Birds & Birding

Eurasian Collared Dove: Have You Seen This Bird?

February 18, 2014

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Eurasian collared dove. Photo: lruka on Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license
Eurasian collared dove. Photo: lruka on Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license

The Great Backyard Bird Count  (GBBC) — one of the largest citizen science initiatives in the world – annually documents a wide variety of bird population trends.

To my mind, one of the most interesting has been the dramatic spread of the non-native Eurasian collared dove across North America.

The GBBC asks citizen birders to watch an area for at least twenty minutes sometime during a four-day period in mid-February (this year’s count concluded yesterday), and record the birds they see.

Just ten years ago, seeing a Eurasian collared dove would have been a novelty. No more: the doves are now commonly reported by birders in most of the United States.

GBBC data tell the story of this rapid spread.

In the 1970s, the Eurasian collared dove was introduced to the Bahamas. By the early 1980s, the non-native birds made their way to South Florida, where they established populations. Then they began spreading north and west.

Their range appears to have expanded slowly at first. A look at GBBC reports from 1998 show a lot of sightings in Florida, with some birds reported in Texas, Alabama and Arkansas.

By 2001, the doves reached California.

Last year’s bird count results showed the Eurasian collared dove had colonized much of the country. It has not (yet) been reported in New England, but it has reached as far north as Alaska.

The GBBC’s video map dramatically illustrates this expansion.

In my state of Idaho, the doves were first recorded in 2005 by two backyard birders. In subsequent years, the bird was commonly reported in Idaho’s eastern corners. Last year, 132 GBBC participants reported 719 doves throughout the state.

I saw my first Eurasian collared dove in our backyard in 2008 – a banded bird that may have been an escaped pet. Last year, I began seeing the doves hanging around our neighborhood. This year was the first that I noted the species during my own participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count.

What’s going on here? Should conservationists be concerned about this spread?

Unlike some dove species, Eurasian collared doves aren’t migratory. However, they do readily expand into new suitable habitat. In fact, in their native Asia, Eurasian collared doves have been rapidly expanding their range as well – colonizing new countries every year.

The dove is one of those species that adapts well to humanity. The trees, power lines and bird feeders of suburbia provide perfect habitat. The Eurasian collared dove is almost always seen near homes and farms, not unbroken forest or prairie.

Research indicates it is not adversely affecting native mourning doves or other birds. It may simply be filling a new habitat niche created by suburban habitat. But it is still early in the spread.

Could Eurasian collared doves become an invasive threat? That remains to be seen.

Citizen science projects like the GBBC and another citizen initiative, Project FeederWatch, will help scientists continue to track the spread and impacts of the species. It will be interesting to learn what this year’s count found about Eurasian collared doves. If past years are any indication, their populations will likely have grown and spread into new areas of the country.

Have you seen Eurasian collared doves in your area? Have you noted other trends during your backyard bird counts? Let us know what you’re seeing!

Eurasian collared doves. Photo: Flickr user Horia Varlan under a Creative Commons license
Eurasian collared doves. Photo: Flickr user Horia Varlan under a Creative Commons license
Matt Miller

Matt Miller is a senior science writer for the Conservancy. He writes features and blogs about the conservation research being conducted by the Conservancy’s 550 scientists. He has served on the national board of directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and has published widely on conservation, nature and outdoor sports. More from Matt

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    1. Starting around 4 years ago, I noticed a pair in the back yard. Now I see anywhere between 2 to 13 at a time. In spite of being prey for the Cooper’s and Red Shouldered hawks in the neighborhood, they continue to multiply. I love them, and love their calls.

  1. I’ve got probably 2 dozen of the damned things that visit my yard now. They’ve pushed out all the mourning doves I used to have coming to feed on the ground under my feeders. I hate them.

  2. I have these doves feeding in my yard and feeders here in Springfield, Missouri.

  3. Have not seen them in Colts Neck, NJ (monmouth County)
    where have the others seen them?

  4. saw a pair in our yard, trees, feeder lately – especially when it was really cold (Denver). Hope they don’t displace the doves that arrive later!

