How to Identify a White-Winged Dove

Learn more about the white-winged dove, including what the bird looks like, what it eats, and where you can find one in North America.

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What Does a White-Winged Dove Look Like?

White-winged Dove perched in a tree near Rio Grande City, South TexasDiana Robinson Photography/Getty Images
White-winged dove perched in a tree near Rio Grande City, Texas

It can be tricky to tell doves apart. They may have very similar grayish-brown coloring and are around the same size and shape. Author Kelsey Roseth offers these tips. She says, “Mourning doves are sometimes confused with Eurasian collared-doves and white-winged doves. If a thick black band is present on the collar, it’s a collared-dove. You can tell white-winged doves apart by their namesake white wing stripe.”

According to the Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, white-winged doves are bulkier than mourning doves, with a shorter tail. Listen for a rich cooing sound, described as “too soon to tell.”

mourning doveCourtesy Leah Ellenberger
A mourning dove lacks the white wing stripes.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

What Do White-Winged Doves Eat?

white-winged doveCourtesy Dorothee Jeffers
A white-winged dove is a seed-eating bird.

These doves primarily eat seeds and grains, including corn and wheat. They may also feed on cactus fruits and berries.

Birds and Blooms reader Dorothee Jeffers writes, “For the first time, I grew artichoke from seeds to attract wildlife to my backyard. This white-winged dove (above) landed on the dried up thistle heads looking for a snack.”

Learn everything you need to know about baby mourning doves and mourning dove nests.

White-Winged Dove Range

A white winged dove perching at a platform feeder.Courtesy Colleen Gibbs
A white-winged dove perching at a platform feeder.

“This bird has been eating at our safflower seed feeder since mid-September. It looks like a white-winged dove, but it’s way out of its range. What’s going on?” asks Colleen Gibbs of Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

Here’s what birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman have to say:

“You’re right on both counts: The bird is a white-winged dove and it is far outside its normal range. White-winged doves are related to mourning doves, but they’re mainly tropical and subtropical birds, common from the southwestern states and Florida, south to Central America and the Caribbean.

They have been expanding their range northward in recent years in the Great Plains—they are now seen regularly in Oklahoma and Kansas. Wandering individuals have appeared a few times in most Canadian’ provinces, and even in Alaska. Still, it’s a rare and special event to have one visiting your feeder in Minnesota.”

Next, check out breathtaking photos of mourning doves.

Rachel Maidl
Rachel Maidl is a former senior editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. She enjoys bird-watching in her urban backyard and local state parks, gardening for pollinators and researching new plants. Her favorite backyard visitors are the bumblebees that visit her sedums.