White-Winged Dove

About the White-Winged Dove

Flocks of these doves, with large white wing patches, and short square-ended tails, are a common sight in summer in many areas near the Mexican border. Polytypic. Length 11".


A little larger than the mourning dove; generally brownish gray above and a paler gray below; white ends on the greater coverts form prominent patches on the wings, contrasting sharply with the blackish flight feathers; blackish square-ended tail with prominent white terminal band. Prominent black crescent framing lower edge of auricular. On perched bird, wing patch shows only as a thin white line along the leading edge of the folded wing. Adult male: grayish or grayish brown head and neck, with neck and breast washed lightly with pink; iris reddish brown; orbital skin bright blue; bill black; and feet bright red. Adult female: similar to male. Juvenile: paler on the head; narrow pale gray fringes on the scapulars and wing coverts.

Geographic Variation

Most recent treatment recognizes 2 subspecies, but there have been varied interpretations, with several subspecies previously considered in this complex. Until recently, it was considered conspecific with west Peruvian dove, Z. meloda of South America. The 2 subspecies are nominate asiatica from western Texas eastward along the Gulf Coast to Florida, and mearnsi in the Southwest, east to New Mexico. Differences are weak and clinal, with asiatica on average showing a less grayish tone to the brown plumage; but the subspecies are likely not separable in the field.


Call: a drawn-out who-cooks-for-you cooing; has many variations.

Status and Distribution

Breeds in the southern tier of the United States, from southeastern California to the Gulf Coast of Texas, and from southern Florida south through Central America to Panama. Breeding: nest is a fragile platform of twigs in medium-height brush; nominate birds typically nest in colonies, while the western birds are more solitary; bears 2 white eggs. Migration: primarily a summer resident in the United States, with most migrating into Mexico in winter. Increasing numbers are remaining through the year, establishing isolated resident populations scattered across the United States from southeastern California to Florida; regular visitor to the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. Vagrant: casual on the East Coast north to the Maritime Provinces, in the interior to the Canadian border, and along the West Coast north to extreme southeastern Alaska.

—From the National Geographic book Complete Birds of North America, 2006