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Species Guide
A photo of a Bar-shouldered Dove (Geopelia humeralis)
Bar-shouldered Dove

Bar-shouldered Dove

Geopelia humeralis

The Bar-shouldered Dove, Geopelia humeralis, is a medium-sized pigeon, with a length ranging from 26 to 30 centimeters. It boasts a blue-grey breast and wings adorned with a chequered pattern of brown and bronze. The nape is distinguished by copper-colored, striated feathers, unlike the peaceful dove which also has striated throat feathers. When breeding, the eye ring of the Bar-shouldered Dove may change from its usual grey to a red-brown hue. Juveniles present a more subdued coloration compared to adults.

Identification Tips

To identify the Bar-shouldered Dove, look for its distinctive blue-grey breast and the chequered brown-bronze pattern on its wings. The copper-colored striated feathers on the nape are a key feature, setting it apart from the peaceful dove which lacks such striation on the throat. The species can be confused with the introduced Spotted Turtle Dove, but the Bar-shouldered Dove's unique coloration and patterns are telltale identifiers. Observing the eye ring color can also aid in identification, especially during the breeding season.


The Bar-shouldered Dove thrives in dense vegetation near water sources, including damp gullies, forests, gorges, mangroves, plantations, swamps, eucalyptus woodlands, tropical and sub-tropical scrubs, and river margins. It is adaptable to both inland and coastal regions, finding sanctuary in the lush greenery of its chosen habitats.


This species is native to Australia and Southern New Guinea. In Australia, it is prevalent along the east coast, extending from southern New South Wales, through the Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions, northward to Cape York Peninsula, and westward to the Pilbara region. The Bar-shouldered Dove has also been sighted with increasing frequency in north-western Victoria and other South Pacific regions, including Papua New Guinea.


Bar-shouldered Doves are sociable birds, often seen in pairs, groups, or large loose flocks. They are ground feeders, primarily consuming seeds. Their flight is characterized by directness and swiftness, accompanied by a distinctive whistling of the wings.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of the Bar-shouldered Dove are quite melodious, often described as a "cook-a-wook" or "coolicoo," which can be heard resonating through their habitats.


The breeding season for the Bar-shouldered Dove varies by region, occurring from September to January in the south and February to April in the north. Their nests are simple constructions of twigs and grass, typically situated in trees, shrubs, mangroves, or scrub. A typical clutch consists of two white, glossy, and rounded eggs.

Similar Species

The Bar-shouldered Dove may be mistaken for the Spotted Turtle Dove, an introduced species. However, the unique chequered wing pattern and copper-colored nape feathers of the Bar-shouldered Dove are distinguishing features. The peaceful dove also bears some resemblance but can be differentiated by the absence of striated throat feathers.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Bar-shouldered Dove consists mainly of seeds, which they forage from the ground. Their feeding habits contribute to the dispersion of plant seeds, playing a role in their ecosystem.

Conservation status

The Bar-shouldered Dove is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it currently faces no significant threats to its population. It is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

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