June 2021
Bird of the Month
Russ Chappell

White-Winged Dove

White-winged doves are plump, square-tailed and thin-billed, displaying a white stripe on the front edges of their wings that spreads to a bright flash during flight. Primarily grayish-brown with dark lines on their cheeks, they have relatively small heads and their tails have white tips accented with black stripes. They measure up to 11 inches in length, with wingspans of almost 23 inches and weigh around five and a half ounces.

They prefer bulky seeds because of their large bills, and have an eating style of appreciating their food, rather than pecking like chickens and other doves, like the mourning dove. They also ingest small pebbles into their gizzards to aid food-processing. They often visit bird feeders and are fond of sunflower, milo, corn and safflower, but will also forage for berries.

They usually breed in woodland interiors, near feeding habitats like grain fields or desert cactus communities. During the winter white-winged doves are present throughout most of their breeding range, but some individuals wander widely across the continent.

Russ Chappell

Males choose the general nesting area and gather building materials, but the female selects a nesting site and builds the nest, usually on a branch or shaded crotch of a tree. A flimsy bowl about four inches across is constructed of twigs mixed with weeds, grasses or moss, and occasionally lined with leaves, bark, feathers or pine needles.

There are two broods per season of one or two creamy white or buffcolored eggs, around one inch in width and length. Incubation is 14-20 days, nesting time 13-18 days, and hatchlings are born helpless, eyes closed, with long off-white down.

If predators approach the nest, a white-winged dove may fake a broken wing as a distraction, or in other circumstances fly into a brushy area. When startled near houses they sometimes fly into windows, so making sure your windows are bird-safe is a nice touch. 

This species rates an eight out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.

Happy Birding!

The Prescott Audubon Society is an official chapter of the National Audubon Society. Check it out online at PrescottAudubon.org.