Streptopelia decaocto (Frivaldszky, 1838)
Family: Columbiformes > Columbidae
Collared Dove is now a familiar bird, occupying a range of open lowland habitats, but only began its colonisation of Britain in the 1950s.
Given favourable weather conditions, Collared Doves may nest in any month of the year. Despite the very small number of eggs laid for each nesting attempt, which is invariably two, multiple nesting attempts may be one reason why the species has been so successful.
Despite the dramatic long-term increase in numbers and range, a decline in Collared Dove populations was noted from 2005 onwards, and likely linked to the emergence and spread of finch trichomonosis.
Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Collared Dove
Collared Dove identification is usually straightforward. The following article may help when identifying Collared Dove.
In this video, Training manager Nick Moran explains the differences between Collared Dove and Woodpigeon songs.
Two of our more common garden visitors, they sound very similar - so make sure to find a mnemonic to help you keep them apart.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Collared Dove, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
Collared Dove abundance has increased rapidly since the species first colonised Britain in 1955. From just four birds known to be present in that year, the population was put conservatively at 15,000-25,000 pairs by 1970 (Hudson 1972). The CBC index showed an almost exponential rise as colonisation continued during the early 1970s, but had levelled off by about 1980 only to rise again from the early 1990s. The early years of BBS showed this increase, but numbers are now similar to the mid-1990s following a recent downturn, apart from in Northern Ireland, where BBS records a strong increase. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that increase at the time was strongest in East Anglia and Kent and that decreases have occurred in eastern Scotland and in small pockets of England. There has been an increase across Europe since 1980 (PECBMS: PECBMS 2020a>).
|UK breeding population||+229% increase (1972–2020)|
Since first colonising Britain in the 1950s, Collared Doves have become a widespread species, breeding and wintering across Britain & Ireland, with the exception of higher ground such as the Scottish Highlands and remote treeless expanses of bogs or flows. Abundance is greatest in the east of England, in the Fens, and near other concentrations of arable or horticultural land use such as in northwest England.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in breeding season||2547|
|% occupied in breeding season||84|
|No. occupied in winter||2451|
|% occupied in winter||81|
European Distribution Map
Breeding Season Habitats
|Most frequent in||Towns|
|Also common in||Villages|
Relative frequency by habitat
The Collared Doves range in southeast Britain has remained relatively stable since the 1970s. Elsewhere, there are ongoing gains across north and western Britain and most of central and western Ireland.
Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||+15.9%|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+21.3%|
Collared Doves are widely recorded throughout the year.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.
Lifecycle and body size information about Collared Dove, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Maximum Age from Ringing||15 years 3 months 0 days (set in 1984)|
|Typical Lifespan||3 years with breeding typically at 1 year|
|Wing Length||Adults||180.9±5.6 | Range 173–190mm, N=2619|
|Juveniles||176.5±5.7 | Range 168-185mm, N=708|
|Males||183.3±4.5 | Range 176–191mm, N=864|
|Females||177.8±4.9 | Range 170–186mm, N=411|
|Body Weight||Adults||205±19.97 | Range 172–236g, N=1557|
|Juveniles||174±25.4328 | Range 134–217g, N=464|
|Males||208±19.94 | Range 178–240g, N=582|
|Females||202±20.14 | Range 169–232g, N=262|
Feather measurements and photos on featherbase
|Field Codes||2-letter: CD | 5-letter code: COLDO | Euring: 6840|
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Interpretation and scientific publications about Collared Dove from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
There is little evidence available relating to the drivers of the increase in this species but it appears to have been able to fill an empty niche and exploit the intermittent seed resources available in gardens and may also benefit from milder winters. Given the long-term rise, there is no baseline of 'stability' against which to compare demographic rates that might be causing a change but increases in nesting productivity have reversed during the recent period of decline.
Further information on causes of change
There are very few studies from the UK looking at the causes of population change in Collared Dove. Apart from clutch size, the demographic data show a curvilinear trend, with fledglings per nesting attempt peaking during the 1980s and 1990s but now falling back to earlier levels (see graphs above). The species appears to have filled a previously empty niche, perhaps because it is able to adapt to new environments, and it is commonly found in gardens, exploiting the intermittent seed resources available. It may also benefit from milder winters, which the species can exploit with its long breeding seasons. However, evidence for this is anecdotal.
Robertson (1990) measured high productivity and a long breeding season in rural Collared Doves in Oxfordshire and suggested that these were made possible by feeding on superabundant, predictable and persistent supplies of commercial crop seed in and around farmyards. However, there is little evidence based on specific analyses to support this.
There is evidence that the recent slowing of population increase may be due to increasing numbers of grey squirrels, as Newson et al. (2010b) provided good evidence from nest record data which showed a positive relationship between nest failure at the egg stage and squirrel abundance. They may also have been approaching the saturation of their niche. Whilst this species is affected by trichomonosis, the outbreak first noted in 2006 which has severely affected Greenfinch populations is not thought to be the primary cause of the current downturn in Collared Dove abundance, as there have been no increases in reports of diseased birds (B.Lawson, pers. comm.). Population trends have been different in Scotland but the reasons for this are unclear.
Information about conservation actions
The Collared Dove increased rapidly in both abundance and range after colonising the UK in the late 1950s, but a downturn has occurred since the early years of the current century. In the absence of clear evidence confirming the reasons for this downturn, conservation requirements are unclear. It is possible that the recent changes in breeding productivity observed are partly related to density dependent effects and may not be of particular conservation concern; however, the short-term declines are close to prompting alerts. This suggests trends should continue to be carefully monitored and that action may be required for this species in future.
The impact of grey squirrels has also been suggested as a potential factor (Newson et al. 2010b); hence control of grey squirrels is another conservation action which could potentially benefit the Collared Dove.
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