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Species Guide

Caribbean Dove

Leptotila jamaicensis

The Caribbean dove, Leptotila jamaicensis, is a medium-sized bird, measuring 29 to 33 cm in length and weighing between 117 to 190 grams. Exhibiting sexual dimorphism, the adult male is characterized by a white forehead, face, and throat, complemented by a gray hindcrown and an iridescent purple nape. The mantle and neck sides boast a rosy red hue with a shimmering green or purple gloss. The underparts are pure white, while the upperparts present an olive-brown shade with a distinctive white band visible in front of the folded wing. The tail feathers are grayish brown with the outer ones being black with white tips. The eyes are white or white with a red ring, set in bare dull purple skin, and the legs and feet are a striking red. The female resembles the male but with less pronounced iridescence, and juveniles appear similar to adults but are generally duller with many feathers edged in reddish tones.

Identification Tips

To identify the Caribbean dove, look for its white facial features, the iridescent purple on the nape, and the white band on the wing. The red legs and feet are also distinctive. Pay attention to the size and color variations among the subspecies, which may aid in identification.


The Caribbean dove favors semi-arid lowlands with some shrub or tree cover. In Jamaica, it is commonly found in dry limestone forests and secondary forests in foothills, and it can be observed up to elevations of 2,000 meters in the Blue Mountains.


This species is native to Belize, the Cayman Islands, Colombia (San Andrés island), Honduras (Bay Islands), Jamaica, and Mexico (Yucatán Peninsula). It has also been introduced to the Bahamas.


The Caribbean dove is known to forage on the ground, primarily feeding on seeds and small snails. It is a bird that can be seen alone or in pairs, often exhibiting a shy nature.

Song & calls

The song of the Caribbean dove is a melancholic series of four notes, with the last note being drawn out and emphasized, described as 'wo-o-o-oooooo'.


Breeding season for the Caribbean dove occurs from March to May. Nests are typically placed low in trees or shrubs, though they can also be found higher up or on the ground. The usual clutch consists of two eggs.

Similar Species

While there are no specific similar species mentioned, it is important to differentiate the Caribbean dove from other doves and pigeons by its unique coloration and vocalizations.

Diet and Feeding

The Caribbean dove's diet consists of seeds and small snails, which it forages for on the ground.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Caribbean dove as Least Concern. Although it is uncommon on some smaller islands, it remains locally common in Jamaica and is widespread on the Yucatán Peninsula.

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Caribbean Doves on Birda

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Profile picture for Kelsey Rae-Smith
Kelsey Rae-Smith
13 May 2023 - 1:56pm
Cayman Islands

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