Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

Common Ground-Dove


The common ground dove (Columbina passerina) is a small bird that inhabits the southern United States, parts of Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America. It is considered to be the smallest dove that inhabits the United States. As its name suggests, the bird spends the majority of its time on the ground walking but still has the ability to fly. The common ground dove is North America's smallest dove and is one of the world's smallest by mass. This species ranges from 15–18 cm (5.9–7.1 in) in length, spans 27 cm (11 in) across the wings and weighs 26–40 g (0.92–1.41 oz). The common ground dove has a yellow beak with a black tip. Feathers surrounding the beak are pink in colour. The feathers on the head and the upper breast have a scale like appearance. The tail feathers are very short and similar colour to the back. The plumage on the back of the bird is brown. The coverts and wing feathers are also brown but have black spotting on them. The common ground dove has chestnut primaries and wing borders, which can only been seen when the bird is flying. The common ground dove shows some sexual dimorphism in their plumage. The males have slate gray feathers on the top of their heads and pink-gray colouration on their belly. Females on the other hand are more gray than their male counterparts and are more evenly coloured.

Distribution And Habitat

The Common Ground-Dove occurs through the Southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America including the West Indies (Raffaele and others 1998). It is a year-round and very common resident in Puerto Rico (Raffaele and others 1998), Culebra, Mona (Ventosa- Febles and others 2005), and Vieques islands (Gemmill 2015). Puerto Rico and its satellite islands harbor an endemic subspecies (C. p. portoricensis), with the exception of Mona, which has another subspecies (C. p.fiexigua). The Common Ground-Dove uses a wide range of lowland habitats (Raffaele and others 1998) including forest edges, farms, open country, gardens, and towns (Oberle 2018). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 861 records within 378 hexagons or 80 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 378 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 14 percent (53) of the hexagons, probable in 59 percent (223), and possible in 27 percent (102) (see map). Common Ground-Dove distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 53Common Ground-Dove/Rolita

Common Ground-Dove Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Common Ground-Dove builds a nest made of rootlets, grasses, or twigs in a shrub or tree, or on the ground. Previously published reports indicate that it breeds year- round, but breeding peaks during May and June (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeds throughout the year, with the most breeding activity from March to June and with a peak in May (see chart). Results indicate that the Common Ground-Dove breeds within all ecological life zones (see table and map).


The Common Ground-Dove current population trend is suspected to be decreasing, but it is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2018). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Common Ground-Dove has a protected habitat in land of 12 percent or 1105 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where this species is known to breed (9040 km2).