Backyard BirdsUncategorized

Galápagos Doves

The Galápagos Doves (Zenaida galapagoensis) are very small doves that occur naturally on the Galápagos Islands – an island group located in the Pacific Ocean west of the South American country of Ecuador.

Habitat and Status

They occur in a wide range of open and semi-open habitats, particularly in dry, rocky lowland areas with scattered trees.

These doves are relatively common on those islands or in those areas that are free from introduced predators, such as cats, which have impacted dove populations.

Other main threats are diseases brought in by introduced domestic pigeons, as well as new insect-borne diseases, parasitic insects, and habitat degradation and pollution.

Previously, these birds were described as being very confiding, landing and perching on the arms and heads of early settlers. However, this made them easy to kill for food. Over time, they became more fearful of humans.

Galápagos Dove, Zenaida galapagoensis, ENDEMIC, Española Island, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador (9/26/12)

Subspecies, Ranges, and ID:

  • Galapagos Dove (nominate) (Zenaida galapagoensis galapagoensis – Gould, 1841)
    • Range: Occurs on all major islands of the Galapagos (except those inhabited by subspecies Z. g. excel).
  • Larger Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis exsul – Rothschild and Hartert, 1899)
    • Range: Northern islands of Culpepper (Darwin) and Wenman (Wolf) in northern Galapagos.
    • ID: Slightly larger than the nominate form; darker plumage.

Further Dove Information



The Galápagos Dove measures 7 – 9.1 inches (18 – 23 cm) in length, including the tail.

The average weight is 3.1 oz or 88 g.

Plumage Details / Adults

The base color of the plumage is brownish. The back is reddish brown. The neck and chest are pinkish. On each side of the neck is a distinctive pinkish- or greenish-bronze glossy patch. The abdomen is buff-colored.

The back is dark reddish-brown.

The wings are streaked with white and black. The primary flight feathers are black with white edgings. The underwings are dark bluish-grey. The tail is dark brown with a grey bar at the tip, a black bar near the end of the tail, and grey edges.

Other Physical Details

  • Long, black beak
  • Legs and feed bright red
  • Dark eyes with contrasting bright blue eye rings

Gender ID

The female has a slightly duller plumage. Her glossy neck patch is more restricted.

Juvenile Description

Immature have duller plumages than adults.

Diet / Feeding

The typical diet of Galapagos Doves varies by season. In the rainy season, they mostly feed on caterpillars and the flowers and pulp of the cactus Opuntia helleri. In the dry season, their diet consists of seeds of the bush Croton scouleri, fruits, fly larvae, and pupua found inside cactus trunks and pads.

Breeding / Nesting

Most nesting occurs between January and November with some variations between the different islands.

Their nests are typically placed directly on the ground, or up to 30 inches or 75 cm above the ground. These birds may also nest in rock cavities or take advantage of abandoned nests of other birds, such as mockingbirds.

The average clutch consists of 2 eggs, which are incubated for 13 – 17 days. If the conditions are favorable for raising a second brood, they may start on a new clutch as soon as 10 days after the previous young have left the nest. On occasion, they have been reported to raise to three broods in one breeding season.

Alternate (Global) Names

Chinese: ???? … Czech: Holub galapážský, Hrdlicka galapážská … Danish: Galapagosdue … Dutch: Galapagosduif, Galapagostreurduif … German: Galapagostaube … Estonian: galápagose tuvi … Finnish: Galapagosinkyyhky … French: Colombe / Tourterelle des Galapagos … Italian: Tortora delle Galapagos … Japanese: garapagosubato … Norwegian: Galapagosdue … Polish: Go??b galapagoski, Go??biak galapagoski, go??biak plamisty … Russian: ????????????? ??????? … Slovak: nachovka dlhozobá … Spanish: Tórtola Galapágica, Zenaida de Galápagos … Swedish: Galapagosduva


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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