In a Costa Rican garden: White-tipped Dove

In my garden, a large dove walking about quietly on the ground is always the White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi). It is either alone or there is a pair – never more. It betrays its presence by making a sound that is akin to someone blowing over the top of an empty bottle.

White-tipped Dove with a clear view of the blue orbital skin around the eye; photo by John Beer

The White-tipped Dove has a wide range, from southern Texas south to central Argentina. In most regions the orbital skin is red but in Central America and parts of northern South America it is blue. The distinction is important in forested areas where very similar Leptotila species, the Gray-chested Dove (Leptotila cassinii) and Gray-headed Dove (Leptotila plumbeiceps) can, with some luck, be found. Both of these species have red orbital skin but they are highly unlikely to appear in gardens in our area. All three Leptotila doves share the white tips at the tail corners that the following image clearly shows:

Today’s final photograph shows a White-tipped Dove among leaf litter on the ground, which is where it will usually be spotted:

As in most years, the White-tipped Dove is again nesting in our garden; photo by John Beer

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