White-Winged Doves
Author: Patsy Jones

  Species: Zenaida asiatica

White-winged dove are plump, fast-flying birds with small heads and low, cooing voices. As adults, they reach 11-11 ½” (28-29 cm.) in size. Unlike other doves and pigeons, they have distinctive white patches on their wings. They also have a rounded tail with broad white corners on the tip of the tail. They have an iridescent greenish gold shine on their neck and black marks below their ear coverts. They have orange-red eyes surrounded by bare blue skin and a dark blue bill. Their bodies are mostly brownish in color with dark gray flight feathers. Females and males look similar.

Geographic range:
White-winged Dove are desert birds who only live year-round in the warmer areas of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Chihuahuan Desert of southwestern New Mexico. Their breeding grounds in the spring and summer, however, occur from southeastern California to the Big Bend areas of Texas. They are even found in Florida.

White-winged Doves are the most desert-adapted of all the doves and pigeons. They will fly more than 20 miles for drinking water since their food, mostly seeds, doesn't provide them with any. They can go several days without water, though, because they can survive by allowing their bodies to dehydrate and lose almost a quarter of their body weight in water loss. They can obtain water from streams and cacti as well as man-made sources such as cattle troughs, irrigation canals, and reservoirs.

Food Web:
White-winged Dove mainly eat seeds, grains, and fruits from trees, shrubs, and cacti. They often feed in flocks with many other birds. They are mainly predated upon by birds of prey such as hawks. Their coloration helps them blend in with the bushes and shadows.

Reproduction and Development:
White-winged Doves are monogamous. They live in small colonies. When trying to attract the females, the male will display his flying abilities by climbing upwards with clapping wing beats, then gliding down on stiff, slightly downward-bowing wings.

Eggs are laid in a cactus, shrub or low in trees 4-30 feet above the ground. The nest is made by both the male and female. Males gather the sticks, grasses, and stems of weeds while the female builds the nest. Two creamy buff eggs are laid and incubation lasts 13-14 days. The young stay in the nest 13-16 days, tended by both the male and female. Couples produce two to three broods per year.

The soft cooing calls of the White-winged Dove make a comforting desert sound in the southwestern deserts of the United States. Living in the harsh deserts, they are dependent upon finding reliable sources of water. Fortunately, they can fly directly to a water source, even one as far away as 20 miles. They can suck up water directly into their mouths and therefore can rehydrate easily.

White-winged doves nod their heads as they walk. Their call is a sound like, “Who cooks for you?” also, ooo-uh-cuck'oo, sounding a little like the crowing of a young rooster.

These birds are fairly common in the southwest. Doves are harvested and managed as a game species in the western United States.


: Animalia
: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves, Birds
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Zenaida
Zenaida asiatica

Alsop, Fred J. III. 2001. Birds of North America . New York : DK Publishing, 998 p.

Forshaw, Joseph; Steve Howell, Terence Lindsey, Rich Stallcup. 1994. Birding. Time Life Inc., 288 p.

Peterson, Roger T. 1990. A Field Guide to Western Birds. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 432 p.

Tweit, Susan J. 1992. The Great Southwest Nature Factbook. Seattle : Alaska Northwest Books, 223 p.

Related Terms: Chordata, Aves