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A Small Dove in North America

When I fill my bird feeders, I always scatter seeds on the ground for those birds that forage on the ground. This persuades a dull colored, but cute little bird called the common ground dove. This dove is easy to tell from other doves because it is small (the size of a large sparrow), has a pattern on its breast that looks like fish scales and pinkish-red beak with a black tip. This species lives in tropical and subtropical regions including the southern U.S. from Florida to California, Central America and northern South America.

The ground dove mates for life and nests year-round as long as there are enough resources for it to raise its young. If you ever saw its nest, you might wonder how it survives because the nest is flimsy with a few twigs in a shallow depression on the ground. It only lays two to three eggs and nourishes its young with a mixture of seeds and crop milk. The youngsters fly in less than two weeks.

In the wild, common ground doves forage for seeds from wild grasses, sedges and rushes as well as the occasional insect. Although it lives in bushy open woodlands, it is adaptable to low density residential areas. My backyard feeding station attracts these doves not only for the food I put out, but because I have shrubs where the they can take cover from predators.

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