Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita)

Zenaida Dove


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 locally referred to as "turtle dove". The Zenaida dove is approximately 28–30 cm (11–12 in) in length. It looks very similar to the mourning dove, but is smaller in size, has a shorter, more rounded tail, and is a bit more darkly colored. It is also distinguished from the mourning dove by showing white on the trailing edge of its wings while in flight. The mourning dove does not have the white trailing edge.

Distribution And Habitat

The Zenaida Dove occurs on the south coast of Florida, the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, and throughout the West Indies, where it is a common year- round resident (Raffaele and others 1998). It is fairly abundant throughout Puerto Rico and can be seen from cultivated fields in the lowlands all the way up to the mountains (Biaggi 1997, Rivera-Milán 1996). It also occurs in Mona (Barnés 1946, Gordon and others 1961, Oberle 2018, Terborgh and Faaborg 1973), Desecheo (Meier and others 1989), Culebra (Oberle 2018, Wetmore 1917), and Vieques (Sorrié 1975, USFWS 1994), in the latter being a common resident throughout the year (Gemmill 2015). It is found throughout the archipelago including mangrove cays and other small cays with scarce vegetation. This species primarily inhabits open coastal areas, hotel grounds, and gardens but also scrub thickets, open woodlands, pine woods (Raffaele and others 1998), farms, towns (Oberle 2018), coffee plantations (Biaggi 1997), and mangroves (Biaggi 1997, Oberle 2018, Sorrié 1975). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 938 records within 406 hexagons or 85 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 406 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 12 percent (48) of the hexagons, probable in 47 percent (192), and possible in 41 percent (165), while this species was also observed in an additional hexagon (<1 percent) but without evidence of breeding (see map). Zenaida 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. 63Zenaida Dove/Tórtola Cardosantera

Zenaida Dove Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Zenaida Dove generally builds a thin platform nest made of twigs, usually in a tree or bush, but sometimes on the ground (Raffaele and others 1998, Wiley 1991) or in a cactus, palm (Oberle 2018), and even mangroves (Sorrié 1975). Previously published reports indicate that breeding is variable as it occurs throughout the year in urban areas, from February to June in moist and wet habitats, and from April to June in dry or arid zones (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeding season extends throughout the year with the most breeding activity from March to June (see chart). The breeding activity peaks during May and June, and mostly takes place within the subtropical moist forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds throughout the island but mostly within the subtropical moist forest life zone (61 percent of the hexagons) (see table), but it also breeds in the subtropical dry forest life zone (23 percent of the hexagons) and within subtropical wet forest life zones at higher elevations (15 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend of the Zenaida Dove is suspected to be increasing in some parts of the West Indies (del Hoyo and others 2013). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Zenaida Dove has a protected habitat in land of 12 percent or 1192 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (9685 km2).