A practical guide to bird watching in Sonoma County, California

(Unless otherwise indicated, all phone numbers are in the 707 area code)


An introduced species gaining ground here, possibly at the expense of our native Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). The Eurasian Collared-Dove, originally native to areas from Turkey east to southern China, India, and Sri Lanka, has spread virtually throughout the Northern Hemisphere in the past century, having been first reported in the Balkans in the 1920s, the UK in the early 1950s, and as far north as the Faroe Islands by the 1970s, according to Wikipedia, which notes records as far north as Iceland (although Eurasian Collared-Dove is not established there). I spent the summer of 2010 in southern France. Eurasian Collared-Dove was probably the single most common bird I saw.

Eurasian Collared-Dove was originally introduced to the United States through Florida from the Bahamas. It has spread into much of the country from its initial southern toehold. I have yet to see this bird in my own suburban Santa Rosa garden, but it's probably only a matter of time. In Sonoma County, Eurasian Collared-Dove is reliably present in Sebastopol around the parking lot at the Sebastopol Community Center on Morris St. (see the Laguna de Santa Rosa page for directions). Usually seen in pairs or alone, but sometimes forms small, loosely associated flocks. Although there is no entry for this bird in the Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas, (Burridge, ed., 1995), it certainly breeds in the county today. According to Parmeter and Wight, the first Sonoma County sighting was February 20, 2005, at Penngrove.

Eurasian Collared Dove is a pale putty color rather than the warm grey to pinkish-tinged brown of Mourning Dove. It has a conspicuous black half-collar at the back of the neck flanked by slightly paler bands, which Mourning Dove lacks. Its tail is not as pointed as that of Mourning Dove, and, in flight, the primaries of Eurasian Collared-Dove are darker than the rest of the wing, although that feature can be hard to see. At close range, Eurasian Collared Dove has a fine white orbital ring, whereas Mourning Dove has a blue orbital ring. Voices differ. The Mourning Dove coos slowly and mournfully, usually giving a breathy two-note phrase followed by a short pause and then a three-note phrase, something like coo-ah, coo-COO-coo. Eurasian Collared-Dove repeats a flatter, faster three-note phrase that sounds like cooCOO-coop, cooCOO-coop, cooCOO-coop (see links below). Eurasian Collared-Dove does not make the characteristic wing-whistling sound of Mourning Dove as it takes off from the ground.

Bolander and Parmeter, Birds of Sonoma County California, rev. ed., 2000, no entry

Brinkley, National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America, 2007, p. 243

Burridge, ed., Sonoma County Breeding Bird Atlas, 1995, no entry

Dunn and Alderfer, eds., National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 5th ed., 2006, p. 244

Dunn and Alderfer, eds., National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 6th ed., 2011, p. 266

Dunne, Pete Dunne’s Essential Field Guide Companion, 2006, pp. 312-313

Ehrlich, Dobkin, and Wheye, The Birder's Handbook, paperback edition, 1988, no entry

Fix and Bezener, Birds of Northern California, 2000, no entry

Floyd, Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 2008, p. 225

Kaufman, Field Guide to Birds of North America, 2000, p. 196

Lukas, Bay Area Birds: From Sonoma County to Monterey Bay, 2012, pp. 294

Parmeter and Wight, Birds of Sonoma County California, Update (2000-2010), 2012, p. 40

Peterson, Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 5th ed., 2002, p. 196

Peterson, Field Guide to Birds of Western North America, 4th ed., 2010, p. 206

Sibley, Field Guide to Birds of Western North America,1st ed., 2003, p. 222

Stokes, Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 1st ed., 2010, p. 381

Vuilleumier, American Museum of Natural History, Birds of North America: Western Region, 2011, p. 438

Voice: Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds--Eurasian Collared Dove

Voice: Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds--Mourning Dove



© Colin Talcroft, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

Unless noted, all photos by the author. If you would like to use one of my images, please ask for permission for non-commercial use with proper credit or commercial use with proper compensation.


For comparison: Mourning Dove--Note warmer, darker color; long, pointed tail;

blue orbital ring

Eurasian Collared Dove, Lake Ralphine, Santa Rosa, April 14, 2012

The very different silhouettes of Eurasian Collared Dove (left) and Mourning Dove (right). The bird in the center is the Rock Dove (Pigeon)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Streptopelia decaocto

1990-2013 Sonoma County data. Graph provided by eBird (www.ebird.org), generated June 29, 2013

EBird reported occurrence in Sonoma County