  5. I first noticed them in Venice Florida back in the 90’s. Now they are one of the most common birds in the neighborhood.

  6. Very commonly feeding below my feeders in Tampa, Fl. They always seem to cry/ sing when they start to fly away (startled or not). They are almost always in pairs.

  7. We have a pair of Collared Doves here near Vernon B.C. this winter. It’s my first winter in BC, so was only a bit surprised the first time I saw one. Moved from Ontario & had never seen them there……lots of Mourning Doves tho. I have only seen the one pair so far, and only 1 Mourning Dove here this winter – they all come to my “All day bird buffet & spa” as my grandson calls it! (Heated bird bath! lol) – Have certainly seen lots of ‘new’ birds since we moved here last July.

  8. We live in Gilchrist County, FL. We had two of these birds come to our feeders last month, and this is the first time we have ever seen them in 10 years We have white-winged , rock, and mourning also. What a shock it was to see these all white doves. They are beautiful, even tho it’s an invader.

  9. April 25 2014 Spotted a white dove in Virden Mb. Looks like it was hanging out with a mourning dove.

  10. ive these nesting in my garden in uk are these classed as vermin

  11. Here in Emmett (Southwestern Idaho) these annoying Eurasian doves have overtaken the local dove population. They are everywhere. On any given street in the county they sit atop the telephone poles, tress, love to poop on vehicles.
    There are literally many thousands here in Gem County. (May 2014)

    I am a bird lover, but their incessant “whining” throughout the day makes it virtually impossible to nap.

    I loathe these creatures with a passion !!!

  12. These have become abundant here in the Willamette Valley (Oregon). I saw the first one 4 years ago, now they are everywhere. It seems that I see fewer Mourning Doves as well.

  13. I saw one 2 days ago in my backyard here on BC’s Sunshine Coast. First one I’ve ever seen. I mistook it for a mourning dove until I took a couple of fuzzy pictures and was able to make a closer inspection.

  14. There is a pair (or more) in Drumheller, Alberta. I first saw them here last summer (2013).

  15. I had two at my home in Gustavus last week .i am excited to see them and love their cooing…

  16. This invasive dove showed up in my southern Vancouver Island neighbourhood earlier this year (2014). Its call is unmistakable. Now a pair have moved into our back garden and appear to have a nest, as they are actively chasing away other birds, including a Pileated Woodpecker this morning!

  17. In The foothills of Colorado, there are an invasion of these doves. I too enjoyed their cooing, until i noted other birds were no longer present. Neither did the butterflies stay this year? Is there a connection or are all of us who seem to observe the same, mistaken on our connection that the doves chased the other birds away?

    1. We saw one today in our yard. She sat on the fence a long time, then flew to the edge of our goldfish pond and drank water and then fles away. I have never seen this bird here before. Oakland, CA

  18. Nehalem on the north Oregon coast – they’re EVERYWHERE. Sounds like they’ve comfortably invaded the entire continent just like the European starling. I knew they looked funny… just couldn’t be mourning doves. Sad to discover I was right.

  19. I have 30 or so at the feeder every day. I live in St Helens Or. In one month the back yard went from finch’s,chickadee’s, grosbeak, thrush, bluejay, stellers jay ect to 30 doves 16-20 R W blackbirds and 24 or so srarlings and the little birds have to fight for food. I need to separate feeders.

  20. Oregon Coast N Cleawox Lake adjoining Honeyman State Park just south of Florence. There are a dozen or so that visit our bird feeder every day in addition to the stellar Blue Jays that frequent our yard.

  21. First spotted them today in our yard in South Eugene, Oregon. I knew they weren’t mourning doves, but couldn’t find them in my bird ID books…now I understand why; they are (relatively) new to the area! They seemed to be getting along with the Oregon Juncos, who also were feeding, so I’m not as inclined to be unhappy that they’re here…..

  22. Been wondering what has changed in the look of the mourning doves. After reseach found them to be eurasian collared doves
    just today. Have had many of them in our yard this summer and now.

  23. The ECDs are pretty common now in this area (far north coastal CA. ). I think there may be fewer mourning doves and band-tailed pigeons, which I used to see in our small town. Curious to know their affect on both these species here.

