3 Types Of DOVES In Virginia (ID Guide With Photos)
Did you recently come across a dove in the state of Virginia, and want to know what species it was?
Identifying doves in the Old Dominion State is not as easy as it might seem, since there are several dove species in Virginia (as well as a closely related pigeon species).
To help you identify the bird you saw, we’ll cover the most common doves of Virginia in this article.
What are the types of doves in Virginia?
The 3 types of doves found in Virginia are:
- Mourning Dove
- Rock Pigeon
- Eurasian Collared-Dove (rare)
Most of these doves are year round residents of Virginia, while Eurasian Collared Doves are rare vagrants that occasionally occur in the state.
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 dove 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.
This is the most common dove found in Virginia
The Mourning Dove is a common breeding bird in Virginia, and can be seen year-round. During the winter it also frequents open woodland, but avoids large forests.
These birds 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 birds while they are feeding on the ground.
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.
The Rock Dove is considered a pest in many Virginia cities
These pigeons are easily attracted to bird feeders on the ground that offer grains or dried bread. But in many cities Rock Doves 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 raptors in Virginia.
Rock Doves are also famous for their homing abilities, and were used by humans in previous centuries for carrying messages.
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 often found in the same areas as Mourning Doves.
You can tell this bird apart from Mourning Doves by its black collar on the neck, as well as the white patches on the tail, which are most prominent when it is flushed from the ground.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a rare invasive species in Virginia
Sightings of the Eurasian Collared-Dove in Virginia were first reported in 2007. It is now a rare dove species in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and even less common in other parts of Virginia.
Since the 19090s this dove has since been encountered as a rare breeding bird in urban habitats of Virginia, and is also reported as a vagrant visitor outside of the breeding season.
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 birds to your backyard by offering bird seeds on the ground.
And there we have the 3 doves found in the state of Virginia.
The varied habitats of Virginia are home to more than 400 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 black birds of Virginia.