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Ground doves. Bird Orders. Columbiformes part-2

Updated on August 3, 2015

Male White throated ground dove



In part -1 , looking at the Bird order Columbidae, we looked at the general characteristics and habits of the pigeons and in particular the Green pigeons of Asia and Africa. Here in part two we look at the members of this order that are known collectively as the Ground doves.

We commence with the American ground dove.

Common Ground dove.


The American ground dove

The American ground dove Columbina passerina is a small bird that inhabits the Southern United States,parts of Central America, Northern South America and the Caribbean.

The length of this species is six and a quarter inches. The bill is of a yellow colour tipped with black.the iris is orange-red. The breast,throat and sides of the neck are a pale wine coloured purple. The feathers are deeply marked by semi-circular margins.,those of the throat being dusky blue in the centre.

The crown and back of the head are of a rich pale blue mixed with purple and marked with detached spots with reflecting tints. The belly is pale wine coloured brown,becoming cinerous towards the vent where the feathers are margined with white. The tail is rounded and consists of twelve feathers the two middle ones being cinerous brown and the rest black margined and tipped with white the feet and legs are yellow.

The back and tail coverts of the female are a mouse brown colour,and she is more grey and more evenly coloured than the male.

This small dove lives in open areas that are open yet with trees and bushes close to hand. They are also found in forests with sandy areas, farmland and Savannahs. This species is, as its common name suggests, is a ground feeder foraging on vegetation,seeds and fruit.

it nests on the ground in vegetation or slightly above the ground in bushes. The nest is typical of this order,being a flimsy affair when built in bushes,and when located on the ground it is but a mere scrape lined with sparse vegetation. nests may be encountered through the year but the peak nesting period is from April until June.

The female will deposit two white eggs which are incubated for 12-14 days. The young are fed on crop milk and soon grow strong leaving the nest in a further 11 days or so. They continue to be fed by both parents. There are thought to be 15 sub-species which differ mainly in their geographical location.

The Ruddy ground dove


The ruddy ground dove in a different light


A small troop of Ruddy ground doves


The ruddy ground dove Columbina talpacoti

The Ruddy ground dove,Columbina talpacoti, once referred to as the Rust coloured ground dove, is a South American species also of diminutive size ,but a very neat and handsome bird. It inhabits open ground rather than woods,however, it always perches when at rest.

They nest in a bush or branches of a tree near the ground. It builds a comparatively solid nest for a dove however,it is sparsely lined, the form is cup shaped. The female will deposit two white eggs which are incubated for a period of twelve to thirteen days. The chick mortality through predation is high.

Its main home is Mexico,Peru,Brazil,Paraquay and Northern Argentina. They sometimes occur in Texas to southern most California primarily during the winter. It is a very familiar little creature that doesn't hesitate to come close to dwellings of the inhabitants in search of food.

The birds plumage consists principally of two colours. The head and small portion of the upper neck are an ash-grey colour,with a hint of purple on the front and reddish white on the throat. The rest of the plumage is orange brown,passing into a dark purple on the under part. There are a few streaks of black on the wing coverts. The tail feathers are the same colour as those on the wings with the exception of the two middle ones which are the same colour as the back,only a little lighter in shade.

The bill and naked skin around the eye are bluish-grey.The legs and toes a pale purplish red. The female has the head very dull grey and the under plumage the same. The back and all the upper parts are dull brown with reddish blotches. The wings ,tail and naked parts are the same colour as in the male bird. The length is very little more than six inches.

The sub-species Columbina talpacoti rufipennis of Central America,Colombia and Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago shows much more cinnamon on the under wing.

Picui ground dove


The Picui ground dove

The Picui ground dove Columbina picui, is a species that inhabits Argentina,Brazil,Bolivia,Chile,Columbia,Paraquay,Peru and Uruaquay, and its habits are very nearly the same as the above species,but it is rather larger and differently coloured.

The length of this species is seven and a quarter inches. The upper parts are brown and the front and sides of the head whitish. The quills are blackish brown,and the wings are mottled over with small spots of blue. The middle tail feathers are brown,and those next to them are brown with white tips,except the two lateral ones,which are all white. The under parts are whitish,clouded with brown on the neck and wine coloured on the breast. The naked skin around the eye is blue and the bill and feet reddish.

There are many other species of ground doves in South America much to numerous to include. However, all the habits are so nearly the same.

Emerald ground dove


Male Emerald dove

Taken at San Diego Zoo
Taken at San Diego Zoo | Source

Common Emerald dove

Taken at North Queensland Australia
Taken at North Queensland Australia | Source

The Emerald ground dove

The Emerald Dove is a species that is widespread and a resident breeding bird of the tropical parts of the Indian sub-continent,east through Myanmar,Thailand,Malaysia,the Philippines and Indonesia.

