(Little) Red-eyed dove, Little turtle dove
Diamond doves, native to the mainland of Australia, are the smallest pigeons occurring naturally and are a little bigger than a canary. They can easily be identified due to their small size, red eye rings and the pale spots on their wings. Their upper parts are mainly brown gray and their bellies are creamy, with distinctive white spots on their black-edged upper wings. There are a number of variations in color varieties of diamond doves, silver being the most popular. Other colorings are all white, dark gray, brown, yellow, red, cinnamon, and pied.
Diamond doves occur in northern and central Australia, inhabiting grasslands, open terrain and sparsely wooded areas, particularly around water. They also inhabit parks and gardens in cities and towns.
Habits and lifestyle
Diamond doves are a diurnal species and are usually seen in small groups or pairs, foraging on the ground. They eat the seeds of herbs and grasses, staying close to water. When feeding, they walk sedately but can run quickly, tail raised, when disturbed. Their calls are a mournful, slow "coo"; repeated twice at times, followed sometimes by a long-short-long coo. They emit a few short loud coos when alarmed. When they fly, their wings sometimes make a whistling "frrr" noise.
arc, cote dole, dule, flight, piteousness, pitying
Diet and nutrition
Diamond doves are mainly granivores. They mostly eat the seeds of herbs and grasses. Sometimes they also eat ants.
Little is known about the mating system of Diamond doves. However, as with other species of doves and pigeons, diamond doves may be either serially monogamous, when pairs stay together during one breeding season only, or monogamous, when pairs mate for life. Males will choose a nest site and court the females by cooing with their beak on the ground while the tail feathers are spread. They may also give food to a potential mate, and will often puff up their feathers and strut in front of the females. Diamond doves within their natural range may breed at any time of the year, but most mating activity is observed after heavy rainfall. Nests are a small flimsy platform of grass stems or fine twigs in a scrubby tree or low shrub. The eggs may be seen through the nest material. Usually two white eggs are laid and the incubation period is 13 to 14 days. The parents both incubate and never leave the eggs unattended. They also both feed the young. The chicks grow fast, and usually are fully feathered and able to fly by 2 weeks.
Year-round, peaks after heavy rainfalls
There are no major threats to the Diamond dove at present.
According to IUCN, the Diamond dove is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today remain stable.
Fun facts for kids
- Diamond doves give their young “pigeon milk”, which is a thick liquid from the lining of their crop. Amongst birds, only doves, flamingoes and pigeons are known to utilize such a food.
- A dove needs water, as it has a dry seed diet. It can suck up water while keeping its head down low.
- Doves are a symbol of peace, love and harmony.
- Doves pecking seeds are not eating but collecting seeds in their esophagus in order to digest them later.
- Doves can find their way home over distances of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, which is unrivaled amongst animals. This uncanny ability has meant that for centuries they have delivered messages for royalty, leaders in the military and other notable figures.
- Pigeons and doves do not have a gall bladder. The reason for this is unknown. The birds still produce bile, it being secreted directly into their gut.
- Doves are very adaptable in almost any environment and are found everywhere except where there are extreme conditions such as the Antarctic and deserts.