What are those really big doves in my yard?

Bird watchers from almost all of the lower 48 states and some of Alaska and Canada have found a new and quite large species of dove in their neighborhoods and yards. They are called Eurasian Collared-Doves because they are  the species of collared-doves that come from the continent of Eurasia (Europe and Asia). Besides their large size, they can be identified by the distinctive black collar on the back part of it’s neck,  darker wing tips, and tail that is not sharply pointed like those on Mourning Doves.

Eurasian Collared-Doves look similar to African Collared-Doves, a species sold as captive birds that escape or are turned loose. Often called Ringed Turtle-Doves, they can establish feral populations in some areas and they hybridize with Eurasian Collared-Doves making it difficult to distinguish the two species.

However, if you see the underside of their tails the Eurasian Collared-Doves have are grayish on their undertail areas with extensive black on the underside of their tail feathers, while the African Collared-Doves have white undertail areas have very limited black on the undersides of their tails. They can also readily be identified by their very different calls–listen to them on the Audubon Guides website.   As I type this I can hear one calling from my backyard.

Eurasian Collared-Doves were first seen in North America in Florida in the late 1970′s to early 1980′s. They had been released in the Bahamas in the mid-70′s and established there so it is thought that the birds got to Florida by natural means. Since then they have exploded across the United States only a few populated areas in north central and northeastern states and adjacent Canadian provinces not yet reporting them. They are associated with human populations including grain elevators where spilled grain in readily available as well as backyard bird feeders.

Many backyard bird watchers complain that the Eurasian Collared-Doves chase away the Mourning Doves from their feeders. These birds are larger than any of our native doves plus they ‘are also known to be aggressive and behaviorally dominant over similar species” according to an article about them by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I personally want to feed native species so I do my best to exclude them from my feeders (I will post on some of my efforts in a later blog after I have more time to evaluate their effectiveness).

  • Do you have Eurasian Collared-Doves coming to your yard?
  • If so, where do live and how long have you had them?
  1. laurel Johnson says

    I live in central Iowa and have never had a problem with these wonderful birds, they have never tried to run off the other birds in the area and they sound so different it is nice to have something different in the yard.

  2. brandi sims says

    I live in Huntsville, Alabama. I have a pair that visit (and have for the past couple of years). They do occasionally run other birds off, but not excessively. I think they’re beautiful – well, I think *every* bird is, so I welcome them to my yard :)

  3. Barb Erbe says

    I live in western South Dakota and have had these in my yard for a few years now. I have had close to 20 birds at a time. They don’t seem to chase the other birds away. I was surprised that they stay here in the winter as it can get pretty cold here . The mourning doves are only here spring to early fall.

  4. says

    I live in Southwest Saskatchewan Canada. We noticed several Eurasian Collared Doves around our yard last summer (2012) and they have stayed all winter. It’s funny to see them eating with the red polls this time of year. I thought they would have migrated south for the winter.

  5. Dee Lytle says

    I live in Western Oregon in the Willamette Valley. We have had these collared doves for several years. We were putting out cracked corn for the quail and pheasants and acquired these doves in large numbers starting probably 4 years ago. They pretty much took over our yard and trees. During breeding season they became very noisy with their strange calls. The Mourning Doves stopped coming also. We have since stopped putting the corn out because of becoming over-run with these foreign doves. They are here year around. I would say it was not unusual to have 12-17 in the yard at one time.

  6. Lorena Holcombe says

    I live in Coal Creek Colorado. I have just noticed the doves in this area recently. I can’t remember seeing them last year .
    They are so pretty. I love hearing them and also watching them on my deck and near the bird feeders. I’m so glad to know what they are. Glad I found Birds and Blooms during my web search. Thank you.

    • says

      Hello Lorena,
      I live in a town near you and they have been here for well over 10 years. I don’t get up to Coal Creek very often but do look for birds in Rockvale occasionally and have seen Eurasian Collared-Doves there for some years. Now that you have them, you will most likely be seeing many, many more of them as they breed almost year round in our moderate climate.

  7. ladywingr says

    I live in Florida, south of Tampa Bay. I have been feeding birds here for the past 10+ years, and have had collared doves every year, as many as two dozen at a time. They will clean a feeder in a day – we call them “turkey” doves. I switched to squirrel “resistant” (HA!) feeders and this has eliminated the problem of these birds wiping out the seed. The blue jays, cardinals, titmouse, mourning doves and finches can all feed from these feeders and are much more prevalent since the collared doves are limited to ground feeding. I switched feeders a couple years ago, and generally only see a pair or two at a time now.

  8. cyndilulu says

    I live in Bay St Louis, MS the doves aren’t as bad as the Black Birds and the Bully Birds. Anyone able to give me a few suggestions on how to get out of my yard?

  9. says

    I live in Lake Charles, La between Baton Rouge, La and Beaumont, Tx. I have been seeing the doves in my yard for about two weeks now.

  10. Barbara Cook says

    I live in Cle Elum,WA, on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. These doves have been visiting our yard and the surrounding area for a couple of years now. Sometimes there are between 15 and 16 doves sitting in our backyard trees.

  11. bjones says

    I live in Southwest Iowa and have only noticed a pair of Turtle Doves just this year. They seem to get along fine with the other birds I’m feeding and I hope to have more Turtle Doves coming to my feeders in the near future.

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