ZEBRA DOVE (Geopelia striata) – Introduced
DESCRIPTION: The Zebra Dove is a brown bird for the top parts, with fine white and black striated plumage around the neck and on the sides (hence the name). The breast is cinnamon and the face greyish blue. There is a fine light blue line from the mandible to around the eye. Some tail feathers have white tips. The lower back is white. The bill is blue and the legs are pink. It is about 8 inches (20 cm) long.
VOICE: See video below for a typical zebra dove call. Also here: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Geopelia-striata
NAME: The English names ‘Dove’ means ‘to dive’, in reference to the bird’s irregular flight, and the name ‘Zebra’ refers to the fine barring on the bird’s upper body. The Latin genus name ‘Geopelia’ comes from Greek and means ‘ground’ or ‘earth’, and ‘dove’ (because of the foraging habits of that genus). Finally, the species name ‘striata’ refers to the fine barring of the bird’s plumage.
HABITAT: In its native range inhabits open country, parks, gardens and farmland. On Hawaii this bird also lives in forests away from inhabited areas.
DIET: Mainly seeds, but also any food from humans.
NESTING: On Hawaii, the nest is a flimsy structure in a tree or other elevated spot. One or two white eggs are laid. This species breeds year-round and can have up to five broods a year. Both parents feed ‘crop milk’ to their chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The Zebra dove is native to Southeast Asia, and has been introduced in the 1920s into Hawaii. Since then, it has become the most widespread species on the main Hawaiian islands.
CONSERVATION: Zebra doves are widespread and not considered at risk. However there is pressure on the population in its native range from trapping for sale, as they are popular as cage birds (see reference below).
NOTES: In Hawaii zebra doves are everywhere, often with pigeons (see photos below), eating food scraps at restaurants and other inhabited places. These two species don’t seem to mind mingling together competing for food. Note the difference in size between the pigeons and the zebra doves.
They can be vectors of avian malaria, for which endemic birds on Hawaii have no immunity.
This dove species has ‘powder down’ feathers throughout its plumage, which disintegrate into a powder to help clean the bird’s other feathers.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Peaceful Dove, Barred Dove
Since their introduction to Hawaii around 100 years ago, zebra dove are doing VERY well in terms of expanding their territories:
Zebra dove juveniles are slightly darker than adults:
This individual below is showing its fine barring, giving the species its name:
This video below was a search for the zebra dove calling. I located it at the end of the video. Can you see it?
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