Monday, 11 February 2013

Zenaida Dove - National Bird of Anguilla

The Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita) is a member of the bird family Columbidae, which includes doves and pigeons. It is the national bird of Anguilla, where it is commonly (but erroneously) referred to as a Turtle Dove.  The Zenaida dove sings with a gentle, mournful-sounding cooing, described as ‘coo-oo, coo, coo, coo’ or ‘hoo’ooo-oo oo-ooo. The Zenaida Dove was first described in 1810 by Coenraad Jacob Temminck, a Dutch aristocrat and zoologist. A group of doves has many collective nouns, including a "bevy", "cote", "dole", "dule", and "flight" of doves.


Interesting facts about Zenaida Dove are:

  1. Found throughout the Caribbean, the Zenaida dove (Zenaida aurita) is a rather stocky dove species with a low, mournful call.
  2. Its plumage is largely reddish- to greyish-brown above and lighter pinkish-brown below, with a more cinnamon head and a greyish hindneck.
  3. There is an iridescent purple patch on the side of the neck, and two dark violet-blue streaks on the side of the face, which appear black from a distance.
  4. Its tail is fairly rounded, with a black band near the end and white tips to the outer tail feathers. The beak is black and the legs and feet are red.
  5. The female Zenaida dove is duller and paler than the male, with a greyer back and a smaller iridescent neck patch. 
  6. Juveniles resemble the adult female, but lack the iridescent neck patch and have buffy edges to the back and wing feathers.
  7. Three subspecies of Zenaida dove are generally recognised: Zenaida aurita auritaZenaida aurita salvadorii and Zenaida aurita zenaida
  8. The subspecies Zenaida aurita zenaida is darker, with bluish-grey rather than white tips to the tail feathers, while Zenaida aurita salvadorii is more greyish or olive-brown above, with only a slight reddish tinge, and the tips of its outer tail feathers are greyish-white.
  9. The diet of the Zenaida dove includes a range of fruits and seeds, and it has also been recorded feeding on earthworms, ants and flies. In addition, the Zenaida dove sometimes eats salt from soil deposits or livestock mineral blocks, probably to increase its intake of sodium.
  10. The breeding season of the Zenaida dove varies with location, ranging from March to December in Dominica and May to August in the Virgin Islands, to year-round in Puerto Rico.
  11. The nest may be built in a tree or shrub, or placed on the ground on islands with few or no predators. Two white eggs are usually laid, and are incubated for 13 to 15 days
  12. The Zenaida dove is found in the Caribbean and on the northern coast of the Yucat√°n Peninsula, Mexico.
  13. They usually found in lowland and coastal areas, the Zenaida dove inhabits open woodland, forest edge, clearings, scrub thickets and shrubby areas, cultivated fields, gardens and mangroves. It generally avoids dense forest.
  14. The Zenaida dove is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
  15. There are not known to be any major threats to the Zenaida dove at present, despite the fact that it is widely taken as a game bird and is subject to intense hunting pressure 
Note: The Zenaida dove can also be distinguished from the mourning dove by its shorter, less pointed tail, proportionately larger legs and feet, and by the white in its wings.