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What is a White-Winged Dove?

S. Ashraf
S. Ashraf

The white-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica, is a medium-size dove that resembles a pigeon in appearance. On average, the adult birds are about 11.8 inches (30 cm) long, weigh about 6 ounces (170 g) and have a wing span of a little less than 20 inches (50 cm). In appearance, the white-winged dove is grayish brown and has a distinctive bright white stripe of wing feathers, about 0.4 inches (1 cm) wide, which is visible when its wings are folded. No other dove in the western hemisphere has this white striping. The sexes have similar markings, with males and females both having a teardrop-shaped ring of pale blue skin around the eyes.

Geographically, the white-winged dove lives mostly in semitropical and tropical areas. It can be found from the Caribbean and Central America northward through the southwestern United States. Most white-winged doves migrate according to the seasons, preferring to move south for the winter. Those that live in the southern portions of their range, however, will stay there all year. The white-winged dove has been expanding its range northward in response to increased human activity and the growth of suburbs, which have led to more feeding areas for this bird.

White-winged doves eat barley.
White-winged doves eat barley.

As a habitat, the white-winged dove likes both semi-open and open areas. Its preferred habitat is the low trees and dense thickets of open country, but it also can be found in desert landscapes of cacti and scrub. Owing to the increased presence of humans, it is at home in both residential areas and in agricultural fields.

Its feeding habits can make the white-winged dove something of a pest in areas where there are farms. Flocks of white-winged doves will descend on grain crops such as corn, barley and wheat to feed. These birds also eat fruit, seeds and even ornamental plants.

One environment that white-winged doves can occupy is the desert.
One environment that white-winged doves can occupy is the desert.

Breeding season is roughly spring through late summer. Males establish their nesting territories and, after mating has occurred, females select a site for the nest from within this territory. Nests are built, usually in tree branches, in two to five days from materials such as grass or twigs brought to the female by the male. Some species of white-winged doves nest in large colonies, but others nest only as isolated pairs.

Usually, two eggs are laid, and the parents take shifts to incubate the eggs. It takes about 14 days for the eggs to hatch. Male white-winged doves feed the chicks until they are about one month old.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a White-Winged Dove?

The White-Winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) is a medium-sized bird native to the Americas, recognized by its distinctive white wing patches and the black line on the edge of its wings. It inhabits desert, woodland, and urban areas, and is known for its cooing call that sounds like "who-cooks-for-you."

Where can you find White-Winged Doves?

White-Winged Doves are found across the southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. They are adaptable birds that thrive in various habitats, including urban environments. During winter, they migrate to more temperate regions, expanding their range as far north as the southern parts of Canada.

What do White-Winged Doves eat?

White-Winged Doves primarily feed on seeds, grains, and fruits. They are particularly fond of feeding on the ground but will also forage in trees and shrubs. During the breeding season, they may consume snails and insects to meet their increased protein needs.

How do White-Winged Doves reproduce?

White-Winged Doves breed between March and July. They typically build flimsy nests in trees or shrubs, where the female lays 2 eggs. Both parents share incubation duties for about two weeks. The hatchlings, known as squabs, are fed "crop milk" by both parents and fledge within two weeks.

Are White-Winged Doves important to their ecosystems?

Yes, White-Winged Doves play a crucial role in their ecosystems. They are important seed dispersers, aiding in the propagation of various plant species. Additionally, they serve as prey for predators and are integral to the food web dynamics in their habitats.

What is the conservation status of the White-Winged Dove?

The White-Winged Dove is currently listed as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their populations are stable, and in some areas, they are even increasing due to their adaptability to urban environments and the availability of bird feeders.

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    • White-winged doves eat barley.
      White-winged doves eat barley.
    • One environment that white-winged doves can occupy is the desert.
      By: george kuna
      One environment that white-winged doves can occupy is the desert.