16 Different Types of Doves in California

Different Types of Doves in California
Photo by 卡晨

California has some of the largest and most diverse populations of doves in the world, with over 30 species making their home in various parts of the state.

You may be surprised at what you see when hiking or camping, as doves are much more prevalent in California than you might expect!

Let’s look at some types of doves in California and how you can watch them on your next trip out into nature.

1. Mourning Dove

California has different types of doves in California, but one is the most common. The Mourning Dove is most often seen during morning and evening hours as it’s common for them to fly about during these times. They can be seen eating plants, seeds, fruits, and invertebrates and drinking water. 

Since they’re easily found throughout various parts of California, they aren’t protected by the federal government so hunting them is acceptable.

The call of this type of dove is high pitched at first but becomes lower pitched as it continues and has been described as sounding like coo-ooo. 

2. Inca Dove

Inca Dove, The Inca Dove, can be identified by its head with a white forehead and chestnut throat. It often hovers above ground level when feeding or resting. They also tend to form large flocks or coveys during migration. 

Incas can tolerate cold climates better than other varieties and dry environments; they thrive in coastal forests, suburban yards, and golf courses.

They also live alongside creeks and rivers, which serve as food sources for these types of doves in California during the winter when their preferred fruits aren’t available due to climate conditions.

3. Zenaida

The first type is the migratory Zenaida dove, commonly referred to as a rock pigeon native to North America.

This dove is more significant than many other species, has a long neck and head, and has an iridescent purplish-green or violet sheen on its feathers. It feeds mainly on seeds, plants, and fruit. 

The second type of bird is called the mourning dove or homing pigeon – they belong to the same family as Zenaida. These types of doves in California have dark spots on their light-colored chests and bellies.

They only visit California for one season yearly – typically between January and March for breeding purposes. 

Afterward, they return to parts unknown, except Mexico, where some reside. They breed by having two eggs at a time and then take care of both eggs until they hatch. 

Mourning doves also enjoy eating crickets and worms while living in their nests. This type of dove is plentiful throughout California but often appears in agricultural areas near crops.

4. Rock Pigeon

The Rock Pigeon is by far the most common dove species in California and is characterized by a white chest, gray head, and dark gray tail. Its nest typically has about two eggs per clutch.

When looking for your next home to buy or rent, make sure you don’t buy a property with an attic that houses pigeons if you want to avoid problems with these birds nesting there. 

One way to discourage pigeons from building nests inside your property is to clean up any roosting sites they may have used previously.

Once they find themselves without a suitable place to roost, it will be much more difficult for them to build new nests on top of one another and hatch their eggs.

Another way would be to install netting over areas where they usually roost (typically around chimneys) which will prevent these types of doves in California from being able to land on ledges and get back into the property.

5. Eurasian Collared-Dove

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is also called a pigeon because it looks and sounds like a pigeon. They’re about 9 to 10 inches long and usually weigh about 1 pound.

These types of doves in California can fly faster than 30 miles per hour and up to 20,000 feet high. 

But they’re also not great flyers, sometimes flying right into buildings or crashing into trees instead of soaring through the sky to get where they want to go.

The females have brown stripes, while the males have all-white heads and bodies. If you see one of these, don’t be alarmed. It’s just your neighborhood pet.

6. Ringed Turtle Dove

The Ringed Turtle Dove is primarily gray with black spots on its neck and head, though variations depend on the region. It’s named after the ring around its neck that varies from green to purple or blue coloration, which fades as it matures.

7. Spotted Dove

The Spotted Dove is North America’s most popular and widespread type of dove. These types of doves in California have a slate-gray head, neck, underparts, pale gray wings, and a short tail.

In some parts of the country, their plumage is duller brownish-gray or rustier on their heads, necks, and underparts, while they may look more bluish on their wings and back. 

They nest primarily on ledges in rocky cliffs and can live up to 15 years. They feed by probing into plants with long pointed beaks for seeds, insects, and sometimes fruit. However, they will also eat refuse from human habitation like corn cobs and breadcrumbs. 

They are often hunted by raccoons and cats but don’t typically fight back when threatened since their only defense mechanism is to take flight.

These types of doves in California have declined in recent decades due to habitat loss and competition from house sparrows introduced in the 1800s as an agricultural pest control measure that became feral over time.

8. Ruddy Ground Dove

The Ruddy ground dove is one of the most common types of doves in California. They are usually seen on arid plains and agricultural areas near marshes or streams. These doves are ground nesters and eat mainly seeds. 

The Ruddy Ground Doves have blue-grey wings, chestnut-colored heads, necks, and bellies with black accents on their wings and tail feathers.

The underside of their body is a light pink color. Their eyes are brown, and they can live up to 5 years in captivity. 

The Ruddy Ground-Dove has a monogamous relationship with its partner. These types of doves in California tend to breed more during seasons when an abundance of food is available for them to feed off.

