About 7.5 inches (19 cm) long. A very small, slim dove with a
scaly look. The tail is square ended with white sides (Peterson,
1990). The throat is white; forehead is pale pink-grey shading to
pale brown-pink on the crown, face, and neck. Upperparts are pale
grey-brown shading to white-grey. The breast is a pale dull pink
shading to buff-white on the belly and white on the under tail
coverts. The central tail feathers are grey-brown, the next two
are black with a trace of white, and the outer tail feathers are
black with white ends. The bill is black, legs and feet are flesh
pink to purple-pink (Goodwin, 1983).
Open country with scattered trees or scrubby growth generally in
arid or semi-arid locations around cultivated areas, farm-lands,
parks, and gardens are the preferred habitats (American
Ornithologists' Union, 1983).
This species is a resident from extreme southeastern California
through central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and central Texas,
south through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua to
northwestern Costa Rica (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).
The Inca Dove is an herbivorous ground feeder who primarily
consumes small, dried seeds. Wheat, dari, and other similarly
sized cultivated grain seeds will be eaten when they are
available. Wild seeds that are eaten are much smaller than
commercial grain seeds (Goodwin, 1983). Doves are unique from
other birds since they do not have to raise their head in order
to drink (Leahy, 1982).
Columbina inca builds its nest in a tree or bush, often
using the old nest of other species (Goodwin, 1983). When
self-built, the nest is a flimsy platform (Leopold, et al.,
1981). Females lay two white eggs. The nestlings fledge at 14-16
days. There is a prolonged breeding season in New Mexico from
March through August (Goodwin, 1983). They are monogamous
breeders with the bond being maintained for the entire nesting
season. The male and female share in incubation, brooding, and
feeding of the young. Doves and pigeons feed their young with a
"crop-milk" that is made of cellular material that is sloughed
from areas of specialized epithelial tissue in each lobe of the
crop. During the nestlings first 4 or 5 days, they are fed
"crop-milk" exclusively, and then it is mixed with gradually
increasing numbers of seeds (Leopold, et al., 1981).
This dove is strong in flight, with rapid wing beats; however, it
often appears jerky and slow when flying short distances. A
buzzing sound is made in flight. Within one second of landing,
the tail raises 2-3 inches (5-8 cm). Little fear of man is shown.
This communal rooster tends to spend a great deal of time sunning
(Goodwin, 1983). The voice is described as a monotonous
coo-hoo or no-hope (Peterson, 1990).
American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North
American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.
Goodwin, D. 1983. Pigeons and doves of the world, 3rd ed.
Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca, 363 pp.
Leahy, C. 1982. The birdwatcher's companion: an encyclopedic
handbook of North American birdlife. Hill and Wang, New York, 917
Leopold, A. S., R. J. Guti‚rrez, and M. T. Bronson. 1981. North
American game birds and mammals. Charles Scribner's Sons, New
York, 198 pp.
Peterson, R. T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.
Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.