  24. I live in Crookston, Minnesota which is about an hour and a half from Canada, and twenty minutes to North Dakota. We have had a pair that nest here in the winter months, but leave for the summer. I am curious where they go in the summer months.

  25. I seen my first eurasion collared dove 0n 3 13 2014 near Medford MN

  26. I have seen hundreds in Phoenix last year and this. They co-exist peacefully with the mourning and Inca doves and I believe they may be inter-breeding with the white wing doves in the area. I keep seeing silvery colored individuals with ambiguous neck markings and no or only small white edges on their wings. They flock with the mourning, collared, and white wing doves. I once saw one that had no markings at all on his neck and only a white tail band. He was with mourning doves. (No spots either.)

  27. In 2003 I was a biology undergrad in Little Rock, AR, and doing mosquito field research when I first encountered them near the airport, multiple times but only there. I brought it up with my ornithology professor and he figured I was mistaking mourning doves for Eurasians, so I take it they were not “supposed” to be in central AR at that time. I knew I was right though; no way you could mistake the big fat things that sound human-like. Seems like they’re kind of common around the area now.

  28. Eurasian Collared Doves are unprotected in all 50 states and are considered an invasive species. They can be shot year around with no limits but subject to local firearm and airgun statutes. In Washington state you must have a small game license whether in or out of season. This is per conversation with the WDFW. These are larger than the common mourning dove and more aggressive but also more prone to flight around humans than the mourning dove. Mourning doves avoid and are displaced by the larger collared doves however.

    1. I also saw a Coopers Hawk eat a Eurasian Dove on the top of a telephone pole outside our sliding glass door. He ate the whole thing after pulling the feathers out including the head first. Go Coopers Hawk!

  29. I live in the central Calif. Sierra foothills I have a pair Eurasian doves nesting 200 ft away from a cooper hawks nest in a cottonwood tree. They have not displaced any of the other species of birds that nest or eat here. Now the European starlings are another issue, they have taken over the local woodpeckers nesting holes.

    1. Easy solution. We played the call of the Cooper’s Hawk and the Red Tailed Hawk, they beat it in one big hurry. It has been over two weeks. We live on the west coast on Vancouver Island, BC. best of luck!

  30. I live in Lethbridge, Alberta, and saw my first Eurasian Collared Dove yesterday, May 9th. 2015. Today I disturbed three in my backyard and have heard them calling since. Looks like they have arrived here.

  31. We have a pair of them using our feeders in Corvallos, Oregon.

  32. This evening I was watching the usual solitary mourning dove eat the seeds I place on the ground for him. Then a collared dove swoops down, chases the mourning dove and eats the seed. These are aggressive, we gotta get rid of them.

    1. Play the call of the Cooper’s Hawk and they will disappear. We did it and it has all been quiet for two weeks!

  33. I haven’t seen any wild ECDs where I live in Northern Virginia. I also haven’t seen as many mourning doves here as I used to see in New York State. But I own pet ringneck, or Barbary, doves, and when one of them lost its mate to illness a year ago, I purchased a new dove from a pet store in New York City (I couldn’t find any doves in the stores nearby me in VA). Right away I knew that there was something different about the new dove: It was bigger, stronger, and had a different call, and a friend of mine said it seemed like a different species. I did some research and decided that the dove (a young male) must be a Eurasian Collared dove. Now I wonder if the breeder/seller knew it was a ECD. It is a gorgeous dove. It gets along with the other doves and is less aggressive than the ringneck, or Barbary, dove males. It doesn’t fight with the other males and it doesn’t chase any female dove it sees. Maybe that’s the behavior of a new member of the little flock I have here? I really like its distinctive call, though the scream is a little startling. Fortunately, he does not scream very often.

  34. I saw two of these as well. Might not last long as we have a lot of birds of prey living here. Near Coeur d alene, ID.

  35. These birds are a problem. I 3 years they have pushed out all of the mourning doves and White-wing doves in my neighborhood in Phoenix. They breed like rats. Something coordinated needs to be done about them and soon.
    By the way, They taste great.

