Eurasian Collared-Doves

Last weekend when I spent a day birding and looking for salmon I checked out the small park at the end of Deep Bay Drive for waterfowl. The park is an excellent place to look for waterbirds and often they come in quite close to the shore looking for shellfish. While I had good looks at the ducks there wasn’t really anything unusual on the water and my old Sigma was doing its usual poor job of pulling in the birds close enough to produce decent photographs.

What was interesting was a flock of close to 20 Eurasian Collared-Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) feeding on the ground amongst the houses on Deep Bay Drive.

Eurasian Collared-Doves (Streptopelia decaocto)
A pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves (Streptopelia decaocto) that were part of a much larger flock at Deep Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Over the last 5 years or so these doves have become more and more common here on the west coast of Canada. Originally introduced from Asia to the Bahamas in the 1970s the birds made their way to Florida by the 1980s and have been moving further and further into other parts of North America ever since. I’ve seen them in Ucluelet while working for the summer with Parks Canada at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and there are several “resident” birds in our neighbourhood in downtown Courtenay.

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
An Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) photographed earlier in the year in Courtenay, British Columbia. Note the large white patches on the tail, the gray undertail coverts and the ring on the neck.

In comparison to other doves, the Eurasian Collared-Dove can be separated from the native Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) based on its larger size, grey colouration, broad white patches on the tail, and the namesake black collar. Compare these photos with a Mourning Dove that hung out in our backyard in Courtenay for a while in the winter of 2009.

The Collared-Dove looks a little like the African Collared-Dove/Ringed Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia roseogrisea)  but is darker on the back and wing tips and has grey undertail coverts. Unless it is a local escapee, your collared dove is likely to be a Eurasian.

A little further south I saw a second smaller flock of Eurasian Collared-Doves in another subdivision. This bird definitely seems to do well in suburban areas with established bird feeders and doesn’t seem to be negatively impacting other bird populations. Keep and eye out for this species on the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts!

40 comments

  1. Thanks Jan – these birds are definitely becoming more and more common on Vancouver Island year round.

  2. We have a pair in the neighborhood that come and eat fallen seed under my feeder everyday here in Duncan.

  3. Thanks for stopping in Cynthia – they’re definitely becoming more and more common on Vancouver Island!

  4. We live on Robert’s Bay Sidney. We received a pair of collared doves about 2 months ago and we are now up to 6 pairs (maybe 7). They are cleaning out my black sunflower seed feeder twice a week. This is getting expensive! However they are also attracting regular visits from a Coopers Hawk so I guess that will eventually even things out!
    Richard Talbot

  5. We photographed a pair of Eurasian Ringneck Turtle Doves standing on the breakwater rocks just south of the Fishing Pier at the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre on Oct.11, 2012 at 11:36 AM.

  6. I heard a dove cooing just a few minutes ago, and wondered what the heck? Have never seen or heard of wild doves in the nanaimo area before, or anywhere around here. Looked out and saw a pair fly out of the tree next to my house! Are they as pesky as pigeons?

  7. Hi Sandy – they are becoming more and more common on Vancouver Island. They’re not quite as “urban” as rock doves (pigeons) and they seem to prefer semi-rural suburbs rather than downtown. I’ve seen flocks of them, but not in the numbers that pigeons normally occur.

  8. We have two of these doves eating the seed scattered from our bird feeder. They’ve been around for a couple of days and we’ve heard them coo-ing. They seem to get on fine with the other little birds–no competition. We are in Abbotsford BC (Fraser Valley)

  9. We have finally identified a pair of these doves on our property here in Metchosin. We at first thought they were the calls of a Great Horned Owl, which we frequently hear but the doves call throughout the day. Such a pretty coo.

  10. Yep – they seem to be doing well in BC, I’m seeing more and more every year. Thanks for stopping in!

  11. Hi Tricia,
    The call is often mistaken for an owl of some sort, good to hear that you were able to identify them.

  12. I found an injured Eurasian collared dove in Qualicum last week. I believe it is young. I brought it in and it has recovered beautifully. Is it best to turn it loose? It has become so friendly and happy in my home. I would like to have it as a pet. What do you suggest?
    It is very calm and interacts with me.

  13. Update. Now that it is recovered. It is restless and wanting to be released. I let it go today. I was hoping to take it where there were other doves on Qualicum. I’ll take It back to where I found her.

  14. Hi Karen – how did it go? The Eurasian Collared Dove seems to be everywhere on Vancouver Island, I’m sure that it’ll find a flock fairly quickly.

  15. We just observed a Ringed Turtle-Dove from our apartment window here in the Saxe Point area of Esquimalt. At first we thought it was a Mourning Dove but after watching it we noticed the blunt tail, lighter breast and unmistakable ring on the back of neck.
    Jan.11, 2014

    Jeffrey

  16. We have had a flock of about 10 birds coming to our feeder this past fall and winter although now they are coming in smaller numbers – 3 to 4 at a time as of Feb. 6/15

  17. I am an Ontario birder visiting in Ladysmith for a couple of days. While here have had two doves fly over. I’m very familiar with mourning doves. Judging by the light colour and blunt tail I’m fairly confident that they were Eurasian collard doves even though I couldn’t see the black collar.

