During the 20th century, the Eurasian collared dove spectacularly expanded its range from the Middle East to right across Europe. Accidentally introduced in 1974 into the Bahamas, this pale chunky bird soon spread to the mainland in Florida. A relative of the mourning dove, its name comes from its black half-collar around its neck. It has white tail feathers and dark-tipped wings. It is often seen on fence posts and telephone wires, giving its rhythmic three-part coo.
The original range of this bird was warmer temperate regions across southeastern Europe and Japan. However, during the twentieth century it extended across all of Europe, by 1953 reaching Great Britain, and Ireland soon after. Now it also breeds in Scandinavia. In the 1970s it was introduced into the Bahamas, and to Florida in the 1980s, and has gradually colonized the North American continent. These birds live in towns and cities, in urban gardens and parks. Depending on the country, it may occur in semi-desert regions with scattered trees, or mixed thickets and orchards.
These diurnal doves are often to be seen in pairs, perched close to each other on a branch or foraging on the ground. They are very gregarious birds, and groups of 10 and up to several hundred may gather at prime locations. Although they will feed peacefully in flocks of mixed birds, they may also chase off other species, including Mourning doves, Blue jays and cardinals. They feed on the ground only, but may visit bird-feeders in winter, especially those with sunflower-seeds. They are mostly sedentary within their range, but the young may disperse, according to the country, seasons and elevation. Eurasian collared doves utter monotonous calls with three notes, repeated a number of times: “krou-koou-kou”. In flight, they give a rapid and nasal “kwourrr”, especially when landing or excited. They make a direct and rapid flight, actively beating their wings. In migration, they fly relatively high.
Eurasian collared doves are monogamous and form strong pair-bonds. They have very beautiful courtship displays, partially aerial, partly in a tree or on the ground. The male takes off abruptly from his perch with noisy wing beats in order to rise. He then soars down with his tail fanned. When he lands, he makes a nasal “kwourrr”. He also bows towards the female while cooing intensely (this is ignored by her, and she goes away). When she goes away, he pursues her. A pair is often seen perched together on an exposed branch, touching their bills lovingly, like kisses, also on their head and neck. The pair may raise as many as six broods a year. The breeding season lasts almost the whole year in temperate areas. These birds nest in a shrub or tree of any height. Both adults construct the nest. 2 whitish eggs are laid. Incubation is for about 2 weeks, by both parents. Chicks are given “crop milk” which includes regurgitated seeds. They leave the nest at around 15 to 19 days old, are fed for one more week and then become independent.
Eurasian collared doves are widespread throughout their range. However, being an introduced species, they are not protected from being hunted and they have become popular as a game bird in rural southeast US and Texas.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Eurasian collared dove population size is around 60 million - 110 million individuals. In Europe, the breeding population is 7,910,000-14,300,000 breeding pairs (15,800,000-28,600,000 individuals). According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) resource, the total UK breeding population is 990,000 pairs. Overall, currently Eurasian collared doves are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are increasing.