7 Types Of DOVES In Florida (ID Guide With Photos)
Did you recently come across a dove in the state of Florida, and want to know what species it was?
Identifying doves in the Sunshine State is not as easy as it might seem, since there are many dove species in Florida (as well as closely related pigeon species).
To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover the most common doves of Florida in this article.
What are the types of doves in Florida?
The 7 types of doves found in Florida are:
- Mourning Dove
- Common Ground Dove
- Eurasian Collared-Dove
- White-winged Dove
- White-crowned Pigeon
- Rock Pigeon
- African Collared-Dove (rare)
While several of these doves are year round residents of Florida, others are summer visitors during the breeding season.
And one of them is a scarce vagrant that is very rarely seen in the state (more on that below).
Now let’s dive into the details, and take a closer look at each of these doves:
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
The Mourning Dove is one of the most common birds in North America, especially around farms and suburban areas.
This bird is almost entirely grayish-brown with a pale underside. The wings and the tail are pointed, and there is a small black dot on the side of the face.
When viewed up close, a grayish blue eyering as well as pink legs and toes are great distinguishing features of the Mourning Dove.
It is a common breeding bird in Florida, and can be seen year-round. During the winter it also frequents open woodland, but avoids large forests.
These doves are often seen perched on telephone wires, or walking around on the ground while foraging for seeds.
You can readily attract these doves to your yard by scattering millet, safflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, and cracked corn on the ground.
But if you do, make sure there are no bushes or shrubs too close to the feeding area, as cats like to use cover to stalk and pounce on these doves while they are feeding on the ground.
Common Ground Dove
Scientific name: Columbina passerina
The Common Ground Dove is a small Florida bird that’s about the size of a sparrow.
It is a species of southern US states, and can be found from Florida in the east to California in the west.
The overall coloration of these doves is brownish gray, with chestnut tones on the wings. In combination with their small size, the subdued dusty color makes these birds hard to spot on the ground.
Often you won’t notice these doves until you flush them from the ground, and see them flying away.
Another great way to identify them is by their repetitive coo-ing call, which is audible even if you can’t catch a glimpse of the bird since it’s hidden in thick scrub.
Common Ground Doves are common breeding birds in Florida and year-round residents in the state. They readily visit ground bird feeders that offer shelled sunflower seeds and other seeds.
In their original desert habitat, these birds are opportunistic breeders that raise their young after plentiful rainfall leads to an abundance of seeds.
They nest on the ground, which makes them vulnerable to predators. This explains why these doves are so well camouflaged, which allows them to blend in with their surroundings.
Scientific name: Zenaida asiatica
The White-winged Dove used to be a bird of remote desert areas.
But as a result of adapting to man-made habitats, it is now a common breeding bird in cities and towns across the southern US, including south Florida.
The White-winged Dove is almost entirely light gray, except for a bright white stripe on its wings.
The white areas on the wings are most prominent when it takes to the air, and are a great feature for identifying this species.
It also has a black spot on its cheek, and if viewed close enough, its bright orange eye with a light blue eyering is a great distinguishing feature.
These birds are frequently found in urban areas with suitable nesting trees, and are most often encountered foraging on the ground.
Outside of the breeding season, this dove can also be found in coastal areas of the Florida Gulf Coast.
The wintering birds found in these areas are migrants from breeding grounds in other states north of Florida.
Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
The Eurasian Collared-Dove was originally not a native bird of North America.
But after it was accidentally introduced into the Bahamas in the 1970s, the Eurasian Collared-Dove colonized Florida in the 1980s, and then continued its spread throughout most of North America.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a common breeding bird in urban habitats of Florida, where it is often found in the same areas as Mourning Doves.
You can tell this dove apart from Mourning Doves by its black half-collar on the neck, as well as the white patches on the tail, which are most prominent when it is flushed from the ground.
While these doves aren’t migratory, they are highly dispersive after the breeding season, and as a result show up in areas where they normally don’t breed.
You can readily attract these doves to your backyard by offering bird seeds on the ground.
Scientific name: Patagioenas leucocephala
This pigeon is most commonly found in the Caribbean, and is a rare breeding bird in southern Florida.
The White-crowned Pigeon is almost entirely blackish gray, except for a bright white crown in adult birds, that extends down to the level of the dark eye.
Similar to many other pigeon species, it has stripes of iridescent black feathers on its nape. It is a secretive bird that lives in mangrove forests and coastal woodlands.
The best places to find White-crowned Pigeons are areas in south Florida with trees that have ripe fruits, where you’ll find them foraging high in the tree canopies.
These pigeons can be observed making long commutes every day, as they travel between mangrove forests (where they roost and nest), and areas with fruiting fig trees (where they forage for food).
So if you don’t have any luck finding White-crowned Pigeons in their foraging areas, look for them early in the morning or at dusk, as they fly to their roosting trees.
Scientific name: Columba livia
The Rock Pigeon is the most common dove species in the world, as it has adapted extremely well to urban environments, and is found in large numbers in cities all around the globe.
These pigeons are a common sight on many public squares and on the sidewalks of city streets, where they feed on scraps of food that are discarded by humans.
This is another pigeon that isn’t an original native of North America, but was introduced by European settlers in the early 17th Century.
These birds are easily attracted to bird feeders on the ground that offer grains or dried bread. But in many cities they are considered a pest, and you may not be allowed to feed them.
The increase of Peregrine Falcons breeding in large cities across North America is largely due to the fact that feral Rock Pigeons provide such a rich food source for these falcons.
Rock Pigeons are also famous for their homing abilities, which were used by humans in previous centuries for carrying messages.
African Collared-Dove (rare)
Scientific name: Streptopelia roseogrisea
While the African Collared-Dove is very rarely seen in the wild in Florida, there are regular sightings of escaped birds in the state.
In addition to this, there are several reports of feral breeding populations of Ringed Turtle-Doves in the state, which are the domesticated variant of this species.
However, it’s difficult to confirm these reports, since these doves look very similar to Eurasian Collared-Doves.
You can distinguish between them by referring to the color of their undertail coverts. While the African Collared-Dove has white undertail coverts, the Eurasian Collared-Dove has dark gray undertail coverts.
An even better way to tell these birds apart is by their call. The soft purring song of the African Collared-Dove sounds quite different from the cooing song of the Eurasian Collared Dove.
And there we have the doves found in the state of Florida.
The varied habitats of Florida are home to more than 500 different species of birds, and doves make up a significant proportion of this rich avifauna.
Including both doves and pigeons, these birds play a vital role in the ecology of their habitats.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our guide to the herons of Florida.