9. White-Tipped Dove

The white-tipped dove is a small brown and gray bird that can measure up to 12.5 inches long with a wingspan of 18 inches.

Its feathers have white tips with no other markings, giving it the classic ‘white capped’ appearance. This species tends to be found in most parts of North America. 

However, they’re most frequently spotted south of Texas and east of Nevada. They can be found in fields, woods, and grassy areas, including farms or ranches. 

These types of doves in California feed on seeds they find by hopping along the ground looking for them – they will also eat sunflower and peanut kernels and various kinds of fruits like cherries, grapes, apples, and oranges.

And hide among bushes and shrubs nearby instead of attempting to fly away, as most birds instinctively do.

10. White-Winged Dove

Most people know that there are many types of doves in California, but one may not be aware that there are a variety of dove species.

Doves from around the world were introduced to California since European settlement. Ornithologist Wilfred Robbins first documented the white-winged dove in Carmel Valley and Point Lobos.

White-winged doves seem to prefer areas with lower elevations and moisture-rich soils. They nest near brushy regions along. 

11. Bad-Tailed Pigeon

The evil-tailed pigeon is a bird often mistaken for a mourning dove. They have an olive-colored head, long and thin tail feathers that create a distinctive white stripe on their body, and dark brown wings.

Their habitat includes lowlands such as deserts or agricultural fields; they tend to avoid densely populated areas. 

12. Spotted Dove

The first dove that most people think about is a spotted or mourning dove. They look similar, but mourning doves have darker feathers on their head and back, while spotted doves have lighter chestnut coloring with black spots. Their wingspan is close to two feet across. 

Both are social types of doves in California that roost together, fly together, and even feed from the same bush, tree branch, or ground at times.

Mourning Doves make great pets because they’re not very loud and can be easily trained to come when called. Both types of doves in California go into a mating season (early spring) and lay their eggs in nests located outside near trees or buildings.

13. Winged Dove

The most common type of dove is the spotted or ringed dove. It has a light to medium brown body and black-and-white barred spots on its back, neck, and wings.

Its head, throat, breast, and tail are all white. With its soft coo call and fluffy feathers, it is often seen hopping about the garden.

They typically have a dark grey body with chestnut highlights from head to toe. Unlike their bright yellow counterparts, their tail makes a flapping sound as opposed to a coo which can sometimes be used as an identifier for identification purposes.

14. Golden Whistling-Dove

The golden whistling dove (Geotrygon Versicolor) is a medium-sized brown dove. It has a blue-purple crown and bare skin around its eye, which is bright red to crimson. Its beak is orange, and it has pink feet. 

Depending on their genetics, these different types of doves in California can have anywhere from 1 to 4 scapulars, with their back feathers being blue, green, gray, or black.

They are found mainly in southern California. They live high up in the trees and make their nests out of moss and twigs on branches 60 feet off the ground. 

They eat insects, small reptiles, nuts, berries, and seeds. When they fly, they flap their wings four times before gliding for another five beats.

15. Turtle Dove

The turtledove is a medium-sized bird with brown and reddish coloration. It has a square-shaped long tail, which distinguishes it from other pigeons.

Turtledoves make nests out of twigs and plants to create an enclosed area with separate entrances for males and females. 

The male turtledoves defend their nest against predators during the daytime while the female feeds nearby or gathers nesting materials at night. The female can lay up to five eggs per day and incubate them for about 18 days. 

When she leaves the nest to feed, her mate takes over incubating duties until she returns. Once the young have hatched, both parents will care for them until they are ready to fly off on their own, around two months old.

16. Common Ground Dove

The common ground dove is a stunning breed that typically lives around grasslands, fields, and agricultural areas. Native to parts of Africa, this bird has been domesticated since 1788 and has become a symbolic part of New Zealand culture. This dove is a game animal in many parts of North America. 

These types of doves in California fly quickly over short distances with rapid wingbeats, also known as very fast currying.

They usually build their nests on the ground and eat small animals like earthworms. Common ground doves lay two eggs at once and have been known to mate for life. 

They are classified as near threatened by the IUCN Red List and can live up to 8 years old. The population is decreasing due to loss of habitat, use in hunting, collision with windows and cars, etc.


California is home to an assortment of dove species. It’s easy to identify mourning and white-winged doves from their distinct eye rings. Western and blue rock doves can be distinguished by their coloration and flock size. 

Ringed turtledoves have a cream-colored ruff (collar) around the base of their necks, which may help them keep cool during summer heat spells.

Look for western imperial, whooping, and Costa Rican ground doves by examining the amount of white under their wings. A lack of white means they’re not likely one of these types of doves in California. 

The last types of doves in California are the Carolina palm doves; their dark-brown backs and pale undersides make them look like miniature versions of Eurasian collared doves.

They’re easily identified because they tend to fly low through bushes looking for seeds and berries on plants.

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