Spotted Dove

Spotted Dove

Spotted turtle dove, Mountain dove, Pearl-necked dove, Lace-necked dove, Spotted dove

Spilopelia chinensis
Population size
Life Span
8 years
g oz 
cm inch 
cm inch 

The Spotted dove (Spilopelia chinensis ) is a small and somewhat long-tailed pigeon that is a common resident breeding bird across its native range on the Indian subcontinent and in Southeast Asia. The species has been introduced to many parts of the world and feral populations have become established.

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This species was formerly included in the genus Streptopelia with other turtle-doves, but studies suggest that they differ from typical members of that genus. This dove is long tailed buff brown with a white-spotted black collar patch on the back and sides of the neck. The tail tips are white and the wing coverts have light buff spots.

There are considerable plumage variations across populations within its wide range. The species is found in light forests and gardens as well as in urban areas. They fly from the ground with an explosive flutter and will sometimes glide down to a perch. It is also called the mountain dove, pearl-necked dove, lace-necked dove, and spotted turtle-dove.

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Spotted doves are most recognizable by their black patch and white spots at the back of their neck. They are mostly light brown on their upper parts, with darker centers in the feathers on their back and wings. Their head is gray, and their neck and underparts are gray-brown, tinged with pink. When flying, their white-tipped tail is seen clearly. Males and females have similar plumage. Young look like adults, but instead of a black and white collar they have a mostly dark gray one.




Spotted doves are widely distributed. Its native area is southern Asia, from Sri Lanka and India, east to south China, and southwest Asia. They have been introduced to the United States, in the California area (Los Angeles), as well as Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand. In all these areas, their range is expanding. The Spotted dove is often found near human habitation, and they live in mountains, open woodlands, scrub, farmland, gardens, and urban areas. In India, they prefer moister regions.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Spotted doves are usually in small flocks or pairs, foraging on the ground or perching in trees and on telephone wires. They have a rapid, powerful, and direct flight, but when leaving a perch to feed on the ground, they often glide down quietly. When not displaying, they will perch and call 'cuk cuk coorrr', the female’s call being quieter. Mated birds will preen each other (called allopreening), especially around their head and neck. Any aggressive behavior is usually accompanied by a threatening 'kirr' call, and this can escalate into a physical confrontation involving the slapping of wings. When disturbed, the Spotted dove rises quickly and heads for leafy cover. This species does not migrate but performs some dispersion to colonize other areas that are suitable.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Spotted doves are primarily herbivores (granivores), they eat seeds and grains. They may also supplement their diet with insects.

Mating Habits

year-round, peak in September-December
14-16 days
2 weeks
squab, chick
1-2 eggs

Spotted doves are monogamous breeders. This means that both the male and the female have only one partner. They breed throughout the year, with most activity being from September to December. A male will perform a display flight, a steep rising flight accompanied by loud wing-clapping. When he gets to about 30 or 40 m in the air, he spreads his wings and tail and glides back down to a perch. He will also walk in front of a female, fluffing up the black and white patch on his neck, while bowing his head up and down. The adults build the nest together in a bush or tree, near an open area. The nest is a platform of loosely combined twigs, grasses, and roots. 1 or 2 slightly glossy white eggs are laid. Incubation is for around 14 to 16 days, by both parents. The altricial chicks are covered sparsely with pale down. For the first week, their parents look after them continuously. Young fledge when they are about 2 weeks old, and their parents immediately begin a new clutch.


Population threats

This species is vulnerable to habitat loss from human developments, and also to agricultural herbicides and trapping in some countries for the pet trade.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Spotted dove is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. However, national population sizes for the species are estimated for China at 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, and for Taiwan at 10,000-100,000 breeding pairs. Overall, currently Spotted doves are classified as Least Concern (LC) and their numbers today are increasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • A dove has special feathers on its body, which disintegrate to produce a sort of powder, for cleaning and lubricating the other feathers.
  • A Spotted dove produces “pigeon milk”. This is produced during the nesting season in the crop by special glands, which secrete a thick milky substance. Chicks eat this crop milk, by poking their bills into their parents’ throats.
  • Doves drink by sucking and don’t have to tilt their head back to swallow.
  • Spotted doves were introduced into Melbourne, Australia in the 1860s, spreading since then, often replacing native doves.


1. Spotted Dove Wikipedia article -
2. Spotted Dove on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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