Wood Doves

The Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita) can be found just about anywhere on the island of Barbados. This dove (commonly referred to as the Wood Dove) is very similar in appearance to the Mourning Dove. A bit smaller in size with a shorter more rounded tail and a bit darker in colour, this dove is usually heard cooing much like the Mourning Dove. Their “coooooo-coo-coo-a-coo” tone, sounds quite the same as that of the Mourning Dove but the only difference is that it coos a bit faster.


Wood Doves are brown above and somewhat wine-coloured below with black spots on the feathers that cover the bases of the tail feathers. A sure distinguishing difference is that when in flight, the Wood Dove has a white mark on the trailing edge of its wings. Male doves are usually larger in size than female doves.


Wood Doves are normally peaceful and tend to get along with other birds quite easily. However, aggression amongst themselves is quite common.


Wood Doves feed close to water. They swallow fine gravel in an effort to assist with digestion. They are known for consuming salt from mineral rich soils. It is believed that this salt helps the egg-hardening process and/or production of pigeon milk.



In Barbados, the nesting period of Wood Doves is usually March through May or July. Males usually determine the best nesting site and initiate the building of these nests. The male would attend to the nest from mid-morning through mid-afternoon. At this point the female would take over incubation and brooding duties for the night.


Wood Doves are not always interested in bulding nests in conventional places. Hence the reason you would sometimes see them in garages, old buildings or resting in hanging lights. If there is no suitable place for nesting, it is highly possible that Wood Doves would opt for nesting on the ground.


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