normally lasts from February through to October when the female will build a platform nest with materials supplied by the male, usually twigs, roots and grasses. Generally, three or four broods, each consisting of two white eggs, are produced annually and incubated by both parents for fourteen to eighteen days. Fledging occurs between sixteen to nineteen days after hatching.
Collared Dove nest with chicks and eggs
A young (juvenile) Collared Dove
Under normal conditions Eurasian collared doves can be expected to live for up to ten years. The lifespan of those in captivity is obviously longer.