Inca Dove

The Inca dove (Columbina inca) is a small, ground-dwelling bird native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. In Spanish, it’s called Tortolita Mexicana. This species is named for the Inca Empire, reflecting its historical association with regions of South America, although its range is primarily concentrated in arid and semi-arid habitats of North America. The Inca dove is renowned for its unique appearance and distinctive behaviors, making it a fascinating subject for bird enthusiasts and researchers alike.

3 dove species Nayarit Mexico duck dove hunting combo
Inca doves (far right) are smaller than mourning doves (middle) and white-winged doves (left). Note the distinctive rufous-colored primaries and dark markings.

Measuring around 16 to 23 centimeters (6 to 9 inches) in length and weighing approximately 40 to 57 grams, the Inca dove is relatively small compared to other members of the dove family, Columbidae. It is characterized by its intricate scales-like plumage, which features a combination of gray, brown, and buff colors, adorned with intricate black barring and white spots on the wings and back. Its tail is long and tapered, with white edges and black central feathers, giving it a distinctive appearance in flight. Inca Doves have red eyes, but their red eyes become even brighter when they are threatened by an intruder.

In terms of habitat, the Inca dove prefers open woodlands, desert scrub, grasslands, and urban areas with suitable vegetation for foraging and nesting. It is particularly common in areas with mesquite trees, which provide important food and shelter resources. Despite its small size, the Inca dove is highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments, from rural landscapes to suburban neighborhoods.