  18. Did they just start moving North with the warmer weather Their calls have to be the most annoying sound we have ever heard in the early AM that I have ever heard in Campbell River.

  19. They’ve been here for several years at least now – as an introduced species they seem to be doing very well and spreading northward. Lots of them here in the Comox Valley.

  20. just had two of these awesome doves in my feeder. This is the first time. Had to go to the internet to name them, my Island bird book did not have them in it

  21. Hello Greg – I think that they’re here to stay, very successful breeders and their numbers seem to be increasing rapidly. You might try a plastic owl. Do any of your neighbours have bird feeders?

  22. I first encountered the Eurasian Collared Dove in the Cote d’Azur on our first visit to the south of France in April 2010. A pair were nesting in the eaves above the apartment we rented in Villefranche-sur-Mer and I was struck by its distinctive coo-COO-coo song. Imagine my surprise on hearing the same song for the very first time shortly after returning home to Oak Bay in June of 2010. It’s song evoked very pleasant memories of our holiday, and I was sure I had never heard it before in BC. Then I did some research on line and found out that it had just reached the south coast of BC and Vancouver Island at about that time. What a remarkable and happy coincidence.

  23. Visiting from Ontario and saw two Eurasian collared doves in Chemainus.

    This is a birder’s paradise.

  24. I live on the island, I used to enjoy the peace and quiet, but not anymore, these birds will not shut up. Every daylight hour of every day, on and on. Does any one know how to get rid of these noise makers? I may just have to move outside the city limits

  25. Though this may sound unusual, I have found that unlike Mourning Doves these Ringed Turtle Doves don’t seem to like being mimicked. At least not by me =;-) Though Mourning Doves can be called in close from some distance the Ringers will fly away after listening to your mimic call…

  26. It definitely is – lots of shorebirds moving through on the west coast right now. If you get a chance make sure to visit Pacific Rim National Park.

  27. The Eurasian Dove has been in our area of Qualicum Beach for at least four years now. How could one not know of their presence with the constant ” coo, coo, cooing”. Had a pair nesting in one of our large cedar trees this year. While they cannot access our bird feeders they do regularly visit out bird bath to apparently drink the water.
    A year ago in Port Hardy I observed a group of about 10’birds that appeared to be eating in a local B & B feeder.
    My question is whether there is any evidence that a bird this size is impacting the food supply of our native bird populations? We do not seem to have any less of our regular small bird population – chickadees, sparrows, towhees, nuthatches – feeding at our seed supply.

  28. Good question Len – I haven’t noticed any decline, they seem to occupy the same sort of niche as introduced rock pigeons. If anything, it would be interesting if the number of predators is increasing due to the increased food supply.

  29. I live in South Burnaby in a residential/rural area called Riverside and we have had the doves for about 3 years. Love the calls. Have only seen one couple each of the three years.

  30. First heard, then saw these beautiful birds in my neighbourhood around 18 months ago, late summer 2015 I think.
    I thought they were Mourning Doves until this evening, reading this, so thanks!
    I like them a lot. I feed birds and they come around for a meal and intelligent conversation with all the rest…
    I too thought an owl had moved in to the neighbourhood, but no… it is these Eurasian Collared Doves coo cooing ALL day long… 😳
    My neighbours & I have been seeing more and more wild life in the area.
    Just the other night, I saw a Screech Owl perched on my street’ s sign (about 8 feet tall).
    He/she stayed put, staring at me, I was about 4 meters away when I noticed it!
    It is so nice to see these birds and other animals! And they are not shy!
    Thanks for the great information!

  31. By the way, I live near Colquitz school and Colquitz creek.
    Also, the number of doves is increasing. I saw 12 birds perched, all in a row, on my neighbour’s tall cedar tree a while ago,
    Thank you!

  32. I saw one at our feeder for the first time today. we live Royston outside of Cumberland on a small acreage.

  33. I saw one today around 9:00 am on my kitchen deck at 108 Mile Ranch in the Cariboo region of BC. A few minutes later, it flew to a tree by my side deck, seeming to watch the feeder by the kitchen window but not coming to it. It sang a beautiful, gentle cooing when it flew to a more distant tree. I hope it comes back. I had never seen one around here, or anywhere, till today.

  34. Just saw a flock of 15-20 of these in downtown Squamish, BC. Thanks very much for the article, I was quite puzzled when I first saw them!

  35. We saw a Eurasian Collared-Dove at our sunflower seed feeder in the back yard on Dilworth Mountain in Kelowna. There was only one bird and it came at the same time as a few mourning Doves.

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