They also occur in northern and eastern Australia. It is sometimes known by the alternative names of Green dove and Green-winged pigeon. It is placed in the genus Chalcophaps and given the species name of indica. There are also a number of sub-species,but here we concentrate on this bird.

It frequents the rain forests and similar wet woodlands,but also farms,gardens,mangroves and coastal heath. The flight of the bird is fast and direct,with regular beats and occasional sharp flick of the wings.It frequently flies low between the patches of dense forests,but it also frequently walks.. They are often seen on the ground as they strut around in search of fallen fruit and generally spend little time in trees other than for roosting.

It is quite a stocky species ten to twelve inches long. Its plumage is primarily green especially the back and wings.However, the flight feathers and tail are blackish with broad black and white bars on the lower back that are distinct when the bird is in flight. The head and under parts are of a dark vinous pink fading to greyish on the lower belly. The legs and feet are a rufous colouring.

The male has a white patch on the edge of the scapulars which the female lacks.Females also tend to be browner in tint with a grey mark on the shoulder. They usually occur in pairs,singly or at the most small groups.

They build a flimsy nest of sticks in a tree around five metres from the ground.The female will lay two cream coloured eggs in early spring and summer in south east Australia and late in the dry season in northern Australia.

Laughing Dove

Taken at Zighy Bay Musandam Peninsula Oman
Taken at Zighy Bay Musandam Peninsula Oman | Source

The Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis

The Laughing dove,Spilopelia senegalensis, is a small bird and a resident breeder in Sub-Saharan Africa ,the Middle east to the Indian sub-continent. It has the alternative names which include the Palm dove, Senegal dove, and Little brown dove. It occurs around Perth and Fremantle in Australia after being introduced and becoming established.

This species is a slim bird with a relatively long tail making it almost ten inches long. The upper parts of its plumage is a buff brown with hints of lilac on the head and neck. The under parts are almost pink shading to buff towards the lower abdomen. There is a chequered brown grey patch on the sides of the neck. there is a bluish grey band along the wings.

The 'senegalensis' species have also a bluish grey coloured rump. The long tail is graduated and the outer feathers are tipped with white. the legs are red. Both sexes are very similar. There are several sub-species that occur in various parts of Africa and one that occurs in Afghanistan and Turkestan.

The species is normally encountered in pairs or at the most small parties,however, larger groups are formed at drinking localities in arid regions. They tend to feed upon the ground on fallen seeds,mainly of grasses,but also other vegetable matter and small ground insects.

The nest in common with many birds of this family is a flimsy affair composed of twigs and located in a low bush .There are even cases of them building under the eaves of houses. Both sexes tend to be active in the construction the male bringing the twigs and the female placing and inter-weaving them.

The female will deposit two eggs which are incubated for a period of about fourteen days. The young are ready to leave the nest in a further fourteen to sixteen days.

Nest and Eggs of Spilopelia senegalensis

The nest is in an Olive tree . Djerba Island
The nest is in an Olive tree . Djerba Island | Source

Scaled Dove Columbina Squammata

There are hundred of species throughout the world and we have glimpsed at a few of them. However,their habits and breeding behaviour is very similar to the ones chosen. Finally we review another South American species , the Scaled Dove Columbina squammata. This species inhabits the sub-tropical or tropical dry shrub land and seasonably wet or flooded lowland grassland.

It is a bird about eight and a half inches long. The eyes are red or reddish brown to yellow. It is short legged,and scaly with a long pointed tail. The plumage above is a pale sandy brown,below it is a pinkish white,palest on the belly. The four central feathers of the long tail brown,rest black increasingly tipped with white the outer pair are almost entirely white.

Columbina squammata


Habits and nesting of the Scaled Dove

This species occurs in pairs or small groups. They a very confiding species,feeding on the ground ,their bellies almost touching the ground in the process.If they are disturbed they fly fast and directly to the safety of trees.

They build a nest a twiggy, cup shaped structure and is more carefully constructed than is normally the case among doves. It is located one to three metres from the ground.

Footnote. The European Turtle dove has been reviewed in great detail in my series ' Birds of Europe'.


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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hello Devika, You are so right about these birds,and thank you for your appreciated comments and support. Best wishes to you.


      Hi Deb, You are very welcome and thank you ,also ,for your visit and support. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      There are so many different dove species, it amazes me. Thanks for clearing up some of the questions and providing photos on the ones that I don't get to see.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Doves are so beautiful and calm birds. I heard a dove a few days ago but have not seen it. You have such an open mind on birds. Great topic.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Miss Smith,

      Thank you very much for your kind and appreciated comments and your vote up.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 2 years ago from Florida

      Very well written article. I love all kinds of birds and I think doves are beautiful and symbolic of love. I was surprised at how many are grounded. The Emerald ground dove is beautiful. However, the Picui ground dove is really pretty. It's color almost looks vintage, like antique white. They are all very lovely birds. I really like your article. Voting up. :)


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