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How many species of dove are there?

How many species of dove are there?

Doves are medium sized birds found on all continents except Antarctica. There are over 300 species of doves and pigeons in the world, spread across multiple genera in the bird family Columbidae. Doves belong to the genus Columba, while pigeons belong to other genera like Columba and Patagioenas.

Major dove species

Some of the major dove species in the world include:

  • Mourning dove – This is one of the most common doves found in North America. Its scientific name is Zenaida macroura.
  • Rock dove – Also known as rock pigeon, this species has a worldwide distribution and is known to most as the common city pigeon. Its scientific name is Columba livia.
  • Collared dove – Native to Asia and Europe, this species was introduced to various parts of the world like North America. Its scientific name is Streptopelia decaocto.
  • Laughing dove – This small dove is found widely across Africa, Asia and Australia. Its scientific name is Spilopelia senegalensis.
  • Emerald dove – Found in parts of Asia and Australia, this brightly colored green dove has the scientific name Chalcophaps indica.
  • Common ground dove – Found in the southern United States through Central America and Caribbean, this tiny dove has the scientific name Columbina passerina.
  • Inca dove – Native to the Southwestern United States and South America, this small dove has the scientific name Columbina inca.
  • Eurasian collared dove – Also called the ringed turtle dove, this dove is found from Europe to Japan. Its scientific name is Streptopelia decaocto.
  • Spotted dove – This small dove is native to Asia and has spread as an introduced species to many parts of the world. Its scientific name is Spilopelia chinensis.
  • Zebra dove – Mainly found in Southeast Asia, this dove gets its name from the black and white barred plumage on its neck and chest. Its scientific name is Geopelia striata.

There are over 40 species in the Columba genus which are referred to as the typical doves and pigeons. The following are some of the other major genera of doves and pigeons:

  • Patagioenas – This genus contains around 15 species found in North and South America.
  • Zenaida – 7 species from the Americas.
  • Leptotila – 8 species found from southern United States to South America.
  • Geopelia – 7 species found in Australia and SE Asia.
  • Ocyphaps – 2 species from Australia.
  • Petrophassa – 3 species from Australia.
  • Geophaps – 3 species from Australia.
  • Phaps – 2 species from Australia.
  • Oena – 2 species from islands in the Indian Ocean.
  • Turtur – Several species from Africa and Eurasia.
  • Spilopelia – 8 species from Africa, Asia and Europe.

Number of dove species by region

The number of dove species varies by geographic region. Following are estimates of dove diversity by region:

  • Africa – Around 75 species
  • Asia – More than 100 species
  • Australia – Around 30 species
  • Europe – Around 10 species
  • North America – Around 15 species
  • South America – Around 75 species
  • Pacific Islands – Around 60 species

The highest diversity is seen in tropical regions like Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific islands. Australia also has a high diversity relative to its land area.

Total number of dove species in the world

The total number of extant, living dove species in the world is estimated to be:


This includes all species within the Columbidae family of doves and pigeons. There are likely several more undescribed or newly discovered species yet to be counted, so the actual number may be higher.

Region Estimated number of dove species
Africa 75
Asia 100
Australia 30
Europe 10
North America 15
South America 75
Pacific Islands 60
Total 310

Threats and conservation

Many dove species face threats from habitat loss, hunting, and climate change. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the threat status of various dove species is:

  • Critically Endangered – 5 species
  • Endangered – 13 species
  • Vulnerable – 19 species
  • Near Threatened – 32 species
  • Least Concern – 169 species

Some threatened and endangered dove species include:

  • Mauritius olive white-eye – Critically endangered due to invasive species
  • Negros bleeding-heart – Endangered and endemic to the Philippines
  • Socorro dove – Critically endangered and limited to one island
  • Mindoro imperial pigeon – Endangered and found only in the Philippines
  • Jamaican dove – Critically endangered, less than 175 individuals left

Conservation actions needed to protect rare doves include protecting habitats, controlling invasive species, limiting hunting, and captive breeding programs. Doves face many of the same threats as other bird species, indicating the need for comprehensive conservation policies focused on birds and their ecosystems.

Unique traits of doves

Some interesting traits and behaviors of doves include:

  • Courtship feeding – Male doves feed seeds to females as part of mating ritual
  • Crop milk – Both parents produce a milk-like substance in their crop to feed hatchlings
  • Monogamy – Most doves mate for life and raise offspring together
  • Cooing – Distinctive soft, mournful cooing sounds for communication
  • Ground nesting – Most doves build simple nests on the ground or in bushes
  • High number of broods – Doves can raise up to 6 broods per year in some species
  • Fast growth – Doves develop rapidly, leaving the nest 14-20 days after hatching
  • Symbolism – White doves used as symbols of peace, love, faithfulness

The unique behaviors and adaptations of doves reflect their evolutionary history. Understanding dove biology can help inform conservation programs aimed at protecting rare species.


Doves are a diverse and distinct group of birds, with over 300 species in the Columbidae family worldwide. The highest diversity of doves occurs in the tropical and subtropical regions. Many unique dove species are endangered and need focused conservation efforts. Doves share common behaviors like courtship feeding and ground nesting that differentiate them from other birds. With their wide global distribution and interesting behaviors, doves provide ecologists and bird enthusiasts abundant opportunities for study and observation.