The Eurasian collared dove, often referred to as Collared dove, is native to subtropical Asia. Their native range expanded in the latter half of the twentieth century; forming its present range from the western part of Europe to southeast Asia and even in North America, where their numbers are sharply increasing. Their interactions with native American species are not well understood, but any negative impacts have not been observed so far. This species is closely related to Streptopelia bitorquata (Island collared dove or Sunda collared dove) of south-east Asia; and Streptopelia roseogrisea (African collared dove) of sub-Saharan Africa.
Species: S. decaocto
The scientific name for Eurasian collared dove is Streptopelia decaocto.
The average size of an adult is 32 centimeters in length (from beak to tail), similar to that of a Rock pigeon, but a little slimmer with a bit longer tail. Their average wingspan is 46 to 55 centimeters; while they weigh around 120 to 245 grams. The color of their plumage is pinkish-grey to grey-buff; with upper-parts being darker compared to underparts. They possess a dark half-collar looking patch edged with white on its neck region.
The color of their under-wing patch is bluish-grey. They have a black bill. Their legs are short, and red in color. The area around their eyes are skinless, and it is white in color. They have dark red iris, but from a distance, it appears black. Sexual dimorphism is not present, but young birds can be identified with a poorly developed collar and brown iris.
It has two recognized subspecies. The nominate subspecies is Streptopelia decaocto decaocto (found in most of its native ranges). While another subspecies is Streptopelia decaocto xanthocyclus (found in Burma and southern China). The nominate subspecies has bare white skin around its eyes, while Streptopelia decaocto xanthocyclus posses yellow bare skin around its eyes. There were two more subspecies earlier accepted as valid but now accepted as a part of the nominate subspecies. They were Streptopelia decaocto stoliczkae (found in central Asia), and Streptopelia decaocto intercedens (found in southern India and Sri Lanka).
This species is known to be extremely adaptable. They inhabit wood edges, open countries, and farmlands. In Asia, they are found in semi-open dry areas with scattered groves and trees. In the European continent, they are seen in farmlands and suburban areas.
In North America, they prefer to inhabit farmlands as well as residential areas in small towns. It has been noted that they tend to avoid regions with dense forest or areas with cold temperatures.
The predators of the Eurasian collared doves mainly consist of owl, crows and other birds of prey.
It is considered as an invasive species in many of its present geographical range. Till the end of the 19th century, its population was restricted to subtropical Asia – from Turkey in the west, to southern China and Japan in the east, and south towards India and Sri Lanka. In the past century, it has formed many colonies in many parts of the world. In Bulgaria, it was first reported in 1938, but its range expanded all across Europe in the 20th century.
It appeared in the Balkan parts somewhere between 1900 to 1920, and subsequently reports of its presence coming from Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Russia. In Africa, it is found in Canary Island. Egypt, Morocco as well as other parts of North Africa. In 1974, a small population (possibly less than fifty) of this species escaped captivity in the Bahamas and spread to the US state of Florida. At present, it is found in Mexico, and in almost all states in the United States, such as Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, California etc.
Eurasian Collared-Doves can be commonly seen roosting on the branches of tall trees, wires, or utility poles. They are primarily ground foragers preferably in open areas. At a site abundant in foods, they can be seen in hundreds, often sharing the spot with other bird species like Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Cardinals and many more. They are comfortable being close to the human population, and they feed on bird feeders located in backyards or gardens. When they walk, they make a quick, short movement and flick their tails. Clipped wing-beats and looping glides are its common flying features.
If food is abundant, breeding occurs throughout the year in warm regions. Male produce a ‘co-coo-cook’ call in order to attract a female. The advertisement call generally takes place in dawn and morning.
But sometimes, it may continue through the night. Their courtship rituals also include flight display in which male fly straight up in the air and descending with a stretched out the tail, often emitting a harsh call. Once a pair is formed, both male and female starts to search for a potential nesting site. During this time, the pair engages in prinking each other. The nest is generally made in tall trees, or at a man-made structure. Both male and female build the nest, usually with twigs and sticks. During this time, male show aggressive behavior towards a potential predator or any other bird that comes near its nest. Females lay two white colored eggs (or, one at times). Both male and female incubate the eggs for 2 to 3 weeks. They both feed the ‘pigeon milk’. The baby Eurasian collared doves can fledge when they are 15 to 20 days old. They are taken care of by their parents for another week. They reach sexual maturity at the age of one. A monogamous pair is known to raise up to six broods in a year. Female lay new eggs while juveniles are still in another nest.
The primary food sources are seeds, and cereal grains such as corn, milo, wheat, sunflower and millet among others. At the time also feed on berries and invertebrates.
It is believed that their lifespan is between 3 to 10 years in the wild. The oldest recorded lifespan of an individual from the wild was believed to be a minimum of 13 years and 8 months.
They are known to produce various types of sounds, with a nasal, trisyllabic, monotonous and repeated ‘co-coo-cook’ being the most common. They also produce a harsh ‘kwurrr’ sound.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept this bird in the ‘Least Concern’ category.
As estimated by Partners in Flight, their worldwide breeding population is believed to be 8 million with just five percent inhabiting the United States.
Since this species was introduced in North America, it does not enjoy any legal protection as of now. In many parts, such as Texas and rural areas of southeast US, it has become a popular game bird.
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