March 2016 Bird Photo of the Month

© Joseph F. Pescatore
Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

Have you heard this dove? From a perch, it makes a repetitive, monotonous hollow ‘woo-o’ ‘woo-o’ ‘woo-o’ ‘woo-o,’ mechanical-like sound, repeated a dozen times, followed by a pause, then two to three more series of calls. The Common Ground-Dove is a small dove, usually occurring in pairs that bond for life. A non-migratory resident, it ranges from the southern U.S. and Caribbean to northern South America, inhabiting dry flatwoods, scrub, citrus groves, or coastal areas. Its camouflage coloring hides it as you approach, until with whirring wings, it flutters out of danger. It may be observed in suburban or agricultural areas walking with its characteristic head bobbing, or feeding on seeds beneath feeders.
Notice the unique scaling on crown and breast, the black-tipped orange bill, and short tail. When it flies, chestnut-colored wings become apparent. Like other doves, it pants and flutters its gular or throat sac to cool itself when hot.

Typical of grain-eating doves, it stores food in its crop to eat later. One individual had 700 seeds in its crop. Ideal, as scientists have determined that a dove must eat about one fifth of its weight daily to maintain itself. As a Ground-Dove weighs only 1.3 oz., it must ingest about 2,500 seeds daily! Fortunately, for survival, its crop is an evolved adaptation, a built-in backpack.

Juanita Baker, Coordinator
Florida Bird Photo of the Month
Pelican Island Audubon Society

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