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A photo of a Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata)
Eared Dove

Eared Dove

Zenaida auriculata

The Eared Dove, known scientifically as Zenaida auriculata, is a bird of modest size, measuring approximately 24 cm in length and tipping the scales at around 112 grams. Its plumage is primarily olive-brown on the upper parts, with distinctive black spots adorning its wings. The head is graced with a grey crown, a black line behind the eye, and blue-black lower ear coverts, which lend the bird its common name. The underparts exhibit a vinous hue, while the tail is elegantly tipped with cinnamon. Males are typically more vibrant than females, with the latter presenting a duller appearance. Immature birds are greyish-brown and exceedingly dull, with pale barring. The bill of this species is black, and the legs are a dark red.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Eared Dove, look for the black line behind the eye and the blue-black marks on the lower ear coverts. The long, wedge-shaped tail and the cinnamon tip are also key characteristics. The male's brighter plumage and the female's duller coloration can help distinguish between the sexes.

Habitat

The Eared Dove thrives in open areas such as savannahs and cultivated lands. It has adapted well to human presence, often seen perched on wires and telephone posts near towns or feeding near beach resorts.

Distribution

This dove is a resident breeder across South America, from Colombia to southern Argentina and Chile, and on the offshore islands from the Grenadines southwards. It is also found in Trinidad and Tobago, where it may be a relatively recent arrival.

Behaviour

The Eared Dove is a sociable bird, particularly when not foraging for food. It forms flocks, especially during migration or when gathering at communal roosts. Its flight is characterized by high speed and directness, with regular beats and occasional sharp flicks of the wings. The breeding display involves a steep climb followed by a semicircular glide back to the original perch.

Song & Calls

The call of the Eared Dove is a deep and soft "oo-ah-oo," which can be heard across its range.

Breeding

Breeding occurs almost continuously, given sufficient food and habitat. The Eared Dove constructs a small stick nest in a tree and lays two white eggs, which hatch in 12–14 days, with fledging occurring after another 9 days.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Eared Dove consists mainly of seeds and grains sourced from the ground. It can become an agricultural pest, feeding on crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum, maize, and soybeans when in season. Echinochloa colona and Croton jacobinensis are significant seed sources, and the diet may be supplemented with animal matter like caterpillars, insect pupae, aphids, and snails.

Conservation status

The Eared Dove is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of population decline or extinction.

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