Inca Dove

This is the second dove that I managed to get pictures of on the trip to South Padre Island years ago. I’m not even sure why I hadn’t tried to correctly identify this dove before–because it is plain to see it isn’t (and wasn’t) a mourning dove. It was a dove that I first spotted sitting on a utility wire, and then it went down to the ground–where it blended in quite well with the grass. It turned out to be an Inca dove.

Dove on a wire

These doves are smaller than mourning doves, showcasing a ‘slender’ dove body with a small head plus having a long square-tipped tail. In terms of colors, these birds are the color of the desert sand. Their feathers are tan with brown edging that creates a scaly pattern.

Can you spot the dove?

They also have a small white patch on their cheeks as well. If you manage to see one in flight, the under wings are chestnut, and the outer tail feathers are white.

This is a bird that is found mainly in the southwestern parts of the United States, down through Mexico and into Central America. Though it has been slowly expanding to the north and has been spotted within Colorado at times.

Map for the Inca Dove. Map (c) Birds of the World

They can be spotted within parks, suburbs, urban areas, and even farmlands that have open areas with scattered trees and shrubs (for nesting).

Since they ‘blend’ into their environment, they may be a little difficult to spot–but they’re not shy doves and can usually be spotted walking around on the ground looking for seeds.

Inca Dove sitting on the ground

Unlike other doves and pigeons that supplement their seed diets with berries and the occasional insect–Inca doves are almost exclusively seed eaters. The seeds can come from grasses, flowers, shrubs, bird feeders, and silos.

Other notes of interest:

They have red eyes, that will become even brighter when they feel threatened.

They don’t like cold weather. When temperatures drop to say 20 degrees Fahrenheit, they will start to huddle to stay warm. They will even partake in ‘pyramid roosting’ where they will sit on top of each other forming a pyramid. Therefore, if they are slowly starting to expand north in terms of territory–they may become ‘migratory’ birds in those areas, heading south for warmer winters.

Photography goals: Get a picture of several sitting on a wire, tree branch, or walking around looking for seeds. I would love to be able to ‘zoom’ in on one and get a picture of their red eyes as well.