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Eurasian Collared-dove reached Florida Keys in late 70s before moving north and west

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

The Eurasian Collared-dove came to Florida after 50 doves were released in the 70s via the Bahamas. PHOTO BY CHARLES SOBCZAK

The Eurasian collared-dove is rapidly expanding its range across North America. Originally from western India, this bird has flourished because of repeated human introductions. It was first imported to Turkey in the 1600s, then spread into the Balkans, Greece, Italy, North Africa, and finally swept across all of Europe where it is firmly entrenched. It can also be found throughout North Africa as far west as Morocco where, as elsewhere, it prefers living close to human development.

It came to Florida via the Bahamas, where approximately 50 doves were released in 1974. The species reached the Florida Keys in the late 1970s and has been moving north and west ever since. It now breeds west of the Mississippi, and there are established pockets of Eurasian collared-doves in Southern California. Within the next 20 to 40 years this dove will probably inhabit every state in the lower 48, as well as Mexico, Central America, and southern Canada.

The Eurasian collared-dove is slightly larger than the native mourning dove and can be readily distinguished from that bird by the black ring extending halfway around its nape and by its tail, which is squared off with white outer feathers. Unlike the mourning dove, it does not whistle when taking flight, but has been known to make a catbird-like mew when taking off and landing, as well as a similar, but much quicker cacoocuk when roosting. This dove is monogamous and makes a solitary nest.

Its diet is almost identical to the mourning dove, consisting chiefly of seeds, grains, and occasional insects. This dove has already interbred with the native ringed turtle-dove, and there is some speculation that it may be interbreeding with the mourning dove as well. Because of its growing numbers, the Eurasian collared-dove has become an important item in the winter diet of Florida hawks, including the red-shouldered hawk.

This is an excerpt from The Living Gulf Coast – A Nature Guide to Southwest Florida by Charles Sobczak. The book is available at all the Island bookstores, Baileys, Jerry’s and your favorite online sites.