This dove species is historically a year-round resident of Mexico and the southwestern United States, but the population is currently abundant and expanding its range northward through New Mexico into southern Colorado, across the southwestern U.S. up into Nevada, and across Texas and into Oklahoma.
The bird is distinguished by white wing patches on a brownish body and white-tipped tail feathers that are seen as the tail fans out in flight. A dark mark on the lower face is distinctive, as is the blue skin around the red eyes.
The range of preferred habitats include scrublands, woodlands, urban and cultivated areas, and deserts, where they feed on seeds, cropland grains, fruits, as well as acorns. Fruits and seeds of the saguaro cactus sustain the doves in southwestern deserts, where doves serve as pollinators for the large cactus. They also visit flowers and take nectar. These doves build nests up to 30 feet high in shrubs and trees, where the male brings sticks and the female constructs a flimsy platform nest. Both parents feed the young chicks “pigeon milk,” which is a secretion from the crop of the adult bird.
Photos taken near Cedar Grove, N.M. with a Bushnell Trophy Cam remote camera.
James Taulman is a semi-retired research wildlife biologist, having worked with the U.S. Forest Service research branch and taught zoology, ecology, and other courses in several university positions. He is currently living in the East Mountains, and explores natural areas observing native wildlife and conducting independent research projects.