Found throughout the year in Central Florida, the White-winged Dove sings a song that is repetitive and easily identified. While thinking about this might bring a popular song lyric to mind, once you pick out the resonating “who is cooking for you” sounds of their deep call, you’ll be easily able to find where they are perched.
Breeding in the southwest regions of Texas and peninsular Florida, they share similarities with several other resident doves such as the Mourning and Common Ground-Dove. All have those mournful calls and tawny gray plumage, but if you take care to note the size and a few obvious field marks, you’ll be an expert on your doves in no time.
The most obvious field mark of the White-winged Dove is the bold, white mark running along the edge of their wings, appearing like a thick racing stripe. Against their muted feathers of grayish brown, it is completely obvious to the naked eye. These doves also readily come to feeders for seeds and cracked corn, feeding at platforms and on the ground offering great opportunities to observe them.
A bit larger and heavier than the Mourning Dove, if you see that white wing stripe you can readily know you’ve spotted a White-winged Dove. Mourning Doves conversely have black spots on the lower ends of their wings and a long tail, but no white striping. Common Ground-Doves also have black spotting, but a rather stumpy tail, lighter colored head, and also no white striping.
Spring is here and these large doves will be nesting. Check “boots” of your palms, ledges around roof edges and other sheltered areas for their messy stick-based nests. Two eggs are laid and young grow quickly providing interesting observations as adults feed them and they clumsily fledge. Adults will sometimes lure predators away from their nest sites with behavior that mirrors them feigning a broken wing.
If you see fledglings or juveniles, they share the grayish hue of the adults. Adults are really quite lovely to observe, and a close look reveals a slate blue ring around their orange-colored eyes. Feet are also bright orange, providing additional colorful contrast to their muted feathering.