Zenaida Doves

The Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, which includes doves and pigeons.

Distribution / Range:

The Zenaida Dove breeds throughout the West Indies and the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula.

It formerly bred in the Florida Keys and the southernmost mainland Florida. Although no longer breeding in Florida, it occasionally is recorded on the Keys as a vagrant.

The bird is resident and abundant over much of its range. Zenaida Doves are commonly hunted as game birds.

This bird is found in a range of open and semi-open habitats. Its mournful cooOOoo-coo-coo-coo call is similar to the call of a Mourning Dove, but faster in pace.

Breeding / Nesting:

It lays two white eggs on a flimsy platform built on a tree or shrub. It also nests in rock crevices and on grassy vegetation if no predators are present. It has been recorded that some birds have up to 4 broods per year.

Eggs take approximately two weeks to hatch, and the young chicks typically fledge after only two weeks in the nest. Parents feed the young pigeon’s milk, a nutrient-rich substance regurgitated from its crop.

Description / Nesting:

The Zenaida Dove is approximately 28–30 cm in length. It looks very similar to the Mourning Dove but is smaller in size, has a shorter, more rounded tail, and is a bit more darkly colored.

It is also distinguished from the Mourning Dove by showing white on the trailing edge of its wings in while in flight. The Mourning Dove does not have a white trailing edge.

Diet / Feeding:

These birds forage on the ground, mainly eating grains and seeds, sometimes also on insects. Zenaida Doves frequently feed close to water.

They often swallow fine gravel to assist with digestion, and will also ingest salt from mineral rich soils or livestock salt licks.

It is thought the salt aids in egg formation and/or production of pigeon milk.

Further Dove Information


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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