In Texas, the Common Ground-Dove (
) is an uncommon to locally common resident in the southern portion including the Brush Country, Coastal Prairies, and Trans Pecos along the Rio Grande. They are uncommon and local summer residents in the eastern and southern portions of the Edwards Plateau all the way west to Presidio County, and uncommon to rare along the upper Texas Coast. There are casual records north of their breeding range in all seasons as well. They tend to inhabit more dry, open, or shrubby areas with grasses or trees. Often found foraging on the ground, and even at backyard feeders. Food consists primarily of seeds and grains with some insects added for protein.
The Common Ground-Dove is a member of the Columbidae Family (Pigeon and Doves). Common Ground-Dove is tanish overall and identified by its red eye, pinkish/red bill base, scaled pink-gray breast and nape, and the dark brownish spots on the coverts. In flight, the underside of the wing will be entirely rufous, the primaries will be a bright rufous with black tips, and the tail is short and dark with white tips on the outer tail feathers. Typical weight is 1.1 oz or 30 grams. The song is a series of soft cooing notes, “coo-oo, coo-oo, coo-oo”, while the call is a guttural squawk during courtship or while fighting for position at a water source.
It’s the smallest dove in United States! About the size of a Song Sparrow, its diminutive size is reflected in the genus name
, which means "little dove", and
, which means "sparrow."
The species population has declined considerable in the Southeastern Unites States as well as in parts of Texas mainly due to habitat destruction.
It’s estimated that a Common Ground-Dove has to eat more than 2,500 seeds every day to meet its energetic demands and can store hundreds of seeds in its two-lobed crop, an enlarged pocket of the esophagus.
Common Ground-Doves may breed opportunistically after rainfall or fire to take advantage of the extra abundance of seeds. Both parents use a secretion from the esophagus, known as crop milk, to feed nestlings. Since they do not have to rely on specific food items for their chicks, ground-doves can have a long breeding season with multiple broods.
A group of doves have several collective nouns, including “bevy”, “cote”, “dole”, “dule”, and “flight” of doves.
The oldest Common Ground-Dove on record was a female, at least 7 years, 2 months old. She was banded in Texas and re-found in Mexico.