Common Ground-Dove

Columbina passerina
Range Map

This bird inhabits the southern United States, parts of Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. The Common Ground Dove is perhaps the smallest dove that inhabits the United States.

Called the “ground-dove” for good reason, these birds forage on the ground, eating several thousand seeds a day. They nest and spend most of their time on the ground. This makes them vulnerable to a wide variety of predators.

If only given a quick or partial view, this small dove might be mistaken for a Common Ground Dove. Both birds show a scaled or scalloped head, neck and breast, but the Inca Dove takes the look to a whole new level, with scaled patterns extending over most of its body.

Science has divided this species into 19 subspecies:

  • C. p. pallescens lives in the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico, and south through Mexico and northern Central America.
  • C. p. socorroensis or Socorro Ground-Dove lives on Isla Socorro (Mexico).
  • C. p. neglecta lives in Central America.
  • C. p. passerina lives in the southeastern USA along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
  • C. p. bahamensis lives on Bermuda and throughout Bahamas.
  • C. p. aflavida lives in Cuba.
  • C. p. insularis lives on the Cayman Islands and Hispaniola.
  • C. p. jamaicensis lives on Jamaica.
  • C. p. umbrina lives on islands off the northeast coast of Haiti.
  • C. p. exigua lives on Mona Island between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola.
  • C. p. portoricensis lives on Puerto Rico.
  • C. p. nigrirostris lives on the Lesser Antilles.
  • C. p. trochila lives on Martinique and St. Lucia.
  • C. p. antillarum lives on the Antilles from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, south to Grenada, and on Barbados.
  • Plus another five in South America (C. p. albivitta, C. p. parvula, C. p. nana, C. p. quitensis, and C. p. griseola).

In the USA, our meetings are limited to C. p. pallescens, and C. p. passerina. I was lucky enough to meet the Socorro Ground-Dove (C. p. socorroensis) on our first afternoon on Isla Socorro during a February 2017 science expedition to the Archipielago de Revillagigedo.

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