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White-winged Dove

The White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) is a dove whose native range extends from the south-western USA through Mexico and the Caribbean to western South America as far as northern Chile. It has also been introduced to Florida. There are twelve subspecies.

Most of the northern populations of White-winged Doves are migratory, wintering in Mexico and Central America. In the southern parts of their range, they are year-round residents.

White-winged Doves inhabit scrub, woodlands, desert and cultivation. It builds a flimsy stick nest in a tree and lays two cream to white unmarked eggs. Its flight is fast and direct, with the regular beats and an occasional sharp flick of the wings which are characteristic of pigeons in general.

White-winged Doves are large chunky pigeons at 29cm. Adult birds are brownish-grey above and grey below, with a bold white wing patch that appears as a brilliant white crescent in flight, but is also visible at rest. They have blue, featherless skin around each eye and a long dark mark on the lower face. The eyes, legs and feet are red.

Sexes are similar, but juveniles are greyer than adults. They have no blue eye ring and their legs and feet are brownish-pink.

White-winged Doves feed on a variety of seeds, grain, and fruit. Western White-winged Doves (Zenaida asiatica mearnsii) migrate into the Sonoran Desert to breed during the hottest time of the year because they feed on pollen and nectar, and later fruits and seeds from the Saguaro cactus. This gregarious species is an agricultural pest, descending on grain crops in large flocks.

The cooing calls are who-cooks-for-you and hoo hoo hoo.


Rock singer Stevie Nicks, a native of Arizona, where the bird is most common in the USA, mentions the White-winged Dove and its call prominently in her 1981 hit "Edge Of Seventeen".

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