Caribbean dove -- 白腹棕翅鸠 (Leptotila jamaicensis)

Caribbean dove on forest floor
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Caribbean dove fact file

Caribbean dove description

GenusLeptotila (1)

Conspicuous iridescent purple to bronze-green feathers on the hindneck of the Caribbean dove (Leptotila jamaicensis) make it a fairly distinctive island inhabitant in the Caribbean region. The forehead, face and throat of this species are white, becoming blue-grey on the crown and back of the neck. The sides of the neck and breast are rosy pink to pinkish-white. The upperparts are typically greyish olive-brown, contrasting with white underparts and reddish-brown underwing (2) (3). There is often a bold white band on the front of the folded wing (2). The tail of the Caribbean dove has black feathers outer feathers and a white band across the bottom, which is broken in the middle by the central pair of grey-brown tail feathers. The bill is black, slightly greyer at the base, and the legs and feet are red. The Caribbean dove has dull reddish-purple skin around the eyes, and the iris is white or whitish-yellow, often with a red ring (2) (3).

The female Caribbean dove has much duller iridescence on the back of the neck compared to the male. The juvenile is also duller and lacks the iridescence. The wing-coverts and the feathers on the shoulder of the juvenile are typically edged with red, and the neck and breast have pale reddish-brown bars (2) (3).

Four subspecies of the Caribbean dove are recognised. Leptotila jamaicensis gaumeri is slightly smaller than the other subspecies and more olive-brown, with reduced iridescence on the hindneck and darker pink on the breast. Leptotila jamaicensis collaris is slightly smaller than the nominate subspecies Leptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis, but is otherwise similar in appearance, while Leptotila jamaicensis neoxena also has reduced iridescence on the neck and the underparts are more deeply washed with pink (2) (3).

Also known as
Jamaican dove, violet dove, white-bellied dove, white-fronted dove.
Length: 29 - 33 cm (2)
117 - 190 g (2)

Caribbean dove biology

The Caribbean dove feeds on seeds, small fruits, insects, larvae and small snails (2) (3). Generally, the Caribbean dove is found alone or in pairs on the forest floor. It forages for prey among the leaf litter, or along the edges of woodland, and, less commonly, in more open habitats. This species shows an unusual preference for walking on the ground rather than flying, and it will typically only fly to a low perch when it is disturbed (3)

Breeding occurs from March to May when the female Caribbean dove lays a clutch of two white eggs. The nest is typically a fragile platform of twigs, which is lined with rootlets and placed in a dense low tree or shrub, usually no more than three metres above the ground (2) (3). The Caribbean dove is also known to occasionally nest on the ground (2).


Caribbean dove range

The Caribbean dove is common on several Caribbean islands, with different subspecies occurring mainly on different islands. Leptotila jamaicensis gaumeri is found on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and on islands around Belize. Leptotila jamaicensis collaris occurs in the Cayman Islands, while the nominate Leptotila jamaicensis jamaicensis is found on Jamaica and has been introduced to New Providence in the Bahamas. Leptotila jamaicensis neoxena inhabits areas in the western side of San Andres off the coast of Nicaragua (2) (3). The Caribbean dove may also occur in Colombia, Honduras and the Turks and Caicos Islands (1).


Caribbean dove habitat

Generally found in semi-arid habitat, the Caribbean dove inhabits primary and secondary forest up to elevations of 2,000 metres. It typically favours lowland areas with shrub or tree cover, such as scrub or woodland. The Caribbean dove is also found in the dry limestone forests and the montane forest of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, and is commonly observed in gardens and orchards throughout its range (2) (3).


Caribbean dove status

The Caribbean dove is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Caribbean dove threats

There are no known significant threats to the Caribbean dove (4).


Caribbean dove conservation

The population of the Caribbean dove is considered to be stable. There are no known conservation measures in place for this species (4).

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra

Find out more

Find out more about the Caribbean dove and other bird species:



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Small feathers concealing the bases of larger flight feathers, usually on the wings or tail.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Montane forest
Forest occurring in the montane zone, a zone of cool upland slopes below the tree line dominated by large evergreen trees.
Nominate subspecies
The subspecies indicated by the repetition of the specific name. Thus, in this case the Cyclura nubila nubila is the nominate subspecies of the Cayman Islands ground iguana, Cyclura nubila.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1997) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 4: Sandgrouse to Cuckoos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. and Cox, J. (2000) Pigeons and Doves: A Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World. Pica Press, A & C Black Publishers Ltd, London.
  4. BirdLife International - Caribbean dove (March, 2011)

Image credit

Caribbean dove on forest floor  
Caribbean dove on forest floor

© Michael Gore /

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This species is found in the North Atlantic islands

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