Doves of Massachusetts (3 Species to Know)

Doves are birds of cultural importance across many different civilizations. Typically representing peace, hope, and purity, doves have always been symbolic of some of the most beautiful and serene things in life. There are many different dove species that inhabit North America, and three of them that can be found in Massachusetts. Here is everything you need to know about those four species.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove
Identification

Mourning Doves have a pinkish gray underside with a darker gray back and wings. They have black spots on the wings and a black spot on each side of their face. This species often looks pudgy when they sit in a resting position.

Range

Mourning Doves are not particularly migratory as they live throughout most of the continental United States year-round. They do however extend south into Central America and Southern Mexico in winter and farther into southcentral Canada in summer.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Most of the Mourning Doves diet consists of seeds. They can often be seen foraging on the ground and are regular visitors at bird feeders where they will eat at platform feeders or under feeders.

Where to Find this Bird

Mourning Doves can be found in many different places including sparse woodlands, backyards, parks, and even areas heavily inhabited by humans such as cities. They can often be seen on power lines and also frequently feed along the ground in brush.

Rock Pigeon

Rock Pigeon – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

Rock Pigeons (also known as feral pigeons) come in many different varieties. Most of them are different shades of gray with darker gray on the head, neck and chest with lighter gray on the wings and underside. Rock Pigeons have two dark wing bars on each wing and blue, green, or even red iridescence on their head and neck. These birds can also be reddish in color and even pure white.

In my personal opinion, Rock Pigeons are actually quite beautiful and if they weren’t so common in the United States people would appreciate them more.

Range

Rock Pigeons can be found in almost every continent on Earth. However, they are only native to certain parts of Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. In South America and North America Rock Pigeons are actually an introduced species and have spread to pretty much everywhere with the exception of Northern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

Rock Pigeons feed mostly on fruits and seeds. They are also well known for eating scraps of foods in cities such as bread . They will move along the ground and peck at their desired meal while feeding.

Where to Find this Bird

In their wild range, Rock Pigeons live on cliffs and rock faces. In the United States, buildings and city structures imitate these habitats, meaning this species is now readily found in large cities. Additionally, look for Rock Pigeons in farmland where grains and seeds provide an easy meal.

White-winged Dove (Rare)

White-winged Dove – Photo by Alan Schmierer
Identification

White-winged Doves are grayish brown with their wings, head, and back being more brown, and their underside being more gray. They have blue near their eye and dark spots on their cheek. This bird gets its name from the distinctive white marking on each wing visible both when perched and in flight. In addition to the white wing markings, they also have white on the tips of their tail feathers.

Range

White-winged Doves live year-round in Mexico and parts of the Southern United States. In winter, they can be found more readily along the Gulf Coast. In summer, they move slightly north into more of the Southern United States.

Diet and Foraging Habits

White-winged Doves are primarily seed eaters but they will also consume fruit. In desert areas they have been known to eat the fruit of the Saguaro Cactus. In more urban places they will often feed on agricultural crops such as corn.

Where to Find this Bird

White-winged Doves can be found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from thickets, to desert, to urban environments. They will visit bird feeders, so if you live within their range keep an eye out for this species in your backyard. Another way to find White-winged Doves is to listen for their call which sounds similar to a Mourning Doves cooing but much deeper and gruffer.

Summary

Doves have learned to coexist with humans and thrive in places many other birds can’t. Knowing which species to expect in your region can be incredibly useful in identifying these plump and gregarious birds. Hopefully, this article has helped to answer some of your questions about the doves of Massachusetts.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding Youtube Channel

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