The Tiny Common Ground-Dove

Common Ground Dove

The Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina) is about the size of a sparrow with a body length of six to seven inches and a wingspan of 10 inches. It is the smallest dove in the U.S.

This dove occurs along the southern border of the U.S. from California to Florida. Its range includes Mexico, parts of Central America, Caribbean islands, and northern South America.

“Common Ground-Doves are sandy brown overall, with large, dark spots on the wing coverts. In flight the wings show rich rufous patches. Males have a pinkish wash on the head, neck, and chest, and bluish crowns; females are duller. Both sexes have fine, dark scaling on the neck and chest, and pinkish-red bills with a dark tip. Common Ground-Doves live in open or shrubby areas with tall grasses or groves of trees, including riparian corridors and open savannas. They also live in towns and suburbs, where they frequent yards and hedges.” (Cornell) The male is pictured above. See more photos here.

Ground-Doves eat primarily seeds from grasses and weeds. They may eat as many as 2,500 seeds every day. They also eat berries, insects, and snail shells (for the calcium to produce “crop milk” for nestlings).

Both male and female build the nest, usually a depression in the ground lined with grasses. They also nest in shrubs and trees. The male and female share incubation duty (12-14 days) and both feed the nestlings until they fledge (11-14 days). Normal clutch size is one to three eggs.

According to Cornell, “During the day Common Ground-Doves spend time on the ground searching for seeds and roosting. They may also roost in trees or shrubs at any hour of the day or night. They nod their heads as they walk, often holding their tails slightly elevated, and they usually make short, low, and direct flights. When startled they can quickly burst into nearby cover, but they are not a very anxious bird—allowing humans to get very close without appearing bothered.” Listen to their cooing sound here.

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