Photographer: Francisco Welter Schultes Affiliation: Zoological Museum, University of Goettingen, Germany, Source:www.animalbase.uni-goettingen Copyright: CC BY
The Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) is a member of the dove and pigeon family (Columbidae), all of which are small to medium-sized birds with short legs and necks and small heads. With the exception of the Rock Dove (Pigeon), most species in this family show little variation in color. The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a medium sized, stocky dove, approximately 12-14 inches long (30-33 cm) with a wingspan of 18-22 inches (45-55 cm) and weighing around 7 oz. (200 g). This dove is pale to sandy gray, with a slight pinkish tinge to the head and breast. Their bills are black, the irises of their eyes are red, and their legs and feet are mauve. Their tails are white when viewed from the underside, and the ends are squared off (rather than pointed).
The Eurasian Collared-Dove gets its name from the black partial collar on the nape (back) of the neck, which is outlined in white. The plumage of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is similar in both sexes and changes very little throughout the year. Juveniles generally resemble adults but their breast, wing, and back feathers have pale reddish margins, the irises of their eyes are brown, and their legs are brownish-red. Juveniles younger than three months also lack a well-defined collar.
The call of the Eurasian Collared-Dove is a rhythmic coo slightly lower in pitch than that of the more common Mourning Dove, or a harsh nasal "krreew" given during display flights.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are extremely successful colonizers and breeders, and some scientists believe that they may be competing with native North American doves, although negative effects have yet to be explicitly demonstrated. In California, Eurasian Collared-Doves may be competitively displacing another non-native dove, the Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis). When present in large numbers, they can discourage other species from using bird feeders, and may even aggressively defend these food sources, chasing other birds away. Eurasian Collared-Doves can also carry the disease-causing parasite, Trichomonas gallinae, which they may spread to native doves at feeders or birdbaths, or to the native hawks that feed on them.
During the non-breeding season, Eurasian Collared-Doves roost communally, often by the hundreds, in barns or in trees in city parks. Eurasian Collared-Doves forage in open habitats for grains, seeds and fruit, or eat from bird feeders. By storing large amounts of food in its crop (storage pouch of the digestive tract) and using a special siphoning technique to drink large volumes of water, the dove is able to roost for long periods between feedings, shortening the amount of time it must spend in dangerous, open areas. Eurasian Collared-Doves are highly territorial, watching for intruders from high vantage points such as utility poles or trees. Adults are most aggressive when nesting, flying at an intruder or nest predator (such as a crow) and delivering blows with their wings.
Eurasian Collared-Doves are monogamous, and each pair may raise three or more broods (of two eggs each) per year in Florida. They are considered sly and aggressive competitors, engaging in fierce fights with rivals, striking with beak and wings, pulling feathers, and even jumping on a rival's back.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove was introduced in the Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles when a few pet birds inadvertently escaped or were released. By the 1980s this dove had dispersed from the Caribbean and colonized southern Florida. Since then they have continued to expand their range explosively in the U.S. By the end of the 1990s, Eurasian Collared-Doves had been sighted as far west as Oregon. The dispersal method that has facilitated the spread of the Eurasian Collared-Dove has been described as "leapfrog" or "jump and backfill". Here, new populations spring up hundreds of miles from the known range and over time colonize the areas in between. Intentional introductions (e.g. for hunting purposes) and accidental introductions of as many as 300 birds at a time have also contributed to this method of dispersal of Eurasian Collared-Doves in the U.S.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove was originally native to the Bay of Bengal region (India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar), but historical records suggest that it expanded its range in the 1600s (by introductions and/or by natural means) to include Turkey and the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. By the end of the 1900s, the Eurasian Collared-Dove could be found throughout Europe.
U.S. Habitat: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is most commonly found in open agricultural, suburban, or coastal areas, but avoids heavily forested habitats or highly urbanized cities.
U.S. Present: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is found throughout most of the United States, especially the Gulf Coast and Southeastern United States. However, the doves have spread all across the south-central regions of the United States, and is gradually making its way west.
Texas: The Eurasian Collared-Dove is found in Texas, especially across the Northern edge of the state all the way east to Louisiana including Houston.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove and the introduced Ringed Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia risoria), are nearly identical in appearance and may easily be confused. The White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) and the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) are also very similar in size and appearance to the Eurasian Collared-Dove, but both lack the black collar.
Eurasian Collared-Doves have spread prolifically in Florida and the U.S., and are now extremely common in many areas; therefore, eradication is improbable. Since non-native species are not protected, it may be possible to manage their numbers in some areas by hunting. However, before using any projectile weapon, including pellet guns or slingshots, you should check with local law enforcement.
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Bean, Diane L., Edith Rojas-Flores, Garry W. Foster, John M. Kinsella, and Donald J. Forrester. 2005. Parasitic Helminths of Eurasian Collared-Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) From Florida. Journal of Parasitology 91(1): 184-187.
Gerhold, Richard W., Michael J. Yabsley, Autumn J. Smith, Elissa Ostergaard, William Mannan, Jeff D. Cann, and John R. Fischer. 2008. Molecular Characterization of the Trichomonas gallinae Morphologic Complex in the United States. Journal of Parasitology 94(6): 1335-1341.
Ludwick, Timothy J., and Alan M. Fedynich. 2006. Make Way for the Eurasian Collared-Dove. A Publication for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Kingsville 10(1) 1-2.
Autumn Smith, Ph.D. - Sam Houston State University - email@example.com