    1. Play the call of the cooper’s hawk and they will fly away!

  36. Just saw my first one here in the north end of the Copper valley of Alaska (Slana).June 6 2015 7am.

  37. We have many here on our farm. They are not aggressive toward the Mourning doves! In fact both species nest in the same large evergreen trees. A few years ago there was an out break of West Nile Virus, and it wiped out both the Mourning doves as well as the ECDs. It took longer for the Mourning doves to replenish themselves, and I was sure the ECDs were gone for good. However, both types are back and doing well. These newcomers are not aggressive and many want to make them. As a hunter, I get upset with the gossip about them because I’m sure the other hunters want to make them an enemy; so they can shoot them without a limit.

  38. We have the Eurasian Collard Doves here in Campbell River BC , I have played the Cooper Hawk’s call and the doves have abanded their nest in the fir tree in our backyard . All is quiet now.

  39. There has been a very noticeable increase in the number of Collared doves here in the UK. I had never seen one until the 80s, now they seem to be everywhere.
    They intimidate smaller birds, I have even seen one chase off an Eurasian Magpie. I now hardly ever see or hear smaller birds in my garden where there was once many.

    They are beautiful birds, to look at, but their call is persistent and extremely irritating, very akin to a car alarm.
    Its low frequency note punches through double glazed windows, and even some walls, and you only need to be able to “slightly” hear this noise for it to disrupt thought and sleep.

    I have many Herring gulls in my town which squawk to each other throughout the day, I have no problem with them at all, in fact I like them while many complain.

    The comments about the call of the Cooper Hawk has given inspiration; an air rifle has often crossed my mind whilst trying to work/think/sleep but could I actually kill them?

    Could really do with some birds of prey here, those with a taste for collared doves.

    1. Marc, let me know what happens when you play the call of the hawk. It has been almost six weeks and they are completely gone. Regards Trent

  40. We’ve been noticing Eurasian Collared Doves at Destruction Bay, Yukon for the past 3 years. Just yesterday I managed to photograph a pair at our feeding station. There is another collared dove that joins the pair while they eat. The pair have been at our neighbours feeder since March of this year and since we are gone during the day – didn’t notice the collared doves until the past couple of months. They are quite jittery but will come back to feed when quiet. Love their cooing – reminds me of the Hawaiian doves

  41. Fifty collards waiting by my feeder this morning, yes, that is 50. They do seem to limit access by the smaller birds but are also more timid so when I frighten them off the smaller birds get a chance. An occasional mourning or two in the mix. They also seem to have attracted a Peragrin which I see of and on in a tall dead tree next door.
    Lindon, Utah. July 16, 2015.

  42. Late June-my cousin showed me a pic of one which I thought was a morning dove but corrected by a friend. My cousin had never seen a bird like it and so have I. Never been reported until now. Tununak, Ak, about 120 miles west of Bethel Ak, on the Bering Sea coast.Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta-Alaska

  43. We have three of these that frequent our many feeders. We live in Yelm, Washington. Sometimes they come together, alone or in a pair.

  44. I am listening to one right now across the street from my house in south Burnaby, BC, Canada (Vancouver). Also seen in a tree a mile away at a riverside park.

  45. We hunted dove last year at the souther tip of Nevada and our party shot 56 doves only 8 were not Eurasian. I think they far outnumber the Mourning or White wing doves. Only advantage is they are a little bigger.

  46. We first noticed one in our yard last summer eating with the mourning doves. This year we have seen three at one time and a juvenile. They still eat with the mourning doves but do chase the smaller birds. They are nesting nearby in our neighbors pine tree. We are in Escondido, CA.

  47. I have a pair of eurasian doves in back yard hanging out with a pair of mourning doves. Parlier, Ca. Fb fb

  48. I live in Whitehorse, Yukon, and we had the Doves frequently over the summer months. However, in the middle of September we have been seeing less of them

  49. I am in Edmonton Alberta there is one at my birth bath today. first time I have seen one in this area. did have a ringneck ( I think) more of a tan colour a few years ago for a day.
    This one is pale grey and has the distinctive black markings at the base of the tail.
    Thanks for your interest Matt and this site